Advocacy Group Against Wrongful Convictions, A Just Cause, Provides Insight On Pro Se Litigation in the Federal Case of the IRP6
Denver, CO (PRWEB) December 03, 2013
In response to questions from the media, A Just Cause shares previously undisclosed insights regarding the decision by the IRP6 to represent themselves (pro se) during their federal criminal case. The IRP6 are executives of IRP Solutions Corporation, a company in Colorado that developed software for law enforcement. The IRP6 (Kendrick Barnes, Gary L. Walker, Demetrius K. Harper, Clinton A. Stewart, David A. Zirpolo and David A. Banks) were convicted in 2011 for alleged wrongdoing and the case is currently under appeal (Appellate Case: 11-1492 Document: 01018987811 and Document: 01018987485).
In an ongoing two-year investigation of an alleged wrongful conviction, A Just Cause found that court records show the IRP6 dismissed their court appointed attorneys prior to their trial commencing in 2011. Court records also show that post-trial, but pre-sentencing, the IRP6 filed motions for dismissal of the case and the indictment arguing that, pre-trial the court appointed attorneys may have contributed to alleged violations of the Speedy Trial Act (Case 1:09-cr-00266-CMA Document 687 Filed 03/20/12 USDC Colorado). Court documents show that the IRP6 argued, “Defendants were represented by counsel from June 23, 2009 through December 2010 and during that period, counsel requested continuances from July 06, 2009 through May 23, 2011 based upon the same grounds, to review discovery, interview witnesses, multiple defendants, and alleged complex nature of the allegations (Doc 49, ¶ 5-6; Doc 75, pp. 3-4; Doc 119, ¶ 2e-f, 5a, c, e, f, 10, 13; Doc 324, ¶ 2, 3, 9, 10)."
Court documents show that the IRP6 challenged their then court appointed attorneys to review discovery and interview witnesses but that the requests were apparently not fulfilled (Case 1:09-cr-00266-CMA Document 687 Filed 03/20/12 USDC Colorado).
Motions filed in federal court state, “The CJA attorneys had access through Criminal Justice Act (CJA) to request additional assistance to review documents, experts and other pretrial work to include interviewing of witnesses, if necessary. There was no reason for a major delay. After nearly a one year delay, no witnesses had been interviewed, the defense attorneys were still regurgitating nearly the same identical reasons for an extension of time to review the same discovery, (i.e. payroll records), and the process in which payments were made by mail or wire. (Doc 49, ¶¶ 5-6; Doc 75, pp. 3-4; Doc 119, ¶¶ 2e-f, 5a, c, e, f, 10, 13; Doc 324, ¶¶ 2, 3, 9, 10). The court consistently granted the continuances on the same basis. (Docs 63, 77, 123, 327). Defense Counsel alleged at least two times that they would request travel to interview witnesses. (Docs 119, ¶ 5e; 324, ¶ 9). No motions were ever filed to pursue that request. Id. In fact, Defense Counsel advised the court that they had obtained assistance to review the discovery. (Doc 75) (Case 1:09-cr-00266-CMA Document 687 Filed 03/20/12 USDC Colorado)."
“One and a half years had already passed and our defense attorneys still did not appear to have command of the facts of the case even though more than a year had passed in which to review discovery materials," recalls David Banks, IRP Solutions COO (IRP6). “They (court appointed attorneys) had not scheduled a single interview with a witness. We also had numerous discussions and meetings with them over the pertinent facts, both individually and as a group. It makes one wonder why there was no traction. As defendants we were clear in that under no circumstances whatsoever would we plea to any crime that we did not commit," affirms Banks.
“I informed the court of my desire to fire my first (court appointed) attorney due to an apparently difference of opinion in defense strategy. I was not willing to accept that my only responsibility was to offer a plea and decide whether I wanted trial before jury or judge, and allow the attorney to handle all the rest irrespective of how I felt about it," recalls David Banks, IRP Solutions COO (IRP6). “I fired my second (court appointed) attorney for basically the same reason. I believe a client must approve of any strategy an attorney is going to implement at trial. If the strategy does not work out then I have to live with the consequences, not the attorney," argues Banks.
The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution states that “…the accused…shall enjoy the right… to have the assistance of counsel for his defense” (Sixth Amendment, Constitution of the United States). “The tipping point came in our case when we felt that our attorneys were not assisting in an effective defense," states Banks. “We asked our attorneys to schedule an appointment with U.S. Attorney John Walsh (Denver, Colorado) to discuss our proffer and the overwhelming evidence of innocence," Banks explains. “Based on communication from the U.S. Attorney's office, the U.S. Attorney Walsh agreed to a meeting on the condition that our attorneys attended. Our defense attorneys originally agreed to the meeting, but then decided against attending the meeting with us. One has to wonder why the attorneys decided against attending the meeting with us, which resulted in the meeting not happening. We fired them on the spot and decided to go it alone," declares Banks.
“A Just Cause believes that once the IRP6 case started, and it was clear that the IRP6 were proceeding as pro se litigants, certain actions occurred which makes one wonder if there was an imbalance in the proceedings," ponders Sam Thurman, A Just Cause. “Court records show that out of over 40 motions filed by the IRP6 nearly all of them were denied, and of the motions filed by the prosecution, nearly all were approved. Makes one wonder if Judge Arguello didn't hold the IRP6 to a higher standard than trained attorneys. Judges at all levels are starting to take a serious look at the impact of pro se litigants in the courtroom," concludes Thurman.
"In reality, it is nearly impossible to hold a pro se party to the same standard as an attorney," writes Judge E. Kenneth Wright, Jr., Presiding Judge of the First Municipal District of the Circuit Court of Cook County. "At the most basic level, many [pro se parties] do not understand the difference between a perceived harm and a legally recognized cause of action. The next question is whether they can prove their assertion, or alternatively proffer a proper defense," Wright writes. “Even many attorneys have a hard time satisfying courtroom obligations”, Wright says. “Where litigants are pro se, those difficulties are compounded," Wright concludes. (“Law Pulse – A Judge’s Perspective On Pro Se Litigants”, Helen W. Gunnarsson, Illinois Bar Journal, June 2011, Vol 99, Number 6, Page 280).
The case of IRP Solutions (IRP6) is currently under appeal (US District Court for the District of Colorado, Honorable Christine M. Arguello, D. Ct. No. 1:09-CR-00266-CMA; Case Nos: NO. 11-1487, Case Nos. 11-1488, 11-1489, 11-1490, 11-1491 an 11-1492). Appellate Court panel includes the Honorable Senior Judge Bobby R. Baldock, Honorable Judge Harris L. Hartz, and Honorable Judge Jerome A. Holmes. They have been is currently under appeal in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. The IRP6 have been incarcerated at the Federal Prison Camp in Florence, Colorado since the summer of 2012. The six executives have maintained their innocence throughout.