Thursday, February 7, 2019

Shane Cantin, the Missouri lawyer who told his client that he had no defense and would be convicted on child-porn charges, is removed from Scott Wells case

Shane Cantin
Shane Cantin, the Missouri lawyer who told his client via a letter that he had no defense and would be convicted of federal child-pornography charges, was removed from the case yesterday.

The ruling from U.S. Magistrate David P. Rush came after Cantin filed a Motion to Withdraw on Monday (2/4), and defendant Scott J. Wells filed a pro se Motion to Vacate Counsel -- including a copy of Cantin's letter -- on Tuesday. (The Cantin letter is embedded at the end of this post; Cantin filed his withdrawal motion on the same day I reported about his letter to Wells.)

Rush, during a hearing at the federal courthouse in Springfield, clearly was displeased by the turn of events and asked Wells a series of pointed questions about why he wanted Cantin off the case -- as if being told your own lawyer was convinced of your guilt and had no real plans to defend you wasn't enough. Wells pointed out that Cantin had done nothing to have him released from detention, where he has been for almost two years, without being convicted of anything; that Cantin had not taken any depositions, and had not lined up any expert or character witnesses.

Prosecutor James J. Kelleher,  in what probably sounds like an absurdity to most normal humans, is seeking to have complaining witnesses from an earlier child sexual abuse case he brought in state court against Wells -- that's the one where my brother, David Shuler, provided ineffective assistance of counsel, and a conviction was overturned when one witness was found to have lied under oath about scars on Wells' penis.

Kelleher has filed the motion under Federal Rule of Evidence 414, and if granted, it would mean Wells could be convicted based on allegations with which he is not charged now -- and for which his earlier conviction was overturned. A number of legal scholars and commentators have written scathing reviews of Rule 414, including this article for the Alabama Law Review. An article in the William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal calls Rule 414 "fundamentally unfair," violating the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

For those interested in a scientific response to the dubious politics that led to Rule 414, we strongly recommend "Empirical Fallacies of Evidence Law: A Critical Look at the Admission of Prior Sex Crimes," from the University of Cincinnati Law Review.

An in-depth look at the problems with Rule 414 is an issue for another day. But for now, we can say that Cantin did file a Motion to Preclude the Government from Using 414 Evidence. But other than that, and his Motion to Withdraw, the record shows Cantin has done pretty much nothing on U.S. v. Wells. God only knows how much he will charge taxpayers for his "services."

In a moment that almost made this reporter guffaw, Judge Rush said he felt Cantin had "vigorously represented" Wells -- and that the case clearly did not amount to "ineffective assistance of counsel."

On the first point, a check of the court docket and Cantin's own letter show Rush's assessment is way off target. On the second point, I agree with Rush. Cantin's work on Wells' behalf would have to improve to reach the "ineffective assistance of counsel" level. It could more accurately be deemed "no assistance of counsel."

Rush did not say who he would appoint as Wells' new lawyer and gave no clue when that decision might be forthcoming. It appears the current trial date of Feb. 12 will have to be changed.


Anonymous said...

This is a pretty interesting development, for sure. Seems someone was uncomfortable about being exposed.

Anonymous said...

Wonder why the judge was so pissed off about Cantin stepping down. Why should it matter to the judge?

legalschnauzer said...

@12:47 --

There is some serious ugliness behind this Wells case, and that's why I've devoted quite a bit of space and reporting time to it. I haven't gotten to the bottom of it yet, but I plan to. I think this is as bad as anything I've seen in Alabama courts (state and federal).

Anonymous said...

Another victory for Web journalism. The MSM would let a guy like Scott Wells rot. But sounds like he kicked the crooks' ass yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Congrats, LS. This never happens without your reporting. You helped someone who really needed help against crooks of the courtroom.

legalschnauzer said...

@1:25 --

Yes, it was a major victory on many levels. Scott Wells would have been convicted and locked away for life, several months ago, without reporting on this blog. Kelleher, the prosecutor, was stunned yesterday. He called what happened "bizarre" and said he'd never seen anything like it in 20 years. He's used to getting his way, with everybody pleading guilty to his charges (trumped up or legit), and he couldn't handle seeing things not go his way. Kelleher, Rush, and Cantin are all hideously corrupt, and yesterday's hearing showed that in a glaring light. Scott Wells still is not out of the woods, far from it, but he got a big win yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Having his sleazy letter exposed apparently caused problems for Mr. Cantin and whoever was pulling his strings. Good.

Anonymous said...

Carver Cantin Mynarich is one of the good ole boy firms that controls the justice system in SW Missouri. They are known as the Hammons Tower Mafia because that's where most of them have offices. You've exposed them in a way they have never been exposed, and that's why Kelleher was so shaken yesterday. Keep up the good work because there is much more dirt out there.

Anonymous said...

Here is some background on Judge Rush's career. You will see that, except for two years in private practice, his whole career has been as a prosecutor -- an asst. US attorney and asst DA. No wonder prosecutors in the Wells case got a search warrant, arrest warrant, and detention -- although none of those is supported by fact or law.

legalschnauzer said...

@3:32 --

Thanks for sharing. Very interesting information about Rush's background. He's pro-prosecution all the way and pretty much gives them anything they want.

Anonymous said...

I think it's instructive that Cantin filed his motion to withdraw on the same day that you reported on his letter.

e.a.f. said...

What do they have against the defendant in this case, I mean beyond the allegations in the case. It seems weird that his lawyer would not mount a defense, leave him in jail for 2 years, etc. are they trying to "get" the guy for something else or do these people simply not understand the law and have nothing better to do? Oh, perhaps they want to send him to a jail owned and operated by one of those involved. Its not like the first time that would have happened in the U.S.A. What in it for the players to keep the defendant in jail, without bail.

legalschnauzer said...

Alert to all readers!

We have a new communique from aboard the Eliza Battle. It's on the 1/28 post about Roger Stone. As always, a must read from EB:

legalschnauzer said...

James Kelleher, prosecutor on the current federal case, also prosecuted Scott Wells on state child-sexual abuse charges in early 2000s. That's the one where conviction was overturned when a complaining witness was found to have lied under oath -- and where my brother, David Shuler, was found to have provided ineffective assistance of counsel.

Wells sued David Shuler for legal malpractice and was on the verge of victory when his St. Louis lawyer (John Allan) bailed out on him. Did Kelleher and David Shuler or others push for the current case as payback against Wells for having the audacity to fight bogus charges and sue the lawyer who almost caused him to receive five life sentences? Perhaps someone is trying to teach Scott Wells that you aren't supposed to stand up for yourself against the legal tribe. I've had thugs try to teach me that lesson.

Below is URL to post with the criminal complaint/affidavit in the Wells case embedded at the end, so you can read what the feds think they have against him. You will notice that there is little or nothing to hint Wells acted "knowingly" or that he even knew the images were on his computer or that he knew the subjects in the photos were minors (under 18). You also will notice that the feds seem to be guessing about whether the subjects are minors, with no mention of birth dates, which would seem to be necessary to prove a case like this beyond a reasonable doubt.

Feds get away with guessing, I suspect, because these cases almost always result in a plea and rarely go to trial. The search of Wells' home and computer probably should be suppressed as violative of the Fourth Amendment. I see nothing in the complaint, based on the image from Facebook that Scott Wells did not seek, that provides probable cause to justify a search.