There are too many stories like this. The Detroit News reports that Davontae Sanford, who spent his teen years and early 20s behind bars for multiple murders he didn’t commit, will be released today after the judge who presided over his 2008 trial vacated his sentence. It seems that he was innocent of the crimes, as a confession by someone else shortly after he was locked up should have suggested. Read the whole tale. I spit out a mouthful of coffee, however, when I got to this part, near the end of the article.
Sharing criticism for this miscarriage of justice, along with police and prosecutors, is Sanford’s original attorney, Robert Slameka. Sanford’s current attorney told reporters,
“One of the really tremendous failures of the system was his defense attorney. There was not one pretrial motion that was brought. Davontae’s confession had all the hallmarks of a false confession; (it was) never challenged. The failures are manifest, but a lot of it falls to the one person who was supposed to protect Davontae in this process, and that was his attorney. And that wasn’t done, and when that’s not done, the system sort of collapses.”
This lawyer didn’t stutter (that is, I don’t think so) but convinced Sanford to plead guilty to second-degree murder, telling him prosecutors had an iron-clad case, and that if he pleaded, he’d get out of prison earlier. While allegedly defending the teen, Slameka waived making an opening statement (maybe he DID stutter!) , and never cross-examined the detective who questioned Sanford.
Then the Detroit News notes that Slameka has been censured by the state Attorney Discipline Board for improperly representing clients…well hey, lets have a quiz!
B. Three times
C. Ten times
D. More than ten times
The answer is D. More than ten times. Slameka has been censored 17 times for incompetent and unethical representation, yet he would still be representing trusting defendants like Davontae Sanford and getting them sent to prison had his law license not been suspended after he was convicted last year of breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s house.
Wait, what??? Was that word really “suspended?” What does it take to get a lawyer disbarred in Michigan? With a license that has only been suspended, Robert Slameka will be able to practice law again.
A profession that doesn’t regulate and police its members more responsibly than this can’t be trusted to serve the public.