Pittsburgh Public Defender Charged With Giving “Inaccurate Information” Before Client Fled and Then Committed Suicide

Andrew-CaponeThere is an interesting case out of Pittsburgh public defender Andrew Capone, 29, has been criminally charged for allegedly given inaccurate information to a judge’s staff about whether his client had appeared for trial in a sex assault case. The case is troubling because, based on what has been released, it is difficult to see where the line was drawn between criminal and noncriminal conduct for counsel.

Capone represented Jeffrey Derosky, 44, who was charged by Allegheny County police with sexually assaulting a child and other crimes. Derosky was scheduled to go to trial Jan. 12th.

A detective alleged that Capone told a staff member for Judge Donna Jo McDaniel that Derosky “had not appeared at court.” Court staff said that Capone asked several times that day whether his client had checked in and stated that “the last time he saw his client was when they met on the Friday before the trial.” Capone tracked down Derosky’s girlfriend, Karen Blystone, 57, who told him that she and Derosky went to the courthouse the morning of his trial and met with Capone, who told them the Allegheny County district attorney’s office was offering him a plea deal. The deal would have sent him away for five to 10 years in prison. The detective reported that “Karen Blystone stated that Jeffrey Derosky informed Andrew Capone that he needed time to think about it and would get back to him.” They left even though she said that “she knew that a criminal bench warrant would be issued.” She ended up leaving Derosky at an closed hotel bar.

The detective then went back to the court and questioned the staff and Capone again. When confronted with the statements from Ms. Blystone, he said that Capone said he “was unsure how to answer that question and believe that it would violate attorney/client privilege.” He said that Capone admitted that Derosky and Blystone had come to court for the trial and was told about the deal but that Derosky then cursed and said, “I’m out of here.” Capone said that he went to another courtroom and when he returned about 10 minutes later, Derosky was gone. Derosky was later found in a motel in Parkersburg, West Virginia dead from a self-inflicted gunshot.

The sheriff’s office arrested both Bystone and Capone. Bystone was charged with hindering apprehension and obstructing the administration of law. Her role seems limited and many prosecutors would not have charged on these facts in my opinion. However, there is clearly a violation of the law quoted below.

However, it is the charge against Capone that is the most curious. Capone is described as giving “inaccurate information.” The relevant state law appears to be this:

§ 5105. Hindering apprehension or prosecution.
(a) Offense defined.–A person commits an offense if, with
intent to hinder the apprehension, prosecution, conviction or
punishment of another for crime or violation of the terms of
probation, parole, intermediate punishment or Accelerated
Rehabilitative Disposition, he:
(1) harbors or conceals the other;
(2) provides or aids in providing a weapon,
transportation, disguise or other means of avoiding
apprehension or effecting escape;
(3) conceals or destroys evidence of the crime, or
tampers with a witness, informant, document or other source
of information, regardless of its admissibility in evidence;
(4) warns the other of impending discovery or
apprehension, except that this paragraph does not apply to a
warning given in connection with an effort to bring another
into compliance with law; or
(5) provides false information to a law enforcement

The problem is that criminal defense attorneys are often in difficult positions in revealing incriminating information about their clients, particularly if they are asked to speculate as to their movements. There may be more to this case, but on this record the charge raises serious concerns over where the line is drawn in such communications. Clearly, it was not accurate to say that he had not seen his client. However, that may have been a poorly crafted way of saying that he did not know where his client might be. It was possible that his client would change his mind and return. There is no indication that Capone knew the plans of his client. Many clients react badly to plea offers but later change their minds. I have discussed such deals with clients and I always give them space and time alone to work through the initial anger or fears when confronted with a plea involving jail time.

The concern is that this record is not sufficiently clear to punish counsel based on privileged communications. Criminal defense counsel are often effective in bringing clients to court and secure plea agreements. They are not the turnkeys of their clients. Unless there is more, these facts do not make Capone sound like Saul Goodman.

What do you think?

