A few months after the trial, in 2002, Chris was back in front of Judge Harkey in the Jackson County Circuit Court with an appeal attorney hired by his aunt. Attorney Daphne Pattison’s first task was to represent Chris for a new trial hearing. She read her argument to the court, and, instead of listening to the DA’s argument before making a decision, the judge immediately denied the motion. It was a continuation of the blatant bias shown during the trial. Attorney Pattison-Silverman then filed an appeal in the Mississippi Court of Appeals.
Chris received copies of the filed documents along with letters from the attorney. Before each filing, he spoke to Attorney Pattison on the phone. She never guaranteed an outcome, though felt good about getting a new trial. The blatant neglect by the Public Defender’s Office resulted in many significant errors, each one serious enough to warrant a reversal. All-together, analyzed and picked apart for contention, her well-written legal brief ensured the best possible chance for Chris to get back in court.
The government filed counter arguments soon after. The judge found reason to uphold the murder conviction, and issued a decision for the court to affirm.
Chris, his aunt and Attorney Pattison knew the court was wrong. They worked together to file a motion for reconsideration, hoping to convince the judge to reverse the decision. The effort proved fruitless; the Court denied the subsequent appeal, as well.
To file in the Mississippi Supreme Court, Chris’ aunt had to hire a different appeal attorney. Briley Richmond is a skilled analyst and wordsmith, a great appeals attorney. The legal arguments he composed after interviewing Chris were on point and compelling. The appeal brief he prepared held promise.
By this point, Chris knew what to expect: the waiting, not getting his hopes up, how to handle a denial. So. when the Mississippi Supreme Court sided with the government, he wasn’t surprised. His aunt, however, was livid and determined. She decided to file once more, hiring Attorney Richmond to try the same Court again. Attempt #2 in that court was denied as well.
Continue below to find a listing of the arguments and read the appeal documents.
Pattison Appeal Arguments
“The only evidence submitted to the jury linking Christopher Roy to a murder is the prosecutor’s testimony through leading questions to J.P. May, a young man who thought if he said what they wanted, he could go home…The physical evidence all ties May to the death…Mr. May’s testimony is the only evidence of murder. Taking into consideration, the death threats, the location and time of the alleged crime, and the lack of existence of a murder weapon along with the question of Mr. May’s credibility, the verdict of murder is against the overwhelming weight of the evidence.” – Pattison Appeal, pps. 2-6
Is it the standard of the American justice system to sentence people to life in prison based solely on testimony that is full of contradictions, prosecutorial bias and falsities, conflicting statements, and credibility issues?
“During the testimony of the chief investigator, the Court allowed photographs of the dead body, the decaying remains infested with insects placed in a grave, [along with another photograph of the mud-covered body of the deceased] to be presented to the jury. These photographs had absolutely no evidentiary value, and if there was any evidentiary value, it was outweighed by the prejudicial and inflammatory nature of the photographs. The defense objected on those grounds, and the State did not give any purpose to be served by introducing the photograph[s]…The ruling was further compounded by the fact that the Court allowed the photograph[s] to be introduced through the testimony of the deceased’s girlfriend who was clearly emotional about his death. The State alleged that the photograph[s were] necessary to prove identity of the deceased. Other less inflammatory evidence was available to prove identity, namely the deceased’s jewelry.”
The Defense offered an instruction advising the jury of the defendant’s right to anticipate an attack by Mr. Nguyen, Instruction D-14. as discussed, Mr. Nguyen had threatened to kill Christopher Roy on numerous occasions….The evidence indicated that Christopher Roy’s actions in striking first resulted from an attempt to protect himself. This issue was crucial to Mr. Roy’s theory of his defense, and the jury was not advised of the applicable law.”
As noted throughout the documentation on Ue, the only ‘evidence’ disputing self-defense is the testimony of the prosecution through a witness aiding himself in obtaining a lesser sentence. Failure to instruct the jury on key aspects of the Defense’ counter evidence opened the door to a tainted verdict.
