CO CO - Suzanne Morphew, 49, Chaffee Co, 10 May 2020 *Case dismissed w prejudice* #104

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GatorFL

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I am not arguing with what you are saying. But how many cases in this country have the DA or defense not meeting deadlines? And how many get by with it, repeatedly? Enough to make ones head swim.

I question the judge’s decision to strip the DA of the expert witnesses as a sanction against her, knowing BM to be a murderer. I am guessing both judges will agree they believe him to be guilty. They are siding with the defense in saying “Prove it”. Then Judge L said the witnesses could not testify, and therefore the DA had no chance to prove it.

To me, that stinks more than what the defense came up with and more than how many times the DA messed up. Just my opinion. And I wont change my mid.

I don't know how often it happens but in trials I have watched in the past, sanctions on both sides are pretty common. I say that anecdotally with no actual statistics on how often it happens.

IANAL or a judge but I am guessing a judge must moderate the trial from a place of innocence, right? So he couldn't strip expert witnesses knowing Barry to be a murderer because until he's convicted of such, he's assumed to be innocent.

I also know that, sadly, many people are wrongfully convicted of serious crimes by rogue and runaway prosecutors. I think having an impartial judge moderating them and the defense is an inherently good thing for the trial process.
 

GatorFL

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yeah, I wonder. Their website also says: "We know Indiana weather and soil." Sounds like a really local and occasionally regional company- not a national one. I keep thinking of Jennifer Dulos and Fotis- another body not found. Ladies, look over your shoulders if your male companion is getting testy and he has unrestricted access to heavy equipment, IMO.
BBM. Yeah that's a great point. A friend just rented one of the wood chipper things to do some work on his farm. He told me that thing was eating trees 6" in diameter with ease. I remembered the wood chipper scene from Fargo which IIRC is based on a real crime.
 

MountainDad

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Sunset Farms specializing in compost gardens, flower beds and civil municipality projects in different zip codes. Owner is a sole proprietorship with a rotating casts hourly contract laborers. Every job has potential to become an alibi.
 

Love Never Fails

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I don't know how often it happens but in trials I have watched in the past, sanctions on both sides are pretty common. I say that anecdotally with no actual statistics on how often it happens.

IANAL or a judge but I am guessing a judge must moderate the trial from a place of innocence, right? So he couldn't strip expert witnesses knowing Barry to be a murderer because until he's convicted of such, he's assumed to be innocent.

I also know that, sadly, many people are wrongfully convicted of serious crimes by rogue and runaway prosecutors. I think having an impartial judge moderating them and the defense is an inherently good thing for the trial process.
I agree with your last paragraph and understand where you are coming from. It has always been said the US has the most perfect form of justice. If that’s true, there is no justice left. Period.

I hope these unsolved murders we follow are solved and justice served. (Morphew, Daybell, Vallow, Stauch and many others)
I would truly like to see the judges not play “innocent” in these cases.
I am neither a lawyer or judge or on a jury but I follow with my heart. I only have my opinion. Therefore, seeing a judge strip the DA of her expert witnesses because of the “law” is repulsive to me.
 

Nikynoo

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I agree with your last paragraph and understand where you are coming from. It has always been said the US has the most perfect form of justice. If that’s true, there is no justice left. Period.

I hope these unsolved murders we follow are solved and justice served. (Morphew, Daybell, Vallow, Stauch and many others)
I would truly like to see the judges not play “innocent” in these cases.
I am neither a lawyer or judge or on a jury but I follow with my heart. I only have my opinion. Therefore, seeing a judge strip the DA of her expert witnesses because of the “law” is repulsive to me.
Just thinking out loud here, but is it not possible that the reason why the Prosecution could not provide the resumes of the 'experts' is because the experts did not want to appear? The resume's of experts are usually provided on engagement (I actually know this because I have just engaged one for a case), so it is not like the prosecution didn't have them.

IMO either the experts were not engaged by the prosecution or they provided a report which the prosecution did not want to rely on.

IMO, if the Prosecution failed to meet the deadline for something which is really easy to provide (on more than one occasion), one must ask themselves why the Prosecution failed this simple task.

