Lawyer type persons, I have a question

I have a friend. She lives in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. Her brother was recently convicted of a crime that they are all 100% sure he did not, could not, would not committ.

This is her most recent post:

I hinted at it pretty heavily when I wrote this last night, I just didn’t feel like talking about it in horrid detail at the time.

My brother was brought up on charges that he raped his step-daughter Kirk over the course of 5 years, starting when she was 9 years old. She is 15 now I think, she was 14 when she started this.

Nuss and Jackie have been a really miserable pair of parents for their three kids to have, Jackie especially. Nuss shows signs of being a battered spouse. He has tried to protect himself, but always winds up being the one framed and arrested. He stopped trying to protect himself and became mentally immature, he kept going back to Jackie even when he was living with our parents and was safe from her. He wouldn’t call the police on her when she had brought kirk out to see him (against a restraining order) because he was certain that if he called any attention to himself at all, he’d get thrown in jail right away again.

Jackies family are all involved with the police since her father is a retired cop. A drunken, piece of shit retired cop. She has commited grand theft auto, all she had to do was to pay a small fine. She has assaulted women on the street by smashing beer bottles over their heads. She has had sex with men in front of her very young children. She has neglected her children, abandoned them with me and my parents and collected welfare while living in a house given to her by social services under the impression that she would be taking care of her kids. She and her mother committed welfare fraud and theft.

She has never had to spend any amount of time in jail, at all.

All through their marriage, Jackie had used the law when she got mad at Nuss. She has had him framed for spousal abuse when I know that even when kicking the shit out of him he doesn’t fight back, except for a push to get you away from him.

Kirk has learned this behavior from her mom and from her grandmother, Jackies mom, Jan, who was a social worker.

Jan had taken her 14 year old daughter Jackie who had just given birth to Kirk and put her in a house and got her on welfare. She put her 14 year old daughter in a house, with her new child, by herself. So she could use her collect welfare from her.

Kirk has learned this behavior from her grandmother.

Kirk is angry with her parents, especially Nuss for giving up and letting himself get punished and for letting Jackie tear the kids away from him during drunken binges. She is angry at him, and thought the best way to get back at him was to bring him up on a rape charge. I have no doubt that Jan was coaching them the entire way.

Jan and her shitty family were right there in court, sitting right behind Nuss to antagonize him both days of the trial. Then I got well enough to come to the final day (yesterday) and with my brothers, we made sure we got the front row right behind him.

Not a single thing that I wrote above ever got mentioned in court. The prosecutor insisted that Jackie wasn’t on trial, so we couldn’t explain why Kirk was angry at Nuss. Defense got as far as stating that there was NO EVIDENCE. The prosecution came up and said “There is no evidence, but you don’t need evidence. You have solid proof that this happened because ‘that little girl’ said it happened.”

And the shitty useless jurors bought it.

This, and a lot of other shady shit went on. To my inexperienced legal mind, this sounds like a mistrial. The prosecutor was given free reign to do whatever the hell he wanted, the defense was lousy, the jurors were biased due to the area they live in. This has been ongoing for months and months and months, and we have been regaled with endless tales of all kinds of crazy shit that this woman and her daughter happen to be doing.

The long and short of it: Does anyone know of an organization that may help them? They are out of money, they can’t hire another lawyer. Are there any organizations that would take up this cause?

Oh, also physical reasons. Said man has a rather large penis and that would definitely tear/hurt a 9 year old girl. A rape kit was done, said she had not been penetrated. This was not brought up.

Well, both prosecutor and defense are wrong that there’s no evidence: the testimony of the victim certainly counts as “evidence” in a court of law. And there isn’t enough detail for me to comment one way or the other on the propriety of the trial. Also, AFAIK a rape kit is only useful if done shortly after the encounter.

At any rate, they need a lawyer licensed in their jurisdiction to evaluate their case. If they really can’t afford one, tell them contact the bar association of the state where they live; they will be able to guide them towards firms with pro bono programs or towards local legal aid organizations.

