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[the saddest part of this article is, it doesn't surprise me anymore to read of tactics like this ...]

Jurors' Letters Faked?

Associated Press
February 11, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO - Lawyers for a death row inmate, including former Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr, sent fake letters from jurors asking California's governor to spare the man's life, prosecutors said Friday.

The jurors denied they thought Michael Morales deserved clemency because some of the testimony at his trial may have been fabricated, said Nathan Barankin, spokesman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

"We showed each person the declaration on their behalf and they all said they didn't say that," Barankin said.

San Joaquin County prosecutor Charles Schultz also said the letters sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week were "untrue" and "pure fiction."

Starr was not immediately available for comment, said a spokeswoman for the Pepperdine School of Law, where Starr is the dean.

Morales' other clemency attorney, David Senior from Los Angeles, said he stood by the validity of the six sworn statements he and Starr sent to the governor. He suggested that the jurors might have gotten cold feet when they were contacted by prosecutors in the last two days.

"When the D.A. and A.G. show up with badges and guns and say whatever, they can intimidate a lot of people and that's their game," Senior said.

On Friday, the San Joaquin District Attorney's office sent Schwarzenegger a new batch of sworn statements from five of those jurors saying they not only still supported capital punishment for Morales, but had never spoken with the defense investigator who claimed to have secured their signatures.

Kathleen Culhane, the San Francisco private investigator who Starr and Senior said had interviewed the jurors, declined to comment.

None of the five jurors involved in the legal tug-of-war, whose names were blacked out of the competing clemency documents to protect their privacy, could immediately be reached for comment.

Morales is scheduled to be executed Feb. 21 for the rape and murder of a 17-year-old girl in San Joaquin County 25 years ago.

Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Margita Thompson declined to address the dispute, saying only that the governor, when deciding on clemency, will consider "all the information that is provided to him when making the decision."
 
Posts: 2418 | Location: TDCAA | Registered: March 08, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Over the last few years, beginning with the big press for innocence projects and postconviction writs for innocence, little attention has been paid to the false statements made in the vast majority of these cases.

One wonders: what procedures are in place at the innocence projects for screening false claims? Shouldn't we be opening up the claims for public review? Why should the public only get to see those claims that the project deems appropriate? Why aren't we gathering statistics on false claims of innocence and the various types of falsification used to make the claims?

Perhaps the committee that recently made such sweeping recommenations for improvements in prosecution could look at establishing the "best practices" for screening an innocence claim for lies, perjury and forged documents. I wonder if Sen. Ellis would support such guidelines and public review?

In my little jurisdiction, we have seen an inmate obtain an affidavit of recantation by threatening the witness (who happened to be in the same prison) with a knife. I have seen claims that a child victim has recanted, only to discover that the victim had not even read the affidavit. I have seen defendants deny guilt and fail to mention their recorded or written confession, hoping we didn't notice.

So, I guess it isn't too hard to believe that this stuff happens. The question is, why isn't the press paying more attention to it?
 
Posts: 7860 | Location: Georgetown, Texas | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Any lawyer implicated in such tactics should be irrevocably disbarred. Similarly, investigators should lose their licenses. Not only does the conduct damage the integrity of the system, it also hurts any real opportunity for the particular defendant. If true, the behavior is egregious.

[This message was edited by John Stride on 02-13-06 at .]
 
Posts: 532 | Location: McKinney, Tx | Registered: June 22, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Prosecutors say jurors' declarations are false

DAVID KRAVETS and LISA LEFF
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO - State and local prosecutors said Friday that former Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr and another lawyer representing a death row inmate submitted to the governor forged letters from jurors who were falsely portrayed as wishing the condemned man would be spared.

"We showed each person the declaration on their behalf and they all said they didn't say that," said Nathan Barankin, spokesman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

Starr and Los Angeles attorney David Senior are the clemency lawyers for Michael Morales, a 46-year-old Stockton man on death row for murdering and raping a 17-year-old San Joaquin County girl 25 years ago.

