Monday, May 11, 2015

Attorney's Efforts Free Innocent Man; State Bar Files Ethics Charges Over Water Bottle

The North Carolina State Bar's war on criminal defense counsel continues with these charges filed against the Executive Director and legal counsel to the North Carolina Center for Actual Innocence in Durham.

The allegations involve efforts to establish the innocence of Joseph Sledge, convicted of a double second degree murder in 1978. No DNA evidence was available at the time of the conviction.

Sledge's efforts to obtain DNA testing led to the reopening of the investigation in 2009.

The charges relate to the attorney's efforts to secure DNA linked to other suspects.

She is alleged to have taken a water bottle from the home of the sister of two brothers suspected of the murders without permission to test for DNA and concealing that she had done so in subsequent conversations with the sister.

The allegation is that, after the sister refused to voluntarily give a DNA sample, the attorney left

Mumma took with her when she left [the sister's] home a half empty water bottle that Mumma knew at the time may not have belonged to Mumma.

When Mumma got to her car, she confirmed that the water bottle she had taken from the [sister's] residence did not belong to Mumma. Mumma had left her water bottle in her car. She did not bring it into the [sister's] residence.

When Mumma realized she had a cool, half-empty water bottle that might yield a DNA sample of Smith family DNA, she decided not to take it back into the home, but to take it with her to contemplate whether to submit it for DNA analysis.

Indy week reported that the attorney's efforts led to Sledge's exoneration

 He spent four decades in prison for a double murder he didn't commit. Mumma worked on Sledge's case for 10 years, and she was his attorney when last month, a three-judge panel exonerated the 70 year old based on DNA evidence.

The attorney is also a professor at UNC Chapel Hill teaching a course on wrongful convictions.

What is going on in North Carolina? (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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