Prosecutorial Legerdemain

7:01 am in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

The Bill of Particulars is a document, prepared and sworn to under oath by the prosecution (ie, The Commonwealth) and filed with the court. The bill discloses the evidence the prosecution intends to introduce at trial.

In Crane Station’s case, the Bill of Particulars also contained a plea offer: if she would plead guilty to all three of the pending charges, the prosecution would recommend a prison sentence of eight years (four years on the possession and four years on the tampering to be served consecutively or end to end, plus seven days for the no-drug/no-alcohol/no bad driving DUI).

We did not see this document until just before the trial, probably because Crane Station had made it clear to her attorney at the time, Will Kautz, that she would not plead guilty, regardless of any plea offer — even if it were an offer for a Caribbean vacation — so he did not show it to her, even though he had a duty to do so.

The bill contained a materially false misrepresentation, namely, that the prosecution had “no exculpatory evidence” under Brady vs Maryland (a United States Supreme Court case that requires the prosecution to disclose all exculpatory evidence to the defense), when, in fact, it had two exculpatory vitally important lab reports in its possession: (1) a Kentucky State Crime Lab report by Examiner Neil Vowels finding no alcohol in her blood sample and (2) a Kentucky State Crime Lab report by Laboratory Technician Ryan Johnson finding no drugs in her blood sample. The prosecutor who drafted and signed the bill on October 16, 2006, declaring under penalty of perjury that its contents were true is Christopher Hollowell, who is now a McCracken County District Court judge.

The first lab result, the one that the prosecution hid from the grand jury and Deputy Eddie McGuire lied about when he testified before the grand jury on July 28, 2006, was completed 14 days earlier and faxed to the prosecutor’s office on July 24, 2006, which was 4 days before the grand jury met. Note the fax stamp on the top of the page stating that the report was faxed on 7/24/2006 at 12:32 PM to FAX number 2708247029. This is the phone number of the prosecutor’s office

The exculpatory drug test result was dated and signed by Ryan Johnson September 25, 2006, which is almost a month before now Judge Hollowell signed the Bill of Particulars declaring under penalty of perjury that the prosecution did not have any exculpatory evidence. The bill was filed in the Clerk’s Office the next day on October 17, 2006.

Fortunately, Crane Station’s lawyer, Will Kautz, who knew that her blood sample had been sent to the crime lab for drug and alcohol analysis, kept demanding the lab results. The alcohol result was finally disclosed when we viewed the evidence in the evidence unit at the McCracken County Sheriff’s Department in late October or early November, but the drug result was withheld until the beginning of the suppression hearing on November 26, 2006.

We believe the prosecution deliberately withheld the exculpatory lab results from Crane Station and concealed the exculpatory alcohol report from the grand jury in an effort to mislead the grand jury in order to obtain an indictment and cause her to give up hope and plead guilty unaware of the results. We suspect but cannot prove that the prosecutor’s office routinely withholds exculpatory evidence hoping that depressed and dispirited defendants will give up and plead guilty. This shows what little regard the prosecution has for the accused, due process of law, the rule of law, the members of the grand jury whom they are misleading, and the important role of the grand jury to determine whether probable cause supports each charge in an indictment.

Consider that there is, in effect, no speedy trial rule in Kentucky and defendants who insist on a jury trial in McCracken County have to wait approximately 18 months before they go to trial. Bail bondsmen are prohibited in Kentucky. If defendants are unable to post bail, they have no choice but to rot in jail until trial. Pretrial detainees are not segregated from inmates serving sentences for misdemeanors and felonies. All are mixed together in general population in the McCracken County Jail. Frog Gravy gives you an honest unvarnished look at what that is like.

Given how prosecutors and police probably routinely ignore people’s constitutional rights, how can there be any surprise that innocent people plead guilty in McCracken County? Crane Station was fortunate to make bail, but I fear she is the exception rather than the rule.

Here are the photos:

Bill of Particulars

Bill of Particulars filed October 17, 2008 by Crane-Station on flickr.

False statement on sworn Bill of Particulars

The statement: “The Commonwealth has reviewed the material in this case and finds no material which is exculpatory under Brady vs Maryland.”

Sworn under oath

Sworn under oath and delivered.

Exculpatory evidence hidden

The hidden exculpatory lab result for alcohol (exculpatory under Brady)

Exculpatory evidence hidden

enlarged.

Exculpatory evidence hidden.

The hidden exculpatory blood test result for drugs.

Exculpatory drug test result

The hidden exculpatory drug test result (under Brady), enlarged.

These lab results have been published online in other posts as well.

Amazing coincidence that Crane-Station received an eight-year sentence after the jury trial.