Pyongyang on the Prairie
A criminal justice system that operates in the dark is arbitrary, unjust and criminal.
In Oklahoma this year, a Kafkaesque set of sealed motions, secret orders and closed-door hearings completely shut out a criminal defendant, his public defenders and the public. A trial judge served as handmaiden for the prosecutors, even failing to notify the defendant and his lawyers of the kangaroo court proceedings until after they had occurred.
The defendant, who is appealing his convictions and maintains his complete and actual innocence, was denied an opportunity to challenge the state's legal arguments for hiding information about a crime lab analyst's shoddy work on his case that could be exculpatory and key to his exoneration. His public defenders were also denied the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses -- all government employees from Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma City Police Department.
Welcome to Pyongyang on the Prairie.
The Oklahoma attorney general's office claims that the trial judge, Timothy Henderson, conducted an "exhaustive" review of the protected materials and "deeply explored" their contents with government witnesses who only represented the government's side of the story.
Don't worry, be happy, comrades.
Here's the thing: While the defendant was denied representation at the secret hearings, Oklahoma County Assistant District Attorney Gayland Gieger was allowed to enter the star chamber with an entire "team" of fellow prosecutors. (We only know this after two local TV journalists obtained video footage from a surveillance camera outside the hearing room.) In fact, the state attorney general divulged in one of the few unsealed court filings on the matter, Gieger "facilitated the District Court's inquiry by thoroughly examining those witnesses in an ex parte proceeding."
Gieger was the original prosecutor in the defendant's case. The defendant's appeal argues that Gieger "repeatedly and flagrantly misrepresented" evidence at trial, including the forensic evidence and testimony of the OCPD crime lab analyst, Elaine Taylor. A report by six internationally renowned DNA scientists and experts released this summer highlighted Taylor's "flawed forensic science, including insufficient serological analysis and improper DNA testimony" in the case at hand. The scientists concluded that the defendant, former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw, who is now serving 263 years for a bandwagon pile-on of sexual assault allegations, "was deprived of his due process right to a fair trial because the State misused DNA evidence" and stated that his "conviction should be overturned and he should be given a new trial."
Taylor's work on the case, the state was forced to acknowledge, just happened to be the subject of the secret hearings that Assistant District Attorney Gayland Gieger was allowed to "facilitate."
Can you spell "conflict of interest"?