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Chicken-Fried News: Broken justice

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INGVARD ASHBY
  • Ingvard Ashby

Remember in 2016 when Oklahoma overwhelmingly voted in favor of State Question 780, which allows the more than 60,000 Oklahomans convicted of simple drug possession to seek parole and expunge felony drug possession?

It wasn’t until 2019 that Gov. Kevin Stitt retroactively signed the state question into law.  The state district attorney’s association and local law enforcement pushed back against the bill for years, arguing that they were for common-sense criminal justice reform as long as it didn’t require more work for them.

The inner workings of the movement against criminal justice reform were revealed last week as William Muller, a former investigator for Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office under DA David Prater, filed a "notice of claim” alleging Prater ordered improper investigations against leaders of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform as part of a potential wrongful termination lawsuit, according to the Associated Press.

The claim alleges that Prater obtained a grand jury subpoena against the criminal justice reform group led by Republican former state House Speaker Kris Steele without probable cause. Muller’s attorney told the Associated Press that he was fired after he refused to continue the investigation against the group and notified Oklahoma Association of Police Chiefs, making it more difficult for Muller to get another job.

The claim states that the DA thought “any reform to criminal justice was bullshit,” which goes against the District Attorneys Association’s talking points and sounds like a guy who probably has a lot of stock in private prisons.

Prater told KFOR that the allegations are “ridiculous” and hit them with the old “if I wasn’t so busy, I’d be really able to mount my defense” claim.

“This was carefully orchestrated to be released during a week, when I would be busy, in a courtroom,” Prater said in a statement.

Ah, yes, the one week out of the year that a district attorney might be in a courtroom. Because we should totally provide the DA more chances to prove his innocence than the thousands of people he has locked up for nonviolent offenses.

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