Anti Death Penalty Lawyer Alice Lynd may Face Jail May 21, 2007 9:53:52 GMT -5
Post by Admin on May 21, 2007 9:53:52 GMT -5
Mark Shaffer, Portsmouth Daily Times
An anti-death penalty lawyer was ordered to be jailed on contempt charges after she refused to testify before the Scioto County grand jury on Friday afternoon. However, two hours after the hearing and before Alice Lynd could be jailed, a higher court stayed her sentence for two weeks.
Lynd, a retired attorney, was called to testify before the grand jury regarding the murder of Southern Ohio Correctional Facility Correction inmate Earl Elder, who was killed by inmates during a prison riot that began on Easter Sunday, April 11, 1993, and ended 11 days later.
Scioto County Common Pleas Judge William T. Marshall held a contempt of court hearing on Lynd after she refused to testify.
According to a motion to quash the grand jury subpoena, Lynd interviewed an inmate named Eric Girdy at the Warren Correctional Facility on June 17, 1998, in the hopes of getting her client, George Skatzes, post-conviction relief.
Girdy was sentenced to life in prison for the deaths of inmates Franklin Farrell and William Svette. Skatzes is on death row for the murder of Elder, one of nine inmates killed during the riot. Skatzes was also sentenced for the death of Corrections Officer Bobby Vallandingham and the death of inmate David Sommers, 31.
According to the document, Girdy made a statement to Lynd "in relation to what had happened to decedent, Earl Elder." Lynd stated in an affidavit that she told Girdy she would have to tell Skatzes and his lawyers about his statement, which she did. Lynd claimed attorney-client privilege in not testifying, but the court reviewed documents in Skatzes' file, and according to the motion, there was no mention of an attorney-client relationship between the lawyer and the inmate. The court added that because the affidavit for Skatzes implicated Girdy, it refuted her claim of being Girdy's attorney.
Two weeks ago, Marshall ordered Lynd to testify and bring any pertinent documents to the grand jury. When she didn't do so on Friday, she was taken to Marshall's court. Lynd said she did not mean to offend the court but said Girdy did not authorize her to talk about the case.
"He authorized you to file an affidavit in the case that Mr. Skatzes lost, so I'm not aware if there is a privilege in this case," Marshall said. "If the court of appeals affirms this decision, as I feel they will, will you refuse to testify again? Yes or no?"
Lynd said she could not answer yes or no.
When asked by Marshall what sanction the state thought appropriate, Special Prosecutor Mark E. Peipmeier asked the court to find her in contempt for her refusal and to sentence her to jail until she complied.
"This could go all the way to the Supreme Court and Ms. Lynd could still refuse," he said. "She might still just follow her own wishes and not the law. I can't think of any other sanction that will have any affect but to incarcerate her until she agrees to testify."
Lynd's attorney, Richard Kerger of Toledo, cited cases where lawyers could not be compelled to testify. Marshall said he would rather not jail Lynd but felt he had no choice.
A couple of dozen of Lynd's supporters applauded as she was sentenced to jail until she agreed to testify. Lynd was apparently prepared for the ruling, as she had her medications and toiletries in a plastic bag when a bailiff came to escort her upstairs to the Scioto County Jail.
At 4 p.m., Marshall's office received a fax from the Fourth Appellate Court ordering a stay of sentence for two weeks "so that both parties may have time to brief this issue in a more complete manner." Both parties were also ordered to file memorandums with the appeal court on the issue within 10 days. The court would then consider the respective arguments and issue a judgment either continuing or revoking the stay.
[Mark Shaffer can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235.]