Cruel Judges Knowingly Imprisoned Innocent Woman
Denver, CO -- (ReleaseWire) -- 01/22/2020 --"It is far worse to convict an innocent man than to let a guilty man go free." U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan (1970)
You would think that if you were wrongly convicted and brought forth evidence of your innocence immediately after trial, judges and prosecutors would be interested in doing justice and would do what's necessary to ensure you aren't wrongly imprisoned. But the truth is, some judges and prosecutors are despots and have no interest in doing justice, as was the case with federal judge Christine M. Arguello and her cruel cohorts from Colorado U.S. Attorney's Office (former Colorado U.S. Attorney John Walsh and Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew T. Kirsch) and the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Judges Mary Beck Briscoe, Michael Daly Hawkins and Michael R. Murphy) who sent an innocent woman named Lawanna Clark to prison after receiving indisputable proof of her innocence. Clark was a housewife and church counselor with no criminal record. Every single church member and every person in the community who encountered Clark would vouch for her insatiable loving kindness and her unconscious willingness to give her time and money to help a person in need. Although Lawanna passed away on November 14, 2018 of a massive stroke, her grieving family believes her untimely death was, in part, brought about by the suffering and stress she endured not only from her wrongful imprisonment in 2010, but also years of continuing prosecutorial and judicial abuse and persecution of her family and church perpetrated by Arguello and Kirsch.
Clark was targeted by Kirsch and Arguello as part of their malicious prosecution against the innocent technology executives of the IRP Solutions Corporation (aka the "IRP6"). Kirsch, Arguello and the 10th Circuit's wrongful conviction of the innocent IRP6 was decried by former federal appeals Judge H. Lee Sarokin in the Washington Post (www.wapo.st/29jXqSC) and also discussed in "Federal Judges Behaving Badly (Parts 1, 2, and 3)." Kirsch's malicious prosecution against Clark, her family, and the church her mother pastors began with abusing the grand jury process.
Without a legitimate criminal cause, court records show Kirsch illegally used a 2007 IRP6 federal grand jury not only to criminalize the IRP6's failure to pay business debts, but also as a subterfuge to implicate Lawanna's mother (Pastor Rose Banks of the Colorado Springs Fellowship Church) in some crime. It bears mentioning that David Banks, one of the IRP6, is Pastor Banks' son. Although the Colorado U.S. Attorney's Office had publicly denied that the church was a target of the investigation, grand jury foreman Cynthia Haid confirmed during Clark's trial that Pastor Banks was a target of the investigation. When Kirsch couldn't get the 2007 grand jury to indict Pastor Banks or the IRP6, her daughter would have to do. Kirsch maliciously indicted Lawanna Clark on three counts of allegedly lying to the grand jury after she truthfully answered 285 questions. After going to trial to defend her innocence, Clark was acquitted on two counts and convicted on a single count of lying to the grand jury.
Kirsch claimed Clark lied when she told the grand jury that her sister (the then wife of the IRP Solutions CEO), not her, made two withdrawals from the IRP bank account. Kirsch should have concluded Clark was an honest person after it was proven she had answered 99.64% of the questions (284 out of 285) truthfully and had no reason to lie about withdrawing money from an account of which she was an authorized signer. As a sadistic despot, Kirsch wasn't concerned with Clark's honesty or innocence--all he wanted was to win-at-any-cost and the pleasure of using his power to imprison her, which is why he didn't use a handwriting expert or subpoena video footage from the bank to check the veracity of Clark's testimony. Kirsch chose to lie to the jury by telling them affirmatively that it was Clark's signature on the two bank withdrawal documents and asked them to do an unscientific visual comparison against the signature card on file at the bank. The jury did just that and erroneously concluded it was Clark's signature; they were not, after all, handwriting experts, nor did Kirsch or Arguello allow them to receive the benefit of testimony from a handwriting expert.
After trial, Clark's family hired a highly experienced handwriting expert (Judith Housley) who had actually been used in other cases by the U.S. Attorney's Office. After taking handwriting samples from both Clark and her sister Yolanda, the expert determined with a degree of scientific certainty that the signature on the bank withdrawal slips was not Lawanna's handwriting but was indeed, Yolanda's. The handwriting evidence indisputably proved that Lawanna told the truth to the grand jury. With trust in the justice system, Lawanna and her family were excited when they took the evidence to Judge Arguello. Although the federal statute (Rule 33 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure) gave Judge Arguello the option of vacating Clark's wrongful conviction "if the interest of justice so requires," neither Judge Arguello nor Kirsch showed interest in justice or evidence of Lawanna's innocence. Both Kirsch and Arguello told Clark she should have brought the evidence forward during trial and because she didn't, they were going to send her to prison, innocent or not. Kirsch, a depraved despot, then asked Judge Arguello to sentence Clark to 18 months in prison. Although the U.S. Supreme Court said the "primary constitutional duty of the judicial branch [is] to do justice in criminal prosecutions," Judge Arguello, a despot in her own right, refused to do justice and sentenced Lawanna to six months in prison. Lawanna and her family were devastated.
