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Man on Convicted of Murder Accuses LDS Church of Interfering with His Trial

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Here:

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Several witnesses called to testify in Douglas Anderson Lovell's death penalty trial last year say they faced a hard choice: Either testify on behalf of a murderer they had come to know as a friend or appease their leaders within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and stay silent.

Lovell is appealing the outcome of his 2015 trial in which jurors sentenced him to be executed for the 1985 killing of Joyce Yost. In newly filed appellate court papers, the death row inmate accuses the Mormon church and its attorneys of meddling in his trial by telling his former bishops not to testify or to limit what they said on the stand.

A former mentor even came to Lovell in tears the day before the start of the trial and asked the inmate to not call him as a character witness, Lovell wrote in an affidavit filed with the Utah Supreme Court. The man told Lovell that a "member above him" in the church had told him he could not testify.

Hmm.  I'm not sure this is telling the whole story.  I can think of many reasons why the Church (and other religious institutions, and even professionals like attorneys, doctors, therapists, etc.) might not want to be compelled to act as "character witnesses."  The Trib, unfortunately, pretty much glosses over this very important facet of the story, and instead plays its presumptive role as hostile critic of the Church.  Don't get me wrong, I really do value the Trib as an "independent voice."  But this article is not "independent."  It is partisan.  Against the Church.  And it didn't need to be.  

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"It was obvious to me that [he] was torn between testifying for me and his loyalty to obey his church leaders," Lovell wrote. "My heart truly ached for [him] because I knew him well enough to know that he was devastated."

Perhaps so.  But I suspect that this "former mentor" was interacting with Mr. Lovell in an official capacity as a representative of the Church.  If so, that is a very, very important point about which the Trib, for whatever reason, obfuscates.

John Q. Public who knows Mr. Lovell personally would, of course, be free to testify on behalf of Mr. Lovell.  But the problem is that a "former mentor" who interacted with Mr. Lovell was probably acting in the capacity of a pastoral counselor.  If so, then pastoral counseling necessary involves love and compassion for the individual, and that's a great thing.  But now I think Mr. Lovell wants to utilize that pastoral counseling to leverage legal benefits to himself by essentially compelling this "former mentor," who was acting in an official capacity as a representative of the LDS Church, to take the stand and to testify in a partisan way, in favor of Mr. Lovell and against the interests of the People of the State of Utah and the friends and loved ones of his murder victim.  That is not at all the reason why the Church provides pastoral counseling to people charged with or convicted of serious crimes.  It is not the role of the Church, or of its official representatives, to become involved and take sides in criminal matters.  Mr. Lovell's attempt to compel such a thing was, I think, inappropriate.

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'It got so ridiculous ... ' • And he wasn't the only Mormon who was told not to testify. Lovell's appellate attorney, Samuel Newton, wrote in court papers that four other bishops and a woman who was serving an LDS mission at the time of the trial also reported they were told to either not testify or give only short answers, so it would not appear they were representing the church while approving of a murderer. One bishop reported that a member of the Quorum of the Seventy, a senior administrative body in the LDS Church, had contacted him and instructed him not to testify.

"The church, out of concern for its policies, pressured witnesses not to testify or cooperate with Mr. Lovell," Newton wrote. "And put witnesses in the position of having to disobey their church leaders to support Mr. Lovell."

Note that all of the people involved - five bishops (the "trusted mentor" and "four other bishops" and "a woman who was servicing an LDS mission") were all, I think, going to be compelled to testify on behalf of Mr. Lovell.  And all of them are official representatives of the LDS Church. 

Let's keep in mind that these people were apparently called not as "fact" witnesses (to testify about factual circumstances relating to the murder), but rather as "character" witnesses (who provide "testimony ... for the purpose of proving that a person acted in a particular way on a particular occasion based on the character or disposition of that person").  In essence, Mr. Lovell wanted to compel representatives of the LDS Church to testify on his behalf because they are representatives of the LDS Church.  

I think I understand why the Church may have provided instructions to these bishops and the missionary.  These folks weren't being called to testify in their personal capacities.  I think they were being called because their status as official representatives of the Church would bolster the value of their "character testimony" in favor of Mr. Lovell (unless, of course, their testimony was given solely from their individual perspectives, and not as representatives of the Church - which is apparently exactly what happened at trial).

