CSAO: State To Appeal Skakel Habeas Decision

State To Appeal Skakel Habeas Decision

John C. Smriga, State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Fairfield, announced today that the State will appeal Wednesday’s decision granting habeas corpus relief to Michael Skakel, who was convicted in 2002 for the murder of Martha Moxley.

As dictated by court rules, the appeal will be filed in the Appellate Court within 20 days following the habeas judge’s ruling on the state’s petition for certification to appeal.

The State also intends to object to any request to set bail or otherwise allow the release of Skakel from custody while the State’s appeal is pending.

The habeas court’s ruling does not rest on newly discovered evidence or any finding that Skakel is actually innocent of Moxley’s murder, Smriga stressed, but rather on a conclusion that Skakel’s attorney Michael Sherman provided inadequate representation at trial. Although the State is still in the process of reviewing the habeas court’s ruling, the State will challenge this conclusion as based on a misapplication of the law and a misconstruction of the facts.

Attorney Michael Sherman devoted four years and thousands of hours to Skakel’s defense. His preparation included countless hours seeking out and interviewing witnesses, consulting with experts, researching legal issues, reviewing the enormous amount of discovery provided by the state, and using legal means to block the state’s access to incriminating evidence. He prosecuted two pre-trial appeals. Attorney Sherman used his judgment, developed over his more than three decades as a criminal defense attorney, to make strategic decisions.

Attorney Sherman presented a defense based on a three-fold strategy: attacking the state’s evidence, presenting an alibi, and presenting a third party culpability defense. This strategy failed not because of any flaw in Sherman’s representation but because of the strength of the state’s evidence, Smriga said.

The State continues to have full confidence in the jury’s verdict. “The state’s case relied on Michael Skakel’s uncontested connection to the murder weapon, strong evidence of motive, substantial evidence of consciousness of guilt, nearly a dozen incriminating admissions and three unequivocal confessions,” Smriga said.

Content Last Modified on 1/9/2014 8:14:46 AM