IMO, the Judge is not to blame if one side or the other is holding up the judicial process and that side in question is then reprimanded for their tardiness.
 

mrjitty

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I recall @gitana1 posted some good info on discovery violations generally. IIRC, these kinds of violations and games are common practice and normally don't attract such severe sanction from the Judge.

My guess is the violations were down to the usual kind of bureaucratic failures and typical gaming of the trial process.

In my recent experience in the McStay trial, both prosecution and defence routinely "discovered" reports and expert materials at the last minute (e.g even on the day of the evidence), and the judge, while frustrated, tried to keep things on track.
 

mrjitty

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LOL. So a judge should not be the arbiter of the rules in a murder case? Cmon. Think about what you're saying. There are rules for a reason and when one side or the other does not comply with them, there should be sanctions.

This was not a one time thing, this was a continual issue with LS and her team. She could have filed a motion to dismiss without prejudice before missing deadlines became continual. She didn't. She missed several deadlines and as a result the judge was forced into a harsh decision.

IANAL but IIRC I read here there is an argument to make that the sanctions could carry over to a future charging. I believe that is why recovering Suzanne's remains is critical to any future charges. I think even if there is a hearing to reverse the sanctions the defense would have a fair argument to have them carry over to any future charges. I would actually like some experts to weigh in on this aspect of this case.

We discussed this back in the day in some detail

A couple of points

1. The unfairness in the present case is addressed by the sanctions already. The charge was dismissed, so the accused now suffers no prejudice from late discovery, as the case would have to begin again from the start.

2. Whether sanctions would be retained for a new trial more relates to the big picture rather than this case. In many respects the Judge already sent a message to the State that violations won't be so easily tolerated. This isn't a case where the prosecution sought dismissal of the charges to go judge shopping. So IMO, the purpose of the sanctions has been achieved.
 

Love Never Fails

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Just thinking out loud here, but is it not possible that the reason why the Prosecution could not provide the resumes of the 'experts' is because the experts did not want to appear? The resume's of experts are usually provided on engagement (I actually know this because I have just engaged one for a case), so it is not like the prosecution didn't have them.

IMO either the experts were not engaged by the prosecution or they provided a report which the prosecution did not want to rely on.

IMO, if the Prosecution failed to meet the deadline for something which is really easy to provide (on more than one occasion), one must ask themselves why the Prosecution failed this simple task.

IMO, the Judge is not to blame if one side or the other is holding up the judicial process and that side in question is then reprimanded for their tardiness.
I stand by my opinion and we do not know if your theory is even the reason. One can imagine all sorts of reasons. What we do know is the judge would not allow the expert witnesses to testify. If the court records were made public it would be best. I don’t like the secrecy of courts. Florida’s sunshine law is best, imo.
 

GatorFL

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I stand by my opinion and we do not know if your theory is even the reason. One can imagine all sorts of reasons. What we do know is the judge would not allow the expert witnesses to testify. If the court records were made public it would be best. I don’t like the secrecy of courts. Florida’s sunshine law is best, imo.
I'm a Floridian very experienced with getting files in this state. You cannot get case files from an open criminal case. Won't happen, there are exclusions from the Sunshine Law for this by statute. I'm guessing it would be similar in Colorado.
 

CGray123

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I didn't say the statistics were biased. Just the interpretation. In particular this statement "the most dangerous place for women is the home."
"Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.

Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.

Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.

Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents.

Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern." BBM

Domestic Violence Statistics.
 

Love Never Fails

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I'm a Floridian very experienced with getting files in this state. You cannot get case files from an open criminal case. Won't happen, there are exclusions from the Sunshine Law for this by statute. I'm guessing it would be similar in Colorado.
Didn’t know that. I thought all records were open in FL. I’m guessing, and Nikynoo would know, do lawyers want records kept secret to protect their filings so that their maneuvering in court aren’t known to the public? Do they think closed records protect their clients? It seems there cannot be real justice reform until everything is brought to light.

I do know CO is very closed to the public. Not at all open.

ETA: sorry Gator I was trying to delete my double post and it looks like your statement is mine. I can’t seem to edit it now.
 