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When the four church members who did testify took the stand, attorneys on both sides made a point of letting jurors know they were there under subpoena and did not represent the views of the Utah-based faith, which has a neutral stance on the death penalty. One juror later wrote in an affidavit that the repeated references had a negative impact on him and the other jurors.

"It felt to me like [Deputy Weber County Attorney Jeffrey] Thomson was trying to make sure that, by the bishops 'forgiving and liking' Doug, it didn't mean the LDS Church would forgive/like Doug because he was a convicted murderer," the juror wrote. "It was like the prosecutor was trying so hard to make sure their testimony was separated from official church business and it got so ridiculous by the end."

I can see how these "repeated references" may have had "a negative impact."  Which is perhaps why it's such a bad idea for Mr. Lovell's to call character witnesses whose testimony would be derived from their actions as official representatives of the LDS Church.  Their testimony was apparently problematic because A) these people were acting as official representatives of the Church when they interacted with Mr. Lovell, B) these people were being compelled to testify on behalf of Mr. Lovell, C) these people were being compelled to testify as to Mr. Lovell's character in a murder trial, and D) the necessary countermeasures referenced above muddled the point and purpose of their testimony.

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Newton said the church's lawyers, with the law firm Kirton McConkie, have continued to interfere with Lovell's case by blocking the appellate attorney's attempts to contact those same bishops and get more information from them as he prepares Lovell's appeal.

In a written statement, LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said any limitations to witness testimony were agreed to by the church and Lovell's trial attorneys.

"Church leaders do not generally participate in legal proceedings in which the church is not directly involved," Hawkins said. "In this case, these leaders were required by subpoena to appear in court. Their statements represent their personal experiences and opinions. They do not speak for the church. Our hearts go out to the victims of this unspeakable crime."

 

Huh.  So the Church and Mr. Lovell's trial attorneys agreed in advance to the nature and type of testimony these individuals were to provide.  Way to hide the ball, Trib!

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Through his attorney, Lovell declined to comment for this story because he did not want to cause "unnecessary pain" to Yost's family. Newton said in a statement to The Salt Lake Tribune that Lovell has great respect for the LDS Church and a love for the bishops who worked with him throughout the years and became his friends.

"He was saddened, however, that the church, institutionally, took steps to limit or prevent these bishops from testifying on his behalf at his trial and on appeal," Newton said. "He is hopeful that the church will, if the Supreme Court grants his motion for remand, allow these former leaders to fully testify about their love for Mr. Lovell, the changes they have observed in him and their belief that he could succeed in society."

 

It looks like these witnesses already testified "fully."  They testified about "their personal experiences and opinions."  The only discernible caveat to or limitation on their their testimony was that they were speaking in their personal capacities and not as representatives of the Church.

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Fired public defender • Newton is asking the Utah Supreme Court to remand the case back to the 2nd District Court so an evidentiary hearing can be held and witnesses can be questioned as he mounts an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim.

In the motion, Newton also asserts that one of Lovell's trial attorneys, Sean Young, failed to object to the church interference until after the trial.  The appellate attorney alleges that Young did virtually no work on his case and "wholly abandoned his role as counsel."

 

This is rather weird.  According to the Church, "any limitations to witness testimony were agreed to by the church and Lovell's trial attorneys."  That would presumably have included Mr. Young, whom Newton is saying "wholly abandoned his role as counsel."

So which is it?  Did Mr. Young coordinate and reach ann agreement with the Church regarding  testimony provided by its official representatives on behalf of Mr. Lovell?

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After the trial, Lovell received a number of letters from supporters who said they wanted to testify about how he was a changed man — but added that his defense team never contacted them. They would have said that Lovell's life had worth, and that Lovell was remorseful for his crimes and could be rehabilitated, according to their letters and affidavits.

Lovell's lead trial attorney, Michael Bouwhuis, wrote in an affidavit that Young, his co-counsel, was assigned to interview and prepare 18 witnesses, including former church leaders, Lovell's family members, and an inmate who said Lovell positively affected his life.

Of those 18, only two have said that they were contacted by Young before trial — but the conversations were brief and mostly concerned when they would testify, not the substance of what they would say.

