Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Legal panel won't go after McDaniel

Posted By on Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 6:10 AM

Mara Leveritt reports (pay wall) that the Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct won't pursue her complaint that Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's office had violated ethics codes by continuing to fight to uphold West Memphis Three convictions marred by evidence of juror misconduct and other violations of the defendants' constitutional rights. New evidentiary hearings have been ordered for the three, convicted in the slayings of three West Memphis children.

The committee said it had no authority to review the discretionary acts of public officials such as McDaniel.

No surprise in this, of course. At least the committee didn't seek a contempt citation against Leveritt for talking publicly about her complaint, which is prohibited by a constitutionally questionable court rule.

The attorney general arguably is bound to seek to uphold verdicts won before juries and upheld by appellate courts. But there's a do-right rule, too, and McDaniel has run roughshod over it in defense if these convictions. Leveritt observed in a letter to the lawyer disciplinary committee:

If these men are someday freed, I will be one of those wondering how many years they spent in prison unnecessarily because the attorney general chose to interpret his duty as one of representing the interests of a state prosecuting attorney rather than as the [Arkansas] constitution requires, defending the interests of the state.

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