Morales is scheduled to be executed Feb. 21.

Earlier this week, Starr and Senior submitted to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declarations from six Ventura County jurors who said they thought Morales deserved clemency because some of the testimony at his trial may have been fabricated. Morales had been tried in Ventura County in 1983 because of too much pretrial publicity in San Joaquin County.

But on Friday, the San Joaquin District Attorney's office sent Schwarzenegger a new batch of sworn statements from five of those jurors saying they not only still supported capital punishment for Morales, but had never spoken with the defense investigator who claimed to have secured their signatures.

Reached Friday evening, Senior said he stood by the validity of the affidavits he and Starr sent to Schwarzenegger and suggested that the jurors might have gotten cold feet when they were contacted by prosecutors in the last two days.

"When the D.A. and A.G. show up with badges and guns and say whatever, they can intimidate a lot of people and that's their game," Senior said.

Starr was not immediately available for comment, said a spokeswoman for the Pepperdine School of Law, where Starr is the dean.

None of the five jurors involved in the legal tug-of-war, whose names were blacked out of the competing clemency documents to protect their privacy, could immediately be reached for comment.

The latest round of material prosecutors delivered to the governor late Friday included a sarcastic comment from a juror who said the defense had misspelled the juror's name on the signed document submitted by the Morales team.

"Aside from the fact that the declaration is a complete fabrication, I never would have signed a declaration under penalty of perjury that included a misspelling of my name without at least correcting the misspelling," one juror said, according to the declaration authorities gave to Schwarzenegger.

The governor's spokeswoman Margita Thompson declined to address the dispute, saying only that the governor, when deciding on clemency, will consider "all the information that is provided to him when making the decision."

San Joaquin County prosecutor Charles Schultz said the letters saying jurors supported Morales' clemency bid were "untrue" and "pure fiction." His office was immediately suspicious when Starr and Senior filed them with the governor on Tuesday because the reliability of a similar statement from a key prosecution witness already had been called into question, Schultz said.

Attached as an exhibit in the original clemency petition filed on Morales' behalf last week was a lengthy letter from Patricia Felix, who was Morales' roommate when he killed Terri Winchell, a Lodi teenager, in 1981. Felix testified at Morales' trial that he had practiced on her the maneuver he used to choke Winchell and then hid bloody evidence at the home they shared.

But in her statement to the governor, she said prosecutors coerced her into giving false testimony. Within days, however, prosecutors produced another affidavit from Felix saying she stood by her testimony and had never even spoken with the investigator who was said to have interviewed her.

Schultz said a juror contacted him on Wednesday to express support for the upcoming execution. An affidavit opposing the execution with that same juror's name was in the package Senior and Starr submitted.

"These are two powerful and experienced lawyers. It seems amazing and astounding to me to be duped like that," he said. "As a lawyer, you are responsible for what you file one way or another."

Kathleen Culhane, the San Francisco private investigator who Starr and Senior said had interviewed the jurors and Felix, referred a call to Senior for comment.

Senior said that as with the jurors, prosecutors had pressured Felix into changing her story and that the signatures on the statements she gave to the defense and prosecution matched. While jurors might be insisting their signatures were forged, Senior said he expected they, too, would be the same on both the defense and prosecution versions.

"If we keep scratching under the surface, this thing might come boomeranging back on them 360 degrees," he said.*

The jurors whose statements are now in dispute were not the only ones backing Morales in his appeal for clemency.

Charles McGrath, the Ventura County judge who presided over the trial in 1983 and sentenced Morales to death, also has asked the governor to commute the sentence to life in prison without parole, saying he questions the reliability of a jailhouse informant who testified against Morales.

Still, the jury spat may not affect whether Morales is executed Feb. 21.

A San Jose federal judge on Thursday strongly hinted that, within days, he would block the execution to allow time to determine whether lethal injection amounts to unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment.

