For almost twelve years now my lawyers, family, and I have been fighting to prove my innocence. This has been a long hard road filled with lots of hope. I have such hope, trust, and faith that my innocence will be proven because I am innocent. Not only am I innocent, the factual evidence of my case clearly and without-a-doubt proves my innocence.
Now if a prosecutor, including the California Attorney General Kamala Harris, has a duty to seek “truth and justice” in pursuing criminal cases; why then am I still wrongfully convicted? Why am I still suffering in prison for a crime I had no involvement with? Are our government officials who take sworn oaths of office not accountable to the oaths they swear?
Currently my case is in the Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and working on behalf of Mrs. Harris is a Deputy Attorney General by the name of Kenneth Sokoler. Before filing his response to my appeal, Mr. Sokoler referred to my case as “complicated” and requested more time from the court to file his response.
Mr. Sokoler then made my case more “complicated” by ignoring the issues raised by my attorney, David Nickerson, and instead brought up an issue from nine years ago. Why would a government official seeking truth and justice bring up a currently irrelevant issue? Nine years ago when this issue was raised, the Superior Court expressly said it would not resolve this “factual issue”. The Superior Court refused to solve it because to do so would have meant reversing my conviction, or at the very least granting me a new trial.
The main issue Mr. Sokoler attempts to distract the court with is over a four-page police report. This report was disclosed to my trial attorney, James Clark. on February 4th, 2004; the second day of trial. This report was to notify Mr. Clark that the District Attorney was changing the alleged time of the crime from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, to earlier in the morning; 9:00 am to 11:00 am. This was the first time the D.A. ever alleged the crime took place earlier in the day. Mr. Clark failed to even object to this time change which made my alibi defense from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm irrelevant.
At the time of my motion for a new trial nine years ago, it had just come to light that the Deputy District Attorney who prosecuted me, Joseph Alexander, had had this information for 33 days before he disclosed it to Mr. Clark. On January 2nd, 2004, Mr. Alexander along with Detective Hoagland and Detective Lensing interviewed William Wellman. It is during this interview they claim that he changed the time to earlier. However, it was not disclosed to my lawyer, James Clark, until February 4th, 2004. This is a clear violation of Brady vs. Maryland and California law.
During my motion for new trial, Mr. Alexander attempted to claim the interview took place not on January 2nd, but on February 2nd. Which would be only two days before it was disclosed to my trial lawyer. So how do we know that the interview actually took place on January 2, 2004? Because the report itself says so, multiple times. In Detective Hoagland’s report of the January , 2004 interview with William Wellman, he twice dates the report. Then the first sentence of his interview summary begins; “On January 2nd, 2004, Detective Lensings and I met with William Wellman to confirm details regarding his statement.”
Further, on the following day Detective Hoagland conducted two more interviews detailed in the report. He dated them both January 3rd, 2004, the second of which, was even tape recorded. The recorded conversation begins with Hoagland stating; “Okay today’s date is January 3rd 2004. It is about 13:45. Myself, Detective Hoagland is with Detective Mike Lensing. And we are speaking to Mr. Mark Butzler. Clearly these interviews took place on Jauary 2nd and 3rd, over a month before my trial began. It is an issue we would have loved for the Superior Court to have resolved nine years ago.
The issue before the court is not of when the interview took place. The issue is whether or not it was Ineffective Assistance of Counsel when Mr. Clark failed to object on February 2, 2004 to a report that made my alibi defense irrelevant. When the information in that report was discovered is not relevant to whether or not James Clark should have objected. Mr. Clark had prepared my alibi only for the hours from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, because for over a year leading up to my trial that is when the prosecutor Joseph Alexander claimed the crime had occurred. When Mr. Alexander gave Mr. Clark a report claiming the crime took place hours earlier; Mr. Clark was fully aware that my alibi from 11:30- 1:30 was useless. Mr. Clark did not object, he did not ask for a continuance, he simply did nothing. How can a defense lawyer going forward in a trial with an alibi defense he knows is useless be seen as effective assistance of counsel by any reasonable person?
This is one of the many issues Mr. Sokoler attempts to distract the court with. As a Deputy Attorney General, if Mr. Sokoler is seeking truth and justice, why would he attempt to distract the court from the relevant issues? He cannot say that Mr. Clark’s failure to object was reasonable. No one can. James Clark himself does not even try to say that his actions (or lack thereof) are reasonable. In fact, he has signed a sworn 19-page declaration outlining how he failed to protect me as an innocent 16 year old kid.
Want to read an article about a related issue? Here’s a link to a story in the LA Times about judges seeing an “epidemic” of prosecutorial misconduct.