Conviction Overturned Because of Lawyer-Bashing Tape
Posted Dec 11, 2007 11:26 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The Oregon Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of a man who bashed his defense lawyer on a tape recording played at trial.
The defendant, Roy Norman Knight, was convicted of sexually abusing his girlfriend’s teen daughter. Prosecutors played the tape to impeach Knight’s testimony about how much he wanted his children and those of his girlfriend to have good childhoods.
Knight did not find new counsel, and the defense lawyer objected to admission of the recording. The Oregon Supreme Court said the tape was prejudicial and should not have been admitted.
On the tape, Knight told his mother he would sign his children over to the state unless she got him a better lawyer, the Associated Press reports. He told his mother she should take out a loan or even rob a bank to get the money to pay for new counsel. “I don't give a f--- if it's goddamn Mr. Magoo and on his first case,” he said. “I'll pay for whatever it takes when I get out of here. … If I go to court with this f-------- attorney, I'm f-----.”
The court said in its opinion that the defendant's remarks “inevitably affected the jury's own perception of the competence and zealousness of defendant's trial counsel and, ultimately, of the strength of defendant's case. After the jury heard that defendant was unimpressed with his lawyer's ability, his cause was sunk.”
A hat tip to EvidenceProf Blog, which wrote about the opinion.