Prof. Bazelon publishes story about release of Project for the Innocent client
Visiting Associate Clinical Professor Lara Bazelon, director of Loyola's Project for the Innocent, wrote a story about the project's work to secure freedom for client Kash Register in Slate. The piece, "A Mistake has been Made Here, and No One Wants to Correct It," provides a detailed account of the case.
On some level, all criminal defense attorneys are forced to metabolize the agony of their clients. In order to keep fighting for them, we have to. When I became a federal public defender in 2001, a senior lawyer described the job this way, “It’s like your client is tied to the railroad tracks and you are the only thing standing between him and the train. Sometimes, the best you can do is hold his hand when he gets run down.” The trick is to convince yourself that it will never come to that, by working single-mindedly to untie the knots, and blocking out the sound of the train’s whistle screaming. The thrill is addictive, but the pressure is nauseating.
But once I started working on Register’s case, I never stopped hearing the train.
As we interviewed witnesses and built up our side of the case, the prosecutor’s office refused to back down. Deputy district attorney Juan Mejia and his investigator asked Anderson to sign a declaration affirming the truth of her trial testimony. Anderson refused. She told Mejia, “I’m not gonna do that, you know, unless I see some compensation which I well deserved a long time ago.” In a March 2013 interview with her brother Robert, Mejia said of Anderson, “You can’t trust her farther than you can throw her.” Nonetheless, he insisted that Anderson’s account should be credited over Sharon’s, telling the incredulous Robert, “You know, there’s—there’s an old saying that a broken clock is right twice a day.” Mejia and his investigators also showed Sharon’s rap sheet to Robert, suggesting that she should not be believed because she had been a prostitute. When Sharon found out, she felt humiliated about this dredging up of her past. She had not been in trouble in years and was devoted to raising her 11-year-old daughter. She told Vanderkam, “I can’t take this,” and did not speak to my colleagues or me for six months.
Read the complete story.