Sunday, February 25, 2007
Friday, February 23, 2007
A former criminal defense investigator was charged Wednesday with forging statements from jurors, witnesses and others during appeals of four death penalty cases, in what state prosecutors called "one of the largest frauds on the justice system in California history."
Kathleen Culhane, 40, pleaded not guilty in a Sacramento court to 45 criminal charges. She turned herself in Monday night and will be released from jail after posting $50,000 bail, probably by Friday, said her lawyer, Stuart Hanlon.
San Francisco, CA, November 17, 2006 — In February 2006, the Habeas Corpus Resource Center (HCRC) became aware of allegations that Ms. Kathleen Culhane had prepared and submitted fraudulent declarations to counsel for Michael Morales. Ms. Culhane was employed by the HCRC as an investigator between October 2001 and June 2005. At the time Ms. Culhane joined HCRC she was an experienced, highly-recommended capital case investigator. Ms. Culhane’s work product was regarded as being of high quality, and HCRC has had no indication that the information she obtained on behalf of HCRC clients could be subjected to valid criticism.
Nonetheless, the HCRC determined that it is essential to conduct a review of Ms. Culhane’s work product that she submitted on behalf of three HCRC clients. This review has included interviewing every witness from whom Ms. Culhane purported to have obtained a declaration in the three cases to which she was assigned. As a result of our investigation, we have determined that numerous witness declarations that Ms. Culhane purported to have obtained were, in fact, not signed by those witnesses. Immediately upon learning of these circumstances, the HCRC notified the California Supreme Court and the Attorney General and withdrew the declarations from the California Supreme Court’s consideration. Throughout this process, the HCRC has cooperated with the state’s investigation, while ensuring that the rights of HCRC clients are protected.
I have never worked with or met this woman in my life. I had also never heard about her before all this fraudulent declaration business went down. I have no doubt that in a really fucking twisted way, she felt she was helping her client. I mean, when the penalty is death, shouldn't it be No Holds Barred and do what you have to do to keep another life from being lost?
You should fight for your client until your eyes and hands bleed and you should always fight within the guidelines of the law. Fabricating declarations/interviews is obviously unethical, at the very least cowardly, and mostly...it could end up costing someone their life.
If Culhane is guilty of what she is accused of doing (I hope none of the allegations are true), it sends our image and cause back into the stone age...one might argue that we're already losing the battle against the death penalty why should this hurt?
Well, when it causes witnesses to think twice about talking to us in the field because they can't trust that we won't twist their stories around, when a member of a jury has it in their head that when we (defense investigators) testify, it's known that we'll do anything (legal or illegal) to get a client off and we can't be believed...you get the idea. It will hurt us all.
This Culhane matter is not going to be the end of us PDI's or PI's. We still have work to do and we still have to keep doing it with as much integrity as possible. When in doubt, talk to your attorney about ethical questions or dilemma's, talk to your Chief Investigator about ethical questions and dilemmas. Consider running some training in your office regarding situations you'll run across in the field, in the office with headstrong attorneys and maybe even situations in which you run across an unethical investigator.
Have a good weekend everyone!
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Friday, February 16, 2007
Ummmm...I'm not a Calfornia Lawyer, licensed to practice law but I'm gonna have to say NO, mmmkay?
Whoever you are, I hope this has helped you if you do that search again.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
My fellow singles...please put on your helmets, leather gloves, and body armor because if you dare go out in public tonight you will be bombarded with sights and sounds of couples in love and all the crap that goes along with it.
Monday, February 12, 2007
My favorite question:
Speaking of burnout, what advice would you give young public defenders whose ideals and passion are hitting or are about to hit the wall of the daily realities of the job?
My favorite part of the answer (last paragraph):
The problem is that with all that volume, with all those decisions, you will screw up. It’s inevitable. Every public defender is going to make mistakes, and those mistakes are going to take a terrible, inexcusable, and unforgivable toll on the lives of the clients you love. It’s just going to happen. You will err, and someone will go to jail because of it. Somehow, to survive in the work, you need to find a way to forgive the unforgivable, to accept and acknowledge that you’ve screwed up, and recognize the price of that screw up without becoming so paralyzed that you can no longer do the work. As bad as you may think you are, clients need you—they are desperate for decent lawyers. Don’t be your own worst enemy. Forgive yourself—or you’ll burn out in two years.
So simple, yet so friggin true...I need to print this last part out and hand it out to some of our new attorneys.
123txpublicdefender123 from Injustice Anywhere is next weeks featured blogger. Do what I didn't do (and should've) last week and send in any questions you might have!
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Thank the heavens for a simple cure!!!
You know, if these magical minstiries can help a person rid themselves of homosexuality...maybe we can get them to cure other medical problems? Our governments should start funneling our millions of dollars in tax and donated cash away from those cutting edge laboratories and testing facilities in favor of the New Life Church Ministry. Judging by what they did to Haggard in three weeks, they should have Cancer and Aids knocked out in at least a month.