Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pointing the finger

Perhaps Mr. Charles Sebesta should read the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct if he can't understand why he's being criticized for his role in the wrongful conviction of Anthony Graves.

Rule 3.09 Special Responsibilities of a Prosecutor
The prosecutor in a criminal case shall:
(a) refrain from prosecuting or threatening to prosecute a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause; 
(b) refrain from conducting or assisting in a custodial interrogation of an accused unless the prosecutor has made reasonableefforts to be assured that the accused has been advised of any right to, and the procedure for obtaining, counsel and has been given reasonable opportunity to obtain counsel;
(c) not initiate or encourage efforts to obtain from an unrepresented accused a waiver of important pre-trial, trial or post-trial rights.
(d) make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information known to the prosecutor that tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates the offense, and, in connection with sentencing, disclose to the defense and to the tribunal all unprivileged mitigating information known to the prosecutor, except when the prosecutor is relieved of this responsibility by a protective order of the tribunal; and
(e) exercise reasonable care to prevent persons employed or controlled by the prosecutor in a criminal case from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 3.07.

Regardless of whether Mr. Sebesta felt, or still feels, that Mr. Graves was guilty -- he was obligated to inform Mr. Graves' attorney of the fact that the only witness against Mr. Graves recanted his testimony the night before trial. He should also have disclosed the fact that he threatened to prosecute that witness' wife if he did recant.

Of course, this doesn't absolve current Washington and Burleson County District Attorney Bill Parham for his role in this cruel charade of justice. The 5th Circuit overturned Mr. Graves' conviction in 2006 and ordered a new trial. For the last four years, Mr. Graves has been incarcerated at the Burleson County Jail since he couldn't post a $1 million bond.

Mr. Parham and his team of prosecutors was well aware of Mr. Carter's recantation before trial, two weeks before his execution and in the death chamber, yet they chose to do nothing about it.

What's your excuse, Mr. Parham?

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