Friday, January 11, 2013

Smith County prosecutors smeared Kerry Cook, destroyed, withheld evidence

At the Texas Tribune, Brandi Grissom has the latest on Kerry Max Cook's pursuit of exoneration and the continuing misrepresentations by the Smith County DA about the case. “'They’re not just opposing Kerry’s bid to exonerate himself, but they’re saying all kinds of things about evidence at the trials that just isn’t true,' said Nina Morrison, staff attorney at the New York-based Innocence Project.”

Even more disturbing, reported Grissom, "After Cook's lawyers requested additional DNA testing on evidence in the case, they discovered some evidence had been destroyed and the storage of other evidence had presented questions regarding its chain of custody." In an apparent act of gamesmanship:
in December 2001, Smith County prosecutors destroyed much of the key physical evidence in the murder case without notifying Cook’s lawyers. Among the items destroyed were Edwards’ bra, panties and jeans, a hair found on her buttocks and all the latent fingerprints found at the scene. The destruction came just months after lawmakers passed the 2001 law that allowed for post-conviction DNA testing and required prosecutors to notify defendants before destroying evidence that might contain biological material.
These sorts of hide-the-ball tactics have characterized this case from the beginning, to the point that the Court of Criminal Appeals once opined that "Prosecutorial and police misconduct has tainted this entire matter from the outset," as Texas Monthly's Michael Hall reported last year. Read Brandi's full story for more examples of shameful misrepresentations by Smith County prosecutors, none of whom, it should be mentioned, have ever been held accountable for their actions by the state bar.

See prior, related Grits posts:

6 comments:

Chasing Justice said...

From the moment I went back into Court last February until the Hearing in Tyler of April 9th, since filing a request for additional DNA testing to echo even louder my innocence for a rape and murder I did not commit, I’ve met with nothing but egregious Smith County misconduct.
This misconduct is so blatant and fearless, District Attorney Matt Bingham and Michael West have actually sworn to its truth and veracity, burying me under an avalanche of lies.
The recent Motion to Strike the District Attorney’s pleading by my attorneys - - including Nina Morrison and Barry Scheck of the New York Innocence Project - - delineates a pattern of deliberate misrepresentation of evidence and record that, at a bare minimum, evinces a reckless, careless disregard for the rule of law. The lying is so bad, any day now I expect Matt Bingham to file an addendum to his latest motion with a P.S., that says, “By the way, I saw Kerry Cook commit the murder.”
Under the rules codified under the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct governing the conduct Texas lawyers (what Williamson County Judge Ken Anderson and former Michael Morton prosecutor John Bradley fall under in the upcoming Court of Inquiry) - - and “lawyers” includes prosecutors - -reads, prosecutors shall not “knowingly make false statements of material fact or law to a tribunal,” and, “offer or use evidence that the lawyer (prosecutor) knows to be false (Rule 3.03, Candor Toward the Tribunal)….”
District Attorney Matt Bingham and Michael West have honored their predecessors in turning the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct into biodegradable toilet paper.
Smith County Judge Christi Kennedy’s very first ruling on our Motion to Strike will tell whether she is out to whitewash the truth and protect those within the Smith County power structure responsible for committing the criminal acts of fraud that has kept this charade alive for 35 years.
At the very least this reckless, careless disregard for the truth calls for recusal of the Smith County district Attorney’s office and for the appointment of a special prosecutor from outside Tyler.
According to the Code of Judicial Conduct, under Cannon 3, Judge Kennedy is ethically obligated to report misrepresentations of fact by an officer of the court (prosecutor) to General Counsel of the State Bar of Texas. The cannon that govern her as a Judge that obligate her read, in part: (2) A judge who receives information clearly establishing that a lawyer has committed a violation of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct should take appropriate action. A judge having knowledge that a lawyer has committed a violation of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects shall inform the Office of the General Counsel of the State Bar of Texas or take other appropriate action.
Will Judge Kennedy finally stand up to this misconduct, even though her own husband once worked for Jack Skeen as an assistant district attorney and hold Bingham and West accountable and sanction them by striking their Response and then following through with her obligation under the Judicial Cannons and report them to the General Counsel of the State Bar of Texas?
The legal nightmare I am going through with the Smith County DA’s office evinces a reckless, careless, utter complete disregard for 3.03 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.
I keep thinking I will wake up but I never do. I have been helpless drowning in this for 35 years now.
All I can say, if it weren’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all. You’re a lucky man, Michael Morton. I go to bed every night wishing I could be you.

Anonymous said...

There has been a lot of talk about prosecutorial misconduct recently and how judges, the state bar, and others have failed to do anything about it. Often, it has been decades since the misconduct occurs and thus, nothing can be done. Here we have current, ongoing misconduct. It's time for the judiciary and the state bar to step up and take action. Or, will they continue to turn a blind eye in spite of the signficant damage that is being done to the integrity of the judicial system.

Bingham's assignment in this case is to protect Jack Skeen at all costs. Skeen still runs both the Smith County DAs office and the political machine. Prosecutorial misconduct is the standard operating procedure in Smith County and has been since Jack Skeen became the DA three decades ago (and before that when his cousin, A.D. Clark was the DA). Will it be allowed to continue? In another 10 years will we look back and wonder why something wasn't done?

Anonymous said...

Was the Smith County Sheriff's Office connected to this investigation?

TheTruthExposers said...

This case is just begging for federal intervention. Is that even possible?

Anonymous said...

"Was the Smith County Sheriff's Office connected to this investigation?"

No, this one was bungled by the geniuses at the Tyler Police Department.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Kerry, I've been told numerous times, "too bad you aren't Michael Morton" & "man, if you only had some friggin DNA evidence tied to your false arrest & wrongful conviction, we could do something", “No DNA, sorry, we don’t take Non-DNA claims”.

With that said, for a very short time you'll have the floor, before you move on to live the life stolen from you. While you are currently chasing justice, I ask you to consider being the first to utilize a microphone in one of the many press releases to come to say something about the claims’ of false arrests' that are allowed to morph into wrongful convictions' regarding (GPBA) Gross Plea Bargain Abuse. Specifically the ones involving - *Non-DNA, *Non-Death Row, *Closed / *Inactive cases. Cases that are systematically ignored by the projects', groups, Senators / State Reps., the TBP&P and exoneeres. The lawyers’ / attorneys’ ignore due to there being no money to be made and the exonerees ignore it because they are getting on with their lives and anticipate others to bring it up. Speaking as one of the un-exoneratable, directly to one that will be one soon, divided we’ll fail but collectively we will obtain what we chase. And, my friend, we will obtain it if it's the last thing we do. In return for taking a stand for those of us that are historically ignored, I reiterate my promise to be anywhere, anytime, for any reason for you and yours. That’s a promise.

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*Disclaimer Tyme. Yes, the Lubbock I.P. takes Non-DNA (but) one must have first exhausted all appeals. The WTF? string / loophole is a joke due to the known fact that everyone knows that when you are tricked into changing your Not Guilty plea (at lunch recess during a jury trial) to Nolo Contendere just because you where on probation at time of arrest (and told it was revoked the minute you were arrested), you are not appealing anything. Especially, if you are poor. Thanks.