Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Prosecutors gone wild. An outrageous instance of prosecutorial misconduct in the Casey Anthony murder trial.


Before we get started, I want to make one thing abundantly clear.  I absolutely loathe Casey Anthony, if for nothing else because of the way she carried on during the month after her daughters untimely death.  While I do believe she had something to do with her daughters death, I think it was a stretch to get anyone to believe that she was guilty of the crimes the prosecutors charged her with as did the jury who ultimately found her not guilty of first degree murder and spared her a possible death sentence.  With that said though, Ms Anthony, like anyone else charged with a crime no matter how heinous, entitled to have her day in court with the rights provided to her by the constitution.  Regardless of how horrendous the allegations against her were, law enforcement and the prosecutors still have to play by the rules, especially when it comes to exculpatory material or as it's often called, Brady Material.

Now, for those of you who followed the Anthony murder trial, you'd know that one of the prosecutions most damaging allegations against Anthony was that she googled "chloroform" 84 times during the time her daughter went "missing".  The prosecution implied to the jury that since she googled "chloroform" so many times that she must have therefore used chloroform in some way to kill her daughter.  A bit of a stretch perhaps, but it was one of the prosecutions strongest weapons against Anthony in an otherwise circumstantial case.  The prosecution came to this conclusion through a forensic computer expert named John Bradley, from the New York Times article...
The finding of 84 visits was used repeatedly during the trial to suggest that Ms. Anthony had planned to murder her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, who was found dead in 2008. Ms. Anthony, who could have faced the death penalty, was acquitted of the killing on July 5.

Ok, but at some point during the investigation Mr. Bradley comes to another conclusion about this google search for "chloroform"...
Assertions by the prosecution that Casey Anthony conducted extensive computer searches on the word “chloroform” were based on inaccurate data, a software designer who testified at the trial said Monday.

The designer, John Bradley, said Ms. Anthony had visited what the prosecution said was a crucial Web site only once, not 84 times, as prosecutors had asserted. He came to that conclusion after redesigning his software, and immediately alerted prosecutors and the police about the mistake, he said.
If he immediately alerted prosecutors and the police then why the hell didn't we or anyone else here about this during the trial?
“I gave the police everything they needed to present a new report,” Mr. Bradley said. “I did the work myself and copied out the entire database in a spreadsheet to make sure there was no issue of accessibility to the data.”
No kidding?  
Mr. Bradley, chief executive of Siquest, a Canadian company, said he even volunteered to fly to Orlando at his own expense to show them the findings.
Yet somehow the prosecution never had Mr. Bradley come down and correct his testimony, interesting.
Cheney Mason, one of Ms. Anthony’s defense lawyers, said it was “outrageous” that prosecutors withheld critical information on the “chloroform” searches.

“The prosecution is absolutely obligated to bring forth to the court any and all evidence that could be exculpatory,” Mr. Mason said. “If in fact this is true, and the prosecution concealed this new information, it is more than shame on them. It is outrageous.”
There you have it.  Even if Ms. Anthony was found guilty of all the charges against her, this instance of the prosecutors withholding exculpatory evidence would have been enough to get the verdict against her thrown out.  How the hell do these guys feel they have the right and the power to play with peoples lives like this by withholding crucial evidence like this?  This type of behavior simply highlights the "win at all costs" attitude that we've seen time and time again by morally and ethically challenged prosecutors and police.  This instance of prosecutorial misconduct is no different than Miami Dade county prosecutor Bill Kostrzewski sitting on crucial exculpatory evidence in the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case (evidence that the state to this day claims doesn't exist), prosecutor Richard Scruggs sitting on exculpatory evidence in the Michelle Spence-Jones case or even worse, Prosecutor Mike Nifong's behavior in the Duke Lacrosse scandal.

Consider now for a moment what the consequences of withholding this evidence from the jury in the Anthony murder trial could have been, Casey Anthony being convicted and sentenced to death.  Is that right?  The prosecutors conducting themselves in this manner to get a conviction by any means necessary?  Think about this most egregious example of prosecutorial misconduct next time someone you know that's run afoul of the justice system tells you that the cops and prosecutors have made up evidence or are trying to railroad them, maybe you'll think twice.  Or how about the allegations of misconduct by the prosecutors and investigators involved in the Plantation cops mortgage fraud trial?  Doesn't seem to far fetched now, does it? 

Shame on the prosecutors and the law enforcement officers involved in this mess.  In a perfect world prosecutors Linda Drane Burdick and Jeff Ashton should be disbarred and criminally prosecuted for their behavior as should any other prosecutor who exhibits the same pattern of behavior. 

1 comment:

  1. agreed. it is even worse that nobody cares, they are given a free pass.

    it's a green light for prosecutors.