Archive for Friday, February 11, 2011

Kansas Supreme Court orders new trial for man convicted of robbing a Lawrence convenience store

February 11, 2011


The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday ordered a new trial and new attorney for a man convicted of robbing a Lawrence convenience store in 2006.

Charles Smith was charged with entering the Presto Convenience store, pointing something under his shirt at the clerk and making off with the contents of the register.

The robber’s image was captured on the store’s surveillance video. The clerk picked Smith out of a lineup and four people testified that that was Smith on the videotape, according to court records.

Prior to the trial, Smith asked Douglas County District Court Judge Jack Murphy to appoint another attorney for his defense.

Smith said his attorney, James Rumsey, refused to put on a defense that suggested Smith couldn’t have committed the robbery because he was physically infirm and that he had no motivation because he had a job.

But Rumsey told Judge Murphy he saw the videotape and his client’s face was on it. “I just can’t participate in putting on evidence that I know would be fraudulent,” said Rumsey, who had filed a motion to withdraw as counsel.

Judge Murphy told Smith he wasn’t going to appoint a new attorney because all lawyers are prohibited from presenting evidence that they feel is false.

But the Supreme Court said Rumsey had crossed the line into the jury’s domain when determining his client was guilty based on the videotape.

“Here, the jury, as fact finder and final arbiter of guilt, had the sole responsibility to view the videotape, to look at the defendant, to make a finding as to whether the person shown in the videotape was the defendant, and, ultimately, to determine whether the defendant was guilty of robbery,” Justice Lee Johnson wrote.

The trial judge should have recognized this problem and appointed a new attorney, the court said. The court ordered a new trial with a newly appointed counsel.


damnitimpissed 3 years, 2 months ago

It is a very thin line. You can't present false evidence or perjury and yet, vigorously defend your client.


neolib 3 years, 2 months ago

Poor deductive reasoning. Nowhere in the article does it say that Smith admitted to Rumsey that it was him on the tape nor that Rumsey divulged to Judge Murphy that Smith admitted it to Rumsey.


Jimo 3 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps we'd need to see the videotape but it sounds to me like the SC just approved attorneys presenting fraudulent claims so long as the defendant doesn't admit that it is fraudulent to the attorney.

The alternate is the better policy - attorneys should use simple judgment at recognizing clearly false testimony and refuse to cooperate in an attempt to present such false information to the court. The SC's 'learned helplessness' approach doesn't further justice. It also indicates a certain contempt for the value of the jurors' time.


somebodynew 3 years, 2 months ago

You obviously do not know Mr. Smith if you think that is going to happen.


Steve Jacob 3 years, 2 months ago

I am guessing the state would have presented the videotape at trial, right? Anyway, at this point, let Mr. Smith plead guilty, time served with parole, and be done with it, and hope he knows he got lucky and keeps is nose clean.


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