Young's public defender contract was terminated after Lovell's trial, Bouwhuis wrote, when it came to light that the attorney "did not speak with a substantial number of witnesses assigned to him in this case."

Oi!  I would not want to be Mr. Young right now.

But how does this square with Mr. Lovell's present claim that the Church interfered with witness testimony?  If Mr. Young failed to contact them, and if they subsequently failed to testify, then how did the Church materially interfere with witness testimony?  What am I missing?

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Young did not respond to a request by The Tribune seeking comment. Weber County Attorney Chris Allred confirmed Friday that Young's contract was terminated. Allred declined to comment on the assertions in Lovell's motion because he had not read the filing.

Lovell wrote in his affidavit that Young made it appear as if he had spoken to the potential witnesses and that he reported that they did not wish to testify. Lovell also said that he felt Young did not adequately question or cross-examine witnesses at trial.

"In my case, it would be hard for any jury to see me as a human being and a life worth saving through the testimony of those who knew me well because my attorney, Sean Young, did not contact, prepare and get my witnesses to court," Lovell wrote.

 

Oi!

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Rape and murder • In April 1985, Lovell followed Yost, 39, home from a Clearfield restaurant, kidnapped her from her apartment parking lot and sexually assaulted her in the parking lot and at his home, according to trial testimony.

After she reported the crime, Lovell began to plot the woman's death to keep her from testifying at his upcoming trial, according to testimony at Lovell's murder trial. He tried twice to hire men to kill the woman, then decided to do it himself on Aug. 10, 1985.

He kidnapped the woman again from her South Ogden apartment and took her to the mountains east of Ogden, where he strangled her and left her body under handfuls of dirt and leaves.

The body was never found — despite an extensive search of the area by police in 1993, after Lovell struck a plea deal that spared him the death penalty if he could lead authorities to her body.

After the fruitless 1993 search, an Ogden judge sentenced Lovell to death by lethal injection. But, in 2011, the Utah Supreme Court ruled Lovell could withdraw his guilty plea because he should have been better informed of his rights during court proceedings.

Despite Lovell's efforts to prevent Yost from testifying against him in the rape case, he was convicted by a jury of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault in December 1985, with the help of a transcript of Yost's preliminary hearing testimony.

A tragic story all around.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97

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25 minutes ago, smac97 said:

.............................................................................................  

A tragic story all around.

Thanks,

-Smac

I do wish that you would sum things up in shorter compass, Spencer, but that is neither here nor there.  What I would like to add is that Lovell obviously wants to appeal on any possible basis.  He'll say anything now just to see if it sticks.

The concern of the Church administration was probably that of the absolute confidentiality of cleric-penitent communication, much more than that those bishops represent the Church.  Were I his bishop at one time, I would simply refuse to testify -- even about my personal feelings for him, etc. -- saying that his confidential communication with me could not be separated from my personal feelings (but I would consult with counsel before even saying that).  There was no reason to flummox the jurors with a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo.  The bishops should simply have refused to testify, and to allow the  judge to explain why to the jurors.

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On 5/30/2016 at 8:28 PM, Robert F. Smith said:

I do wish that you would sum things up in shorter compass, Spencer, but that is neither here nor there.  

I recognize that some folks do not like my writing style, including detailed postings like this one.  However, I have also had some people indicate that they do like my writing style, including detailed analysis of law-related issues that affect the Church.  I nevertheless appreciate the feedback, and I should try to be less verbose (though you are also free to disregard anything I write).

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What I would like to add is that Lovell obviously wants to appeal on any possible basis.  He'll say anything now just to see if it sticks.

Yep.

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The concern of the Church administration was probably that of the absolute confidentiality of cleric-penitent communication, much more than that those bishops represent the Church.  

I don't think so.  They apparently were being called as character witnesses, not fact witnesses.  Their testimony would have not dealt with admissions of guilt, but rather his subsequent behavior while in prison, "about their love for Mr. Lovell, the changes they have observed in him and their belief that he could succeed in society."

