Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Letter to Buzz Franklin, Part I

Last month, after he made his infamous public statement claiming that the media and the blogosphere prevented the state "from receiving a fair trial," I wrote a long (very long) letter to Buzz Franklin.

Because it is nearly 5,000 words, I am putting it in two parts. Anyway, here is the first part:

Dear Mr. Franklin:

I am writing this letter to you in response to your press release given on Friday, May 14, and because I was the main blogger in this case (and I have no doubt that you and your staff read my comments), I believe that I need to give some answers in response to your accusations, many of which were absolutely untrue. Furthermore, much of what you have said in your release seems to be aimed at intimidating the jurors in the Tonya Craft case, as well as intimidating future jurors that will hear criminal cases in the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit.

As one who has followed a large number of criminal trials and proceedings, I must say that the only case to which I can compare the trial against Ms. Craft was the infamous Duke Lacrosse Case, in which three lacrosse players from Duke University were falsely accused of raping Crystal Gail Mangum. However, District Attorney Michael B. Nifong indicted the players, and then lied, falsified evidence, and ultimately was caught and disbarred.

I bring up the Duke case because the kind of investigation that was done in that case mirrors the investigation your office carried on in the Craft case, as well as what happened in the infamous McMartin/Little Rascals/Bakersfield/Wenatchee and other such cases in which people were wrongfully convicted. (I find it interesting that your “expert” witnesses were not aware at all of these faux “child molestation” cases when asked about them by the defense during cross-examination.)

There are a number of things I would like to cover in this letter. The first is your conduct toward the Craft jury and its verdict, which you openly criticize, in violation of the ethical standards that govern your profession. I also will comment on your “fair trial” statement, which is puzzling to me, given that the state never was on trial.

I then will comment on the statements and behavior of the state’s witnesses, as well as the behavior or your prosecutors. Last, I want to deal with the way that your office falsely characterized the “expert” witnesses for the defense, calling them “whores of the court” as well as people who “lie for money.” This is a serious accusation, as all four are respected in their field, and Dr. Nancy Aldridge, who usually testifies for the prosecution, is highly-regarded across Georgia, and so your office in characterizing her as a liar also impugns the integrity of every prosecutor who has used her testimony in legal proceedings. To put it mildly, you need to answer for a number of things.

Obviously, I cannot cover everything that happened in the trial, but I believe that at very least I must address some of the merits of your statement, and explain why I believe that you are engaged in illegal intimidation. Let us begin with your comment on the verdict itself:
I was disappointed with the verdict in the Tonya Craft case. The State presented a strong and compelling case to support a conviction, however, the jury chose to acquit her and we must accept this decision.
There is nothing wrong with that statement, as it follows within the guidelines of the ABA’s ethical rules for prosecutors:

Standard 3-5.10 Comments by Prosecutor After Verdict

The prosecutor should not make public comments critical of a verdict, whether rendered by judge or jury.

Yet, you then declare the following, which clearly violates what the previously-listed standard:
Child molesters rarely commit their crime in public. Child molesters rarely confess. Child molesters are rarely caught on tape. Child molesters rarely leave behind physical evidence. A jury must often make a choice between the testimony of an abused child and the alleged perpetrator. If a jury refuses to convict without videotapes, confession or physical evidence, it will be impossible to convict most child molesters.

It was particularly troubling in this case to hear statements attributed to some jurors that they looked at the defendant and decided she just didn't look like someone who would commit such a crime. We must necessarily base our cases on the evidence and not how a defendant looks. We do not simply prosecute those who fit the unsavory profile a juror might have.
In reading the few interviews that exist with jurors in that case, it is utterly clear that your portrayal of them doing something akin to judging a beauty contest is dead wrong. These jurors spoke to the evidence presented and to the behavior of your prosecutors, and the especially cited what they believed to be “lies” told by Chris Arnt during the closing arguments by misrepresenting the testimony of Dr. Nancy Fajman. (The defense objected, but Judge Brian House, as he had done when prosecutors were badgering witnesses and he overruled defense objections by declaring, “He’s on cross,” then declared during the closing arguments that “He’s on close.”)

