This case of proven prosecutorial misconduct hits close to home because it is close to home in Manassas, Virginia. The post will center mainly upon the case Wolfe vs. Clarke. Justin Wolfe, the defendant, had his conviction vacated. It was overturned by a Federal Judge who had a few choice words for the Commonwealth Attorney, Paul Ebert (photo above). This portion of the ruling is eye opening and should serve as notice to the importance of having an open file policy in Virginia. Amazingly Mr. Ebert is currently the Commonwealth Attorney in Prince William County. The Federal Judge who vacated the conviction is not impressed with Ebert or his office and found Ebert’s behavior abhorrent to the judicial process; strong words.
There is nothing more that can be added, except that Ebert has only worsened in his duties as the latest sexting case in Manassas demonstrates. For a Commonwealth Attorney to openly proclaim that he does not provide exculpatory evidence to the defense because it could be used as a defense is chilling and reveals the type of attorney and person that Ebert is. His mentality toward the judicial process is draconian and is abhorrent.
The latest sexting case, which has garnered much needed national attention, has laid bare the issues with Judicial System in Prince William County. If you are not aware
During Wolfe’s evidentiary hearing in the district court, the Commonwealth’s Attorney explained that his office does not have an “open-file policy,” providing criminal defense counsel access to entire case files. See J.A. 3690. Asked to elaborate, he offered the flabbergasting explanation that he has “ found in the past when you have information that is given to certain counsel and certain defendants , they are able to fabricate a defense around what is provided.” Id. Additionally, the Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney admitted that he does not produce evidence to a criminal defendant unless he first deems it to be “material” and “credib[le].” Id. at 3782. The district court rightly lambasted that conduct in its Brady Order:
In effect, Ebert admits here that his contempt of defendants who “fabricate a defense” guides his perspective on disclosing information… The Court finds these actions not only unconstitutional in regards to due process, but abhorrent to the judicial process.
Do the Courts, Child Protection Agencies and CPS investigators have the ability to decide what science is or not, using Loudoun County as a guide, the answer is uneqiuvocally no. As long as the County Attorney and the Commonwealth Attorney is selecting experts for a case, the line between science and neuroscience will continue to be grey. In my opinion, certain psychologically testimony is nothing more than spectral evidence.
Amazingly and to the detriment of the judicial system, debunked myths continue to be recycled. Case in point “Repressed Memories” has been repackaged and listed in the DSM-5 as dissociative amnesia. The name changes but the pseudoscience remains the same. The idea being that an event is so traumatic that the victim represses it until a crusading therapist can retrieve them. This flies in stark contradiction to those who have seen events, such as war, they remember all too well.
The following judicial ruling was provided and it is very disturbing that some Courts recognize “repressed memories” as a proven accepted science. False beliefs die hard. One of the more troubling portions of the opinion is that the Court stated that “dissociative amnesia” is accepted science within the profession. The opinion also stated that there is no consensus among the various States whether or not to accept the theory of “dissociative amnesia”.
It seems nothing has been learned from the daycare hysteria and Satanic Panic of the 80′s. Loudoun County in particular is in the dark ages when it comes to abuses cases, with Sandra Glenney leading the way and a Guardian Ad Litem who will defer to her. Any accusation, evidence or not will gain momentum and take years to wind through the courts.
My advice to any defendant is to know your research; most Judges are not educated in the latest research. It will be important to critically examine the background of any professional that Sandra Glenney recommends.
The judicial system does not know what to do with innocent people. It is very adept at finding people guilty but very incompetent at finding the truth. The Michael Morton case sadly illustrates this. The system failed in so many ways. His case is a poignant example that the system does not correct itself, it defends itself.
Mr. Morton spent 25 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Within a very small time frame he lost his wife, his freedom and his son. During the midst of this man’s tragedy, the prosecutor in the case, Ken Anderson, knowingly withheld exculpatory evidence to win his case. During the years that Morton languished in prison and his son rejected him, Anderson said nothing and allowed it to happen.
