Friday, April 24, 2020

Head Of D.A.'s Conviction Integrity Unit Lacks Integrity

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

On Twitter, District Attorney Larry Krasner has been praising a Netflix documentary that profiles the work of Patricia Cummings, head of the D.A.'s Conviction Integrity Unit.

It was Cummings who got Chester Hollman III out of jail in 2019 after he had served 28 years for a murder he was falsely convicted of. It's a featured episode of the "Innocence Files" a nine-part series now airing on Netflix. "Thank you for taking such care with Chester Hollman's story," the D.A. tweeted on April 16th. "Honored to be part of this important series."

But don't expect Krasner the film critic to be praising another documentary that's coming out in June.  "Outcry," a five-part Showtime series, also deals with the work of Patricia Cummings, but this time around, she won't be presented in a flattering light. Outcry is the story of Greg Kelley, an 18-year-old high school football star in Texas who in 2014, was sentenced to 25 years in prison without parole for sexually assaulting a four-year old child in a day care.

Only Kelley was falsely convicted. And the list of villains includes Patricia Cummings,  Kelley's defense lawyer at the time, whom a judge found, was not only ineffective, but she also had an undisclosed conflict of interest. It turns out that Cummings had as a former client the woman who owned the day care where the attack took place. And she had a son who not only lived there, but he was also a real dirt ball who was suspected of being the real child abuser. But Cummings kept quiet about her conflict for three years while Greg Kelley, an innocent man, rotted in jail.

Talk about a conviction that lacked integrity! But Cummings apparently doesn't want to talk about the Kelley case; she did not respond to a request for comment.

Neither did Stonewall Larry Krasner nor Silent Jane Roh, Krasner's alleged spokesperson, who hasn't answered a question posed by this reporter since last August.

The Netflix documentary tells the story of Chester Hollman III, falsely convicted in 1993 for the murder of 24-year-old Tae Jung Ho, a University of Pennsylvania student killed two years earlier in a robbery gone bad.

The cops arrested Hollman because on the night of the murder, he happened to be driving a white Chevy Blazer, the same SUV that was the getaway vehicle for the killer who murdered Ho. But two witnesses who originally claimed they saw Hillman at the murder scene subsequently recanted their testimony, and a judge exonerated Hollman.

Hollman received a personal apology in court for his wrongful conviction from none other than Patricia Cummings, head of the D.A.'s Conviction Integrity Unit.

"I apologize to Chester Hollman," Cummings told the judge who freed Hollman in 2019. "I apologize because he was failed, and in failing him, we failed the victim and we failed the community of the City of Philadelphia."

But Greg Kelley, who, through his attorney declined to be interviewed for this story, has never gotten an apology from Patricia Cummings. Even though, court records show, he definitely deserved one.

"I just spent three years of my life in prison," Kelley said, after he was released on bond in a 2017 video. "Patricia, if you're watching this, I want to let you know I trusted you. I thought you cared about me as much as I cared about you. I believe that you worked your investigation around the person that really did this."

Kelly was referring to Jonathan McCarty, a former friend of Kelley's. Jonathan's mother, Shama McCarty, was the owner of the day care where the sexual assault of the four-year-old child took place.

But even after a judge found that Cumming's representation of Kelley was deficient, and let her former client out to jail, Cummings stayed on the attack. Not only did she refuse to admit her errors, but she devoted her efforts to attacking Kelley and his new lawyer.

In a response to the court, Cummings described the judge's finding that her representation of Kelly was deficient as a "strange and alarming procedure . . . designed to hide from the public and press what is actually happening in this case."

In response to Cummings, Keith S. Hampton, Kelley's appeals lawyer, told the Austin American-Statesman, "She's as wrong on the law now as she was back then."

In a Dec. 12, 2017 memorandum, Hampton argued that Kelley should get out of jail because he had been deprived of his right to effective assistance of counsel. Cummings, Hampton wrote, not only advised Kelley to take a plea bargain and waive his rights to appeal, but she also hid a conflict of interest.

Beginning in 2005, Cummings had represented a former client, Nimesh Dissanayaka, who was charged with indecency with a child. He was a half-brother of Jonathan McCarty, and the son of Shama McCarty. Cummings had also represented Dissanyaka's brother, Dinusha, who was also Shama McCarty's son and Jonathan McCarty's half-brother.

