Television personality Kelly Siegler is under fire this month for what critics are saying is a history of unethical conduct as a prosecutor, including the hiding of evidence in capital punishment cases. After a career as a Harris County prosecutor, Siegler became the star in a reality series on TNT called Cold Justice, now in its third season. Siegler’s allegedly checkered history as a prosecutor is reminiscent of the controversy surrounding Nancy Grace, who was denounced an an unethical prosecutor who violated the rights of accused persons but has been retained by CNN as a show host and legal commentator.
This month, a state court ordered a new trial for a man convicted in 2007 due to unethical conduct of Siegler in withholding exculpatory evidence that would have made a difference in David Temple’s trial. Judge Larry Gist noted that “Of enormous significance was the prosecutor’s testimony at the habeas hearing that apparently favorable evidence did not need to be disclosed if the state did not believe it was true.” Thus, Siegler asserted that she would only reveal evidence if she was convinced that it was not just exculpatory but true — a very dangerous standard that would allow the withholding of a wide array of evidence.
Gist detailed an astonishing 36 instances of unethical conduct by Siegler.
Siegler is also accused of the same unethical conduct in the case of Howard Guidry when she twice convicted him. In many of these instances, it is hard to imagine a plausible excuse by Siegler. For example, Siegler never revealed to Guidry’s lawyers that crime scene investigators found fingerprints that were not Guidry’s on the victim’s car door and front fender. That is precisely where the police thought the shooter would have stood. Not only did the fingerprints belong to a suspect in the case but the man actually resembled Guidry.
A federal appeals court has ruled in the Guidry case police coerced an incriminating statement and Siegler was found to have “admitted unlawful confessions into evidence and used hearsay evidence.”
Siegler had 68 murder trials and now attorneys are examining all of those cases.
Siegler has already been required to appear as a witness and insisted that all of key evidence was made available to the defense. She insisted to the media that “I am always aggressive, but as far as withholding evidence, exculpatory information, Brady evidence, that did not happen.”
Source: ABA Journal