So I don't think privileged communications were in play here.  Rather, I think the Church does not want to take sides in a criminal matter.  It does not want its official representatives - particularly those that serve in ecclesiastical roles - to testify in favor of one side (a man charged with murder) and effectively against the interests of the murder victim's loved ones.

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Were I his bishop at one time, I would simply refuse to testify -- even about my personal feelings for him, etc. -- saying that his confidential communication with me could not be separated from my personal feelings (but I would consult with counsel before even saying that).  

I don't think that would work.  First, the folks referenced in the article were compelled to testify (meaning failure to testify is against the law and could have resulted in contempt of court charges).  Second, their testimony would not have been about "confidential communication{s}" as that term is used in Utah.  This issue is governed by Rule 503 of the Utah Rules of Evidence ("Communications to Clergy"), which provides as follows:

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Rule 503. Communications to Clergy.
 
(a)      Definitions.
-(1)   "Cleric" means a minister, priest, rabbi, or other similar functionary of a religious organization or an individual reasonably believed to be so by the person consulting that individual.
-(2)    "Confidential Communication" means a communication:
--(A)   made privately; and
--(B)   not intended for further disclosure except to other persons in furtherance of the purpose of the communication.
(b)   Statement of the Privilege. A person has a privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent another from disclosing, any confidential communication:
-(1)   made to a cleric in the cleric's religious capacity; and
-(2)   necessary and proper to enable the cleric to discharge the function of the cleric's office according to the usual course of practice or discipline.
(c)   Who May Claim the Privilege. The privilege may be claimed by:
-(1)   the person who made the confidential communication;
-(2)   the person's guardian or conservator;
-(3)   the person's personal representative if the person is deceased; and
-(4)   the person who was the cleric at the time of the communication on behalf of the communicant.

I suspect that the "Statement of the Privilege" in part (b)(2) was probably part of the discussions between the Church's attorneys and Mr. Lovell's attorneys.  That is, the Church wants to both respect the law of the land, but also preserve privileged communications.

I'm not immediately sure as to where character testimony of the sort sought by Mr. Lovell ("their love for Mr. Lovell, the changes they have observed in him and their belief that he could succeed in society") would land under Rule 503, but I suspect the principal focus was more about bishops testifying as character witnesses at all, rather than the risk of them disclosing privileged communications (we should keep in mind that they were being called as witnesses by Mr. Lovell).

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There was no reason to flummox the jurors with a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo.  

Alas, this was a murder trial.  "Legal mumbo-jumbo" is a necessary part of such proceedings.

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The bishops should simply have refused to testify, and to allow the  judge to explain why to the jurors.

I'm not sure if it the bishops had that option. 

Thanks,

-Smac

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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

...................................................................................................................

I don't think so.  They apparently were being called as character witnesses, not fact witnesses.  Their testimony would have not dealt with admissions of guilt, but rather his subsequent behavior while in prison, "about their love for Mr. Lovell, the changes they have observed in him and their belief that he could succeed in society."

So I don't think privileged communications were in play here.  Rather, I think the Church does not want to take sides in a criminal matter.  It does not want its official representatives - particularly those that serve in ecclesiastical roles - to testify in favor of one side (a man charged with murder) and effectively against the interests of the murder victim's loved ones.

I don't think that would work.  First, the folks referenced in the article were compelled to testify (meaning failure to testify is against the law and could have resulted in contempt of court charges).  Second, their testimony would not have been about "confidential communication{s}" as that term is used in Utah.  This issue is governed by Rule 503 of the Utah Rules of Evidence ("Communications to Clergy"), which provides as follows:

I suspect that the "Statement of the Privilege" in part (b)(2) was probably part of the discussions between the Church's attorneys and Mr. Lovell's attorneys.  That is, the Church wants to both respect the law of the land, but also preserve privileged communications.

I'm not immediately sure as to where character testimony of the sort sought by Mr. Lovell ("their love for Mr. Lovell, the changes they have observed in him and their belief that he could succeed in society") would land under Rule 503, but I suspect the principal focus was more about bishops testifying as character witnesses at all, rather than the risk of them disclosing privileged communications (we should keep in mind that they were being called as witnesses by Mr. Lovell).

These aspects of testimony cannot rightly be separated, and no judge is going to jail a bishop for refusal to testify.

