The Voir Dire – Part 8

Wilcox’s Lie and Steve’s Latest Appeal

Steve filed this new writ on June 2, 2017 to ask for an evidentiary hearing based on the new evidence about Ronelle Wilcox’s potential lies by omission.

Esther Walker, the Assistant DA who currently handles habeas corpus appeals for the 555th District Court, in her response to the writ, made what I believe are fairly weak arguments, suggesting that the Ronelle Wilcox in the writ might not be the same Ronelle Wilcox who was a juror in the trial (even though the writ also included the information about Wilcox admitting in her taped phone conversation that she was the same Ronelle Wilcox, and that she had worked for CASA). Walker also, I believe, tried to sidestep the issue by saying that Cleveland Sanford asked the CASA question in a way that could have been misinterpreted as indicating current employment only, not past employment. I can’t buy that argument either. Remember the response to Sanford’s question above from the venirepersons? While some of them (#’s 15, 20, 30, and 40), answered in the present tense (“works as a provider,” “has foster kids,” “have foster children,” and “is a social worker at a hospital”), others did talk about past employment. Juror #14 said her daughter used to work for TYC, and was now a social worker. Juror #41 said her daughter “worked for several facilities.” Juror #40 said they “used to have foster children.” I think Walker’s argument doesn’t hold water.

Ronelle Wilcox is Ronelle Wilcox, no matter how much the DA might wish she weren’t. Wilcox verified that she did work for CASA, and CASA verified she did as well. When I asked Ms. Wilcox about her response, I said that the defense attorney had asked “a question about working with abused victims, and he said that people who were either CASA reps or worked in an abuse shelter, or anything like that” should identify themselves. I asked her how she had responded. None of my questions to Wilcox were worded strictly in the past tense (as in “used to work,” “have worked,” etc.), but Wilcox answered in the affirmative, saying she had been a volunteer for CASA so she must have said that in court.

Just to be clear, I don’t think she avoided raising her hand because she misinterpreted the question. I believe she did it because she didn’t want the defense attorney to have that information. If she had doubts, she could easily have raised her hand and said, “I used to volunteer for CASA, does that count?” She didn’t, though. By that action she robbed Sanford of the opportunity to question her further, and robbed Steve of a fair and impartial trial. Here’s how Sanford put it. “If the lady who was number two in the jury pool had been a CASA volunteer for four years, and I asked the question, she’s obligated to answer.” By not revealing that information, she didn’t allow him to properly decide whether she was fit to be a member of that jury, thereby thwarting the judicial process, and removing the possibility of Steve having an impartial jury.

Michael Sirois

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