EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Monday, October 26, 2015

More Turnover at Cristina Gutierrez's Law Firm in 1999

Following up on my post from Friday, it looks like there was additional turnover at Cristina Gutierrez's law firm in 1999. In this case, the turnover seems like it might have had a greater detrimental effect on Adnan's case.

Here's another version of the letterhead from Gutierrez's firm in 1999:

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 1.06.09 PM

As you can see, one of the attorneys at Gutierrez's firm in 1999 was Martin. It appears as if Martin left the law firm in July 1999 and started his own firm. Why is this important? According to the prison visitation records, Martin was with Gutierrez when she first met with Adnan on April 16, 1999:

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 1.09.17 PM

Moreover, Martin, by himself, next met with Adnan on May 18th:

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 1.11.50 PM

Gutierrez wouldn't meet again with Adnan until May 28th.

What does this mean? Who knows. But it's easy to see how some things could have fallen through the cracks when the first person from Gutierrez's firm who met with Adnan twice left her law firm as the pretrial process geared up in July.

Another of the attorneys who worked at Gutierrez's firm in 1999 was Kanwisher. He's the one who completed the affidavit that was Exhibit 1 in Adnan's latest filing. According to that affidavit, he worked at Gutierrez's law firm until 1999 and worked exclusively for Gutierrez. His affidavit also indicates that he was familiar with Gutierrez's work in preparing alibi defenses/notices, implying that he worked on these alibi issues with Gutierrez.

We know that Gutierrez only had law clerks working on the alibi issues in Adnan's case, and I've been asked many times whether this is typical. It is not, and it seems like we now know why it happened. The attorney who usually handled these issues for Gutierrez had left the firm in February 1999, and no attorney, as far as I can tell, had taken his place.



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What was it Dana Chivvis said -
1. Either Adnan murdered Hae
2. He's the unluckiest person alive?

..#2 is being proven on almost every level. Corruption and xhaos combined to destroy so many lives, and to deny justice for all.

Posted by: Squatch | Oct 26, 2015 9:08:04 PM

First time blah blah blah -- but Squatch is SO right here. I'm still undecided about Adnan's guilt or innocence (leaning hard towards innocent right now) but I think there's no doubt he deserves another trial at the very least.

Posted by: Lisa | Oct 27, 2015 4:00:40 AM

is it typical for a lawyer to leave a law firm without offering follow-up on the cases they were in the midst of working? Is it common for lawyers to be assigned cases when they have announced their intention to leave? I assume that starting a practice is not something that one does overnight.

I guess I wonder whether these guys might have left on bad terms and whether they could then speak tonGutierrez' state of mind during this period.

Posted by: Anonynon | Oct 27, 2015 5:41:37 AM

Speaking of prison visits, Colbert and Flohr visited Adnan something like six times between the time Adnan allegedly received the Asia letters and the time Gutierrez took over. They were checking into Adnan's alibi at the time and sent their PI to speak to Sye. Did they fail to investigate Asia, or did Adnan never show them the letters?

Posted by: Seamus Duncan | Oct 27, 2015 6:19:58 AM

Is it possible to get Gutierrez's medical records and see what kind of drugs she was on? MS patients often are prescribed pain killers and she sounds like she's high on them in every clip... Would proving something like that prove ineffective counsel?

Posted by: Bethany | Oct 27, 2015 6:55:04 AM

Squatch - I agree that #2 has been proven time and again. Rabia said something on Undisclosed about that in one of the early episodes that makes sense: For any person to be wrongfully convicted, there HAS to be a lot of corruption, chaos and bad luck for everything to come together to get that result.

Posted by: Ann | Oct 27, 2015 9:03:59 AM

Squatch: Hiring Gutierrez was a very unlucky decision.

Lisa: Agreed.

Anonynon: It really depends on the circumstances. I gave my firm advance notice about my departure, allowing for a smooth transition. Other attorneys leave under different circumstances, creating a more acrimonious relationship.

Seamus: I don’t know. Colbert and Flohr were part of the Lawyers at Bail Project. Adnan might have gotten Asia’s letters later than he thought. Or he might have gotten them earlier, with Colbert and Flohr telling he should give them to Gutierrez. Or maybe the Adnan forgot about the letters until Gutierrez was hired. There are a lot of possibilities. What we do know is that Adnan informed both Gutierrez and her clerk about Asia’s existence and import.

Bethany: I don’t think there’s any way to obtain them, but I think it’s clear that Gutierrez was suffering from medical issues at the time of Adnan’s trial.

Posted by: Colin | Oct 27, 2015 10:51:37 AM

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