Alas, this was a murder trial.  "Legal mumbo-jumbo" is a necessary part of such proceedings.

Not if the bishops refused to testify, leaving the idiot attorneys with no grounds for further confusing palaver.

I'm not sure if it the bishops had that option. 

Thanks,

-Smac

 

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After the trial, Lovell received a number of letters from supporters who said they wanted to testify about how he was a changed man — but added that his defense team never contacted them. They would have said that Lovell's life had worth, and that Lovell was remorseful for his crimes and could be rehabilitated, according to their letters and affidavits.

This paragraph makes it sound like Lovell is appealing the sentence, not the conviction.

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In any event, leaving aside, for the moment, any role that officials of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may have played in potentially discouraging witnesses from testifying (while, of course, I welcome correction from members of the Bar), the Priest-Penitent Privilege is intended to encourage free and open communication between clergy and members of their flock, so, while I can understand the desire of the Church of Jesus Christ to not want to set the precedent of bishops testifying as character witnesses for those who have been convicted of serious crimes, (and while the clergyperson also may assert the Privilege) otherwise, the Privilege is the Penitent's to assert or to waive.  If the Penitent feels that waiving the privilege (rather than asserting it) is in his best interest, and if he is competent to make that decision, he's free to do so.

Edited by Kenngo1969

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8 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I do wish that you would sum things up in shorter compass, Spencer, but that is neither here nor there. ...

To the contrary, I, and others, I'm sure, have learned a great deal from Spencer's tendency to expound "in longer compass." ;):D

Edited by Kenngo1969

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Thanks for the recap of that story, Spencer.

I think the Church would find itself in less hot water if it could keep its hired legal eagles from messing with things that don't concern them.

Let the freaking bishops testify.  Do not meddle.

The Church should NOT be interfering with anybody's testimony in a criminal proceeding.  Lesser minds would call it witness tampering.

But this does sound similar to an interview I heard recently regarding Church attorneys coming down to coach witnesses prior to an interview with CPS in an accusation of child molestation at church.

The Church is going to end up learning the hard way that this type of legal gamesmanship will land them in hot water.

 

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How typical of you to blame the Church first. Testimony to character is not testimony to fact.

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47 minutes ago, consiglieri said:

Thanks for the recap of that story, Spencer.

I think the Church would find itself in less hot water if it could keep its hired legal eagles from messing with things that don't concern them.

Let the freaking bishops testify.  Do not meddle. ...

 

So, you're OK with the precedent being set of bishops being called as character witnesses for convicted murderers?  (Just checking!)

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7 minutes ago, Kenngo1969 said:

So, you're OK with the precedent being set of bishops being called as character witnesses for convicted murderers?  (Just checking!)

Why should that be a problem?

The LDS Church keeps wanting to micromanage legalities to the point they are going to get themselves into trouble.

And in this case, they may get this convicted murderer's sentence overturned.

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On 5/31/2016 at 9:07 AM, consiglieri said:

Thanks for the recap of that story, Spencer.

I think the Church would find itself in less hot water if it could keep its hired legal eagles from messing with things that don't concern them.

Let the freaking bishops testify.  Do not meddle.

The Church does not "meddle" in such things willy nilly.  There are, I think, very good reasons for it to be concerned about its official representatives being compelled to testify in circumstances such as those described in the OP.

Moreover, if official representatives of the Church were to begin testifying on behalf of murderers, rapists, etc., and if the victims and/or family members of the victims objected to the Church "taking sides" in such criminal matters, I am reasonably confident that critics and enemies of the Church would raise a huge ruckus and accuse the Church of all sorts of evildoing.

It must be so nice to be a critic.  The Church is darned if does, darned if it doesn't.  It's darned no matter what it does.

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The Church should NOT be interfering with anybody's testimony in a criminal proceeding.  Lesser minds would call it witness tampering.

Aptly put.  "Lesser minds" would indeed call it that.  And they would be wrong.

Thanks,

-Smac

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1 hour ago, consiglieri said:

Thanks for the recap of that story, Spencer.

I think the Church would find itself in less hot water if it could keep its hired legal eagles from messing with things that don't concern them.

Let the freaking bishops testify.  Do not meddle. ...

