Thursday, May 19, 2011

Public Advocate Ed Monahan's Comments on Commonwealth v. Nash

Commonwealth v. Nash Supreme Court of Kentucky, May 19, 2011

Justice Venters said it well:  “What seems to be readily apparent to us now escaped the attention of his lawyers, the prosecutors, and the judges three times. If true, that must serve as a sobering reminder to all segments of the criminal justice system, including this Court, how easy it is to overlook the obvious, and how quickly one can fall through the cracks in the system.”

One might call this the tragedy of ordinary injustice. The system failed Mr. Nash and likely too many others who have been held illegally to the onerous restrictions placed upon sex offenders in the past two decades. 

The  efforts of DPA Attorney Sam Potter in assisting Mr. Nash to finally receive justice and release from these charges and restrictions are appreciated.  Once final in the Supreme Court, this case for Mr. Nash will be returned to the Fayette Circuit Court, which is ordered to dismiss the case.  Mr. Nash will then be able to file a motion for relief in his other case, which would also be invalidated by today’s ruling. In this case, where the highest court in Kentucky has declared Mr. Nash factually innocent of the charges in both cases, the Fayette Circuit Court should grant his immediate release.

The errors of oversight throughout the history of Mr. Nash’s case can only be avoided by a well-trained and well-funded criminal justice system.  Defenders, prosecutors, and judges all face crippling workloads due to inadequate personnel resulting from insufficient funding.  Well-qualified professionals leave public service because compensation for public attorneys lag far behind opportunities in private practice.  Both problems, insufficient overall funding and a compensation structure that fails to retain many high-quality attorneys, must be addressed before we can be confident there are not more people like Mr. Nash facing injustice in the courts of Kentucky.

I commend the Court, the Court of Justice, for not requiring this case to go through yet another process, but to go ahead and decide the issue for the benefit of the innocent client.