With a history of hiding evidence from the defense, isn’t it time to prosecute the prosecutors?
by Shari Dovale 12-23-2017
In the recent mistrial of the Bunkerville Standoff case in Las Vegas, Judge Gloria Navarro harshly rebuked Acting US attorney Steven Myhre for his blatant Brady violations and refusal to turn over exculpatory evidence to the defense.
Exculpatory evidence is information that is critical to the defense case. It could change the way the attorneys present their cases, change the theory of the case, impact jury selection, and even exonerate the defendants completely.
Prosecutors are well aware of the legal requirements to turn over this evidence, though they know that by doing so they could be crushing their own case in the process.
This brings up the question of whether they are “Finders of Fact” as they should be, or if they are only interested in gaining a conviction. The current Federal conviction rate is above 97% overall, with the majority being plea agreements. Defendants are overcharged with crimes so they will be more amenable to taking plea agreements.
In the case of the current Bunkerville Trial, Cliven, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, as well as Ryan Payne, have been held for nearly 2 years in pretrial detention, and Cliven is still there.
The case was declared a mistrial on December 20th, with Judge Navarro finding that the prosecution “willfully” suppressed potentially exculpatory, favorable, and material information from the defense.
This are serious allegations that could lead to a multitude of punishments. Something that should be considered when they are looking at sanctions, etc. would be the prosecution’s history of Brady abuses.
In the case of US v. Chapman, Steven Myhre was, again, the Acting US Attorney for the District of Nevada. He was in charge of the case and controlled all aspects of the case.
The case centered around securities fraud. On August 8, 2003, a grand jury in the District of Nevada returned a sixty-four-count indictment charging that Defendants allegedly created multiple shell corporations, back-dated corporate records to make their activities appear lawful, and named dummy directors and officers who had no actual control over the corporations and in some cases did not even know of their existence.
But, as in the Bunkerville Standoff trial, this case lead to a mistrial due to the prosecution ~ headed by Steven Myhre ~ not disclosing vital exculpatory evidence.
During the mistrial hearing, Chapman’s attorney alerted the court to hundreds of pages of documents that the government had delivered that morning and the previous evening. They totaled some 650 pages and consisted of rap sheets, plea agreements, cooperation agreements, and other information related to numerous government witnesses, including at least three important witnesses whose testimony was already complete.
This case resulted in a dismissal with prejudice. The government prosecutors ~ headed by Steven Myhre ~ attempted to appeal this decision. The appellate court upheld the ruling and stated clearly:
This is prosecutorial misconduct in its highest form; conduct in flagrant disregard of the United States Constitution; and conduct which should be deterred by the strongest sanction available.
Obviously, the powers that be did not heed the advice of the 9th Circuit. Myhre continued on in his current capacity. How many more violations will we find as we search his history?
It seems that the District of Nevada has little to no concern for the Constitutional rights of defendants. With a history of hiding evidence from the defense, isn’t it time to prosecute the prosecutors? Who will hold Acting US Attorney Steven Myhre accountable for his lawlessness?
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