Morales claims he might feel too much pain when injected with overdoses of three different drugs at San Quentin State Prison. U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel said he is likely to call a hearing to hear medical experts testify whether the allegations might be true.

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld executions in general despite the pain they might cause inmates, but has left unsettled whether alleged pain in lethal injections is unconstitutionally excessive and can be avoided.

-----------------------
* - uh, if it does a 360, then it will continue going in the same direction. Boomerangs do 180s.

Yet another lawyer who went to law school b/c he was bad at math ? ...
Big Grin
 
Posts: 2418 | Location: TDCAA | Registered: March 08, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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They should invite the private investigator who claims to have taken the affidavits to meet and greet 12 honest citizens in their county...
 
Posts: 2578 | Location: The Great State of Texas | Registered: December 26, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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"When the D.A. and A.G. show up with badges and guns and say whatever, they can intimidate a lot of people and that's their game," Senior said.


The Pruny DA's get to carry Guns?
 
Posts: 357 | Registered: January 05, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-morales14feb14,0,1032461.story?coll=la-headlines-california

Killer's Legal Team Backs Off in Dispute

Lawyers for death row inmate Michael Morales have withdrawn allegedly faked juror statements supporting their clemency bid.

By Louis Sahagun
LA Times Staff Writer

February 14, 2006

Attorneys for death row inmate Michael Morales on Monday withdrew affidavits from jurors urging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to stop the defendant's execution amid allegations that the defense documents were forgeries.

The defense team, led by former Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr and David Senior, did not concede the forgery allegations, made last week by the San Joaquin County district attorney's office. But Senior said defense investigator Kathleen Culhane was "off the case, and anything she touched is out of the case."

In a statement later, Senior said, "We take very seriously the allegations made against the validity of certain documents we have submitted on behalf of our client, and have initiated a thorough-going internal investigation." Starr and Culhane were unavailable for comment.

Morales was sentenced to death in 1983 for the murder of Terri Winchell, a 17-year-old Lodi high school senior. He is scheduled to die Feb. 21 by lethal injection, although a federal judge in San Jose is expected to rule as soon as today on a challenge to the method as cruel and unusual punishment.

Prosecutors argued that Morales committed the murder in an alcohol- and drug-induced hallucinogenic frenzy at the request of his cousin, who was angry at Winchell because she had seduced the cousin's male lover.

A jailhouse informant named Bruce Samuelson testified that Morales had bragged during a jailhouse conversation that he had planned to rape and kill Winchell. A 12-member jury unanimously convicted Morales, now 46, and recommended execution. Ventura County Superior Court Judge Charles R. McGrath sentenced him to death.

During a post-trial investigation, the defense team learned that Samuelson claimed Morales made his confession in Spanish. Morales does not speak Spanish.

Citing this discrepancy, McGrath late last month urged the governor to grant clemency and commute Morales' sentence to life in prison on the grounds that Samuelson lied about the defendant's supposed confession.

Two weeks ago, defense lawyers submitted sworn declarations from five of six living jurors on the case echoing McGrath's sentiments.

Then, on Friday, San Joaquin County Deputy Dist. Atty. Charles Schultz alleged that the declarations were a complete forgery.

He also submitted new affidavits in which the jurors denied asking Schwarzenegger to grant Morales clemency.

The jurors could not be reached for comment.

The jurors' original affidavits were filed under seal, and prosecutors removed their names from the documents they submitted.

Senior insisted that Morales still has a strong clemency case. "The pivotal issue in the case," he said, "remains the perjured testimony of the critical prosecution witness, Bruce Samuelson."

But Supervising Deputy Atty. Gen. Keith H. Borjon blasted the defense team for submitting fabricated documents, including a declaration from Patricia Felix, a key prosecution witness, who had testified that Morales "practiced" strangling her with a belt.

