THE JERRY SANDUSKY CASE

Outrageous Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse and Failure to Report Devastate Presumption of Innocence and Shift Burden of Proof

By: Houston Criminal Lawyer John Floyd and Paralegal Billy Sinclair

Contrary to the screaming media pundits, who have thrown the presumption of innocence out the window, we do not know if former Penn State defensive coordinator is guilty of the 40 child sexual abuse allegations leveled against him by a “Happy Valley” grand jury. We certainly do not presume his guilt. As a criminal defense law firm, we are deeply disturbed, although not surprised, that Sandusky has already been tried, convicted, and sentenced in the court of public opinion. The presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial has been eroded into oblivion by the cable news networks, like former prosecutor and HLN’s guilt-announcing host Nancy Grace. We would caution the general public to remember the California McMartin “preschool” child sex abuse scandal that began with outrageous allegations of child sex abuse, three years of investigation and six years of trials which did not produce a single conviction, but ended with exposure an array of misconduct by the media covering the story, law enforcement investigators prosecutors who brought it to trial, the child victims and their parents.

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SMITH V. CAIN: A LOOK AT PROSECUTOR’S DUTY TO DISCLOSE

ABA Files Amicus Demanding Disclosure of Exculpatory Evidence Regardless of Materiality, Boarder than Brady

By: Houston Criminal Lawyer John Floyd and Paralegal Billy Sinclair

The Orleans Parish and Williamson County district attorney offices have something in common: both have a disturbing history of withholding exculpatory information that resulted in innocent men being sent to prison (or death row) for long periods of time (here, here and here). The U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Smith v. Cain, is being asked by Juan Smith’s attorneys and the American Bar Association (“ABA”) to address a prosecutor’s pretrial ethical obligations to disclose exculpatory evidence. A “summary” of the ABA’s argument is outlined in its amicus curiae brief:

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DEFENSE ATTORNEY PLACES ACADEMIC INTEREST BEFORE ETHICAL DUTY TO CLIENT

Defense Lawyer Intentionally Failed to Comply with Longstanding Pleading Requirements in Death Penalty Writ

By: Houston Criminal Lawyer John Floyd and Paralegal Billy Sinclair

It is not our habit, nor is it in our nature, to second guess any strategy employed by a fellow defense attorney, unless that strategy is patently harmful to the client. The Hector Rolando Medina case is such a case—and it indeed begs public exposure. To understand this case we must first discuss the habeas corpus statute involved: Article 11.071, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure (Procedure in Death Penalty Cases), and the case law setting forth longstanding pleading requirements under the statute. A prerequisite to securing habeas corpus relief in a death penalty case requires the applicant to “plead specific facts” which, if proven true, might entitle him to relief. Thus, the initial burden rest with the habeas applicant to file a fact-specific petition, which raises issue(s) of constitutional magnitude; in other words, a constitutional violation which has harmed the applicant.

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MORE SHENANIGANS IN WILLIAMSON COUNTY DA’S OFFICE

DA Announces Policy of Hiding Brady, Potentially Exculpatory Evidence

By: Houston Criminal Lawyer John Floyd and Paralegal Billy Sinclair

We have become convinced that the only way the Williamson County District Attorney’s office will operate in a lawful and ethical manner is for the State Bar to assign an ombudsman to oversee its day-to-day handling of criminal prosecutions. The behavior of this office in the Michael Morton case has already triggered four investigations, including one by the State Bar (here and here). Grits For Breakfast recently carried yet another report, which was first reported by Wilco Watchdog, concerning allegations of prosecutorial misconduct. This time the misconduct charges involve Assistant District Attorney Tommy Coleman who withheld exculpatory evidence in a 2010 theft case.

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POLICE POWERS PUT IN CHECK

Recording Police Misconduct Protected by First Amendment

By: Houston Criminal Lawyer John Floyd and Paralegal Billy Sinclair

Simon Glik was, and remains, a good citizen. He understands right from wrong no matter who the author of the wrongful action may be. So what he did on the evening of October 1, 2007 was a natural response of a good citizen. As he was walking past the Boston Common, he saw three of Boston’s finest arresting a young man. Moments later he heard a bystander exclaim, “you are hurting him, stop!” Glik, who was only ten feet away from the arresting officers, was concerned enough that the police were using “excessive force,” he began filming the incident on his cell phone.

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