Thursday, June 12, 2008

Truthwatch: Kenny In The Courtroom




Kenny Hulshof's second television campaign ad for Governor highlights his years of experience as a state prosecutor. But some critics say an infamous murder trial right here in the Ozarks exposes flaws in Hulshof's judgement.

Hulshof was at the center of the George Revelle murder trial back in the winter of 1996. As a state prosecutor, he argued to a jury that the Fremont Hills Mayor and banker murdered his wife, Lisa. Hulshof and the state initially won a conviction. But 21 months later, a state appeals court reversed it because of a letter Hulshof introduced. The letter, written by Revelle's wife Lisa, detailed trouble in the couple's marriage. Hulshof said his decision to use it was based on sound case law, but a court said a jury should have never seen it.

"The jury needed to see that there was another side to that George Revelle and the marriage," Hulshof said in an interview. "I believed it based on caselaw was, there was an exception to the hearsay rule and the trial judge agreed. It was something I thought was important for the jury to hear as they try to determine whether George Revelle was guilty."

Springfield Attorney and Democrat Tom Carver disagrees."There are a lot of mistakes that are made in trials that are called harmless errors, that was not a harmless error," Carver said.

Carver calls Hulshof move to use the letter "a dangerous ploy," that was risky enough to jeopardize the entire case." I think there's certainly a good chance that Revelle would have been convicted had this piece of evidence had not been admitted," Carver said.

Hulshof said he didn't see it as a risk. "Obviously, if I had know how the appellate court was going to rule, we wouldn't of put it out there," Hulshof said. In December 1998, a second jury ended up acquitting George Revelle of murder. No one else has ever been charged for his wife's death. Carver said this case raises questions about Hulshof's judgment, just as the candidate attempts to highlight those skills in a new ad." I think there's certainly a lesson to be learned about his exercise of judgment," Carver said.

"I think it was a dangerous ploy. And I think at the time, if he had done his homework he might have thought better than to try to get that admitted into evidence. I think there would've been red flags raised if he looked closely at that."

Shawn Askinosie, the lead attorney for George Revelle during his appeal, said he could not comment on the case without Revelle's explicit permission.

But David Mercer, a defense attorney on the Revelle appeal said if he was the prosecutor, he would have tried to get the letter admitted as well. "He was a fine prosecutor. In fact, he was really, really good," Mercer said in an interview. "He's an advocate and his job is to advocate for the state. I never viewed this letter as a prosecutor doing anything wrong. There certainly wasn't anything underhanded about it. It could've gone either way," he said.

***(The video clips above are from February 1996, of Hulshof questioning George Revelle, and making his case to jurors. Revelle was aquitted after a re-trial in December 1998.)

1 comment:

Tim said...

I can't believe the media is playing into the hands of Steelman and the Dems by making a big deal about the fact that one of Hulshof's cases was later reversed because he introduced a piece of incriminating evidence in a murder case. This somehow suggests he doesn't have the judgment to be governor? It was apparently a close enough call that the trial judge agreed with him. So the Court of Appeals reversed the trial judge. They do that dozens of times each year. Does that mean that every lawyer who wins a case and is later reversed somehow lacks judgment? Should every judge who is reversed on appeal resign? If Hulshof were censured by the court or bar for prosecutorial misconduct, that would be one thing, but it appears that the only thing Hulshof was guilty of here is being a zealous advocate, which I thought is what attorneys are supposed to do.