Prominent Civil Rights attorney Ben Crump, appearing in the immediate aftermath of a Court Hearing in Third JDC in Union Parish on the LSP in-custody death of Ronald Greene on May 10, 2019, fields a question from Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns.
Today (Tuesday, August 22, 2023) was a critical day for the criminal case of those charged in the in-custody death of Ronald Greene. Let’s quickly summarize the results of today’s arguments before Third JDC Judge Thomas Rogers:
Defendant Union Parish Sheriff Deputy Chris Harpin [facing two (2) counts of Malfeasance):
Harpin filed a Motion to Quash. Judge Rogers set a September 25, 2023 deadline for Hugo Holland, Assistant District Attorney, to file an Opposition Memorandum.
Harpin also filed for the Production of a Grand Jury transcript. Judge Rogers issued an Order calling for both a Status Conference and a Contradictory Hearing, both of which will be heard in open court on October 12, 2023 at 2:30 p.m.
Defendant LSP Lt. John Clary [facing one (1) count of Malfeasance for which an appeal of Judge Rogers’ denial of a Motion to Quash is pending before the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeals]:
Judge Rogers granted Clary’s Motion to Sever and his Motion to Discovery for the Grand Jury Transcript (the State agreed to provide portions under seal). As with Harpin, there will be a Scheduling Conference on October 12, 2023 at 2:30 p.m.
Defendant LSP Trooper Kory York [facing nine (9) counts of Malfeasance and one (1) count of negligent homicide.]
Let us begin by providing a brief recap of the nature of Defendant York’s Motion for a Kastigar Hearing. It is taken from this feature.
We have already provided extensive detail on why York has requested a Kastigar hearing, and anyone is welcome to read York’s attorneys’ contentions here, but the bottom line is that they indicate that York’s Fifth Amendment Right against Self-Incrimination (made applicable to State matters via the Fourteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution) have been violated through inclusion of quotes made by York from an Internal Affairs report dated October 20, 2020 which were incorporated into the Stoughton report.
York’s defense attorney, J. Michael Small, repeatedly emphasized that the State should “never” have provided that Internal Affairs report to Seth Stoughton, a use-of-force expert who is also a PhD from South Carolina whose credentials include teaching classes at Yale and Harvard. Small also emphasized that the State has admitted that it was at fault in having done so.
Small argued that the damning material York uttered in that Internal Affairs report which was incorporated into Stoughton’s report included him having stated upon his immediate arrival at the scene: “Code four, everything under control.” He also cited York having stated that he felt he was, “never in danger” during the Greene encounter.
Small stressed that the Stoughton report was “infected” by material Stoughton received from the Internal Affairs report. Beyond York’s statement that he never felt he was in danger during the Greene arrest, Small pointed out that, “Footnote 359 of the report that states that none of the troopers ever felt threatened or were ever in danger,” during the Greene arrest.
Small emphasized that the Internal Affairs report, “should have stayed at LSP,” and he indicated that it was “unclear” how the State even got the report. He indicated there had been “speculation” that it was all part of the material which the Feds provided to Union Parish DA John Belton when they transferred the whole matter over to Belton.
Assistant DA Hugo Holland, who acknowledged that the State bears the burden of proof that York’s position was unaltered by this blunder (our word, not Holland’s) by the State, also apologized that he could only offer an affidavit from Stoughton (which was not even notarized) but that Stoughton had been, “out of the country” and so the seven-statement affidavit, which was entered into the record, was all he could provide.
Small attacked the affidavit as, “not having an eighth point which would have revealed whether Stoughton listened to the interview between Trooper York and Sergeant Mike Talley,” who conducted the interview with York and ultimately authored the Internal Affairs report. Small stated that he personally believes that Stoughton did listen to an audio of the interview.
Holland indicated that, if that was a major sticking point, he (Holland) had no objection to holding the record open and obtaining another affidavit from Stoughton specifically stating whether he did or did not listen to the interview between Talley and York.
