Good afternoon. We continue our analysis of the Sober DUI and drug case that is now published and affirmed precedent in Kentucky. This is part 3.
A lawyer has a duty to represent his client to the best of his ability, vigorously. He also has a duty to keep his client informed.
Chris McNeill violated both of those duties on a regular basis
In this chapter we present two egregious examples.
Photographs of the back seat of a police cruiser
On January 16, 2008, which was one week before trial, Deputy Eddie McGuire obtained the drug exhibit from the evidence unit at the McCracken County Sheriff’s Office. He took it to a prearranged meeting with prosecutor Jim Harris and defense counsel, Chris McNeill, in the department parking lot.
The purpose of the meeting was to conduct an experiment to determine (1) if Rachel Leatherman’s request for assistance in retrieving her watch from behind the seat was consistent with the configuration of the back seat and the location of the safety belt hole through which the safety belt attached to the body of the vehicle beneath the back seat, and (2) to determine if the deputy’s claim that he saw her watch and the suspected controlled substance together in plain view in the opening to the seat belt hole was credible.
They removed the back seat from the cruiser and took 53 photographs. They certainly did not need to remove the back seat to photograph the suspected drug in plain view in the seat belt hole.
The photographs support Rachel Leatherman’s claim and for that reason they were material exculpatory evidence.
Any competent criminal defense lawyer would have introduced the photographs into evidence in support of her claim because that is required by the rules of professional conduct in order to represent the client to the best of your ability, vigorously.
Not only did he fail to do that, he also failed to inform her about the photographs or the experiment in the parking lot thereby violating his duty to keep her informed about her case.
Chris McNeill is an incompetent lawyer.
Crane-Station here. As Fred explains, McNeill never informed me of anything about my case, let alone this. In the next post, we will explain why it was important, that they changed their story at trial, to reflect that a drug was in plain view and on top of the seat, at trial, but in hearings prior to trial, it was underneath the seat and out of view. Obviously no one would direct an officer’s attention to underneath the seat, and to ask the officer to get a watch, if there were drugs, next to the watch. We will refer to this photo set, in future posts. And stay tuned, Chris McNeill gets even worse. Far worse, in fact.
First page, a to-do list from the case file, bates page stamped 1114, dated 1/15/2008, one day before:
In the middle of the list is the word “car” and at the end is the deputy Eddie McGuire’s phone number, redacted.
Taking the seat completely out of the car and snapping multiple dozens of photos is not something one would bother to do, to prove that something seized was in plain view. On the night of my arrest, I directed the officer to look under the seat and get my watch, and that is what he did.
And all of the people at the drug and camera meeting on January 16, 2008 knew it, or else, McNeill would not have hidden fifty-three exculpatory photographs from me.