POST-CONVICTION-RELIEF PETITION in the DEBRA MILKE DEATH PENALTY CASE.
Mr. Rosenquist represented Debra Milke, after she was convicted of conspiiracy to murder her son and sentenced to death, and after her Direct Appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court was denied.
Mr. Rosenquist represented Debra in a"Post-Conviction-Relief Petition" (PCR), in the State Courts. After the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed her conviction. They issued an Execution Order. Mr. Rosenquist had the Execution Order stayed by the Federal Court, and filed the initial Habeas Corpus Petition in her case.
The only evidence against Debra was a confession she porportedly made to a police officer, that she always denied. The confession was suspect, because the officer did not record it, even though his supervisor told him to, and it was not witnessed, even though there was another police officer outside the room.
After months of investigating the officer's background, - Going through all the court cases the officer was involved in during his career, Mr. Rosenquist discovered eight cases the officer was found to be lying, by a Judge, in his sworn testimony.
The Prosecution is required to provide defense counsel with all exculpatory evidence (evidence beneficial to the defense) they know of, or should have known with due diligence. The evidence of the officer's lack of credibility was not provided to Debra's defense attorney, so at trial the jury did not hear this discrediting evidence, which was critical, because her guilt ended up being one of credibility, for the jury to decide - Believe Debra, or Believe the officer.
For over a year Debra was held in the county jail awaiting trial. The head jail Psychiatrist opinioned that Debra did not have the capacity or will to kill her own child. Debra was terrified of going to trial. The psychiatrist worked with her during this time, teaching her to control her feelings.
He was supposed to testify at trial, but did not. He would have been able to
explain why she had a "flat affect" (Show no emotion) when she testifed, because of what he had taught her.
The trial ended up being her word against the officer's word. The scales were tilted toward believing the officer, because the jury did not hear evidence of the officer's lack of credability, and because of Debra's 'Flat Affect.' So she was found guilty, and received the death penalty.
Debra's Habeas Corpus Petition went to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, where the Court reversed, and remanded her case for a new trial, because the discrediting evidence against the police officer was not provided to her trial attorney, and it was critcal for the jury to hear.
During the new trial proceedings, the police officer who said Debra confessed to him, advised the Court he was going to "Take the 5th" (Refuse to testify, because it might incriminate him).
A 'Motion to Dismiss,' on Double Jeopardy grounds, was filed. The Motion was based on the continuing egregious conduct of the County Attorney's Office, in using the same officer in subsequent cases, without divulging to defense counsel the officer's history of lying.
A 'Denial' by the trial court was appealed to the Arizona Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals granted the Motion and "Dismissed Debra's case with Prejudice," (She could not be tried again). The Court had determined the County Attorney's Office and the Police, were in fact, guilty of continuing egregious misconduct.
I am proud to quote from the draft of a legal treatise written by Professor Gary Stuart, a well known scholar on Constiutional law. The treatise is titled "The Anatomy of a False Comfession, The Debra Milky case," which has just been publishished by the American Bar Association. It referenced the work I did on Debra's case, as the turning point in Deba's case, and why she is alive today: Professor Stuart wrote:
“Debra Milke’s first real break was the appointment of Anders Rosenquist as her post-conviction lawyer in 1995. Prior to this she had not been represented by a lawyer nearly as talented, or as disciplined as Rosenquist. He had 25 years of solid trial and appellate work behind him, was board certified by the Arizona Bar Association as a specialist in criminal law, and had the right mix of intellect and investigative focus to take her case to a new level. His work set the stage that eventually led to her habeas corpus petition at the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.”
The last significant criminal trial Mr. Rosenquist handled was in Federal Court, where six people were charged with multiple counts of Security Fraud. They were accused of running a scheme that stole fourteen million dollars from investors. Mr. Rosenquist represented the vice-president of the company. The president of the company, who mastermined the scheme, agreed to testify against the other defendants. The trial lasted six weeks, and ended with a dead locked jury. A new trial was ordered "only" against Mr. Rosenquist's client. In the interim Mr. Rosenquist negotiated with the District Attorney and FBI Agents, and obtained a result, wherein all charges were dismissed against his client, with prejudice.
The last significant civil trial Mr. Rosenquist handled was when he represented Meadowlark Lemon of Harlem Globetrotters fame, in a trial against the owner of the Globetrotters and FUBU (A clothing designer) for using his name, number, and image on a line of clothing, without his permission. The jury awarded Meadowlark $800,000.00 in damages.
The last significant civil settlement Mr. Rosenquist was involved in was a paraplegic injury case, against Maricopa County and the City of Phoenix. It was settled for $3.5 million.