 

50 minutes ago, Kenngo1969 said:

So, you're OK with the precedent being set of bishops being called as character witnesses for convicted murderers?  (Just checking!)

 

42 minutes ago, consiglieri said:

Why should that be a problem?

The LDS Church keeps wanting to micromanage legalities to the point they are going to get themselves into trouble.

And in this case, they may get this convicted murderer's sentence overturned.

 

What Spencer said. ;):D

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43 minutes ago, smac97 said:

It must be so nice to be a critic.  The Church is darned if does, darned if it doesn't.  It's darned no matter what it does.

Kind gives a new dimension to the phrase "playing with a stacked deck," doesn't it?

Fortunately, critics who do this need not be taken seriously.

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On 5/31/2016 at 10:05 AM, consiglieri said:

Why should that be a problem?

The LDS Church keeps wanting to micromanage legalities to the point they are going to get themselves into trouble.

And in this case, they may get this convicted murderer's sentence overturned.

I'm skeptical.  However, I think the real problem here is Mr. Lovell's attorney did not do his job, perhaps to the point of Mr. Lovell having a viable argument for "ineffective assistance of counsel."

Thanks,

-Smac

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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

The Church does not "meddle" in such things willy nilly.  There are, I think, very good reasons for it to be concerned about its official representatives being compelled to testify in circumstances such as those described in the OP.

Moreover, if official representatives of the Church were to begin testifying on behalf of murderers, rapists, etc., and if the victims and/or family members of the victims objected to the Church "taking sides" in such criminal matters, I am reasonably confident that critics and enemies of the Church would raise a huge ruckus and accuse the Church of all sorts of evildoing.

It must be so nice to be a critic.  The Church is darned if does, darned if it doesn't.  It's darned no matter what it does.

Aptly put.  "Lesser minds" would indeed call it that.  And they would be wrong.

Thanks,

-Smac

I continue to find this practice by Church lawyers troublesome.

I expect the defense would like to have bishops testify for leniency in death penalty cases because they are figuring they have at least one Mormon on the jury who might be swayed by that.

This is probably why Church lawyers are trying to get in there and make sure the bishops are clear they are not testifying in their capacity as bishops and are not representing the Church in what they say.

All of that is probably not objectionable, but if Church lawyers are trying to limit bishops from testifying they were in fact bishops, that's where you are going to run into trouble.

 

 

If the witness is a bishop, then he should be allowed to say he is a bishop.  To say anything different would be false.  Anybody who gets the bishop to not say he is a bishop is guilty of witness tampering.

Church lawyers tampering with what he can and cannot say is wrong.

This type of micromanagement in which the Church tends to engage will have deleterious consequences.

Does a death sentence have to get overturned before they realize that?

Or does the LDS Church need to get sued for church lawyers tampering with witnesses in child molestation investigations before they get the point?

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19 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I'm skeptical.  However, I think the real problem here is Mr. Lovell's attorney did not do his job, perhaps to the point of Mr. Lovell having a viable argument for "ineffective assistance of counsel."

Thanks,

-Smac

I thought it suspicious that Lovell left his job, but it looks like the trial was back in 1993, so a public defender quitting after 23-years may not be a big deal.

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38 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Kind gives a new dimension to the phrase "playing with a stacked deck," doesn't it?

Fortunately, critics who do this need not be taken seriously.

You don't take me seriously because I caught you playing with a "stacked deck," Scott.

You can't get away with your usual obfuscations with me, so you decide to not interact with me.

That's up to you, of course.

But let's at least be honest about what is going on, shall we?

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On 5/31/2016 at 11:27 AM, consiglieri said:

I continue to find this practice by Church lawyers troublesome.

I figured as much.  Darned if it does, darned if it doesn't . . . 

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I expect the defense would like to have bishops testify for leniency in death penalty cases because they are figuring they have at least one Mormon on the jury who might be swayed by that.

Not just any "Mormon," but multiple bishops and a missionary.  I think it is their capacity as official representatives of the Church that is germane to the perceived value as character witnesses.  This is why the jury was instructed that they were speaking in their individual capacities.

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All of that is probably not objectionable, but if Church lawyers are trying to limit bishops from testifying they were in fact bishops, that's where you are going to run into trouble.