Felix, he wrote, had signed a new affidavit saying "she had never been contacted or interviewed by anyone connected with the Morales legal team, and that her signature on the recantation declaration was a forgery."

"In response to this revelation, the Morales team relied on a declaration from Kathleen Culhane, accusing Felix of being a liar," he said.

"There can be no defense of inadvertent mistake, and the calculated intent to deceive is unmistakable," Borjon said. "The false declarations are crafted with cunning. They are sprinkled with colorful, and even accurate details. The forger or forgers knew some facts about alleged declarants � but not all. And that became their downfall."

Legal scholars said the situation raised doubts about the veracity of all documents submitted by the defense team.

"I cannot imagine this happening with investigators trained and supervised by the state public defender's office or the Habeas Corpus Resource Center," said Gerald Uelmen, professor of law at Santa Clara University.

Schwarzenegger's spokeswoman, Margita Thompson, declined to comment except to say: "We are continuing to review all materials submitted in this clemency matter but will no longer consider the declarations submitted by clemency counsel."
 
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Killer's Legal Team Backs Off in Dispute

Lawyers for death row inmate Michael Morales have withdrawn allegedly faked juror statements supporting their clemency bid.

By Louis Sahagun
LA Times Staff Writer

February 14, 2006

Attorneys for death row inmate Michael Morales on Monday withdrew affidavits from jurors urging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to stop the defendant's execution amid allegations that the defense documents were forgeries.

The defense team, led by former Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr and David Senior, did not concede the forgery allegations, made last week by the San Joaquin County district attorney's office. But Senior said defense investigator Kathleen Culhane was "off the case, and anything she touched is out of the case."

In a statement later, Senior said, "We take very seriously the allegations made against the validity of certain documents we have submitted on behalf of our client, and have initiated a thorough-going internal investigation." Starr and Culhane were unavailable for comment.

* * *

Schwarzenegger's spokeswoman, Margita Thompson, declined to comment except to say: "We are continuing to review all materials submitted in this clemency matter but will no longer consider the declarations submitted by clemency counsel."


the full article
 
Posts: 2418 | Location: TDCAA | Registered: March 08, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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UUUhhhmmm... Dear Gobernor Schwartz, Shwarts, Arnold,

In regards to the previous documents. Nevermind.
 
Posts: 357 | Registered: January 05, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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From the Los Angeles Times

Death penalty foe gets five years

A former defense investigator faked documents to try to delay four executions.

By Louis Sahagun
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 17, 2007

SACRAMENTO -- As she was led off to prison in handcuffs Thursday, former inmate advocate Kathleen Culhane had few regrets about falsifying documents in an attempt to spare the lives of four convicted murderers.

Earlier during a brief hearing -- shortly before she was sentenced to five years in prison -- Culhane had called capital punishment "a brutal legacy of lynching," adding that "I cannot have remorse for a government that kills at midnight and invests millions of dollars in the process." When she left the courtroom of Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gary E. Ransom, she held her head high.

To prosecutors, Culhane had committed one of the largest frauds against the legal system in California history. A law school graduate and former San Joaquin County resident, Culhane worked as an investigator for lawyers appealing the cases of death row inmates.

What possessed her to invent declarations that were dispatched to the California Supreme Court, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the defense attorneys she worked for?

In an interview last week as she awaited sentencing, she said she was acting on principle when she committed what she called an act of civil disobedience. "I felt I had to try something proactive to bring about a sure, or at least a very likely, delay in order to slow down the march toward execution," said Culhane, 40.

Was she successful?

On a gray and windy afternoon at San Francisco's Ocean Beach, Culhane, a petite woman with brown hair, blue eyes and an easy smile, acknowledged, "I don't think I made a ping in the legal system."

Defense attorneys as well as prosecutors said they were shocked by Culhane's actions, which they said only compounded the suffering of friends and family of the condemned men and their victims by, as one put it, "trying to win on lies."

