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Friday, March 06, 2015

Wow! - More Outrageous Prosecutorial Misconduct

Here is a story reported on about truly outrageous misconduct by a state prosecutor and the State of California trying to save the case despite it being based on a fraud on the court:

According to the article, the following unbelievable actions took place...

A California state prosecutor falsified the transcript of the defendant's interrogation to make it seem that he had confessed to a much more serious crime than had been charged.  Then, the prosecutor used this falsified evidence, and the legal jeopardy this false admission put the defendant in, to impact the defense attorney's advice to the defendant (since the defense attorney was reading a transcript that made it seem his client had confessed).  This resulted in a fraudulently forced plea deal.  After the deal was entered into, the prosecutor apparently admitted the falsification of the transcript!

According to the article, the defense filed a motion to dismiss the indictment based on this series of events.  The defense attorney was disqualified because he had been duped into providing advice for his client to plead guilty based on false evidence. Much more harsh criticism was directed at the prosecutor.  The judge found that the prosecutor fabricated evidence and his actions were "egregious, outrageous, and...shocked the conscience."

But wait, the story doesn't end...  The State of California (unsuccessfully) appealed the dismissal of the indictment!  And, according to the article, this isn't the first recent questionable appeal of trial (mis)conduct by the State of California.  

As with some of my previous blog posts, beyond just general information about criminal justice matters, why is this relevant to the military justice system?...  

The military justice system is under attack by politicians, lawmakers, advocacy groups, and others who seek to limit the ability of military defendants to investigate the allegations against  them and to present their defense at trial.  Cautionary tales like this case show why it is so important that there be checks and balances to ensure the State (the government, the prosecution - military or civilian) does not have unfair advantage and free reign to convict and jail American citizens.  

Particularly in military rape and sexual assault cases and courts-martial, we are hearing those on the government side (for example, certain departing prosecutors) who seem to claim that they know and have determined what happened behind closed doors - as if they are human lie detectors and are omniscient. And, this type of false confidence that the prosecutor "knows what happened and knows the truth" can cause individuals in positions of authority - such as prosecutors, legal advisers, etc. - to act in questionable ways because they believe they wear the "white hats" and the "ends justify the means." That is not, nor can it ever be, the case.  

Is anyone in Congress (most of whom are attorneys) tracking on this issue as they push the misguided narrative that military defendants (the accused) are presumed to be guilty and the military justice system needs to be changed so that conviction and harsh sentence statistics are increased?  

As I have argued in previous blog posts:

No one knows when this crusade to “fix” the military justice system will end, but the goal of the crusaders certainly is not justice, nor is it fairness, nor is it supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States.  The goal of the crusaders is prosecution victory.  Period.  That is a very dangerous perspective, as seen in this California case.  

For more information about the military justice system, particularly cases alleging rape and/or sexual assault in violation of UCMJ Article 120, type “rape” or “sexual assault” into the search bar above the blog posts.  Also, see:

We offer free consultations for a case you may be involved in.  Just call us.

Thank you.    

By: Attorney Richard V. Stevens
Civilian criminal defense lawyer and military defense lawyer
Military Defense Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens, P.C.

Blog postscript: Attorney Frank J. Spinner and I (attorney Richard V. Stevens) are former active duty military lawyers (JAG). Our perspectives and advice, therefore, are based upon our experience as military defense lawyers and as civilian criminal defense lawyers practicing exclusively in the area of military law and military justice. This blog addresses issues in military law, military justice, military discipline, military defense, court-martial practice, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and other military and/or legal topics. Nothing posted in this blog should be substituted for legal advice in any particular case. If you seek legal advice for a particular case, please contact The Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens and The Law Office of Frank J. Spinner for a free consultation. These military defense law offices are located in Northern Florida (Pensacola, Ft Walton, Destin, Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field, Duke Field, Panama City, Tyndall AFB areas) and Colorado Springs, Colorado (FT Carson, Peterson AFB, Air Force Academy, Schriever AFB, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Buckley AFB areas), but our military defense law practices are worldwide – we travel to wherever our clients are stationed or serving and need us.