Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A verdict procured by perjured testimony and fraud on the court -- as happened in Carol's Missouri "assault" case -- cannot stand, under both state and national law

Jerry Harmison
Perjury by law-enforcement officers was at the heart of a recent $19-million jury verdict in an employment-discrimination case brought by a veteran, gay cop in St. Louis County, Missouri. In that instance, the target of false testimony -- Keith Wildhaber, who was told to "tone down your gayness -- came out on top, and cop witnesses are being investigated for perjury.

We have seen the flip side of such shenanigans in an up-close way. It came in the bogus "assault on a law-enforcement officer" case that Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott and Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson brought against my wife, Carol, as a way of covering for cop thugs who broke Carol's arm during an eviction where they had no lawful grounds to even be on our rented property. Officer Scott Harrison clearly committed perjury, and three of his colleagues made statements under oath that were wildly at odds with their accounts of the incident in written reports.

The law is clear -- at both the state and national levels -- that a verdict based on perjury cannot stand. Missouri judge Jerry Harmison Jr. should know that, of course, but we learned a long time ago that you never can assume a judge knows the law. That prompted my wife, Carol, to file a post-trial Motion to Vacate Judgment That Was Procured by Fraud, Perjury, etc. after Harmison wrongfully had found her guilty of assault on a law enforcement officer.

Unfortunately, we also have learned that you never can assume a judge who has been informed of the law will apply it correctly. So, we were not remotely surprised when Harmison either failed to read Carol's motion or chose to ignore its contents -- upholding a verdict that was unlawful on multiple grounds, including the fact it was based largely on perjured testimony from Greene County deputy Scott Harrison.

How serious is this matter? Under Missouri law, perjury is a fraud on the court, and Deputy Harrison is subject to criminal prosecution for it.

At oral argument on Carol's six post-trial motions, Harmison did not even mention the perjury issue. Perhaps that's because he knew it could not be disputed that Harrison made at least one false statement under oath -- and it clearly was material, meaning it constituted perjury. Harmison's refusal to address the issue of fraudulent testimony -- and Carol's trial was riddled with it, from all four cop-witnesses the state called -- was a signal that the judge's main goal was to protect law-enforcement types who brought a bogus criminal case against Carol in an effort to cover up the excessive force that caused them to break her arm.

In fact, we've uncovered evidence that Harmison was trying to protect one of his family members, son-in-law Ryan Olson, who was a member of the prosecutorial team that brought charges against Carol without the slightest hint of probable cause. In other words, Harmison was trying to defend his own nest -- which means he was disqualified from hearing the case, and his rulings are due to be vacated.

As for perjury, Carol addressed it in item No. 6 of her post-trial Motion to Vacate . . . For Fraud, Perjury, etc. (Harmison's judgment, Carol's motion, and video evidence that Harrison committed perjury are embedded at the end of this post.) Here is relevant law at the state level:

In Missouri, perjury is considered a fraud on the court, and a trial court is not limited in its ability to set aside a judgment procured by fraud. From In Re Marriage of Clark, 813 S.W.2d 123 (1991): “Where there is fraud upon the court, Rule 74.06 does not limit the power or time of the court to entertain an independent action to relieve a party from a judgment. Rule 74.06(d); McKarnin v. McKarnin, 795 S.W.2d 436, 439 (Mo.App.1990). . . .

Although the rule makes no distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic fraud, see Rule 74.06(b)(2), intrinsic fraud is the use of perjured testimony or fabricated evidence. McKarnin, 795 S.W.2d at 439. "Extrinsic" fraud is fraud which induces a party to default or consent to the judgment. Id.

In other words, Harrison committed an intrinsic fraud upon the court, and there is no time limit for Carol to bring an independent action seeking relief.

Scott Harrison
The U.S. Supreme Court also has weighed in on the matter, as Carol points out in No. 9 of her motion (citations omitted):

The nation’s highest court long has held that the kind of perjured, false, and fabricated evidence present here requires a trial court to vacate a guilty verdict. From Napue v. Illinois, 360 US 264 (Supreme Court, 1959): “First, it is established that a conviction obtained through use of false evidence, known to be such by representatives of the State, must fall under the Fourteenth Amendment. . . . The same result obtains when the State, although not soliciting false evidence, allows it to go uncorrected when it appears. . . . 

The nation's highest court held in Napue that false testimony does not just shatter the credibility of the witness in question; it taints the whole process:

The principle that a State may not knowingly use false evidence, including false testimony, to obtain a tainted conviction, implicit in any concept of ordered liberty, does not cease to apply merely because the false testimony goes only to the credibility of the witness. The jury's estimate of the truthfulness and reliability of a given witness may well be determinative of guilt or innocence, and it is upon such subtle factors as the possible interest of the witness in testifying falsely that a defendant's life or liberty may depend. 
As stated by the New York Court of Appeals in a case very similar to this one, People v. Savvides, 1 N. Y. 2d 554, 557; 136 N. E. 2d 853, 854-855; 154 N. Y. S. 2d 885, 887: "It is of no consequence that the falsehood bore upon the witness' credibility rather than directly upon defendant's guilt. A lie is a lie, no matter . . . what its subject, and, if it is in any way relevant to the case, the district attorney has the responsibility and duty to correct what he knows to be false and elicit the truth. . . . That the district attorney's silence was not the result of guile or a desire to prejudice matters little, for its impact was the same, preventing, as it did, a trial that could in any real sense be termed fair."

Harrison was not the only cop-witness who made sketchy statements under oath in Carol's trial. The other three -- Jeremy Lynn, Debi Wade, and Christian Conrad -- also made such statements.

Is it any wonder Carol wrongfully was found guilty of a crime, even the so-called "victim" (Officer Jeremy Lynn) admitted she did not commit.

The Keith Wildhaber case teaches that certain cops have no qualms about making false statements under oath. The Wildhaber case was a civil matter, as opposed to the criminal case that faced Carol -- and Wildhaber was fortunate to come out on top, to the tune of $19 million, in his case. But Carol's experience shows lying cops can cause an innocent person to be convicted, and we see no sign that cops care in the least if that happens.

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