Prosecutor Shunned Due Process and Presumption of Innocence, SAVE Urges High Court to Impose Sanctions to Curb Prosecutorial Misconduct
WASHINGTON/December 13, 2012 – Following a bar panel recommendation to suspend the license of prosecutor Mary N. Kellett, SAVE is urging the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to act promptly to affirm and restore fundamental legal principles of due process and the presumption of innocence.
In its December 5, 2012 decision, a panel of the Board of Overseers of the Bar concluded Assistant District Attorney Kellett violated at least seven Maine Bar Rules. The panel then recommended the Hancock County prosecutor be sanctioned with a “period of suspension.” The panel’s recommendation now goes to a Maine high court justice for a final decision: http://www.maine.gov/tools/
In advance of the trial of a man charged with spousal rape, Kellett repeatedly delayed or refused to provide exculpatory evidence that had been requested by defense counsel. This conduct drew a strong rebuke from the 3-member bar panel: “The seriousness of this issue cannot be overstated.”
In her closing argument before the jury, Kellett then argued the exclusion of that evidence should be viewed as evidence of the defendant’s guilt. The panel cited Kellett’s closing statement as unfairly causing “prejudice to the defendant.”
The panel also noted Kellett’s own expert witness testified during its October 2012 hearing that Kellett appeared “stubborn,” as if she were “bucking the court.” “This willful recalcitrance makes it appear likely that Ms. Kellett would repeat this unfairly prejudicial conduct,” the panel warned.
In its original 2011 complaint to the Board of Overseers of the Bar, Stop Abusive and Violent Environments concluded, “Mary Kellett’s repeated instances of prosecutorial misconduct have had the effect of undermining public respect for law. She is dangerous to the even-handed administration of justice.”: http://www.saveservices.org/
“The citizens of Maine should be outraged by Mary Kellett’s ongoing abuse of her prosecutorial power,” notes SAVE spokesman Steve Blake. “The Maine Supreme Judicial Court must send a strong message that no prosecutor should be allowed to operate above the ethical rules that were designed to apply to all lawyers.”
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, a victim advocacy organization, warns that prosecutorial charging decisions not based on probable cause harm the credibility of victims and rob them of needed protections and services.
Wrongful convictions of persons accused of sexual assault have become a national problem. According to a recent DNA analysis, one in 10 rape convictions in Virginia were wrong: http://forensicpsychologist.
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is a victim-advocacy organization working for evidence-based solutions to domestic violence and sexual assault: www.saveservices.org.