The Tragic Death Of Sgt. Cornel Young, Jr.
The Legal Mess That Followed Experienced By Sgt. Cornel Young Jr., Cornel Young Sr., Leisa Young, Attorney Barry Scheck And Attorney Nick Brustin In Rhode Island Courts.
|The shenanigans allowed in our courts today are nothing short
of a circus. Judges ROUTINELY overlook violations of
procedure, deliberate lies and misrepresentations and countless
other indiscretions. Many times Judges behavior and bias is
blatant and shocking. While none of these should be
overlooked, the courts use a flip-flop procedure of either
overlooking or dropping the hammer. One day they use the
"spirit of the law logic", the next day it is the "letter of the
law logic." The criteria they use for dropping the hammer or
using the "letter of the law logic" seems to be:
Complaint One: 10-22-03 PROVIDENCE -- When the suit against the City of Providence for the death of Sgt. Cornel Young Jr. resumes in U.S. District Court this morning, the plaintiff -- the slain policeman's mother, Leisa E. Young -- will be proceeding without her lead lawyer, and with only one of her three lawyers on the job. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Mary M. Lisi threw New York lawyers Barry C. Scheck and Nick Brustin off the case, leaving Young with only her Rhode Island counsel, Robert B. Mann. With Young and her lawyers under a gag order, it's not clear how her case will proceed after this setback.
Scheck, who defended O.J. Simpson and has worked on other high-profile cases, said he had never before been removed from a case in 27 years of practicing law. But he had tangled with Lisi from the beginning. Early in the trial, Lisi threatened to hold Scheck in contempt of court because he wouldn't stop talking and sit down after she excluded some evidence that he wanted to present.What aroused her wrath on Friday was Scheck's statement he had "no choice but to agree" with a defense stipulation that a certain diagram was inaccurate. On Friday, he asked Lisi to allow the plaintiff to back out of that stipulation because testimony had shown that the diagram was in fact correct. Lisi rejected that motion and said that it was a "misrepresentation" of the facts to say that the plaintiff had "no choice" in the matter. Later in the day, after Leisa Young and many other observers had already left the courthouse, U.S. District Judge Mary M. Lisi dropped her bombshell -- that she was kicking Scheck and his partner off the case.
Cornel Young Jr., a black man, was killed outside a Providence
diner on Jan. 28, 2000. He was off duty and in civilian clothes at
the diner when he brandished a gun to assist uniformed officers at
a disturbance. Two white police officers, not recognizing Young,
shot him. While the officers were cleared of criminal
wrongdoing, Young's mother has filed a civil-rights suit against
the City of Providence. Leisa Young has filed a $20-million
civil-rights lawsuit against the city.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Mary M. Lisi removed "Dream Team" attorney Barry C. Scheck and Nick Brustin from the case because they submitted a memorandum that she said contained "false assertions." The plaintiff's last remaining lawyer, Robert Mann, yesterday asked Lisi to reconsider that decision, but the judge refused. Lisi stood by her decision. She took issue with a memo stating that the judge had told Leisa Young that she "had to agree" to a statement about where a Camaro was parked at the scene of the shooting. Scheck has said the memo merely stated that it was clear he couldn't use a diagram without a "stipulation" about the Camaro's location. But Lisi said the memo contained "false assertions" about her prior rulings and statements to lawyers. "Such transgressions are the most serious that face any court and clearly are the most serious that any lawyer knows he or she must not violate," Lisi told Mann. "And the reason for that is really quite simple. Lawyers are officers of the court. The court and all the participants in the action, as well as the public, have a right to expect, and do expect, that the statements and the assertions by counsel are true." "This court," Lisi said, "cannot permit counsel who engage in mendacious behavior to appear before it."
After the jurors returned, Lisi told them: "Mr. Mann will conduct the direct examination, and you will probably notice that Mr. Scheck and Mr. Brustin are not here. You should attach no particular significance to the fact that Mr. Scheck and Mr. Brustin are not here and not participating in the trial."
Mr. Mahone of DARE also pointed out that on Friday Lisi told Scheck and Brustin: "Don't ever come back on one of my cases." Mahone said, "That's ridiculous. This isn't Judge Judy. This isn't Judge Wapner. She obviously has animosity toward Scheck or what he represents." 6 out of the 10 jurors heard about these events in the news and Lisi still felt a fair trial was not compromised. Mann asked for a delay of one week to catch up on the 2 dismissed lawyer's work. Lisi denied it only giving Mann half a day.
Barry C. Scheck clashed repeatedly with Lisi from the outset of the trial. After the jury was selected, Scheck argued that there was evidence that the two officers who shot and killed Leisa Young's son had contradicted themselves about whether they knew the race of the man they shot before they pulled the trigger. Lisi refused to allow the evidence to be introduced, calling Scheck's arguments regarding the officers' statements "absolutely inarticulate," "a mishmash," and "a moving target." "The factual basis for your contention is simply not there," Lisi said. "May I reply?" Scheck asked. "No," Lisi said. "I'm making a ruling." Scheck continued to talk, prompting Lisi to say, "Mr. Scheck, sit down." Scheck remained standing, saying, "Most respectfully . . ." "Take him out," Lisi told a court security officer. "Mr. Scheck, you are in contempt. Sit down or leave." As a court officer approached, Scheck said, "I will sit down."
When court resumed the next day, Lisi admonished Scheck, threatening to hold him in contempt or remove him from the case if he continued being "defiant" and "disrespectful." The clash between judge and lawyer mounted as Scheck questioned witnesses and Lisi often upheld objections made by the city's lead lawyer, Joseph F. Penza Jr. Scheck would sometimes fail to follow instructions from Lisi, at times using the words "grand jury" to describe prior proceedings in which the two officers who shot Young had testified. Neither officer was indicted. Four times, he asked one of the officers involved in the shooting about his testimony before "the grand jury," bringing rebukes from Lisi who had forbidden him from using those words.
But what got Scheck and his New York law associate Nick Brustin tossed from the case was what the judge said was "a clear misrepresentation" they had made in a memo they had submitted to the court regarding a diagram of the shooting scene. The memo said Lisi had told them they "had to agree" to a stipulation about where a Camaro at the scene was parked when the shooting occurred.
Carl T. Bogus, a law professor at the Ralph Papitto School of Law at Roger Williams University, says he has read Scheck's memo and "in my judgment, it is not a disrespectful memorandum, and I don't think it reasonably provides a basis for revoking their right to appear in court on this matter or for sanctions of any of the lawyers who signed it." "This to me," said Bogus, "appears to be part of a troubling pattern in federal district court in Rhode Island of revoking permission to practice because the judge takes offense to criticism, even appropriate criticism by counsel."