Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kenny, Kenny, Kenny

Count Dale Helmig as the next guy who's thrilled that Kenny Hulshof is not the governor of Missouri.  Hulshof rode his "illustrious" career in the Missouri Attorney General's office straight to Washington, D.C. where he represented Missouri for many terms.  He hoped that Congressional career would lead him straight to the governor's mansion in Jefferson City.  Fortunately, some of Kenny's bad, bad deeds as a prosecutor had started to surface before that 2008 election and the voters of Missouri smartly rejected him.  (Yes, I just used "Missouri voters" and "smart" in the same sentence.  Maybe I'm getting over that whole "those Missouri hooligans burned my town down 147 years ago" thing.)  Turns out a lot of those high-profile convictions Hulshof won that earned him the attention of voters were only obtained by breaking the rules.  A lot.

Back in February of 2009, I had suggested that it was probably to the benefit of Kenny's victims (aka wrongly-convicted defendants) that he did not win that election.  Some of his convictions are still percolating through the courts.  Cases like Dale Helmig's.  A district court judge recently reversed Helmig's conviction and released him on bond, not just finding that Hulshof had committed serious misconduct in handling the case, but also that Helmig's defense team had established Helmig's actual innocence.  And putting 2 and 2 together, the implication is pretty clear that Hulshof and the rest of his team had to have a pretty good idea that Helmig was innocent.  (Hulshof worked it out so the alibi witness couldn't testify, for example.) 

For Helmig's sake, I'm glad the district court judge who reversed his conviction and released him on bond didn't have to navigate the tricky minefield of calling out the current governor for his gross misconduct in handling Helmig's case.  As it stands, the district court judge, in his 100+ page ruling, didn't shy away from calling out Hulshof by name.  A judge doesn't have to worry about awkward run-ins at state functions with the guy who lost the election.

So this is now at least 6 murder cases (4 death penalty cases) that have now been reversed at least in part because of Hulshof's misconduct.  And yet, he has, to the best of my knowledge, suffered no consequences.  Instead, he works at a big Kansas City law firm.  On the firm's website, Hulshof's bio touts his prosecutorial and Congressional careers and refers to him as having a strong national reputation as a leader with integrity.  Sorry, Big Law Firm, but the word integrity is not one that should ever be applied to a man who broke the rules repeatedly to obtain wrongful convictions against no fewer than 6 men. 

Instead of raking in money doing business law for a big firm and still hiding behind this false reputation for integrity, Kenny Hulshof should be facing disciplinary hearings.  He should be facing tough questions about his long history of egregious Constitutional violations.  He should be defending lawsuits from the men he convicted, the taxpayers who are stuck with the bills for his shenanigans, and the family members of murder victims whose true killers went unpunished.  But prosecutors have near absolute immunity from lawsuit.  And disciplinary administrators, for whatever reason, just don't have the guts to take on prosecutorial misconduct in a real, meaningful way.  And obviously no prosecutor will charge him with any crime.  At the very least, Hulshof should donate his yearly salary (hell, just half of his yearly salary) to each of the 6 men (that we know about) who spent years behind bars because of his misdeeds.  But that'll never happen.  He'll just keep going to his cushy office, collecting his big paycheck, and enjoying his national reputation for integrity.  And I can only hope that someday, his trail of misdeeds will catch up to him in a real way.

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