Judge Rogers asked if that was agreeable to Small, and he responded that it was fine, but he also stressed that, whatever may come out of that additional affidavit, his client’s position was “strong,” and that the added affidavit would not be “dispositive,” and that his client was entitled to have the indictment counts against him quashed as a result of the, “provisions of Garrity” combined with the, “strength of the arguments of case law I’ve presented to this Court.”
Holland attempted to argue that there was no evidence that the Grand Jury was ever exposed to the statements made by York and, further, that Stoughton placed in his affidavit that he would have come to the same conclusions with or without Talley’s internal affairs report.
Judge Rogers indicated that, in order to not grant a Motion to Quash the indictment counts, he would need to arrive at the conclusion that York was in the same identical position he would have been had Stoughton not been provided with Talley’s Internal Affairs report, and he asked Holland to state to him what arguments he could make to result in him coming to that conclusion. Holland responded by stressing the seven itemized points contained in Stoughton’s affidavit.
In what brought the most vocal response of approval from the courtroom packed with Ronald Greene supporters, Judge Rogers asked of Small (after indicating he’d watched the videos), whether a “use-of-force” expert’s testimony was even necessary or whether, “common sense” may apply to dictate that sufficient probable cause was present to pursue the charges and obtain the indictments.
It was at that point that Small opted to use some major firepower, and he stated that the State had let the “cat out of the bag,” and emphasized that there was no way to place that cat back in the bag. Small, without referencing Belton directly, clearly emphasized what a colossal blunder had transpired in the matter regarding Stoughton having been provided with a copy of Talley’s report.
Small even went so far as to rhetorically ask, “Was it intentional?” Belton, notwithstanding his prior umbrage taken to Harpin defense attorney Eugene Cicardo at a prior court hearing wherein Cicardo indicated that Belton just needed to, “be a man” and provide the particulars on the nature of the specific acts that formed the predicates for Harpin’s indictment counts, curiously had no reaction at all to what, to us at least, would seem a far more inflammatory inquiry from Small.
We sincerely hope that our justice system has not sunk to such a low level, but we’ll also confide that some key people whose opinions we value have indicated their beliefs that it was intentional. One such individual stated, “Remember who State Police went running to the second those videos were released? It’s my belief that Belton reassured them that, he may have to take an action, but he would find a way for the troopers to have easy outs.” We asked him why he felt that way, and he responded with, “because nobody can be that stupid!”
Again, we hope it was mere sloppiness on Belton’s part rather than such a low point of our criminal justice system and, despite our criticisms of Belton, we are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that it was not intentional and, in sharp contrast to the “be a man” episode, we believe it behooved him to make a public statement that it was not intentional on his part!
At any rate, Small emphasized that the report was “off limits,” and that Belton’s (though again not mentioning him by name) act of providing it to Stoughton caused Stoughton’s opinion to be “tainted,” and that the Court should, “conform to Garrity and us pack up.”
Judge Rogers wrapped everything up by indicating to Holland that what Small emphasized certainly constituted, “a problem.” He granted a 10-day period for the additional affidavit to be entered into the record.
He also indicated that he’d previously made known that he leaves for vacation on August 31, 2023 and that he would not issue a ruling on the Kastigar Motion until after he returns from vacation (he did not specify when that would be) and he’d had time to thoroughly review the whole matter and all of the arguments made along with providing consideration to the added affidavit from Stoughton.
Thus, it would appear to us (speculation of course) that a ruling may not be forthcoming until late September to possibly even early October.
Whenever his ruling is made, however, we commit to alert our subscribes and casual site visitors of what that ruling is.
Let us wrap this feature up by providing the entirety of a press conference hosted by newly-installed national civil rights attorney Ben Crump, which was held immediately after the court hearing. Here’s that video:
National Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump hosts press conference immediately after court in Third JDC in Union Parish on Tuesday, August 22, 2023 entailing the arrest and in-custody death of Ronald Greene on May 10, 2019.
Since Crump emphasizes the need to, “watch the video,” long-time subscribers will recall that we published this feature of a consolidated video of the Greene arrest, and we will present that consolidated video once again:
Consolidated video of the chase, apprehension, and in-custody death of Ronald Greene on May 10, 2019.
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