The Supreme Court will consider Clair’s previous counsel’s failure to analyze and submit newly discovered evidence by C. J. FORD as a factor in their decision.
WASHINGTON D.C — The capital case Martell v. Clair was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011. Clair was convicted of a murder in 1987 and sentenced to death. The issue brought to the Supreme Court was whether a convicted inmate could fire his appointed counsel and retain new counsel. One of the issues Kenneth Clair’s attorneys brought to the court as justification for firing former counsel was counsel did not pursue newly discovered physical evidence in his federal Habeas Corpus appeal.
Evidence was bought to the attention of the court in the appeal by means of a letter by Clair, and an investigative report by C. J. Ford Jr., Clair’s criminal defense private investigator. The issue of whether Clair’s former counsel could be fired because Clair’s attorneys failed to introduce or examine this evidence, escalated the case and this issue to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the defense argued on Clair’s behalf.
In the respondent’s brief, in regards to Ford’s investigation, the defense said the following:
Clair independently enlisted private investigator C. J. Ford to look into his case. Clair instructed his counsel to cooperate, but the Federal Public Defender (FPD) provided no assistance and, indeed, restricted Ford’s efforts. Ford nonetheless was able to locate a potential alibi witness the FPD had never interviewed, and he obtained a declaration from Flore’s recanting key portions of her testimony.
On March 16, 2005, Clair wrote to the district court expressing concern that the FPD no longer had his best interest at hand. Meanwhile, Ford continued his investigation. His most significant discoveries concerned the physical evidence that had been collected from the scene of the Rodger’s murder. In the early 1990s, one of Clair’s original Habeas attorneys had asked to review the evidence, but the police department claimed it had been lost or destroyed. In the ensuing years of litigation, Clair’s counsel never probed or challenged that claim. When Ford took the matter up, he learned after persistent inquiry that the police did have the evidence after all. After reviewing that evidence in late May 2005, Ford informed Clair that substantial biological material and fingerprints appeared to be available but that further analysis would be required to determine whether the evidence was in suitable condition for testing or comparison purposes.
On June 16, 2005, Clair wrote to the court to renew his request for new counsel. Clair informed the court that despite Ford’s discovery, the FPD was making no effort to analyze the previously missing physical evidence or to present it to the court. Ford submitted his own letter to substantiate Clair’s assertion. That letter described Ford’s investigation, including his success in locating the physical evidence and the lack of assistance from the FPD. Ford stated that he had found blood, hair, and other physical evidence that needed to be analyzed to determine if it could be subject to DNA testing, and fingerprints that did not belong to Kenneth Clair, the victim, or the owners of the house and, thus, could have belonged to the real perpetrator. Ford said that although he had been trying without success to convince the district attorney’s office to analyze the evidence, Clair’s attorneys were neither assisting nor investigating themselves.
To find out more about this U.S. Supreme Court case, the investigation, and its arguments visit:
About the Author:
C. J. Ford Jr. is the Owner and Qualified Manager of C. J. Ford Private Investigations. Mr. Ford has been in the investigative field for over 20. Mr. Ford specializes in criminal investigations.
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