What you said clearly violates the rules of conduct that supposedly govern your office. You are not to attack jurors, and what you said earlier smacks of intimidation. In effect, you wrote something akin to this: The prosecution presented a strong case and jurors were too stupid or too craven to recognize the brilliance of what Arnt and Len Gregor did. They should have convicted Ms. Craft, and by not agreeing with my assessment of the case, the jurors did something terrible.

Indeed, by setting up a straw man and then ignoring what jurors actually told the media about the substance of the case, you have crossed the line, although this hardly is the first time you have done so in the prosecution of Ms. Craft. Your actions here are deceitful, and I believe you are trying to send a message to jurors that will hear future cases that are controversial that they had better bow to the prosecution’s desires.

After all, what did you say? You said that the state “presented a strong and compelling case to support a conviction” which implies that the jury should have rendered the verdict you wanted. Yet, the jurors disagreed with your assessment? Does that make them wrong? You imply that they should have come to the decision that you desired, but they are not obligated to bow down to your wishes, period.

It seems to me that you are telling potential jurors in the LMJC that the prosecutors are so superior and that they always are correct, so to contradict them is unacceptable. I don’t think so. First, your ADAs are not as good as you think and certainly not as good as they think. Second, your assessment that somehow the defense was dishonest and bullied witnesses is untruthful, as courtroom observers, as well as the videotape of the proceedings tell a much different story.

I now would like to examine the following statement that you make regarding the press and the bloggers:
In most cases, the media strives to present their coverage of criminal trials in a fair and even-handed way that serves to inform the public. In this case, a number of local reporters openly took sides and heavily slanted their coverage in favor of the defense.

Combined with the dynamics of the internet blogosphere, it created an environment hostile to the State's ability to receive a fair trial and portrayed the victims and their families in a false and negative light. This was an integral, purposeful and shameless part of the defense strategy. This will result in child victims and their supportive family members refusing to come forward for fear of a similar portrayal in the public. My office has never tried cases in the media and we won't start now.
First, I need to remind you, sir, that the State of Georgia was not on trial. Instead, it was the duty of the State of Georgia and your office to help to put on a fair trial, and I can tell you that despite your best efforts to replicate the court of Roland Friesler, the jurors still saw through your case.

Second, the jurors all said that they had not read the newspapers, saw news broadcasts, or read the blogs, so if you are saying that I and others influenced them, then you also must accuse these jurors of misconduct. If you are not ready to bring criminal charges against them, then perhaps you need to change your statements.

I would challenge you to name me one instance in which the news media or my blog “portrayed the victims and their families in a false and negative light.” First, they were “alleged” victims, and for you to declare that Tonya Craft is guilty after a jury has ruled “not guilty” is to spit in the face of the system you claim to support. Second, I want to challenge you to show one instance of the “false light” example. Disagreeing with what they were saying, by the way, does not count, for if your views are to be taken as ex cathedra, then there really is no need for a trial.

I did not know any of the families or their children, nor did I know Tonya Craft, so I had no incentive to put people I did not know in a “false light.” However, you made a statement that was so utterly untrue and calumnious that I must address it as my second point. You declare that that what I wrote was “an integral, purposeful and shameless part of the defense strategy.” It will tell you flat out that what you said is a lie.

During this trial, I had NO contact with the defense, none. There was a gag order and even had there been no such order, I still would not have coordinated anything with the defendant (who I did not know) or her attorneys. You can check my emails and my phone records and you will not find ANY contact with the defense, so to claim that my blog was part of a “defense strategy” is a lie. Let me repeat it: What you said was false.

What I wrote, I wrote because I was observing the day’s proceedings, watching your witnesses on the news, and observing the behavior of your ADAs, Arnt and Gregor. To be honest, what I was seeing was outrageous, and that was why I wrote what I did. For you to claim that I was writing what I did on order of Dr. Demosthenes Lorandos and the other attorneys is to engage in false speech, which also violates the ethical standards of your office.

Also, Len Gregor dressed down Melydia Clewell of WRCB-TV in open court. The idea of an ADA trying to intimidate a journalist in front of a judge (who apparently approved of this outrageous act) violates all ethical standards, and you know it. Furthermore, Ms. Clewell was not acting in concert with the defense, nor was she a source for my daily posts. That’s right. My sources included people you did not know and could not control through gag orders or anything else.