"With tears in her eyes, Wanna said to me, 'Mama, I can't go to prison,' recalls Pastor Rose Banks. "At that time we had not lost all hope, believing that the appellate court wouldn't send an innocent person to prison, but we soon found out the 10th Circuit judges were just as depraved as Judge Arguello and Kirsch and had no interest in doing justice for Wanna," adds Pastor Banks.
Tenth Circuit judges Briscoe, Hawkins and Murphy disregarded their constitutional duty to do justice and casually dismissed Clark's innocence and allowed her unlawful imprisonment, stating in their opinion that the handwriting evidence should've been brought earlier and claimed that the evidence "was not likely to result in an acquittal (10th Cir. case no. 10-1017, United States v. Lawanna Clark, 377 Fed. Appx. 818, 820 (10th Cir. 2010)). "Any person with barely average intelligence can see that Judge Briscoe's, Murphy's and Hawkins' claim that the handwriting evidence wouldn't result in an acquittal is an outright lie," says Lamont Banks, Executive Director of A Just Cause. "Certainly, a handwriting expert testifying that she determined with scientific certainty that the handwriting on the bank withdrawal slips was Yolanda's, not Lawanna's, would definitely result in an acquittal," says Banks. "Furthermore, if these 10th Circuit judges were interested in doing justice and concerned about the grave possibility of Clark being wrongly imprisoned, they would've remanded the case back to Judge Arguello for an evidentiary hearing where Yolanda would testify that she withdrew the money from the account and corroborated her testimony by actual bank video of the transaction," adds Banks. "Judges Briscoe, Hawkins and Murphy proved to be despots when they shirked their constitutional duty to do justice in criminal prosecutions and allowed the innocent Clark to be imprisoned," says Banks. In the 2009 Supreme Court case of Dist. Attorney's Office v. Osborne, 557 U.S. 52, 99 (2009), Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who was joined by Justices Ginsberg, Breyer and Souter, said there is no justifiable reason to imprison someone who produces actual proof of innocence.
"It seems to me obvious that if a wrongly convicted person were to produce proof of...actual innocence, no [government] interest would be sufficient to justify his continued punitive detention," said Justice Stevens. "An individual's interest in his physical liberty is one of constitutional significance," added Justice Stevens.
It wasn't only the judges and AUSA Kirsch who betrayed Lawanna Clark and their fidelity to the Constitution, but also her double-dealing attorney from Denver named Rick Kornfeld who was a very close friend of Kirsch. During the trial, Lawanna and her family told Kornfeld that they wanted to get a handwriting expert and that Yolanda was at court and willing to testify but Kornfeld strangely told them he didn't think it was necessary to win the case and that the handwriting expert would be a waste of money.
"We had doubts about Mr. Kornfeld's recommendation and wondered why he resisted the handwriting expert and me testifying," says Yolanda Banks. "But with hesitation we deferred to his judgment," adds Yolanda. "Trusting Kornfeld was probably the biggest mistake of our lives," laments Yolanda. "We found out he had teamed up with Kirsch to imprison Wanna," says Yolanda. "While our family was waiting for oral arguments to begin in a 10th Circuit courtroom, Kornfeld walked in, gave our family and evil smirk and went to sit with Kirsch as he argued that Wanna's wrongful conviction should stand and that she be sent to prison," says Yolanda.
According to the U.S. Supreme Court case of Berger v. United States, 295 U.S. 78, 88 (1935), the United States Attorney's interest in a criminal prosecution "is not that it shall win the case, but justice shall be done." "As such, [a federal prosecutor] is a peculiar and very definite sense the servant of the law, the twofold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer," declared the Supreme Court. "It is as much [a prosecutor's] duty to refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one," explained the high court.
"Innocence should always matter to all federal judges!" says Banks. "How sick is it for Judges Arguello, Briscoe, Hawkins and Murphy to casually dismiss proof of Clark's innocence, ignore the constitutional significance of her liberty and allow her to be wrongly convicted and imprisoned?" asks Banks. "The pain these judges caused to Clark and her family is unimaginable, but they obviously didn't care," exclaims Banks. "As an advocacy organization, we must get Americans to understand that while there are really good federal judges who are attached to their humanity, committed to doing justice and deeply concerned about the human consequences of their decisions, there are judges and prosecutors (like the ones in the Lawanna Clark and IRP6 case) that are conscienceless despots who have no interest in justice," adds Banks. "If this can happen to Lawanna Clark and the IRP6 it can happen (and probably has) to any innocent American family, which is why I implore all Americans, including members of Congress and President Trump to read our 'Federal Judges Behaving Badly' series (see links below) and the fact-based dossier we published online that provides much more detail, including more of the Honorable Judge H. Lee Sarokin's writings about the
injustice, as well as court documents," concludes Banks.
Federal Judges Behaving Badly (Part 1) - http://bit.ly/2RYQHmI
Federal Judges Behaving Badly (Part 2) - http://bit.ly/2YUHnBD
Federal Judges Behaving Badly (Part 3) - http://bit.ly/2six9zn
Dossier - http://bit.ly/2wBaCyJ