Criminal Charge: Child Abuse
Case: State v. Earnest Jackson CF-02-5279
Court: [CF-02-5279, Tulsa County]
- Read the Tulsa World story on the FIRST Earnest Jackson trial (hung jury)
- Read the Tulsa World story on the SECOND Earnest Jackson trial (acquittal)
A harbinger of the career to follow, Haslam’s first jury trial was a court appointment to defend a dad featured numerous times on the television show “America’s Most Wanted”. Compounding this challenge, the prosecutor, Dana Bogie Kuehn, had 75 jury trials under her belt as Chief of the Crimes Against Children Unit, moved on to be Presiding Judge of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals and now sits on the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Tulsa County arrested Earnest and Kaia Jackson amid great publicity in their Tulsa home living with their four kids. The 1988 New Jersey arrest warrants alleged they physically abused a fifth child fifteen years earlier.
After charging both Jacksons with abusing one of the four Tulsa kids, Jonathan, authorities returned them to New Jersey to stand trial on the 1988 charges – where each took a conviction. Thereafter, each returned to Tulsa to stand trial on the new Oklahoma charges involving Jonathan. In September 2002, a Tulsa County jury sentenced Kaia to thirty-five years in the Oklahoma penitentiary, to be served AFTER she discharged her New Jersey sentence.
The Tulsa County District Court appointed Haslam to defend Earnest. The State offered Earnest – a 55 year old man – 35 years to avoid trial. With little to lose, it was easy for Earnest to believe in his young lawyer, plead not guilty and take his story to a jury. After five days of trial and eight hours of deliberation, his first jury hung up. A single, brave juror refused to cave during hours of shouting and table pounding that could be heard in the hall outside the jury room.
After many motions and hearings – including a motion to disqualify the prosecutor for attempting to improperly influence Jonathan’s testimony on the eve of the retrial – Haslam exposed numerous statements by Jonathan insisting Earnest had NEVER abused him.
After seven days of retrial, THE SECOND JURY NEEDED 45 MINUTES TO RETURN A VERDICT OF NOT GUILTY.