Don’t forget that your prosecutors made public statements to the press that by declaring she was innocent, Ms. Craft was “acting guilty,” which was quoted in the Catoosa News on March 8. Mr. Arnt also had an inflammatory posting on his Facebook page on January 27, 2010, which violated Rules 3.6 and 3.8, as prosecutors are not allowed to engage in Trial by Facebook. I have documentation of both things, so please do not try to say that this did not happen. As you know, Michael Nifong was disbarred in North Carolina in part because of his public statements, and while Georgia has different rules, the overall ethical standards are supposed to be similar. However, since your ADAs tried, in effect, to try the case in the media, your statement is false.

I next would like to address the conduct of your witnesses, and especially those from the Children’s Advocacy Centers of North Georgia. As was noted in a number of independent reports, your CAC witnesses, when questioned by the defense, rolled their eyes, made noises, shrugged their shoulders, and generally were hostile as opposed to acting like professionals. It is obvious that they are used to having their way in trials held in the LMJD, yet when we look both at their credentials and their performance, there is no way that they have been held to any professional standards.

As you know, therapists, interviewers, and medical professionals are supposed to document events, yet one of the things missing from almost all of them (with the exception of Sharon Anderson, who still faltered on a number of key questions during cross-examination, but has not updated her training, as she still is using outdated methods and analysis). Perhaps the most egregious example came from Suzi Thorne, who claimed that after she had interviewed Raegan Lamb (Accuser #1), and the girl had “disclosed” nothing, then suddenly after the cameras were turned off, she then made a claim of an act of sexual penetration that was so violent that it is certain there would have been terrible physical damage (which apparently never was the case).

Ms. Thorne, who does not even have a college degree and is not qualified under any circumstances to do this kind of work, said that she did nothing to document this “explosive” encounter. She did not turn back on the video camera, nor did she write anything in her notes. She then claimed that a detective (that she could not identify on the stand) took down notes, but nothing like that had been given the defense at discovery.

I will tell you, Mr. Franklin, that this testimony reeks of perjury, and it clearly does not pass any “smell test.” That Det. Tim Deal at the next session would claim to have been the one present, and then the prosecution suddenly “discovering” the document in question is something that you have to understand is going to make people like me very, very suspicious. I believe that one always should be suspicious of deus ex machina actions by either the defense or the prosecution, and the notion that Thorne’s testimony should not have been scrutinized to the hilt is laughable.

Would you have been willing to accept such a state of affairs had the defense suddenly come up with this kind of testimony? For that matter, the prosecution, working with House, managed to keep out reams of exculpatory material from the evidence file, including the notes that Dr. Ann Hazzard kept on her sessions with the two children of Tonya Craft. It is interesting that the prosecution considered those notes to be “hearsay,” but that you are willing to claim that the unmemorialized testimony of Suzi Thorne was “legitimate” evidence.

I will go even further. All of the prosecution “experts” associated with the Children’s Advocacy Centers admitted that they did not read any current academic and professional literature that deals with the techniques of interviewing children suspected of having been abused, sexually or otherwise. In fact, one of your witnesses, Stacy Long, laughed and said, “So what!” during cross-examination when asked about asking leading questions to children, yet one of the documented reasons that we have false accusations in cases like this is that interviewers ask leading questions.

(Part II tomorrow)


KC Sprayberry said...

Goodness. Buzz Franklin will probably blow a gasket when he reads this, unless he's involved in an important burglary trial again. Since burglary only competes with arson for importance in this area, one has to wonder why he elected to try that particular case during the Craft trial. Never in my experience in this country, and I have lived in several states, has a district attorney elected to bow out of a high profile case.
I only have one comment to your post, Bill. You named one of the accusers in this letter by her full name. Other than that, I can't wait to see the rest of this letter. Maybe we'll be treated to another show of solidarity as the DA's office walks from their office to a nearby cafe for lunch across Main Street.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bill for sharing your thoughts on this. I am a reasonably educated person but nothing on your level. It is very pleasing to be able to read information and have it explained this way. I would never have been able to make this much sense out of the case and the people that Govern my Community. I am very happy that you have chosen to shine light on these people for the evil things they have done. It is just pure unfiltered evil and they have to pay for this behavior. It is highly embarrassing to have this happen in my Community but a good cleaning out will change that. Then we can rebuild the trust that must be restored in our Courts. Thanks Sir, more than you know. Fishman

Cinderella said...

