Stoughton admits to listening to York’s IA interview in what may be devastating blow to York’s prosecution.

Union Parish District Attorney John Belton.

We hope everyone has a happy Labor Day extended weekend.

This will be a very brief post.  When we posted this feature on LSP Trooper Kory York’s Kastigar hearing, we stressed that York’s attorney, J. Michael Small, openly expressed his opinion that use-of-force expert Seth Stoughton, whom the State retained to assist with its prosecution of York, actually listened to an internal affairs interview York voluntarily agreed to with the understanding that nothing he said in that interview could be, “used in any way, shape, or form” entailing a criminal prosecution.

From that feature:

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.

Both sides indicated that a supplemental affidavit would be entered into the record indicating whether Stoughton did or did not listen to the interview.  That was done on Monday, August 28, 2023 when Assistant DA Hugo Holland filed this affidavit into the public record wherein Stoughton admits that he did in fact listen to the interview.  From the affidavit:

5. In the course of his retention, he was provided with and listened to an audio-recorded statement of an administrative interview of Kory York (200915-1002 Koy (sic) York.mp3).

Make sure the words “provided with” aren’t glossed over!  We’ll explain why momentarily!

We also published in the preceding feature that Small asked the rhetorical question of whether the State’s action was “intentional.”  Again, from that feature:

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.

Here’s a question we have for Belton, who presumably listened to the interview as well:

What part of, “will not be used against you in any way, shape, or form in a criminal prosecution” is not clear?  That fact is clearly stated during the interview, and yet the tape is handed over to a use-of-force expert (whom Small has referred in open  court to as, “the State’s hired gun,”) whose job it is to assist the prosecution in evaluating whether excess force was used in the matter as part of its criminal prosecution.  That tape is simply handed over (with that statement made very early on in the recorded interview) to that use-of-force expert (Seth Stoughton)!  Geez!!!!!!!!!!!

We also believe that it was incumbent upon Stoughton to have, upon hearing that segment of the audio file which he now admits he listened to (i.e. the part of no statement being able to be used in a criminal proceeding), shown a high level of ethics and have gone to Belton and indicated that he was not sure why he obtained either the interview recording or the IA report but, given that he had, he felt obligated to withdraw from the engagement and afford Belton the opportunity to hire another use-of-force expert with Belton refraining from providing that expert with the two items.

Instead, Stoughton apparently simply opted to accept the money and felt he was under no such obligation.  He apparently was content to let whatever fallout may transpire to simply come crashing down on Belton’s head.  Perhaps Belton and/or Stoughton may have thought Small may not be studious enough to catch the very obvious improper action of Stoughton even having access to that material given its contents regarding York and statements he made.  If so, we could have informed them otherwise and that there is a reason we rank Small among the top four criminal defense attorneys in this state (with the other three being Lewis Unglesby, Mike Fawer, and John McLindon).

Speaking of Small, he filed a Supplement to his Motion to Quash; however, that filing is under seal.

At any rate, our take is that the admission by Stoughton to having listened to the taped interview makes it game, set, match on York’s indictments.  We firmly expect that Judge Thomas Rogers will grant the Motion to Quash all ten (10) of the remaining indictment counts against York in coming days.

As Small indicated in court on August 22, 2023, he is resolute in his belief that his arguments for quashing the indictment counts are strong irrespective of what came back in the affidavit.  With this development, his already-strong arguments seem almost insurmountable to us.

The only question Small must have is, “could it really be this easy?”  Or, perhaps, as he rhetorically inquired as evidenced above, maybe it actually was “intentional.”

Intentional or pure rank complete and total incompetence, it appears to us that York is now totally off the hook entailing any prosecutorial actions arising from Greene’s arrest on May 10, 2019, and Belton need only look in the mirror for why that’s the case!

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