Criminal Charge: Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child
Case: State of Texas v. Stanley Maggard, [Cause 24923]
Court: 6th D.Ct. [Lamar County]
Result: Guilty plea. 3 years.
It’s hard to know whether the Discovery Code violations by the prosecutor resulted in the trial day vast reduction in plea bargain from 30 years to 3, but this case is an object lesson in the coercive authority wielded by a prosecutor to strong-arm a plea out of a case with weak evidence.
Mr. Maggard was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child. The State had no DNA evidence of the alleged rape even though a sexual assault exam was completed within hours of the alleged conduct: no skin cells of the alleged perpetrator, no body fluids whatsoever. The SANE examiner reported an anal tear and the alleged victim reported a rape. That was the evidence.
Haslam enlisted the aid of expert witnesses in this case. Dr. Jack McCubbin, a Texarkana gynecologist, reviewed the SANE exam and found no evidence of rape. Dr. Michael Gottlieb, a Dallas psychologist, reviewed the videotapes of the CPS interviews of the alleged victim and her sister and concluded the interviews were deceptively leading, a common problem in child interviews. Laura Schile, a national expert in DNA and other biological evidence issues who worked for the prosecution in the Jon Binet Ramsey and Kobe Bryant cases, assisted in the evaluation of the serology and DNA issues as well as the convoluted inner-workings of the State Crime Lab.
The Garland, TX Crime Lab analysts were prepared to testify that no DNA evidence was found on the swabs recovered by the SANE nurse. In the bizarre twist that yielded the trial day vast plea offer reduction, the ADA Jill Drake announced an alleged misrepresentation about the availability of certain testing Haslam had requested months earlier. Originally, the lab denied such evidence existed. Drake tried to finesse the revelation as something other than a significant discovery violation. Haslam objected. And this ploy emerged days after another discovery violation when it became apparent the prosecutor had failed to produce still more exculpatory evidence as required by State and Federal law. [See the link above].
After all the exculpatory evidence had been finally ordered by the Court, the State reduced its offer from 30 to 3 years and reduced the charge to indecency with a child just after the jury was selected. Mr. Maggard simply would not risk the possibility of a conviction and a sentence to life in prison when he was looking at release in a matter of months.
This case is a tragedy. I believe Mr. Maggard is innocent. The State either hid or failed to produce evidence that the law requires it to both know about and disclose. The first trial judge made remarks so inappropriate to third parties that Haslam had him removed. The therapist who “counseled” the alleged victim was singularly uncooperative in responding to the Court’s orders regarding therapy notes. This case highlights the reality that public officials are capable of skirting the law to achieve a conviction, and the absolute necessity for trial counsel who knows the law and is willing to challenge the assertions of public officials. It demonstrates what every lawyer practicing criminal defense a significant length of time knows too well: you cannot trust the officials investigating, prosecuting or presiding over criminal matters to be trustworthy.