The charade continues in Connecticut where the state Supreme Court today hears more argument on whether serial killer Michael Ross can waive the right to file habeas petitions and submit to death.
Ross was scheduled to be killed earlier this year; after the United States Supreme Court refused to intervene, a federal judge brow-beat Ross' lawyer into stopping the execution. Special counsel was appointed in the state court to reexamine whether Ross was making a knowing, voluntary and intelligent waiver of his right to drag out the proceedings ad infinitum.
Appointed was a man named Thomas Groark, a senior partner at a white shoe firm, Day, Berry & Howard, LLP, a show-me-the-money bunch of lawyers who appear in court but rarely, but bill profoundly. Day, Berry's Practice Areas Groark lists his specialities as contracts, insurance and securities. Groark
A state court judge found Ross competent to waive his potential habeas claims -- again. Now Groark is before the Supreme Court where prosecutors are challenging even his standing to appear on behalf of a client who does not want him. Let Me Argue, Please!
The Supreme Court will let him argue, and will then find Ross competent to have waived. I'll stake my license on that. Then watch what happens next.
Why not an ineffective assistance of counsel claim as to Groark and his firm? Aren't capital counsel supposed to have special qualifications? That is the case in federal court, at least for appointment as Criminal Justice Act counsel, and the ABA is considering adopting such a standard for all counsel in death cases.
Picking Groark and his firm to serve as special counsel in a death case is the rough equivalent to selecting the Public Defender's Office to appear before the Securities and Exchange Commission. Who will raise the claim of per se ineffective assistance of counsel?
As if to prove the ineffectiveness claim, Groark told the Supreme Court today that Ross is competent. Even so, he didn't voluntarily waive. Quick: Someone hand Groark a contract or something that he can actually understand. Groark in Wonderland
And so it goes, on and on and on and on ... We ought either to abandon the death penalty and the impossible conundrums it poses, or, if we must keep it, let Mr. Ross have his say and simply be put to death.