Source: Post Gazette

46 thoughts on “Pittsburgh Public Defender Charged With Giving “Inaccurate Information” Before Client Fled and Then Committed Suicide”

  1. Fair enough. I recently pointed out on a Belichick thread virtually every case I have worked, that has been covered by the press, has had basic facts wrong in the TV, radio or print pieces done on it. I’m not talking minor issues, wrong names, etc.; I talking BASIC facts. My wife has worked on many high profile Federal cases as a presentence investigation Federal Probation Officer. She has the same experience as do cops, attorneys, and other folks in the system I know, as well. So, we agree. It is just a newspaper report. But, you can pay the rent and have money left over for some adult beverages betting on an attorney lying. Finally, do you know Dirk Diggler or Chest Rockwell? I would love their autographs.

  2. I’m an astronaut and porn star.

    My comments can stand or fail on their own (and, as a porn star, I always do my best to keep them standing 😉 ). Should I require an appeal to authority, I can always link.

    I’m not saying you don’t have the background or connections you claim, I’m just saying that this is the internet. And, as an astronaut who has many time-traveling, alien friends of vast intelligence, I have learned that authority that can be independently examined, verified and critiqued trumps any comment board claim.

    As for the Public Defender? That’s easy: I don’t know. All I have to go on is a newspaper article relating only one side. Specifically, the article states that a detective states that a court staffer states that a lawyer stated something.

    That’s not nearly enough for me to reach a conclusion.

  3. Gotta love a Big League “professional” lie detector who can announce conclusive judgements based upon a newspaper article.

    Put the shovel down, Nick. You’ve dug deep enough already.

  4. Nemo, He was lying. Unless you are a lover of the Bill Clinton, “It depends what the meaning of is, is.” I detect lying and liars professionally, and have for going on 4 decades. You can rationalize, I don’t.

  5. Fiver. You are the typical hair splitter, ham n’ egger, maybe attorney? My assertion, was, is, and will continue to be, that UK barristers have exponentially more integrity than the ambulance chaser, liars, dissembler, US attorney who slither through court rooms in this country daily. It’s a macro issue, that you know is true, so you parse, split hairs, and comically continue to avoid. Just like you tried to deflect w/ the SF whiner comment, you Google a few bad barristers, and jump up and down on your soapbox. Although, I do realize I am “damning w/ faint praise” when I proclaim barristers to have more much honor and integrity than bushers. A reading of my comments over my tenure here shows I have a deep respect for the good attorneys in this country. JT is one of them I have very good friends who are honest, hard working, noble, attorneys. They loathe the type attorney who defend liars that besmirch their truly noble profession, that has become a cesspool of Clintonian sleazeballs during my 40 years working w/ attorneys. The justice system in this country has been corrupted by the people who work it. Cops lie, attorneys lie, witnesses lie. When I started working in the justice system in the mid 70’s, that was rare. It’s the norm now. Litigation has become a major industry and maybe the most corrupt. Well, banking may be more corrupt.

    And, I decide if I can amend my remarks, not some busher. Finally, your closing argument was incredibly muddled. Clean it up and try to make a point.

  6. To correct my l/i/e typo, I meant “somewhat, not “someone”. Ah, the limitations of spellcheck. As the old poem goes:

    I has a spelling checker
    It come with my pea sea
    It illustrates for my revue
    Miss steaks I cannot sea


  7. I find it someone amusing that a “Big Leaguer” has been boldly asserting that the PD in the original article was /lying/. Lying is, of course, a matter of intentional deception, not covered by errors such as having incorrect information, misremembering, or simply making a mistake.

    But to continue, my amusement stems from the fact that said person also boldly and repeatedly asserted something that was untrue, and then, when called on it, retreated to the position that he had made a mistake. It’s funny how the accused was beyond all reasonable doubt “lying”, but the accuser merely “made a mistake”.

    Funny how that works, isn’t it?

  8. No, Nick,

    Amending to “rarely” doesn’t bail you out. Not even close.

    You didn’t just misspeak, and you didn’t just write “never.” You repeatedly shouted “never” as if allcaps somehow made your assertions authoritative. You combined your shouting with expressions like “sacred,” “complete honor and integrity,” and “forthright” for British barristers and expressions such as “antithesis,” “slimy,” and “infectious” for American attorneys. You now make the same assertions while slightly backtracking after getting caught with a simple two-word Google search.

    Your disparagement of an entire nation’s attorneys (with the incidental and convenient worship of another nation’s) is based upon nothing but your own unverifiable authority which, in turn, is based upon claiming unnamed, unverifiable “friends” who, of course, wholly back up your assertions.

