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Defending Child Abuse Cases
Out of Control Prosecutors
By Brent Horst, Attorney at Law
After 20-years of being involved in criminal law, I sometimes start to believe that I have seen it all. Whenever this happens, I am soon reminded that I have not. While defending a client charged with multiple counts of sexual battery and rape of a child, where the accuser is now 18, there is no evidence other than her accusation, no witnesses, no physical evidence, and she has plenty of motive to make a false allegation, the prosecutor actually stood up in court, in front of the judge, me and my client and stated she was not going to provide a copy of the accusers statement to the defense because it could be used by the Defendant to prepare a defense.
I'm not kidding. Apparently this prosecutor does not believe in Due Process which, provides to a person charged with a crime the absolute right to prepare and present a defense, and would prefer that we just skip the entire trial process so that she can get her conviction, justice and the innocent be damned.
While I have always maintained and continue to believe that most prosecutors are honest hard working persons of good character, the few bad apples that do exist can wield unbelievable power and reek havoc on a persons life, all without any fear of repercussion, as a prosecutor enjoys immunity for any acts he/she commit while acting in the course of their position as a prosecutor. This particular prosecutor is obviously not interested in justice.
From her own words she obviously believes that an individual charged with a crime should not be allowed to prepare a defense. In her world, if we could simply skip the whole bothersome business of having a trial she would be much happier. She belongs to the Mike Nyfong-Duke Lacrosse case class of prosecutors.
The saddest part of this whole situation is that Tennessee Rules of Procedure do not require the prosecutor to turn over the accusers prior statement to demonstrate that the accuser is not credible. However, most prosecutors in Tennessee will provide the statement well before trial, understanding that if their case cannot survive pretrial scrutiny that maybe the State does not deserve to win because an innocent person's liberty might be in jeopardy.
Those prosecutors who refuse like this particular prosecutor did, to turn the statement over prior to trial are rarely as bold as this prosecutor, and will usually find some lame excuse, never admitting in open court that they just do not want the Defendant to be able to prepare a defense.
The reason I write about this incident is to try to sound the alarm that the state cannot always be trusted. Many, if not most people have a tendency to automatically believe that the prosecutor wears the white hat, that they are the good guys, and that they would never knowingly or recklessly convict an innocent person. If you still believe this, just ask yourself, if you had been charged with a similar crime as my current client but the State refused to even let you look at the accusers statement, and you therefore are facing life in prison with no other evidence against you, but you are not allowed to even know what the accuser claims that you did, would you feel that you were being treated fairly, and that justice was being done?
Next time you happen to find yourself on a jury, don't buy what the government is selling, just because they are the government. Remember, sometimes the government lies.
Horst Challenges Sex Offender Registry Laws
Originally under the Sexual Offender Registration statutes only people convicted of a small group of crimes were required to notify law enforcement authorities of where they were living and to regularly re-register. However, we are finding that every year the list of crimes that require sex offender registration gets longer, and the requirements and restrictions on convicted persons becomes more oppressive. Now, convicted sex offenders are prohibited from living or working in certain areas of the community, from living with children, and from living near a school or daycare.
As the registry laws become more and more restrictive and more and more rights are taken away we believe that there will be opportunities to challenge these laws. We have had some success already challenging Tennessee's sex offender registry law.
About Brent Horst
The Law Offices of Brent Horst provides experienced and aggressive criminal defense services for clients charged with a crime in Tennessee and Florida.
Not all individuals who are charged with crimes by the government are guilty. Rarely does the "system" intentionally arrest and charge an innocent person but false allegations by vindictive spouses, business partners, angry family members, or others with a motive to make false allegations are sometimes made. Many former clients found that Brent's insight was able to put their mind at ease.
Brent has experienced, first hand, having worked for the government as a prosecutor, how the system can make mistakes because of false allegations, or over zealous prosecutors and police officers. While he believes that most prosecutors and police officers are honest people doing a tough job, he knows from personal observation as a former prosecutor that the police and prosecutors often develop "tunnel vision" or "confirmation bias" where they form an initial impression about one persons guilt and the entire investigation is tunneled or focused on proving that person's guilt while exculpatory information and other suspects are over looked.
This is an especially troubling problem in child sexual assault cases where the system, which includes the investigators and social workers often have an automatic bias in favor of the child and would never consider that the child's allegation could be false. It is Brent's opinion that in most of these cases, every question of the child or the suspect, and every investigative action taken by the authorities, is designed to confirm the child's accusation, and that the investigation is not an un-biased search for the truth. [Read More]
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