Be sure to thank Damien for nothing.
If DNA evidence will help you.
If you are in Minnesota
And for those with a “can do” attitude, there is this. You want the off-highway truck 797B, it’s taller than most razorwire fences and at 3350 horsepower, it can knockdown a concrete wall at most medium security penetentiaries.

You’re such an idiot.

Look, monkey-brain, there is nothing incorrect in my post. Eyewitness testimony is in fact the principal form of evidence used at trial.

You’re a moron if you think otherwise. You should ask for a refund from whatever correspondence school gave you your law degree.

And my advice was perfectly sound: if you need a lawyer in a given price range, a good first step is to contact the state’s bar association. And it sounds like they most certainly need a lawyer.

And it’s silly to suggest DNA testing in this instance. The claim is that the guy didn’t touch her, there is no physical evidence of an assault to test…what exactly do you think the lab guys will test?

Huh? He’s actually right. I’ve never practiced in Minnesota, but a prosecutor would have to be brain-dead to concede there was “no evidence” when he put on eyewitness victim testimony. My guess is that someone said there was no physical evidence, and the person narrating the story just misremembered or exaggerated it. Damien’s advice to contact the state bar is good advice.

I’ll throw this in, for what it’s worth: I’ve been defending criminal cases for years (and did two stints for the prosecutors in law school, plus a year clerking for the court), and the story you quoted above is extremely difficult to believe. I have had dozens and dozens of clients with similar stories: they’re not only innocent of the charged offense, they’re completely innocent of any wrongdoing and are essentially angels; they’ve been railroaded by the victim, the witnesses, the system, corrupt prosecutors, clueless jurors, biased judges, etc.; there’s no evidence linking them to the crime and in fact it’s physically impossible for them to have committed it; and so on. That stuff is just never, ever true. Not ever. Anyone who presents a story that one-sided is deluding themselves or (more likely) lying. It’s just not like that, or at least it hasn’t been in any of the hundreds of cases I’ve seen.

That doesn’t mean that Nuss is guilty, by any means. I have no idea, since I have nothing to go on except for the non-credible account of your friend. Maybe Nuss didn’t do it and maybe the trial was unfair. Maybe the defense was improperly prevented from putting on evidence, or maybe the defense attorney was too foolish or inept to get the evidence in. There’s no way to know, because the only account we have is so biased and pretty clearly false.

I’m telling you this in hopes that you might take a step back and consider whether you’re really getting it straight from your friend. I hear stories like this all the time, and then go do my own investigation and discover that the truth bears only faint resemblance to what my client told me. That doesn’t mean Nuss’ trial was fair, I have no clue, and it’s good that you’re trying to help the family get whatever help they can. But before you get wound up in knots about how monstrously unjust the system is, I wanted to present an alternative view. Just food for thought.

While Ryan certainly strikes me as the voice of both experience and rational thought in this thread, I’m annoyed by the fact that he might break up Flowers v Falgoust, Round VIII.

Bread and circuses, counselor! Let the barristers tear each other apart.

I’m pretty sure you have your roman numerals mixed up there. VIII would be the proper way to write it.

Flowers learned his lawyerin’ from Law and Order and skimming John Grisham books, methinks.

What? How is what he said even up for debate? I also find it amusing that you disparage Damien’s contribution, when your own helpful suggestions amount to a useless (in this case) scientific process, a low success rate “no, seriously, we really believe you didn’t shoot those kids” charity organization, and a prison-break vehicle.

I don’t think Damo is a barrister, since barristers are the trial guys.

For some reason I thought Damien was a trial lawyer…I need to check my trading cards again.

Thanks for the correction, Kalle.


