You’ve probably heard the phrase “ineffective assistance of counsel”. Well, how does this sound?

  • No-one wanted to represent Gregory Wilson. He was poor and the state of Kentucky was prepared to pay his lawyer $2,500 to defend him. $2,500 for one of the most onerous duties a lawyer can face? No wonder no-one stepped forward.
  • The trial judge, Raymond Lape, eventually begged for a lawyer to come forward, placing a sign on his courthouse door that read “PLEASE HELP. DESPERATE. THIS CASE CANNOT BE CONTINUED AGAIN.”
  • This plea finally got him counsel, of a sort. One of his lawyers had never tried a felony let alone a murder case; the other provided the number of a local bar, Kelly’s Keg, as his office phone.
  • These lawyers did the sort of job you might expect. They failed to interview key witnesses. They failed to subpoena witnesses. They failed to investigate evidence. They absented themselves from parts of the trial. During parts of the trial, Wilson, who has an IQ of 62, had to represent himself.

Does that sound like effective counsel to you? As a topper, during the trial, Wilson’s co-defendant, Brenda Humphrey, who testified against him, was having sex with one of Judge Lape’s colleagues, Judge James Gilliece, each day.

Gregory Wilson was scheduled to be executed on Thursday of this week. At the moment, that execution has been stayed, along with another two pending executions, because Judge Shepherd has ordered an investigation into the state regulations governing the execution protocol for people with mental retardation. The Kentucky Attorney General has asked that the stay be lifted so Wilson can be put to death on Thursday as planned. You’ll find more information at the website of the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.