The defendant was represented by the Office of the Public Defender at trial. The Defendant received ineffective assistance of trial counsel. The specific acts and omissions are listed below:
1. Counsel failed to pursue a motion for change of venue due to media coverage and failed to request that jurors having read newspaper articles be struck for cause and accepted on the jury three persons who had read newspaper articles.
2. Counsel failed to adequately investigate the defense and call witnesses who appeared to testify – [including 13 people named by Christopher, and several additional individuals who came of their own volition, to testify both to his own character and to that of Dong Nguyen, some of which had been directly threatened by Nguyen themselves]. Having Chris testify without any witnesses appeared as a self-serving act to the jury and failure to call witnesses who were readily available in the courthouse clearly undermines the confidence in the verdict.”
3. Counsel failed to secure an independent forensic evaluation of the cause of death. Both Mr. May and Chris testified that a plastic bag was put over Dong’s head/face after his death, however Dr. Paul McGarry testified for the State that the cause of death was asphyxia and then refused to confirm that an altercation was evidence of both the bruising and injuries of the deceased. Dr. McGarry introduced a possible theory to the jury that a plastic bag was a murder weapon. Had defense counsel interviewed Dr. McGarry prior to trial, the need for a defense expert witness would have been affirmed.
4. The damaging testimony that led to the conviction of Chris was presented to the jury solely through the leading questions of the prosecution with only rare (two) objections from the defense. The Court would have required the prosecution to present its case through the witness had the defense required the State to do so.
5. Counsel failed to adequately attack the Chief prosecution witnesses. Counsel did not cross-examine JP May about discrepancies in his statements to police, or regarding the method the police [used to take] his statement…[they also failed to call on] his girlfriend to address the [credibility] issue of JP in front of the jury – [an aspect she] previously testified [to] in the motion hearing….and, counsel failed to attack the credibility of Jonathan “Red” Hill with witnesses who could testify to his continuing drug trade with the deceased’s gang (and the fact that “Red” was the one who owed Dong $7,000 and fled the state to avoid being killed by the 211 gang).
6. Counsel failed to object to hearsay testimony by Detective Louie Miller who stated what he was told by JP May.
On August 17, 2001, the Defendant filed his Motion to Dismiss Counsel and Appoint New Counsel along with his request that the motion be heard at a time designated by the Honorable Court. The Defendant then followed-up his Motion with a letter to Judge Harkey dated September 20 with the same request. The Court never addressed the Motion or subsequent letter. In order to protect the Defendant’s right to effective assistance of counsel, the Court should have addressed the Defendant’s request.
Note: Chris actually filed two Motions to Dismiss Counsel and Appoint New Counsel – neither were addressed by the Court.
Richmond Appeal Arguments
Additional Argument Notes
Jonathan “Red” Hill and Kim Nguyen, were allowed to witness the trial from the courtroom audience prior to testifying raising the issue of the introduction of bias and/or false witness testimony into the trial proceedings. Defense’s witness, Braden Shirley, was not allowed to sit in the audience, and was made, by the court, to wait in a conference room until he was needed.
Chris’ aunt, Wendie Cook, attempted to retain Attorney Richard Conant to replace the public defender Chris tried to fire via two motions to dismiss counsel, and a letter sent to Judge Harkey.
Judge Harkey not only refused to acknowledge the motions and letter sent to the court by Chris requesting that new Counsel be appointed, he also denied Attorney Conant’s request for a continuance, saying the defendant already had a lawyer and a trial date.
As it stands the right to counsel and the right to effective assistance of counsel are fundamental. A “trial judge must not only refrain from creating a situation of ineffective assistance, but [is also] obligated to inquire whether [a] defendant’s counsel, because of a possible conflict of interest or otherwise, is rendering or may render ineffective assistance” (Annotation 10 – Sixth Amendment, Find Law).
Despite filing two motions to the court, and sending a personal letter to the Judge which were ignored, Chris was told by the court after the trial that it was his duty – even being a teenager unaware of the rules of the court – to stand up during the first day of the trial and proclaim he wanted a new attorney once again, and because he failed to do this, denying him proper representation was justified. Chris’ rights have been unduly violated by the Court’s actions.
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