According to Marjorie Bachman, Cummings co-counsel in the Kelley case, Cummings prior relationship to the McCarty family posed a "NASCAR-sized red flag" when it came to defending Greg Kelley.

Kelley's appeals lawyer agreed.

"She could not protect her former client's interests without abandoning Greg Kelley's interests," Hampton wrote. "Her loyalty to Greg Kelley was diluted by her continuing duty to her former client," wrote Hampton, who argued that Cummings was "effectively the McCarty family attorney."

Cummings, however, had told the court that she didn't think she really had a conflict of interest because she had never represented Jonathan McCarty.

But Jonathan McCarty's "face bore a striking resemblance" to Kelly's, Hampton wrote. And Cummings' loyalty to the McCarty family blinded her to the possibility that Jonathan McCarty might have been the real child sex abuser.

Evidence in the case did point to Jonathan McCarty.

The victim, who was four-year old at the time of the assault, said he was attacked at the daycare in Shama McCarty's home by an assailant who wore SpongeBob pajama pants.

Greg Kelley didn't own a pair of those pajama pants but Jonathan McCarty did. Greg Kelley didn't collect child porn but Jonathan McCarty did. He had it stashed on his home computer and cellphone. On social media he had also posted a photo of a dancing seven year old girl with the caption, "My dream boat."

Jonathan McCarty also had been accused  by four different women of sexually assault after they had been drugged. In 2019, he was sentenced to four years in jail for drug possession.

It was Hampton's position that Cummings had "doomed" her client by talking him into accepting a 25-year jail sentence and waiving his rights to appeal. But Cummings claimed the decision to waive the right to appeal was made by her client.

Cummings claimed in an affidavit that she had "talked extensively" to Kelley about the ramifications of waiving his right to appeal. Kelley, however, testified that he had no such recollection of discussing that issue with his lawyer.

Kelley recalled that Cummings told him he had a proposed plea bargain deal on the table for 25 years in jail, with no parole. And if he didn't take it, Cummings told him the judge could sentence him to anywhere between 25 and 99 years in jail.

When Kelley asked Cummings what his chances were on appeal, according to Kelley's testimony, she replied, "I don't know, I can't say."

Co-counsel Marjorie Bachman was asked in court about whether Cummings had talked extensively to Kelley about the ramifications of waiving his right to appeal.

"Not true," she replied.

In court, Cummings continued to deny that she had done anything wrong in her representation of Kelley. But her client had a different recollection.

Kelley testified that after the guilty verdict, he tried to comfort a visibly distraught Cummings by telling her "You know what, Patricia, you did what you could do."

"And that's where she kind of just broke down crying, and told me . . . 'Don't say that,' " he testified.

In a Jan. 17, 2018 reply brief, Hampton, Kelley's appeals lawyer, ripped Cummings for "her self-absorption, deserved embarrassment and ruthless efforts to exonerate herself from her professional failures by effectively prosecuting her former client." She also personally attacked Hampton, the prosecutors in the case, as well as the judge, Hampton wrote.

In a ruling filed Dec. 19, 2017, Donna King, the presiding judge of Williamson County, Texas, wrote that Cummings "had represented multiple members of the McCarty household as far back as 2005," for a half-dozen cases that included public lewdness, indecent exposure, a juvenile sex crime, and aggravated robbery.

"The court concludes that [Cummings] labored under a conflict of interest in her representation of [Kelley] due to the fact that she had previously represented members of the McCarty family . . . [and] her long longstanding friendship with and loyalty to members of the McCarty family," the judge wrote.

In addition to Cummings' conflict of interest, newly discovered evidence showed that Kelley had moved out of the McCarty home, where he had been staying temporarily, the day before the sexual assault.

And the day of the sexual assault, Kelley's phone records show, he was helping his brother move.

Kelley's conviction was overturned in 2019 and the county prosecutor announced he had no plans to move forward with the case. Kelley, then 24, said he was going back to school at the University of Texas, and hoped to resume his football career.

He also announced plans to marry Gaebri Anderson, his high school sweetheart who had stuck by him while he was in jail. The couple got married this past January.

Meanwhile, the Showtime series is scheduled to air this June. Cummings, according to Hampton, declined to be interviewed for the series.

"But they do have prior footage of her," Hampton said, adding, "She does not look good."

