Standing trial for allegedly stabbing your significant other to death is not where anyone wants to be. Being unable to afford your own atttorney adds a whole new layer of stress to the whole “on trial for murder” issue. Now, add to the mix a public defender who takes a photo of the underwear your family brought you to wear during trial and posts it to Facebook.
Oh yeah, we should mention that the lawyer here is a woman, and the murder defendant is a man. And the underpants were leopard print.
CHECK YOU ineffective assistance of counsel….
A Miami-Dade judge declared a mistrial in a murder case Wednesday after a defense lawyer posted a photo of her client’s leopard-print underwear on Facebook.
The defendant: Fermin Recalde, accused of stabbing his girlfriend to death in Hialeah in 2010.
Recalde’s family brought him a bag of fresh clothes to wear during trial. When Miami-Dade corrections officers lifted up the pieces for a routine inspection, Recalde’s public defender Anya Cintron Stern snapped a photo of Recalde’s briefs with her cellphone, witnesses said.
While on a break, the 31-year-old lawyer posted the photo on her personal Facebook page with a caption suggesting the client’s family believed the underwear was “proper attire for trial.”
Although her Facebook page is private and can only be viewed by her friends, somebody who saw the posting notified Miami-Dade Judge Leon Firtel, who declared a mistrial.
On one level, it’s pretty ridiculous and kind of funny. But on another — what the hell, lady? Some people already look down upon PDs to begin with, and she’s not exactly helping the cause.
At least one of her Facebook friends had the guts to report what had happened. (A potential lesson there: your Facebook “friends” may be much more willing to drop a dime than your real friends.)
Stern was fired from her job faster than you can say “leopard print boxer briefs” and start giggling uncontrollably. But what’s particularly upsetting is that Recalde had unsuccessfully tried to get new lawyers for some time. It took the kind of Facebook misconduct usually reserved for particularly dense jurors to make that happen:
Also of concern to her superiors: an earlier post on her Facebook that appeared to call into question the client’s innocence.
Cintron Stern, a lawyer since 2008, could not be reached for comment.
The decision for a mistrial came after Recalde had sought, unsuccessfully, several times to fire his lawyers.
“In light of what took place in court, where the defendant was present and requested once again that his attorney be replaced, and considering the totality of the circumstances, the court granted that motion and also granted a motion for mistrial,” according to court spokeswoman Eunice Sigler.
Whether a jury eventually finds Recalde guilty or not guilty, at least he can be represented by a lawyer more interested in his legal arguments than in his undergarments.
Lawyer’s Facebook photo causes mistrial in Miami-Dade murder case [Miami Herald]
Mocking lawyer posts photo of her client’s leopard print underwear on Facebook causing mistrial in murder case [Daily Mail]