Colon P

No, of all the things in the post, Damien picked an inconsequential technical point of contention regarding two attorneys’ catergorization of the facts. It goes without saying that there was evidence introduced at trial to show the guilt of the accused. When the defense attorney says “there is no evidence to convict my client”, it is simply the polite way to say, “the prosecution hasn’t got shit.” Damien has fallen entirely in love with the smoke and mirrors side of our profession that hide the fact that we are glorified librarians and paid actors. Save your ten-dollar words and your dog and pony show for prospective clients you are trying to impress. Do not get bogged down with issues that are not dispositive unless you are attempting to break the camel’s back.

The point of the post is not to search for technical points upon which to base an appeal or an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, that comes later, it was to ask you for help.  Here are some facts, do you know anyone that could help us?

As for the Innocence Project, there does not have to be DNA evidence, but it helps to get your case taken.  If you have been convicted on questionable findings of fact, the Innocence Projects around the country are pretty swamped, but they will take a look at your case and see if there is anything that they can do.  You should contact one immediately, as well as your State Public Defender's Office in order to preserve your rights on appeal.  Do not be shy about pressing an ineffective assistance of counsel claim.  These claims are seldom recognized, but you owe it to yourself to make use of every legal tool that is available to you.  Your attorney for the case in which you were convicted will not be offended that you are attempting to get a second trial.  It is his pride versus your freedom, so don't be shy.  

Matt, the Innocence Project got my friend out of a Texas prison where he had served twelve years for a crime he did not commit.

20 Quatloos on Flowers!

Rywill FTW. I worked for a criminal defense attorney for a bit; Rywill basically repeated in a short space the distilled essence of what the guy I worked for said he had learned in about 20 years of practice.

That isn’t the way the OP read, and since the overwhelming number of people reading this forums aren’t lawyers, I wanted to note that there was, in fact, evidence presented at trial.

At any rate, it doesn’t make me an “idiot” to point that out. If you think it was tangential, fine, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that my assertion was correct and you, Captain Dumbass, implied that it was not.

Information which I provided in my reply. Indeed, “call your state’s bar association” is virtually standard-issue advice for anyone asking “I need a lawyer with expertise in X and can only afford Y.” It’s good advice, your idiotic contention to the contrary notwithstanding.

(I also note – and stated in my first post – that the state bar could guide them to public-interest law projects, which would include the local chapter of the Innocence Project. So really, your only contribution was the suggestion to roll with a prison-break vehicle. Christ, you’re a moron.)

Just FTR, so everyone knows exactly where I’m coming from: I earned my law degree from the University of Texas in 1999; I practiced in New York City for several years before recently moving back to Dallas; I am licensed in both states; and my practice area principally involves corporate governance, corporate transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and securities regulation. I was in private practice until December, when I took a position in-house at a company (woohoo, no more billable hours!). I am not a trial lawyer, though I know enough to comment on basic issues of trial practice.

I have had dozens and dozens of clients with similar stories: they’re not only innocent of the charged offense, they’re completely innocent of any wrongdoing and are essentially angels; they’ve been railroaded by the victim, the witnesses, the system, corrupt prosecutors, clueless jurors, biased judges, etc.;

I’ve gotten a play by play for the last yearish or so. I have absolutely no doubts about my friends credibility. She has nothing to lie for. As I said but haven’t went through the litany, this other woman has done some seriously shady shit for a long ass time. Every other week it seems something was up, friend was annoyed or fuming, and we had to listen too it. Her brother is not a pure innocent angel flower, and that claim was never made. But, from the constant descriptions I just don’t see how guilt can ever be established. There is far, far, far too much to type that makes me personally believe he is innocent, but then again this is a forum and my opinion doesn’t matter. I just wanted a helpful place to point them in.

So where did Flowers go to law school? I am assuming Thomas Cooley. That is, if he actually went and isn’t just regurgitating old Law and Order episodes.

More than likely, she isn’t lying (consciously). She believes in her brother’s innocence, and conveys that to all she’s in contact with. She may in fact be right - her brother may be innocent. But many a guilty party has their family thoroughly convinced of their own innocence. As Rywill said - her description does not match the result of a guilty verdict. Very likely, her description(s) are incomplete and/or unconsciously guided by her belief in her brother’s innocence.