GatorFL

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Didn’t know that. I thought all records were open in FL. I’m guessing, and Nikynoo would know, do lawyers want records kept secret to protect their filings so that their maneuvering in court aren’t known to the public? Do they think closed records protect their clients? It seems there cannot be real justice reform until everything is brought to light.

I do know CO is very closed to the public. Not at all open.

ETA: sorry Gator I was trying to delete my double post and it looks like your statement is mine. I can’t seem to edit it now.
Yeah, I was told one major reason there are exclusions is that law enforcement does not want a criminal to be able to obtain their case files. So it makes sense.
 

Nikynoo

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Didn’t know that. I thought all records were open in FL. I’m guessing, and Nikynoo would know, do lawyers want records kept secret to protect their filings so that their maneuvering in court aren’t known to the public? Do they think closed records protect their clients? It seems there cannot be real justice reform until everything is brought to light.

I do know CO is very closed to the public. Not at all open.

ETA: sorry Gator I was trying to delete my double post and it looks like your statement is mine. I can’t seem to edit it now.
Can't say about the criminal process in the US as it is totally different in the UK. We dont get access to filings in criminal cases, but there is access to some civil filings.

For the US - as far as I am aware, only filings with the court are made public (unless the court orders them to be sealed), and again, as far as I am aware, this applies to both criminal and civil cases.

From my point of view, the way I run a case does not different whether the case is in the US, UK or another jurisdiction, because the information I have that forms my case strategy, is not shared with the public prior to trial. During the discovery process, both sides exchange information, and each side decides how they are going to fight their case.

If I had information that I wanted to use at trial and did not disclose it to the other side prior to trial, I could not use that information to try and win my case. Another strand of justice, is equity, and I think sometimes people forget this element.

I suppose the only difference is that if there was more information made public before trial this may prejudice any potential jury.
 

CGray123

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I'm a Floridian very experienced with getting files in this state. You cannot get case files from an open criminal case. Won't happen, there are exclusions from the Sunshine Law for this by statute. I'm guessing it would be similar in Colorado.
The Colorado AG effectively summarizes how requests for criminal justice records are handled:

"Criminal Justice Records Requests

CORA requests for criminal justice records will be treated as requests made under the CCJRA. The legislative policy regarding access to criminal justice records under the CCJRA is more limited than access to public records under CORA. The courts have also construed the CCJRA to favor less broad disclosure. The CCJRA creates two categories of records:

  1. Records of official action. The CCJRA defines an official action as “an arrest; indictment; charging by information; disposition; pretrial or posttrial release from custody; judicial determination of mental or physical condition; decision to grant, order, or terminate probation, parole, or participation in correctional or rehabilitative programs; and any decision to formally discipline, reclassify, or relocate any person under criminal sentence.” Section 24-72-302(7), C.R.S. The records of official action must be open for inspection.
  2. Except for records of official actions, which must be available for inspection, all other criminal justice records may be open for inspection subject to the discretion of the official custodian.

The Department will not release records under the CCJRA unless the requestor signs a statement affirming that the records will not be used for the direct solicitation of business for pecuniary gain. Section 24-72-305.5, C.R.S." BBM.

In my experience, records of a pending investigation are rarely disclosed. Investigators must protect witnesses, and avoid unfairly prejudicial publicity. Records may be disclosed if LE believes the investigation can be advanced by doing so.

Court records are handled differently: at this point all the court filings in People v. Morphew are open records, and will remain so as long as BM does not request that they be sealed or expunged. Many are posted in the news accounts of the case. They aren't posted on the court website but the media made written requests and got them.
 

Boxer

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I completely agree. The State could have been a better organized and did miss a deadline but barring the experts from testifying was ridiculous. The judge knew that would kill the entire case. If he did that to the defense, all hell would have broken loose.
Unfortunately, IIRC they missed a deadline, and extension of the deadline, and then the extension of the extension deadline.
 

Momofthreeboys

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I completely agree. The State could have been a better organized and did miss a deadline but barring the experts from testifying was ridiculous. The judge knew that would kill the entire case. If he did that to the defense, all hell would have broken loose.
They missed several court deadlines…deadlines both sides agreed to. The missed deadlines was an ongoing problem the judge set aside several times when defense pressed for sanctions. In my opinion prosecution misconduct can’t be minimized in hindsight.
 
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