Friday, May 29, 2014
Crane Station was represented early in the case by a lawyer I retained prior to the preliminary hearing. His name is Will Kautz. He cross examined Deputy McGuire at the preliminary hearing and at the suppression hearing six months later. He is the defense lawyer asking the questions in the court reporter’s transcripts.
We have no quarrel with Will. I think he is an exceptional trial lawyer and the admissions that he obtained from Deputy McGuire at both hearings set the deputy up to be impeached at the trial. That is what a good trial lawyer does.
You may have noticed that he did not confront the deputy at the suppression hearing with his prior inconsistent testimony at the preliminary hearing. Because he has been practicing law in this community for many years, he knew there was no chance to win the suppression hearing. Instead, he locked the deputy into the conflicting versions under oath so that the deputy could be exposed during the trial in front of the jury for the liar that he was.
From time to time readers have asked why the prosecution targeted Crane-Station.
The other half of this story, which we will delve into at length, is my story about my experiences as an assistant dean, associate professor of law and the director of clinical programs at the start-up American Justice School of Law in Paducah, KY. The school used my professional reputation and innocence project work to attract new students.
For example, Professor Jackie McMurtrie and I co-founded Innocence Project Northwest at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle. I also recruited more than 40 lawyers in private practice to work pro bono and created 17 teams of lawyers and law students and assigned each team to represent a client who had pled guilty in the notorious Wenatchee Sex Ring case, an hysterical witch hunt prosecution.
Subsequent investigation established that the sex ring was the product of the fevered sexual imagination of one delusional police officer and several caseworkers employed by Children’s Protective Services who were prejudiced against poor and developmentally disabled adults who lived in a community in a trailer park on the edge of town. After deciding that the parents were perverts, the welfare workers removed two sisters from their home and placed them in foster care in the police officer’s home.
Given daily uninterrupted access to the girls and assistance from a psychologist who bought the theory hook, line and sinker, it did not take long to help the girls recall satanic sex orgies in the basement of a church that many of the families in the community attended. Supposedly the preacher and the Sunday school teacher presided over these orgies in which parents swapped their children with other parents. Pressured by the caseworkers, the psychologist and the police officer, other children corroborated the sisters.
Amazing what a counselor can get a child to say by using leading questions that seek the child’s agreement in order to help their “sick” parents get well.
Not surprisingly, relentless, confrontational and coercive interrogations of developmentally disabled adults by police tend to produce false confessions.
The lawyers appointed to represent the parents had apparently already decided their clients were guilty without doing any investigation or consulting any experts regarding false accusations by children, false confessions by adults, and community hysteria caused by beliefs in satanic orgies and prejudices against poor and developmentally disabled adults. They advised their clients to plead guilty.
In other words, the legal system in Wenatchee failed to function.
The lawyer-student teams persuaded the Washington State Court of Appeals to reverse the convictions of all 17 clients on the ground that no crime was committed.
Little wonder that my arrival in Paducah was viewed as a potential threat to business as usual. Those concerns increased after I blew the whistle on a scam by the owners of the law school to skim student loan proceeds for living expenses.
I was fired in retaliation for blowing the whistle. Due to the adverse financial consequences that caused, I was unable to continue paying Will Kautz. He withdrew from the case, forcing Crane to plead indigency. The court appointed Chris McNeill, the director of the local Department of Public Advocacy, which is the public defender.
Despite Will Kautz’s splendid job setting the table for an evisceration of the deputy and my assistance in preparing a cross examination to fully exploit every inconsistency and lie, McNeill never used any of it. In fact, he never challenged the credibility of the deputy at all.
For example, the deputy went with the plain view story at the trial and McNeill never confronted him with his testimony at the preliminary hearing where he denied being able to see the suspected controlled substance from outside his vehicle and admitted that he did not see it until he pulled the seat cushion out.
In our next post, we will reveal why he pulled the seat cushion out and describe the trial judge’s improper and extremely prejudicial ruling that prevented Crane from putting on a defense all but guaranteeing that the jury would be left with no choice but to convict her.
Until next time.
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