During James Prindle’s trial, Stephen commented to me that James’ attorney Claiborne Ferguson seemed unusually chummy with the prosecution. “Every day when we go up to the courtroom, the elevator stops on the 3rd floor, and Claiborne is there laughing and joking with the prosecutors Jennifer Nichols and Tere Fratesi,” Stephen said.
“Well, maybe he’s doing his job. We did make the decision to go with a local lawyer who knows how to work the system,” I countered.
“Yeah, but his behavior just seems over the top.”
“How’s he doing for James in the courtroom?” I asked. “That’s what counts.”
“On a scale of one to five, I would give him a five. There’s a lot of testimony on which he’s not redirecting when he could,” Stephen said. “But he’s very good with James. He seems to listen when James tells him someone’s testified about something that’s not right. He seems to follow up. There I’d give him an eight… and remember, the defense hasn’t presented its case yet.”
Yet, as we all know now, when the defense did present its case, few of the salient facts were developed for the jury. Possible perpetrators of this crime were never identified for the jury to consider as a basis for “reasonable doubt” that James was the perpetrator. And now James tells us that Stephen’s perception was all wrong: Ferguson didn’t listen to James at all.
The violent history of physical, verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse that Jefferson Sanders is alleged to have inflicted on James was never revealed. The jury was never told that, as reportedly evidenced by Sanders’ own words, Sanders wanted James dead and out of his life forever. The jury was never told that Sanders’ abuse of the children in his family was reportedly not restricted to James alone.
Sanders’ pattern of violence and cocaine abuse, alleged by James and corroborated by his mother Monica in a written statement to this blog, was never developed for the jury to hear.
The “evidence” of the second drawing of an abused baby—the one supposedly drawn by James and found in plain view in his bedroom after the Crime Scene Investigators had gone through James’ room with a fine tooth comb and after Jefferson Sanders (who wasn’t even living with Monica at the time) had alerted police to its presence—was not vigorously challenged. The question was never asked about whether this piece of “evidence” had been even dusted for fingerprints that might conclusively tie it to its real creator.
When Sanders was on the stand, Claiborne Ferguson never asked him, if he was estranged from Monica and living in Anitoch MS at the time (which is at least a 40 minute drive away from Memphis), how Sanders happened to arrive at the crime scene just 20 minutes after he’d received a call that Neily Shea had been assaulted. Where exactly was Sanders when this crime was committed?
In recent days an individual calling himself “William Holder” has been posting comments on the Justice4Juveniles site defending the guilty verdict. A couple people, alarmed by this individual’s argumentative posture and apparent effort to provoke responses, contacted me and asked us to look into his identity. We believe his real name is Guy Holder Williams, and it appears Williams has an e-mail extractor installed on his account through which he can use e-mail replies sent to him as “gateways” to extract the private files on people’s computers. (This may help explain why Stephen and I have apparently been hacked and recently subjected to cyber attacks—though the list of people who would like to see us put us out of business is getting longer.) “Holder” (or Williams) has now been banned from the Justice4Juveniles site.
Claiborne Ferguson also failed to develop the backstory of Noah and Micah Scheulin for the jury. The jury did not know these boys had reportedly been sexually abused by a ring of pedophiles and pornographers when they were younger (when Noah was 5-10 and Micah was 4-9—the details are in my June 16 post “Fever” at http://wandervogeldiary.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/fever/).
Before the trial, I sent Ferguson an e-mail urging that he figure out a way to introduce this information, but never received a reply (something that I, as the guy who has been paying Ferguson’s fees, find rather curious). Ferguson told Stephen the Scheulin information was hearsay and inadmissible.
“You leave the lawyering to me,” Ferguson said. The job Ferguson wanted Stephen to concentrate on was to keep James in a positive state of mind. Even though Noah and Micah Scheulin were both on the prosecution’s witness list, they did not appear in court and were not compelled by the court to be there.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way—even in court.
My adamant belief is that such crucial information should have been presented to the jury. The fact that the Scheulin brothers were so familiar with sex abuse certainly would have introduced reasonable doubt as to whether James really did this crime. I have since been troubled by the nagging question of whether or not Claiborne Ferguson desired that the Scheulins’ role in this crime should have been dissected for the jury. The differences between what James and the Scheulins consider normative behavior was and is a salient issue.
Though none of us knew it at the time of the trial, we have since discovered photographs on the deep web of a woman, whose name and appearance seem to match the boys’ mother, as a model on a porn site. We are continuing to dig into the strange circumstances which color, and may help explain, this terrible crime and its real perpetrator(s).
Now here is the thing which is most troubling to me about the trial. The prosecution was more vigorous than James’ defense. Crucial information was never introduced and developed by Claiborne Ferguson. Only one defense witness was called.
I have been troubled by Ferguson’s failure to return at least six calls from Stephen after the trial. We know that Ferguson has been introducing motions, but he has never explained to us what they are. It feels like he is no longer working for us or for James.
The other night we made a rather shocking discovery. At
(the court’s website) we discovered that Claiborne Ferguson is no longer listed as retained counsel, but as a court appointed attorney.
On or about April 28, Claiborne Ferguson and Judge Bobby Carter met and Carter, despite the fact that the Redemption Project had agreed to pay Ferguson’s $15,000 fee, declared James indigent so that a private investigative firm owned by Ferguson could be hired at court expense to search for James’ mother Monica Sanders. Monica, of course, appeared in court as a prosecution witness. Did Ferguson go on the court’s “payroll” at that time?
If so, we were not informed of it. In fact, I made a progress payment of $1,000 to Ferguson with a check dated May 15, 2012, which was hand delivered to him by Stephen several days later.
Does this explain why Ferguson seemed to have stopped listening to us in the trial phase and has been ducking our calls since last Monday when James was formally informed by Carter of the verdict?
Does this explain why Ferguson was overheard discussing with the judge and the prosecutor how the transcripts of the previous Friday’s session might be hidden?
Regardless of the actual date that Ferguson’s status officially changed from “retained” to “court appointed”, it may explain another curious exchange witnessed by James and Stephen:
“Have you been retained for the appeal?” Carter asked Ferguson.
“No, your honor,” Ferguson answered.
“You file the motions, and I’ll see you get paid,” Carter reportedly said.
Groove of the Day