Thanks for your posts. Your blog is the first thing I look at in the morning and the last thing at night before I turn the laptop off.
I would be cool if you make a stop in "Ranggold" for lunch and autograph signing. You have many, many fans.

William L. Anderson said...


Heck, if I went to Ringgold, I am sure I would be arrested on the spot! Since Catoosa has a policy of "arrest first, think of charges later," I'm sure that they would figure out that I was jaywalking or improperly using the sidewalks.

Furthermore, I am sure that Sandra Lamb and her father would love to get me arrested so that they could laugh hysterically at my hearing!

Not that I am afraid of these people, but I have only so many days here, and I don't want to spend any of them in jail. (I do plan to be at the Truth for Tonya car wash on McFarland Avenue on Saturday.)

Cinderella said...

Oh darn, we will be out of town this weekend for the first shower for my first grandchild (due Aug 30). OK locals, you heard the man, oops I mean Dr. Anderson, you guys can meet him this Saturday. Looking forward to reading more this weekend.

Narcissist 07 said...

Hey Bill,
I might stop by to get my car washed, but now that you have announced that you will be there, don't be surprised is LMJC finest aren't out there photographing tag numbers and people gathering there, like the Feds do to all motorcycle clubs. It wouldn't surprise me if they didn't just swoop in and bust the whole thing as an illegal gathering. Of course then the charges would magically turn to civil unrest, rioting in the street, and who knows, maybe even get homeland security involved, citing a domestic terroristic plot being formed to overthrow the government. They may even throw in a cop or two to stand in front of the red lights to divert traffic around and block people from coming in. (Oh wait, that is Chattanooga PD's tactics)
Someone needs to have a couple dozen hidden video cameras recording from all angles for this deal. I write this in jest, but as we all know, this bunch make up the rules as they go.

Clark said...

I wouldn't be surprised if they shut the carwash down because they don't have a Permit, or a "business license". I sure hope that they don't! I wont be able to make it to the carwash, but I have made donations on paypal!

Trish said...

Great letter Bill, look forward to reading the rest of it. I would so love to meet you, but my grandson has a swim meet and a ball tournament Sat. so don't know if I can squeeze in anything else, but who knows. Enjoy your visit here!!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, that arrogant jackass will never read that letter

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading that post, glad you are keeping this story fresh for everyone. I hope people dont start forgetting. If they arent disbarred, they should still be ran out on a rail. I cant believe our system will let this happen. Thanks to the "blogosphere" maybe it wont happen in Catoosa County again for a while. See you at the car wash.


William L. Anderson said...

Oh, I guarantee you Buzz has read it. He might not read the blog, but remember that I sent it to his office snail mail. He has it and I have no doubt that he read it.

Others in authority have read it, too.

What Buzz needs to do is to cut loose Arnt and Gregor before they get him in any more trouble. But, no, he decided to back them and defend the undefendable.

Anonymous said...

Well, keep us posted if you get a response. I love to see how he would defend himself and his staff.

KC Sprayberry said...

Buzz will probably say he's far too busy preparing for his next trial, the arraignment of another child molester, next week. Funnily enough, Chris Arnt is doing the arraignments of a bad check writer and a DUI. Hmmm? That does seem like a step down from persecuting child molesters. Maybe there are changes coming. Couldn't access any calenders for Catoosa County. It seems they're not having any court sessions through the end of the month. I wonder if that has anything to do with the Magistrate Court fiasco?
I also wonder if the media (other than NCSlime) will cover Buzz's trial? Maybe we'll see another instance of the state trying to get a fair trial.

Cinderella said...

Would love to see a piece on Dr. Anderson by Ms Clewell - WRCB. I'm not on Tweeter- anyone care to tweet her?

Anonymous said...

Today if I were a juror in Catoosa County and the prosecution presented film footage and twelve eye wittinesses I would still have to vote not guilty. My first thought would be how much would they be making for this conviction?

Very sad to say but that is the truth. I live and vote in the county and really wish they would call me for jury duty, at least I would have a chance to prevent someone else from a free railroad ride.

Justine Valinotti said...

