Counsel for the Kentucky Equality Federation, Jill Hall Rose, has reviewed the court proceedings in the Jackson District Court involving Cheyenne Williams on behalf of the Federation. It has been determined that while the Federation respects the ruling of the Court, there may have been certain irregularities within the proceedings that should be reviewed to ensure that the victim was not treated differently due to her sexual orientation.
These irregularities include the following:
1. SUPPORTERS OF THE DEFENDANTS
During the preliminary hearing on April 29, 2010, 8-10 individuals supporting the Defendants, none of whom were witnesses, parties, court personnel or attorneys, were allowed to sit in the jury box in courtroom during the hearing to visually show support of the Defendants. These seats were directly in front of the Judge and separate from the public area of the courtroom. Further, these individuals were completely dressed in white as a sign of support for the Defendants. This dress was coordinated by the Defendants, and all of the Defendants’ supporters in the public area of the courtroom were similarly dressed in white. These 8-10 individuals were allowed to remain in the nonpublic area of the Court room instead of the area designated for the public. This is highly unusual and creates a perception of favoritism for the Defendants.
It appears that the charges were not promptly and fully investigated by law enforcement. While the incident took place on 4/16/10, the officer who testified at the hearing stated that he had still not completed his investigation.
3. PRIVATE COMPLAINT
No officer would support the charges and therefore, Ms. Williams was required to bring the Complaint herself through a private complaint.
4. VICTIMS ADVOCATE
Jackson County does not have a victims advocate that serves the court system. While this is likely a funding issue, the Kentucky Equality Federation has had to fill that role for Miss Williams.
5. STATE HATE CRIME
At no point, has the prosecutor or court recognized that one of the charges upon which the Judge found probable cause, namely fourth degree assault, can be subject to the “hate crime” statute under KRS 532.031. Pursuant to this statute, the Judge may consider whether the offense the victim’s sexual orientation was primary factor in the commission of the crime in sentencing, including the denial of probation.
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Kentucky Equality Federation also received a voice-mail stating gay and lesbian people are not welcome in Kentucky at 1:08 PM on Fri, Apr 30 2010. The message was directed to our President and the Discrimination, Hate Crimes, and School Bullying Committee.
Click here to listen.