Friday, September 14, 2012

West Virginia Prosecutors Prove Once Again Why Individuals SHOULD be Permitted to Sue the State for Malicious Prosecution

The recent acquittal of Autumn Rae Faulkner in Elkins, West Virginia, in which a jury deliberated for only an hour, provides ironclad proof that prosecutors, state and federal, should NOT be protected with any kind of immunity, period. When jurors take only an hour to acquit -- and having served as a jury foreman, I can tell you that much of that time was spent on activities besides talking about the case -- one can bet that they made up their minds even before the prosecution rested its case.

Faulkner was accused of having sex with a 15-year-old student three times in 2008 and 2009. 

It is easy to surmise that prosecutors had NO case whatsoever, and either the so-called "experts" were the stupidest people in the room, or they were the most craven. I wish it were the former, but the latter dominates my thinking.

So, why did the prosecution bring the charges and destroy this woman's life in the first place? They did it because they can do it, and that is what they were telling everyone else. Prosecutors, you see, really don't care about guilt or innocence; they just love showing their authority, and since the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that prosecutors have absolute immunity, they also know that no one in the system will hold them accountable.

In reading the article on the acquittal, I am struck by the utter arrogance that prosecutors had, and the way they dishonestly went about presenting evidence:

Following the trial, special prosecuting attorney Steve Jory said he didn't believe there was anything else the prosecution could have done differently that would have altered the outcome of the case.

"I think we presented every piece of evidence we had available to present," Jory remarked. "The case was fairly tried and the jury made its decision. Apparently they didn't believe we had enough evidence to prove our case." 
 But it gets even better:

Mazzei also highlighted the fact that the state hadn't presented any DNA evidence.
"The state took phones and [Faulkner's] computer, her couch, her comforter, bedding, a car, and no evidence ever came out of that that would prove Mrs. Faulkner was guilty," Mazzei said.

During his final statement, however, Jory told Mazzei that the prosecution wasn't able to present any DNA evidence because "you wouldn't allow your client and her husband to give (DNA) samples and we could not complete lab analysis." When asked after the trial if the court could have compelled Faulker and her husband, Scott Faulkner, to submit their DNA for testing, Jory said that it was possible, but the previous prosecutor in the Faulkner case -- former Randolph County Prosecutor Richard Busch -- had failed to do so.

When asked why he didn't later ask the court to order the Faulkners to submit their DNA for analysis, Jory simply said "there were a lot of factors" involved. (Emphasis mine)
As anyone familiar with criminal law knows, if the state wants evidence, it can get it. My sense is that the prosecutors and police did not seek DNA evidence because they knew there was none, it so leaving things in the realm of mere speculation where they could use innuendo would be more effective. (I imagine prosecutors already had convinced members of the media that Faulkner was a predator, but most journalists will believe anything cops and prosecutors say.) To claim to a jury that the state could not get evidence because the defendant and her attorney told them they could not get it fails to pass the laugh test.

But, when it comes to the use of innuendo, nothing tops this:
The state's evidence - or its lack thereof - was the subject of (Rocco) Mazzei's closing arguments Thursday.
"The state has this theory that a whole lotta text messages somehow equals guilt of sex," Mazzei said, referring to the voluminous number of text messages Faulkner sent to the 18-year-old student based on documents the prosecution subpoenaed from AT&T. "[Jory] wants you to convict her on a number of text messages. You should require the state to prove that this theory ... as it is, this theory is mere speculation. You haven't seen the content of a single text message."
 Wow! So, prosecutors told the jurors that there were a great number of text messages, but did not show their content to jurors in hopes that they would be able to use their imaginations to surmise what Faulker MIGHT have written. As anyone familiar with teacher-student sex cases knows, text messages in the sort of situation prosecutors were alleging existed would have been filled either with sexual innuendo or outright graphic language.

What does this mean? It means that prosecutors read the messages and realized that not one of them were sexual, so they tried to deceive jurors, instead, by lying and suborning perjury.

Lord knows how much money Faulkner and her husband and family spent defending her against charges that obviously were false from the beginning. No doubt, the West Virginia school system will take its revenge by permanently sullying her record.

And what happens to prosecutors who financially ruin innocent people just because they can do it? Nothing. These are people who viciously ruined the lives of others in an attempt to make an obviously fraudulent case look to have substance.

Will the State of West Virginia take action? Don't hold your breath. Once again, we see why prosecutors should be sued; that is the ONLY way they will be held accountable.

Are these prosecutors the proverbial "bad apples" in a good barrel? Think again; in West Virginia, the entire barrel is rotten.

4 comments:

Levi Russell said...

Bill,

I appreciate your documentation of the abuse Americans suffer at the hand of these people.

Are you aware of any rating systems that provide a general picture of the health of a given state's legislative system? I am a doctoral student and am applying for jobs for next year and would appreciate any info you can send my way.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Do you know of any action that can be taken in cases of misconduct?

A couple of years ago an assistant prosecutor got a conviction of one of my relatives for a dog bite; however, the individual neither owned nor was taking care of a dog. The alleged victim lied. On the way out of the courthouse, I commented to my relative about the alleged victim lying.
An officer (different from the arresting officer of the alleged dog bite) overheard me and accused me of witness intimidation, because the alleged victim may have heard my discussion. (importance later).

My relative appealed, but the judge did not grant a new trial on a technicality, but would allow a plea bargain.

I went with my relative into the side room in which the discussion took place. The assistant prosecutor (AP) allowed the arresting officer to have a say in the plea bargain. When my relative would suggest something, the AP would look at the officer; the officer would shake his head "no" and then the AP would then say "no".
Eventually my relative said that I was the one who owned the alleged dog (which I had testified and showed documentation to prove it during the trial).
The AP's response:"I'm not going to retry something I already got a conviction on." Then the officer responded that he could still charge me with witness intimidation. Under this pressure my relative agreed to plead no contest and accept probation.

Within months we sent complaints to the ACLU and WV Bar, neither of which said they could help (the former due to lack of resources; the latter: by text their response obviously had not fully read the complaint)

My relative, unable to completely pay his fines, is still on probation for a misdemeanor with which he should never have been charged.

Thanks for your time.

Anonymous said...

Bandied about, of late, is the idea of some equalization in consequences: prosecutor loses - pays a percentage of fees of accused.
Of course, this same idea has been broached in the sphere of economics: place a bet that your ideas are correct.
Limp, thus far.

Anonymous said...

thanks for share.