A Kansas judge fired a 34-year employee of the court — nine months before her retirement — after she showed a wrongly convicted man a publicly available court document on DNA testing, the Associated Press reported.
Robert Nelson, 49, used the information from Sharon Snyder, 70, to prove he didn’t commit a rape that would have kept him behind bars for 70 years.
Nelson filed a motion in 2009 requesting DNA testing not available when the court convicted him 25 years earlier in 1983. Jackson County judge David Byrn, the same one who put him in prison, twice denied his request.
At that point, Nelson’s sister got in touch with Snyder. The great-grandmother provided Nelson with a case where a judge sustained a motion for retrospective DNA testing.
With this new information Nelson tried a third time, and Byrn granted his motion and appointed a lawyer from the Innocence Project to represent him. Last month, the Kansas City police department’s crime lab excluded Nelson as a source for the evidence found in the case.
Nelson calls Snyder his “angel,” the AP reported.
In his letter dismissing Snyder, the judge said she’d crossed a line by giving advice to a defendant.
“The document you chose was, in effect, your recommendation for a Motion for DNA testing that would likely be successful in this Division,” according to the letter quoted by the AP. “But it was clearly improper and a violation of Canon Seven … which warns against the risk of offering an opinion or suggested course of action.”
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