    (Note to internet: appeals to unverifiable personal authority provide no support whatsoever to any argument)

    (Note to internet and real world: having a friend in an occupation does not transfer that friend’s expertise to yourself. To check this, simply go have a tooth pulled by the friend of a dentist)

    You then assert that your authority is “Big League,” compared to any who might question your authority who are, by definition, “minor league” or “bushers” (“Bushers”? Really?). Yet, despite your Big League expertise, you were unable to address, or apparently even understand, simple questions which any minimally competent “minor leaguer” would have little problem with.

    Moreover, you are claiming to be a long term, Big League player in a system which you are arguing is hopelessly corrupt!

    Give that one a minute or two to sink in.

    Corruption will always favor the wealthy, powerful and connected. Always. Quite simply: the wealthy, powerful and connected are more able to reward the corrupt.

    In other words: Corruption favors the Big Leagues.

  9. I was foolish to say “never.” I amend my remarks to say “rarely.” It happens uncountable times daily that a US attorney lies to the court or a fellow officer of the court. It is hardly ever even sanctioned, judges in the US just look @ it as SOP. It is as routine. You infrequently get some reports of blatant lies and sometimes attorneys are even sanctioned. Otherwise it’s no big deal. I’ve been involved w/ thousands of cases and have seen it occur innumerable times. It is newsworthy in the UK. Anyone familiar w/ both systems, and I know folks who have worked in both, will say it is 2 different worlds. I will concede the slimy practices of US attorneys may be infecting the UK. But, they are still exponentially more honorable and forthright.

  10. AnneMarie Dickey
    This looks increasingly like a personal grudge match between the defender’s office and the police, and the police are using their badges and guns to (supposedly) intimidate lawyers.

    Say it ain’t so. Between this, and other examples like the Albuquerque police disinviting the prosecutor who charge two officers in a shooting case to future press conferences (which has been the norm apparently there), one could almost question the priorities, ethics and morals of some police departments and officers.

  11. Fiver, it only takes a few minutes of research to prove how some folks know very little while speaking very much.

  12. Feb 5, 2014 … A London barrister has been disbarred for intentionally misleading his client by drafting false grounds of appeal.

    Feb 6, 2014 … A highflying City barrister, who falsified his CV and claimed to have degrees from Oxford and Havard universities, has been disbarred.

    26 January 2012 … David Harris, being a barrister… while appearing as counsel for Newzbin Limited in the matter of T and Others v Newzbin Limited in the Chancery Division of the High Court, deceived or knowingly or recklessly misled the Court in that he told the Court that he held 100% of the shares in the company on behalf of another person (when in fact he held them for his own benefit) and that he did not know if he had a significant pecuniary interest in the company (when in fact he knew he had a significant pecuniary interest in the company because he had bought 100% of the company’s issued share capital for a substantial purchase price in December 2009).

    24 June 2014 … A barrister who lied about her employment status and history, with the intention of gaining financially, was last week ordered by an independent disciplinary tribunal to be disbarred from the profession.

    That’s a small sampling from the front page entries among literally tens of thousands of hits – and that’s a search just on disbarment.


    I suppose I could also run searches combining “barrister” with “contempt,” “censure,” “suspension,” “reprimand,” etc.. But, it’s getting late, and, as an American living without the “complete honor and integrity” possessed by all the Queens barristers, I need to enter my nightly trance so I can commune with Beelzebub.

  13. A barrister would NEVER deceive the court on ANYTHING before the court. There is complete honor and integrity in the UK system, the antithesis of the US system. That was the point! So, to answer your question, you are the busher Alan. Any other questions before I retire for the evening?

  14. nick spinelli demonstrates his lack of knowledge of the british legal system and writes, “It is much more sacred in the UK where a barrister would NEVER have deceived the court.”

    a barrister could not possibly deceive a court about the whereabouts (or other status) of his client, for as everybody but spinelli knows, barristers never meet or have *any* contact with their clients! the barrister is retained by the client’s solicitor, who is not permitted to argue in court.

    who’s the “busher”???

  15. Damn. I had no idea there were Major League guys who sat around in cars and made videotapes of guys faking a bowling alley accident.

  16. fiver, I was trying to follow your train of thought, but ran out of bread crumbs.

Comments are closed.