Buzz Franklin makes General McChrystal seem like a model of professional decorum. And while the general had no business making bigoted comments, he certainly had more evidence for criticizing the current Administration than Franklin has for impugning the integrity of the jurors.

JD said...

Anon 11:42 has a very valid point. A jury of your peers will bring their life experiences with them to the jury room, if anyone likes it or not. When someone doesn't have trust in the DA or the police then a defense lawyer can bring up a reasonable explanation and therefore doubt because the person doesn't trust what the DA or police say is the truth.

Remember OJ Simpson was tried in downtown LA and not in Brentwood. Downtown LA citizens are not as quick to believe the police and DA as they would be in Brentwood. That's what a lot of commentators said.

Anonymous said...

I am thrilled that you will be at the car wash...can't wait to shake your hand! Hope your visit to Chattanooga is pleasant; please stay out of Catoosa county...they would love to lock you up, for anything!

Lame said...

I haven't been around here in a couple of days. Did anyone else hear that Judge/Magistrate Peters is considering issueing bench warrants for the arrest of everyone involved in his arrest, including Sherrrrreeef Sommers?

Kellie G said...

Hope you have a good visit in Chatt town!

Kaye said...

Yes, Lame, Peters spoke about that to some in the media.

Both Sheriff Summers and Anthony Peters have appeared on the local tv station, UCTV, and spoke about their situations at length.

Last night, Summers talked about these warrants. Also, he talked about how he still believed Peters broke 2 laws--one being criminal trespass and the other obstruction, they had to release him from custody. Summers said that because he was serving in the LMJC as a judge, everybody else in the district would have a conflict of interest with his case. He said that he would have had to have gone to another Superior court judge outside of the LMJC in order to get charges filed, and that he couldn't do that within 24 hours. He stated that Peters would run into the same "conflict of interest" problems with his arrest warrants and he, too, would have to go outside of the LMJC.

Is that true or not? I couldn't tell you, but it did make sense to me somehow.

If you go back to the previous thread, you will see some discussion about Peters' UCTV appearance. He could be the nicest and the most honest man in the world, but I kid you not... his interview was bizarre to say the least.

Kaye said...

Oh, before I forget... Bill, welcome back to Chattanooga. Hope you have a wonderful visit here. Just make any trips to or through Catoosa County unannounced! Ha!

Kaye said...

The story at this link has a little info about both of the UCTV interviews with Peters and Summers:

Anonymous said...

This would make a powerful letter to the editor. If they don't reject it due to its length.


Anonymous said...

Would have been a great surprise to hear that you were hand delivering this letter to Buzz. LOL Now I would pay good money to see that. Just thinking about what his expression would have been is priceless. Enjoy your visit.

Lame said...

Anon 9:57, I can tell you what Buzz would have done. It would have gone down like this:

Anderson: "Hi, Buzz, here's a letter for you."
Franklin: "Who the ---- are you?"
Anderson: "I'm the guy who's been eviscerating you and your staff on the internet."
Franklin: "Oh. Can you hold on a second, I need to make a quick phone call." [Moments later Phil Sommers rolls up]
Sommers: "So, you're that SOB!" [Pulls out gun, shoots Anderson, moments later a news crew rolls up]
Reporter: "What happened here?"
Franklin: "That man just admitted he was the person who really raped those girls instead of Tonya Craft."
Sommers: "you see, the trial was all an elaborate ruse to get him to come down here."
Reporter: "So, why's he dead?"
Sommers: "Well, just like a lot of nig...uh, I mean, suspects, he was shot trying to escape." [Reporter leaves]
Franklin: "She's gone..." [the both put on white robes and pointy white caps] "...I've got the gasoline and matches, did you remember to bring the cross?"
Sommers: "Nah, Daves has it, he'll be here in a minute. He's finishing up tazering a lady who didn't turn around and go back when the crosswalk light started flashing 'Don't Walk.'"

justiceseeker51nalemon said...

That was a Great Scenario!!!!

Lame said...

I was in downtown Ogden, Utah this evening for the Ogden Raptors' first home game of the season, and to get to the stadium I had to use a crosswalk. Seeing it flash "Don't Walk" reminded me of what I wrote about Daves, and it made me shake my head in shame that, although he didn't actually do that, that there are some cops out there who would do that to someone.