As a recent article in the New York Times mentioned, Mr. Morton wasn’t exonerated due to the efforts of the Police or to the DA’s office, if they had their way he would still be in prison. He was exonerated by the efforts of the Innocence Project and DNA testing. The DA’s office resisted the DNA testing adamantly and Mr. Morton was forced to spend extra years in prison while the denials of the dna testing were appealed. One has to ask why deny the testing if you are confident in the conviction.
The system failed in so many ways, it nearly destroyed the relationship between Mr. Morton and his son. I cannot imagine as a young man having to believe that your Father killed your mother. His son had both parents ripped away from him. The prosecutor robbed his son of a relationship with his father all because he wanted to win his case. The system only added to the tragedy, not to mention the pain this caused Mr. Morton’s family. Can anyone imagine the unending stress and the condescending looks that a member of his family received when he was found guilty. Unfortunately, most people put misplaced confidence in the judicial system.
Ken Anderson went on to become a judge and for all those years while Mr. Morton sat in prison, Anderson did not say one word about the evidence that he withheld. While the case was appealed, no one from the DA’s office had the morality to turn the exculpatory evidence over. This speaks volumes of our system and the people who work in it; it leaves quite a bit to be desired.
This problem is ubiquitous and not isolated. A federal judge recently opined that “There is an epidemic of Brady violations abroad in the land. Only judges can put a stop to it”. Such a short but powerful statement. Unfortunately some judges do not have the will or the fortitude to put a stop to it, especially in the Courts at the local level such as Loudoun County. The prosecutors and judges see each other quite often; judges are reluctant to deal harshly with a prosecutor who is not playing fair.
The longer a judge resides on the bench the more tainted the system becomes. I wish Michael Morton the best and congratulations on his new book.
Once an individual finds his or herself falsely accused of abuse, the three ring circus ensues. This will consists of a series of hearings in the Juvenile District Court and most likely an appeal to the Circuit Court. I am tempted to write that Sandra Glenney, Laurie Warhol and other members of Loudoun CPS have two attempts to win their case, I would be wrong in this assertion. In reality they have endless attempts to win their case.
Once the accusation winds its way through the Courts, keep in mind this is only Civil Court. The reason being, that most accusations have no evidence and therefore do not rise to any criminal action. After the case is heard in Circuit Court, reunification will be ordered between the child and the estranged parent. This is the part of the process that someone of such low ethics as Sandra Glenney and Loudoun CPS excels in. It is the most deviant as well. At this juncture the defendant foolishly believes that the ordeal is over and the process of healing can begin; nothing can be further from truth. When reunification starts, the ordeal is re-starting as well. The accused is focusing on restoring the relationship between the child, Glenney and CPS is focused on making the break in the parent/child bond permanent.
At this point the accused has spent perhaps, 30-45k in attorney’s fees fighting the accusations. The second round of litigation will more than likely catch the accused off guard. The key player, as always will be the handpicked psychologist by CPS. This person will be supplying reports and information to Sandra Glenney that Glenney will then use to attempt to stop the reunification. This results in motions and hearings which means more attorneys’ fees.
The issue with the Judiciary in Loudoun County is that it is very conservative and is reluctant to rule against Glenney. For reasons this writer cannot understand, Sandra Glenney is held in high regard by some judges. The accused is fighting an uphill battle on all fronts. He or she is fighting a hired gun psychologist chosen by Sandra Glenney. He or she is also working within the framework of a Judicial System that is reluctant to rule against Glenney. However, there are a few things that one can do.
1. Subpoena all of the notes of CPS’s handpicked psychologist. This is critical; the psychologist will not reveal anything that will damage CPS’s case unless forced to.
2. File several FOIA requests to CPS; ask for all emails that originated from Sandra Glenney concerning the case. It is critical to shine the spotlight on the case. Keep in mind CPS wants a victim not a fight. They do not want the general public or other members of the local government to get word of what they are doing.
3. Attend the local CPS public meetings and voice your issues, shine light on what is going on in your case.
4. File complaints with the appropriate board such as the Virginia State Bar and the Virginia Board of Psychology