Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hughes News: Framing the Guilty?

Framing the Guilty is a term I first heard associated with the OJ Simpson case. It is the classic case of Framing the Guilty. I have no doubt whatsoever of Simpson's guilt and I wouldn't soil these pages arguing otherwise. However ...

.... ta dum dum ...

I find it exceptionally suspicious that the glove didn't fit. I believe, but cannot prove, that the glove was indeed planted. I believe that the OJ case is the preeminent example of Framing the Guilty.

When familiarizing others with this case, I find myself asking if they have ever heard of the concept Framing the Guilty. Some have and some haven't. Either way, with that concept now part of the discussion, it is easier for people to understand why the police (and others) acted the way they did in the case of Preston Hughes III. They were satisfied he was guilty, so they framed him.

To be absolutely clear, I am not attempting to save Preston Hughes because I believe he is guilty but was framed. To be absolutely clear, I believe that Preston Hughes is actually innocent of the crime, that he had no involvement in or knowledge of the crime. I'm not claiming that his case is a case of Framing the Guilty. I'm claiming that his case is one of Framing the Presumed Guilty but Actually Innocent.

Jordan Smith of the Austin Chronicle has adopted the phrase Framing the Guilty for the title of her just published article. She quite properly, in my opinion, added a question mark.

In her lengthy article (4,323 words by my count), she spends most of the time with the details of the case. She has clearly researched them well. Near the end, she discusses the conflict with the Patrick McCann, Preston's purported attorney.

There has been much going on of which I haven't written. It is not my desire to withhold information from the public. Instead, the demands on my time to stop the execution of an innocent person are so persistent and insistent that I have insufficient time to write to you as frequently as I should.

Ward Larkin and I are still investigating the case as we attempt to complete the petition. New discoveries occur frequently, and each demands more editing and more new content in the petition.  We hope to file soon.

As part of our ongoing investigation we have recently learned that a DNA test conducted early this century detected one spot of Shandra Charles' blood on Preston's blue jeans. I suspect that is the deep dark secret to which McCann alludes each time he violates attorney client privilege (at least twice now) by publicly claiming he has some deep, dark, compelling evidence of his own client's guilt. The most recent violation is included in Jordan Smith's article. "Ethically, I am prohibited from advancing before the court a theory that I know to be false."

McCann has it 100% backwards. He is ethically bound not to prejudice his client such as he does with his public pronouncements. On the other hand, he is ethically bound to defend his client as aggressively as possible and permissible. No rule prevents him from presenting compelling evidence of his client's innocence. No rule prevents him from submitting a habeas petition arguing that under the Supreme Court ruling in Schlup v. Delo his client wants to present a compelling case of actual innocence. He may not lie about the compelling evidence, but he is ethically bound to present it.

Furthermore, I argue that McCann is ethically bound to present the evidence of innocence in a Schlup-type claim. Failure to do so will result in his client being executed when his client could have otherwise been saved. In the absence of a Schlup claim, he is not permitted to raise the serious constitutional issues that helped convict his client, such as the withholding of evidence, the manufacture of evidence, the admission of perjured testimony, and ineffective counsel.

Patrick McCann has, however, complicated the situation enormously. He filed another habeas despite Preston's clear and unambiguous desire that McCann not do so. Worse yet, McCann did not base the petition on Schlup.

For legal reasons I won't detail here, the petition will almost certainly fail as it stands. There is much more to be written on this issue, but I have not the time. For now, I'll simply place McCann's petition to SkepticalJurorDocs and allow you to read it for yourself. (The lastest version of Preston's desired petition will be available early tomorrow morning.) With respect to McCann's petition, I'll make only one compound comment. Mr. McCann knew or should have known that this petition is legally weak, insufficiently unsubstantiated, and almost certainly bound to fail.

Before closing, I'll add just a few comments regarding the spot of Shandra's blood found on Preston's blue jeans.
  1. Those blue jeans had no blood apparent on them.
  2. Those blue jeans had been previously sprayed with luminol (or equivalent) as a screening test to highlight all areas having possible blood.
  3. Those areas were cut out from the blue jeans.
  4. Those areas were subjected to two separate confirmatory tests for blood. No blood was detected in either case. This information was withheld from the jury.
  5. More than a decade later, a DNA lab conducted another screening test for blood, this time on only the remainder of the jeans where the previous screening test had failed to detect blood.
  6. The screening test by the DNA lab, however, revealed a single new spot of blood, one that was invisible to the naked eye, one that had somehow been missed by the previous screening test.
  7. The DNA testing of that spot revealed Shandra's DNA but not Marcell's.
In addition, consider this. It is approaching certainty that the police perjured themselves (about the dying declaration, the first search of Preston's apartment, the conditions of Preston's confession) and fabricated evidence (the eyeglasses in Preston's couch and the blood on Preston's knife). It is clear that the blue jeans were removed from the proper chain of control and custody at least once. It is now clear as well that Shandra Charles shorts were not stored in a plastic bag. (Ward Larkin took photos of them just days ago, at the courthouse. Much more about those later.)

It is under those conditions that an invisible drop of blood was discovered on Preston's blue jeans, when it is clear that his jeans, and shirt, and shoes, and knife, and its sheath, and his person should have been covered in blood.

This case has long been a travesty, and now Preston's own attorney (purported attorney) is making it worse, all the while claiming some non-existent moral high ground.

Stay tuned.