Monday, September 15, 2008

I'm on Vacation

Check back October 1 for more posts!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Social worker refuses to testify in Inman case

There has been an interesting twist in the Inman trial going on in Greenville. Marti Loring, a social worker licensed in another state, did a social history on Inman, but refused to take the stand after the prosecutor alleged she was violating state law by practicing social work in SC.

"I feel threatened as a witness in this case and in other cases in which I've testified in South Carolina," Marti Loring told the judge after a recess to allow her to consult with an attorney.

The social worker is refusing to testify now, though the judge told her she does not have a legal ground to refuse. Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor Bob Ariail had previously objected to the introduction of Loring's testimony to her evaluation of Inman's behavioral profile, saying she freqently offers opinions that aren't factually based. The judge asked Loring if she felt uncomfortable and she said she was concerned that Ariail might charge her with a crime. She said she feared her reputation as an expert might be damaged. Ariail said he would grant her immunity, as did the judge.

Sounds like to me the defense team is working to come up with an appellate issue or something to raise on PCR.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

S.C. Supreme Court issues opinion of duty of counsel to present mitigation evidence

In Council v. State, the South Carolina Supreme Court affirmed relief in a death penalty PCR case. Council was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman and forcing her to ingest cleaning fluids. At trial, Council’s lawyer argued that he was not the murderer, but rather an accomplice at the scene actually did the killing. In the penalty phase, trial counsel only called the defendant’s mother as a mitigation witness. She testified about Council's mental health between the ages of 7 and 14 and that he had been teased while a child at school. Not surprisingly, a jury returned a verdict of guilt and recommended a sentence of death.

The death sentence was overturned because trial counsel fails to present voluminous mitigation evidence. For example, no social history was compiled. Had a social history been compiled evidence could have been presented to the jury that several of Council’s family members suffered from mental illness, that his father was an alcoholic and extremely violate, that Council lived in several homes which did not have running water and indoor plumbing, that he did very poorly in school, and that he had attempted suicide at a young age. Had trial counsel obtained a forensic psychiatrist, testimony could have been presented that respondent was an undifferentiated schizophrenic, which began in early adolescents for childhood.

In summary, the Supreme Court agreed with the PCR court that the mitigation evidence would have been powerful and that that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to present such evidence. Accordingly, the sentence of death was reversed.

Inman mitigation evidence presented in Greenville trial

Here is the story from the g-news.

Today's proceedings are expected to focus on the defense testimony of mental and prison experts, carrying over Price’s testimony on Tuesday -- based on 3,000 pages of medical and prison records -- to how Inman’s childhood and genetic predisposition to mental disorders paved his violent path.When Inman was a toddler, his biological father would tie Inman and his older sister to their bunk bed and molest them, a pattern of abuse that later manifested as Inman likewise bound his victims’ hands after in most cases waking them in their beds, Price testified.

The sexual assaults, along with later sexual acts by another family member, left Inman permanently damaged mentally, Price testified. Inman’s only steady parental figure -- his grandfather, who would often try to intervene when Inman’s parents abused him -- died when Inman was a child, Price testified.At age 10, Inman was using drugs. At age 15, after dropping out of ninth grade, Inman was living on the streets, Price testified.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Forgotten, man sits in jail for two years

From the St. Louis Post:

Joseph A. Shepard Sr. sat in local jails for almost two years, assuming that his lawyer was making progress on his case and that drug-related charges against him would soon be resolved in federal court.

His family says lawyer Michael P. Kelly told them Shepard had pleaded guilty and would return home soon with credit for time already served behind bars. Shepard never came home. Shepard, 53, is a man the system forgot, apparently ignored by his own attorney--and the prosecutor and judge--as days ticked by in a municipal lockup where he was confined to a cell 23 hours a day.

Shepard was surprised when a reporter broke the news at the Jennings jail Wednesday night that his case had been forgotten. It was more than a month after prosecutors took steps to move the case forward, though he still had not been told about it by his lawyer.