Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Missouri, congrats on rejecting this guy for Governor!

Kenny Hulshof lost the 2008 gubernatorial race to Jay Nixon. Now, as a loyal Kansan, I'm no fan of Missouri, but I'm a big enough person to give credit where credit is due. And. as we're learning today, my not-so-favorite state to the east made the right choice in that November election. From today's Kansas City Star comes this headline:

Missouri man convicted of ’92 murder to be released from prison today Link

Joshua Kezer is being released today after a Cole County judge overturned the conviction in a habeas proceeding. The judge issued a 44-page ruling that has been described as scathing towards Hulshof's actions leading up to the conviction. (I have not had a chance to read the ruling for myself yet.) Not surprisingly to a defense attorney, one of the major issues in the habeas case was Hulshof's withholding of key pieces of evidence from Kezer's defense team.

The case entirely rested on an eyewitness who placed Kezer near the victim's car (that witness has since recanted) and two jailhouse informants who claim Kezer confessed to them. My regular readers should probably know what I think about that evidence. For the uninitiated, I think jailhouse informant testimony is worth less than my IRA. There wasn't any other evidence against Kezer.

But the man who wanted to be Governor of Missouri remains convinced that Kezer is the killer. And as support for that position, he reminded all that Kezer was a member of a violent gang. Well, then, he must be guilty, right? Hulshof also seems to think he didn't do anything wrong in prosecuting the case. So this case is bad enough with Hulshof doggedly clinging to that jury verdict and refusing to acknowledge Kezer received anything less than a completely fair trial.

Then, I found this piece by Radley Balko. (Aside: if you're interested in issues of wrongful convictions and the integrity of our criminal justice system, make Balko a part of your regular reading schedule. I don't know of anyone else who does the level of investigation and reporting on these issues that Balko does.)

Prosecutorial errors by Hulshof have led to reversals of death sentences in at least 4 cases. So the seemingly illustrious legal career of Kenny Hulshof is now being exposed as a fraud. Any prosecutor can get a conviction by breaking the rules, as long as he doesn't get caught. He rode these convictions to a political career in Missouri. He was a 6-term Congressman for Missouri. He received his party's nomination for governor. But once all those broken rules come to light, many of Hulshof's high-profile wins have fallen apart.

It would have been hugely embarrassing for Missouri if Hulshof was now the governor of the state as the sheer volume of Hulshof's past prosecutorial misconduct is coming to light. Who knows, maybe the judge in Joshua Kezer's case wouldn't have felt as free to write the ruling he did if Hulshof were now the governor. If there are any other Hulshof convictions out there pending before courts on prosecutorial misconduct claims, those, too, might get a better review since Hulshof is not governor. It's far trickier to write opinions critical of the sitting governor because people will cry foul, complaining that the judges made their decision for political reasons. So for the sake of any other defendants who were convicted by Hulshof, I'm glad their cases won't be complicated by involving the current governor.

And, hey, Missouri should just be proud that they rejected the guy who doesn't think the rules apply to him.

1 comment:

mikeb302000 said...

Dear S., I picked up on this story trough the Alan Colmes site. Your post adds so much to it. I hope you don't mind if I pop a link to you in mine which is already up.

Thanks for the details.

 
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