"What she did is an affront to the entire legal system," said Senior Assistant Atty. Gen. Mike Farrell. "The scariest people are the ones who think the ends justify the means -- that's Kathleen Culhane."

Also burned was former Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr, who in February 2006 joined the effort to delay the execution of Michael Morales.

Morales was sentenced to death in 1983. His execution has since been postponed amid legal challenges to California's application of lethal injections.

Starr declined to comment on Culhane's sentencing, except to say, through a spokeswoman, that her case was "ineffably sad."

Culhane's closest friends and relatives portray her as a compassionate woman who has always been eager to help those in need. In high school, Culhane joined a group that assisted disadvantaged people in Mexico.

Of her falsehoods, Culhane's lifelong friend Mary Keelty said, "Legally, it's wrong. But morally, we have to ask: Why is taking a life through execution righteous, and defying the law to save a life egregious?"

Later, Culhane worked as an investigator for prisoner rights programs, sometimes tracking down relatives and witnesses in the slums and hinterlands of Mexico, Central America, West Africa and Haiti.

In 2002 she went to work for the Habeas Corpus Resource Center in San Francisco.

In a frustrating legal world where the chances of winning a reversal in a capital case are nearly nil, Culhane said, "a delay was a win because it meant more years of life for the defendant."

The pressure to stall was especially intense in the case of Morales, 47, of Stockton, who was convicted of the 1981 rape and murder of Terri Winchell, 17, a Lodi high school student.

In January 2006, a month before Morales was to be executed, his lawyers received support from a highly unusual source: The judge who had condemned him to die asked Schwarzenegger to grant clemency.

Ventura County Superior Court Judge Charles R. McGrath said in a letter to the governor that he believed the conviction was based on false testimony from a jailhouse informant.

Armed with McGrath's letter, Culhane tracked down the jurors who had convicted Morales in hopes they would agree with the judge. They didn't.

Frustrated and desperate, Culhane said she holed up in an Oxnard hotel room and "spent a few all-nighters" composing a series of bogus affidavits and declarations to suggest that five jurors questioned whether Morales was guilty.

"I turned them in to the defense team over the course of a week," she said. "The lawyers seemed pleased."

But not for long. The scheme unraveled when the five jurors told prosecutors under oath that they had never been contacted by anyone from the Morales legal team and had no idea who Culhane was.

Culhane also said in sworn declarations that she had met several times with a key witness in the case, Patricia Felix, in January 2006 at her Stockton home.

Felix had not lived at the address Culhane cited since 2005.

Initially, defense attorney David Senior refused to believe that his investigator had lied. But after reviewing the evidence provided by prosecutors, Senior recalled, the truth sank in.

"It took us one hour and 45 minutes to withdraw anything associated with her from our case files," Senior said.

A one-year investigation culminated in a 45-count, 17-page complaint against her. Under terms of a settlement deal, Culhane pleaded guilty to two counts of forgery, one count of perjury and one count of filing false documents.

Looking back, Culhane said she felt "betrayed by former colleagues" who "rolled over for the prosecution" and actively assisted in the case against her.

"I didn't expect that," she said.

Culhane says she is prepared for prison.

"After I turned myself in [in February, 2006], the guards referred to me as a celebrity case, which was a drag because the other prisoners didn't like that," she recalled. "But when I told one prisoner what I'd done, she said, 'Right on.' "

The link
 
Posts: 2418 | Location: TDCAA | Registered: March 08, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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"What she did is an affront to the entire legal system," said Senior Assistant Atty. Gen. Mike Farrell. "The scariest people are the ones who think the ends justify the means -- that's Kathleen Culhane."
 
Posts: 586 | Location: Denton,TX | Registered: January 08, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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"But when I told one prisoner what I'd done, she said, 'Right on.'"

Ah, it must be gratifying to have had her moral compass verified by the endorsement of the criminal element.
 
Posts: 622 | Location: San Marcos | Registered: November 13, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Right On
 
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