February 21, 2010
Before Dr. Bishop Gets Free Court-Appointed Counsel, How About Making Dr. Bishop First Turn Over Her Novels And Other Assets?
In the landmark case of Gideon v. Wainwright, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that the government provide defense counsel to criminal defendants if they are unable to pay for their own attorney. For truly indigent defendants this Constitutional protection is essential to insure them a fair trial and an opportunity to mount a defense.
The first step to obtaining a public defender or court appointed counsel is to file an affidavit of indigency. That is simply a sworn statement by the defendant claiming she has no financial resources to hire private counsel. In the vast majority of criminal cases, the affidavits of indigency filed by criminal defendants are not challenged and are well founded.
Dr. Bishop has filed such an affidavit of indigency and in response, the Court has appointed legal counsel to represent her at no cost to her. Certainly, until the true financial condition of a criminal defendant can be ascertained, the Court should err on the side of accepting affidavits of indigency on face value. This is especially so given that criminal cases can have several critical events in the early stages that require counsel to be on board, e.g., arraingment, pretrial discovery, suppression hearings, etc.
However, the State of Alabama is not forever obligated to accept blindly Dr. Bishop's sworn claim that she is without resources to finance her own defense. When, as here, there is substantial evidence of potentially valuable assests belonging to Dr. Bishop, the State should at a minimum first require Dr. Bishop to liquidate those assets.
If there is no present market, the State should require that all rights and interest Dr. Bishop has to those assets be assigned to the State to the extent needed to cover her defense costs. If Dr. Bishop refuses, she effectively admits the value of the assets and should be denied free counsel.
The asssets I am referring to are (1) her unpublished novels; (2) her ownership interest in any patent and/or patent pending inventions; and (3) any equity interest she has in Prodigy Biosystems, Inc., the start up company created, with substantial support from UAH, to commercialize and bring to market the portable cell incubator for which she and her husband James Anderson take inventive credit on their pending patent application. It may well be that the most valuable of all these assets and the ones most easily liquidated are the unpublished novels.
The State of Alabama should move immediately on these assets, halt any publication or sale of Amy Bishop's unpublished novels and secure the value of all this property to offset the cost to the public for Dr. Bishop's defense.
If Alabama chooses not to act, then lawyers for the victims families should act. Whether it is in the criminal court or a civil court, someone needs to act quickly to obtain an injunction to preserve Dr. Bishop's intellectual property and equity assests.
Under no circumstances, should Dr. Amy Bishop or her husband and business partner James Anderson be allowed to profit one penny from Dr. Bishop's notoriety by using her deadly acts of violence as a launch pad for a new and more profitable career as a novelist.
If Alabama wants to accept Dr. Bishop's possibly specious claim of poverty, then her assets should be preserved for the benefit of her victims and their families: Dr. Gopi Podila, Dr. Maria Davis, Dr. Adriel Johnson, Dr. Joseph Leahy, Dr. Luis Cruz-Vera, Ms. Stephanie Monticciolo and Dr. Debra Moriarity.
at 3:00 PM