Friday, April 28, 2017

KYSC - Zapata - Withdrawal of Guilty Plea



Steven Zapata v. Com., Kentucky Supreme Court, 
To-be-published (4/27/2017): 

Steven Zapata was charged with murder.  He pled guilty under North Carolina v. Alford and accepted a 24-year sentence. He then moved to withdraw his plea. Appointed hybrid co-counsel expressed discomfort and stood by unable to assist Mr. Zapata at the hearing on his motion to withdraw his plea. The trial court refused to allow him to withdraw his plea. On appeal, the Kentucky Supreme Court held that the trial court erred by resolving an involuntary plea issue without an evidentiary hearing and without appointing conflict-free counsel.  

Susan Balliet represented Mr. Zapata on appeal.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

KYSC - Gullett - Juror Misconduct


Asa P. Gullett IV v. Comm.,
 Kentucky Supreme Court, 
To-be-published (3/23/2017):

Asa Gullett was charged and convicted of incest, rape, sodomy, and first and second-degree sexual abuse. Trial counsel discovered immediately after trial the jury foreman had withheld information that her close family members had been prosecuted for crimes in that county. Counsel moved for mistrial, stating they would have moved to strike her for cause or exercised a peremptory challenge. The trial court denied the motion for mistrial, and gave instructions that allowed non-unanimous verdicts on sodomy and first-degree sexual abuse.

The Kentucky Supreme Court vacated Gullett’s convictions and remanded the case for a new trial due to the juror’s misconduct. The Court ordered that in the event of a retrial, the sodomy and sex abuse instructions must be corrected to avoid non-unanimous verdicts. Susan Balliet represented Asa Gullett on appeal, and Elizabeth Curtin and Melanie Foote represented him at trial. 

Advocate Supplement - Kentucky Parole Board Rates

Supplement to the February 2017 edition of The Advocate

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February 2017 Edition of The Advocate Online

FEATURED IN THIS MONTH'S ADVOCATE: FEBRUARY 2017
THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC ADVOCACY CRIMNIAL JUSTICE FACTS OVERVIEW EDITION. THIS EDITION INCLUDES:
  • CRIME RATE DECLINES
  • INCARCERATION INCREASES
  • NONVIOLENT PERSISTENT FELONY OFFENDER COSTS ARE HIGH
  • PAROLE IN KENTUCKY
  • DEFENDER CASE APPOINTMENTS INCREASE

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

KYSC - Champion - 1st Amendment



2015-SC-000570 (February 16, 2017)
TO BE PUBLISHED – 

Dennis Champion was arrested for violating a Lexington-Fayette County Urban County Government ordinance that sought to restrict panhandling; “No person shall beg or solicit upon the public streets or at the intersection of said public streets within the urban county area.”  Despite cogent challenges to the statute in the lower courts, it was not until the Kentucky Supreme Court accepted discretionary review were Mr. Champion’s free speech rights vindicated.  

The Court held that the ordinance was unconstitutionally overbroad after applying strict scrutiny review as the ordinance sought to regulate the content of speech in public fora.  The Chief Justice, writing for the Court, eloquently held:  “The true beauty of the First Amendment is that it treats both Cicero and the vagabond as equals without prejudice to their message. Freedom of speech does not exist for us to talk about the weather; to accept this liberty is to welcome controversy and to embrace discomfort.”  The Supreme Court remanded the matter back to the Fayette District Court with instructions to dismiss the charge.

Contributed by Linda Horsman