13 comments

  1. It would be great if Showtime was interested in some CIA terrorist tactics employed by federal prosecutors to gain indictments and plea bargains from innocent people. Maybe the country should know how fellow citizens are being treated at the hands of government employees.

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  2. Krasner has brought in a lot of people under questionable circumstances--pay back a loan by placing someone on the city's payroll anyone? Daily, there are new outrages committed either by him or someone on his staff. It appears that no one associated with him has any ethics.

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  3. In the Government's Case against General Michael Flynn, his current Counsel Sydney Powell has presented the Trial Judge evidence that the Prosecution and the FBI wrongfully and willfully entrapped the Target and colluded with his 1st Counsel to deny him exculpatory evidence that would deny him the Right of Due Process and a Fair and Impartial Hearing.

    DOJ and FBI have won Cases and enjoyed Long Careers for their Success in the Art of Misconduct and partnering with the Corrupt Media to frame those accused of crimes.

    If the Plague wipes out a Major Portion of Lawyers and their Dupes in the Media, there may just be hope for Saving the American Judicial System.

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  4. Still waiting for the DAs office to do something about the railroad job their office did to Fr Englehardt and Mr Shero. Well documented on this site all of the missteps by Williams, Blessington, Sorenson, and others - yet Krasner and Shapiro sit silent. And Cummings is no better. Stop using the work "integrity" until you're ready to step up to the plate and take care of your own house.

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  5. Now that KingFish Rufus Williams has been released from Federal Prison, in your fabled examination of this "Cretin Former Elected Official," I fail to recall any intimation by Investigative Journalists, yourself included, as has now been documented that he was a drug addict as well.

    Could Larry Krasner have similar addictions which may account for Actions and Policies which may be fueled by Substance Abuse.

    Certainly, has behavior is clear evidence of a "challenged individual."

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  6. It hasn't taken long for the "brain addled" Byko to steal your issues and almost copy and paste your posts and pass them off as original thought.

    It's amazing that this failed journalist was sucking on the tit for decades at the STinky and has the temerity to file suit for defamation and unfair treatment, when pushed out to dwell in a state of bewilderment.

    He should have tried writing Comedy for Lying Scheming Politicians, it might have served a greater purpose than the tripe he has vomited for so long.

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  7. The Court of Appeals decision found Patricia Cummings was not ineffective. Greg Kelley would not cooperate with Cummings to pursue Jonathan even if his girlfriend’s mother wanted him pursued. Read the Court of Appeals opinion for yourself. Donna King used to work for Patricia Cummings and was fired which is why she ruled against her. THERE is your corruption.

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    Replies
    1. STOP IT ....A 2 YEAR OLD COULD SEE IT

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    2. No dumb dumb, 2 out of 9 judges on the court of appeals found that Cummings wasn't ineffective, the other 7 didn't agree or they would have joined in saying so. But they left it as the lower court ruled, which ruled that Cummings was ineffective in her defense of her client. She is guilty, and she knows it.

      And besides all of that, her behavior in putting her own defense over that of Greg Kelley, who she was actively working against in his efforts to have his conviction overturned was disgusting in and of itself. Again, she showed her true colors, and it's there for all to see!

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  8. Troll or Patricia Cummings herself. She should be ashamed of herself for putting the interests of sinister Shama McCarty and her depraved sons ahead of the interests of her INNOCENT client, Greg Kelley. I, and many others, believe that Shama and Patricia planned it all, which is why Shama made arrangements for Patricia Cummings to represent Greg. It was a contrived and manipulated effort to put the spotlight on Greg, instead of her son, Jonathan, the real sexual predator. The fact that Patricia Cummings (should be Cunning) is affiliated with anything remotely associated with integrity is a complete joke. She has no integrity and should never be entrusted with anyone's freedom. Again, shame on her. The Showtime documentary, 'Outcry', only scratches the surface of her incompetence and malice.

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    1. I just finished watching the Showtime documentary and to watch Patricia Cummings try to protect her reputation rather than help an innocent young man is completely appalling and disgusting. Everyone has a conscience. She has to live with the fact that her incompetency allowed her client to lose so many years of his young life. If I was her, I would leave the law and judicial process to others that have their own clients interests at heart. Shame on you Patricia. I do not know how you can sleep at night.

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  9. CUMMINGS IS A DUMB BITCH.....I HOPE SHE READS THIS

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