Update: On April 1, 2014 in a unanimous decision, the NC Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for Jason Young. The decision was based on the fact that the civil cases should not have been allowed in the trial and they resulted in his inability to receive a fair trial. The State has filed a PDR with the Supreme Court (petition for discretionary review) but it’s very unlikely that they will agree to review this decision because it is unanimous. Sometime after they decide, a new trial should be scheduled.
Oral arguments for Jason’s appeal were heard on Thursday, December 12th. Brad Cooper won his appeal in September and I believe Jason will too. Both cases had precedent setting issues that are so fundamentally unfair that they can’t possibly stand. Something needs to change in the Wake County judicial system or they will continue to try cases using inadmissible evidence and unethical tactics to “win” cases.
In Brad Cooper’s case, the State used national security as a way to avoid sharing discovery with the defense – claiming that it would risk national security if the defense knew anything about the FBI’s methods used to analyze the computer – which was ridiculous as the tools used to extract data are common knowledge and there is no top secret method. Clearly they were hiding something to “win” their case. They also convinced the Judge that an expert isn’t qualified unless they have “forensic” in their title. Again, this was outrageous as there is no such rule that experts must have forensic training in order to evaluate evidence and testify at trials. The Court of Appeals agreed and a new trial was ordered.
I believe Brad will be acquitted in a new trial as there is no evidence tying him to the crime in any way, aside from the alleged Google search that simply doesn’t hold up to any scrutiny and was clearly planted on the computer …. Brad Cooper was framed. I have no doubt in my mind. If left unchallenged, this would set a precedent for all future cases – if you want to hide evidence from the defense, simply hire the FBI to work on the case and then pull out the “national security” card and the defense will never be permitted to respond to the evidence because it’s super top secret, but trust us, it’s valid! In cases all around the country we would also have NO experts testifying in court who don’t have a “forensic” certificate – utterly ridiculous but Wake county prosecutors and the judge who allowed this to happen had to get creative to WIN and it worked.
The Young case is equally outrageous and the conviction must be overturned. The first trial resulted in a hung jury with an 8:4 vote for acquittal – mistrial declared. Wake County prosecutors became desperate to win the retrial so they resorted to unethical tactics by introducing the civil claims into the trial. If left unchallenged, it will be the first case in history in which civil judgements are allowed to influence jurors in a murder trial. Why is this important and how may it affect all of us?
- If a civil claim is filed against a person, they can either respond to the claim or they can choose to ignore it. If they respond, they will be required to submit to a deposition by the plaintiff’s counsel. Remember Brad Cooper’s 7 hour interrogation/deposition? Do you remember how many criticized him for agreeing to it? Remember how police did in fact twist minute details and state repeatedly at trial that he was a “liar” when in fact there was nothing revealed in the deposition, nothing that had any significance to the case at all. It doesn’t matter though because the jury was told that he was a liar!
- Jason opted not to respond because he understood that with an impending arrest and criminal trial, the State would be able to twist his statements to attempt to make him appear to be guilty. They would also have questioned him about his personal life and had more opportunity for character assassination had he responded.
- Responding to a civil summons requires a great deal of money. The attorneys representing Linda Fisher received $1Million. Jason did the right thing by remaining silent. Under no circumstance should his silence have ever been used against him, but the Wake county prosecutors brought his failure to respond to the civil complaint to the 2nd trial as evidence of guilt – they claim that it “discredited him” as all he had to do was respond and submit to questioning and they claim that by waiting to submit to questioning until his trial that he did so to have access to all of the discovery so he could fit his story to the state’s evidence.
- The State never gave any reason for the Civil matters to be part of the trial. Was it for impeachment purposes? No, they said it was to “discredit” him. This was extremely prejudicial for the jury to hear about the civil proceedings.
What exactly did the jury hear?
- That Jason didn’t respond to the wrongful death complaint and that failure to respond can result in a judgement issued by the court against the defendant.
- That Judge Stephens signed the Judgement when he could have deferred it pending the criminal proceedings.
- That the court awarded Linda Fisher $15 Million.
- That Detective Spivey submitted an affidavit as part of the court records in the civil case stating that Jason Young murdered Michele.
- That the slayer statute enabled the court to award the insurance money to the Fishers through a default judgement.
It’s obvious that this was very damaging to Jason’s case and that it did have an impact on the verdict. None of this was admissible based on an old statute, NCGS 1-149. The Judge allowed the State to proceed with this despite the defense’s objections and this will likely result in another overturned conviction in Wake County. They seem to believe that it’s acceptable to win convictions in an illegal manor. This is obvious prosecutorial misconduct – No different than what we saw in the Michael Morton case or the Greg Taylor case.
In the wrongful death suit, the district attorney’s office shared all of their files and lab reports on the case with the Fisher’s attorneys. Since Jason didn’t respond, he had no opportunity to provide any defense so the judgement from the court was based solely on the State’s evidence. It was improper for the court to issue a judgement on the case at that point in time.
Even if Young had vigorously defended against it and even won it, it would still be improper for it to be before the jury. Could you imagine Judge Stephens allowing it had Jason responded and won the wrongful death suit? It would never happen. The whole thing is so unfair and it affects all of us because any one of us could be subjected to an unfair trial in this county.
Brad Cooper responded to a civil suit → He was subjected to an extremely intrusive interview and police post dated their supplements and tried to use parts of it against Brad at trial.
Jason didn’t respond to the civil suits → The prosecutors used the fact that he opted not to respond against him in the second trial and further had the judgement read aloud before the jury declaring him the murderer – extremely prejudicial!
What is a person supposed to do when faced with this? Most would assume that Jason did the right thing to protect himself against wrongful prosecution but when the State doesn’t follow the rules, it can still lead to a conviction and it did in his case. It should be obvious to all that when they want to win they will do *anything* to secure the conviction for their own personal political gain. They don’t care that it results in verdicts that can’t be trusted.
I’ve seen a pattern in a number of cases now where prosecutors do all sorts of unlawful things to win cases and in all of them it’s clear that they have little evidence to convict the person. Why do they have little evidence? Is it because they have the wrong person? Yes, that seems to be the case in many of the convictions that have resulted in exonerations. For example, they always immediately suspect the husband and then they build the case against them and ignore other possibilities, other suspects. In time they realize that they simply don’t have the evidence to convict the person and they don’t want to be wrong, they don’t want to feel that they have wasted so much time focusing on the wrong person so they cross the line and commit prosecutorial misconduct. They manufacture evidence, use hearsay, character assassination and coerce witnesses in order to secure a conviction. This occurred in both the Young and Cooper cases. Both of these men deserve a fair trial. Brad Cooper has already been awarded a new trial and Jason Young deserves the same. We just have to hope that this time they will be fair.
This is the damaging prejudicial testimony that the jury in Jason Young’s second trial heard and this simply must result in the reversal of his conviction.