If the witness is a bishop, then he should be allowed to say he is a bishop.  To say anything different would be false.  Anybody who gets the bishop to not say he is a bishop is guilty of witness tampering.

And yet nobody is talking about "witness tampering."  Not the prosecutors.  Not Mr. Lovell's past or present attorneys.  Why is that, do you think?

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Church lawyers tampering with what he can and cannot say is wrong.

Facile.

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This type of micromanagement in which the Church tends to engage will have deleterious consequences.

Does a death sentence have to get overturned before they realize that?

 

Facile.

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Or does the LDS Church need to get sued for church lawyers tampering with witnesses in child molestation investigations before they get the point?

Provocateur.  It was just a matter of time, I suppose.

I'll withdraw from further communication with you.

Thanks,

-Smac

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It is pretty common when people are subpoenaed to testify that they seek advice from their employer or the organization tied to the reason they are testifying.  Sometimes witnesses don't know that the organization.doesn't represent them and may have a conflict with them, but the organization is the one that typically can afford an attorney. 

Of course any attorney is going to advise any witness to answer just the questions that are put to them, to not offer anything and to use as few words as possible: that is routine counsel.

Any organization that uses volunteers has a legitimate interest in assuring that those volunteers do not infer or state things about the organization that are not accurate or misrepresent what the organization stands for.

And bishops have an extra obligation of confidentiality of the confessional that must inform their actions.

Now if the church told defense counsel not to directly contact or obstructed direct contact with volunteers who had personal knowledge, and didn't represent individually those witnesses (which is certainly possible, this happens all the times with governments.  No reason to think it is different with church), then I think this is wrong.   But to some extent this is the witnesses fault for not doing whatever they decided was in their best interest no matter what someone who represented someone else told them to do.

If the church attorneys really did tell them they'd be in trouble ecclesiastically or with the church if they testified contrary to what the attorrneys told them too, then that is wrong: witnesses are supposed to testify fully and truthfully, whatever their personal preferences and friends might want.   But I rather doubt that is likely.

Edited by rpn

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I have not read the article, ipad keeps bombing.  Can someone tell me if they have actual witness statements claiming what smac quoted above from Lovell or is it only a report from Lovell?  If the latter, is there any reason we should feel prone to believe him?

Legally, can witnesses be compelled to speak in sentencing towards character?

It seems strange to me that character would even enter into it, except in cases where mental/emotional defect was caused in part by ignorance of proper treatment where the person was mentally affected due to no fault of their own.  The act and motive of the crime and the harm it caused should be the determining factor in my thinking.  The guy is vicious in his treatment of one person, but because he is nice to everyone else, he shouldn't be punished as much for what he did to his victim?  Doesn't connect for me.  

 

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38 minutes ago, Calm said:

The guy is vicious in his treatment of one person, but because he is nice to everyone else, he shouldn't be punished as much for what he did to his victim?  Doesn't connect for me.  

 

I agree.  I spent some time reading about what his crime was and it is abhorrent.   He kidnapped and raped a woman (who is a mother) and then kidnapped her again and murdered her so she couldn't testify against him (he also hired men twice to murder her before he finally killed her himself).  I'm not sure how having character witnesses helps or changes the fact that he took an innocent life and committed a vicious and evil crime. 

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Edited by ALarson

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Yes, a convicted person is entitled to subpoena witnesses during the portion of a capital trial that decides whether he should be put to death.

For some the decision is just as cut and dried as previous posters have suggested.   But others are not persuaded that governments should be deciding for God when a person dies.  And still others may testify that a specific person is able to contribute something still to the world, and that society would be better off if he was allowed to do that.   The witnesses at question were expected to be in this latter group (otherwise why would the person on trial even call them).  In most states, unanimous juries decided the death penalty or not based on testimony given during the sentencing portion of the trial.

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3 hours ago, consiglieri said:

You don't take me seriously because I caught you playing with a "stacked deck," Scott.

 

I don't take you seriously because of what Smac has identified about you: You are a provocateur.

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34 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I don't take you seriously because of what Smac has identified about you: You are a provocateur.

You and Smac are cut from the same piece of cloth.

When it gets too hot, you leave the kitchen.

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