Thursday, October 25, 2012

Kevin Pennington Hate Crime Trial Official Statement

Kentucky Equality
Federation Vice President
of Legal, Attorney Jillian Hall
As a public advocate service, Kentucky Equality Federation brings hate and related crimes against minority groups, including the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and intersex community, to the attention of the county attorney, commonwealth's attorney, or U.S. attorney as appropriate. Kentucky Equality Federation serves the victim in all things, including, but not limited to Kentucky Equality Federation controlling media access to the victim, making legal and mental resources available, and preparing the victim for court.

Once a trial begins, it is up to the prosecutors to make their case for justice.

Rose Law Office
Jill Hall Rose, Kentucky
Equality Federation Legal
"The acquittal of these individuals from the hate crime aspect of this case is truly a disappointment," stated Chairman of the Board Brandon Combs. "This is a failing by prosecutors to make their case beyond a reasonable doubt, but this should serve as a rallying point around which the LGBTI community can gather and we thank the U.S. Department of Justice for responding to our request to prosecute this case. If there is any positive to take away from this ruling, it is that Mr. Pennington did receive some measure of justice, albeit not what he deserved."

"I think it is important that the U.S. attorney took this case to send a message that this type of conduct will not be tolerated," stated Attorney Jill Hall Rose, Kentucky Equality Federation’s legal representation. "The enormous burden of proof, especially in such a high profile case is on the government and the jury found some reasonable doubt as to the hate crime statute despite the compelling testimony given. This is not a setback, the fact that Kentucky Equality Federation successfully lobbied the U.S. Justice Department to prosecute this case and that U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey ordered it to be prosecuted says a lot about Kentucky and the United States; hate motivated crimes will not be tolerated. U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey has effectively put Kentucky 'on notice.' I admire Jordan Palmer for sticking up for people and the important work everyone that Kentucky Equality Federation does because they are all volunteers, none of them are paid."

Kentucky Equality Federation’s Vice President of Legal, Attorney Jillian Hall agreed.

"I do continue to believe this was a hate crime," said Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "Beating someone, or trying to kill them, all the time shouting anti-gay slurs..... if that isn't a hate crime, I'm not sure the jury completely understood the definition of the law. I agree with our attorneys that this was not a setback, though this is not the verdict we wanted, they still face life in prison. Tomorrow someone may be arrested for a hate crime that results in a conviction, each case is unique. Though the defense was ultimately unsuccessful in getting the law declared unconstitutional, the defense was successful in arguing about low IQ's, drug addition, sexual attraction, etc. This does not negate the inescapable conclusion however that yelling anti-gay slurs while assaulting someone is by definition a hate crime, just as it would be (by definition) had they yelled defamatory terms about any other protected class while attempting to murder them. The assertion that one of the people who assaulted Kevin Pennington has an IQ of 75 and unable to plan the assault, but can apparently participate in it is repugnant."

U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove ruled that Congress stretched their authority to just being below 'beyond Congressional authority,' with the federal hate crime statute.

"We also take offense for the inflammatory comment from the defense that U.S. President Obama and the federal government bow to special interest groups," stated Southeastern Kentucky Regional Director Will Taylor. "Kentucky Equality Federation is not a 'special interest group,' we seek equality and justice under law, nothing more, nothing less. U.S. President Obama knows this, Kentucky Governor Beshear knows this (with his executive order protecting LGBTI people from discrimination in Kentucky government), and U.S. Attorney Harvey knows this. The defense suggesting that Kevin Pennington was doing all of this for media attention in addition to bringing the U.S. president into the argument whom the defense said 'is unpopular in Kentucky and lost badly here four years ago,' is to me us both shocking and revolting, but the jury apparently bought some of the argument."

Palmer concluded: "We heard about the assault on Kevin Pennington the day after it happened from a member of his family. We do not seek out victims, they must be ready and willing to contact us (and feel safe and comfortable in doing so). Though I find the jury's reasoning questionable given the anti-gay testimony in regards to the hate crime, this is our judicial system and we must live with the verdict. Any additional questions should be directed to our Legal Team at (859) 263-3560, or (877) KEF-5775 – Ext. 5."

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lawsuit Filed Against Warren County Regional Jail - Gay Assault/Hate Crime

Kentucky Equality Federation today confirmed that a lawsuit and demand for jury trial had been filed on behalf of Brandon Milam who was assaulted in the Warren County Regional Jail.  (previous press release)

The attached lawsuit will be served by Monday, October 15, 2012. (view)

On September 20, 2012 a conference call between Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer, the victim, Brandon Milam, and attorneys at the Rose Law Offices took place to finalize details. The Rose Law Offices asked Mehr Fairbanks Trial Lawyers to join them in the lawsuit.  Another meeting took place to finalize details in Lexington.

The victim's father contacted Kentucky Equality Federation for assistance immediately after the assault with Brandon Milam making contact immediately after he was released to serve as his public advocate. After being unable to reach a settlement with the Warren County Jailer, Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer began working with the Rose Law Office, joined by Mehr Fairbanks Trial Lawyers after in-house attorney and Vice President of Legal Jillian Hall warned the jail they stood "substantial civil liability."

Kentucky Equality Federation remains the public advocate for Mr. Milam, all media inquiries must be directed to Kentucky Equality Federation at (877) KEF-5775 – Ext. 5. Media may not contact the victim; the lawsuit was filed by Kentucky Equality Federation’s outside legal representation and the personal legal representation of Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer, the Rose Law Offices, joined by Mehr Fairbanks Trial Lawyers.

Kentucky Equality Federation Vice President of Legal, Attorney Jillian Hall, President Jordan Palmer, and Regional Director Jeff Johnson have maintained contact with Brandon Milam and his father since the assault occurred.

"We take these things seriously, and had the Warren County Regional Jail or officials from the Commonwealth responded to our demands this lawsuit may not have been necessary. The lawsuit speaks for itself, jails have a responsibility to protect their inmates, this could have been anyone's child, mother, father, cousin, etc. arrested in error, or something later dismissed by a judge. While in the custody of a jail the protection of inmates are without question the responsibility of the County and the Commonwealth.  Jailers cannot have a dismissive disregard for their protection by simply dismissing jail violence, it is after all a jail, not a prison." said Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer and Vice President of Legal, Attorney Jillian Hall in a joint statement.

This brutal attack against Mr. Milam has also been reported to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation as a hate crime.

The Warren County Regional Jail is being sued for:

  1. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress and Outrageous Conduct 
  2. Jailer's Breach of Duty and Negligence under KRS 71.020 et seq. 
  3. Negligence 
  4. Common Law Bad Faith and Breach of Fiduciary Duty 
  5. Negligent Supervision and Negligent Hiring 

Again, we refer you to our previous press release about Mr. Milam:

The story was also covered in detail by the Daily News in Bowling Green:

As defined:
Jail: A holding place for persons awaiting trial to whom bail is not granted or awaiting arraignment.
Prison: A place for persons sentenced after conviction or any place of confinement or involuntary restraint.

Brandon Milam is now under a Stage I Media Blackout, the highest issued by Kentucky Equality Federation, meaning he will not speak to any reporter without the expressed permission of Kentucky Equality Federation.