The Maine Board of Bar Overseers has recommended that Hancock County Assistant District Attorney Mary Kellett be suspended from the practice of law. Kellett’s case will now go before a single justice of the state Supreme Court who will decide whether to uphold the recommendation and if so, for how long Kellett’s suspension should last. Read about it here (MPBN, 12/10/12).
The decision on suspension came about because of Kellett’s behavior in the case of Vladek Filler whose wife accused him of raping her. The accusation came during Filler’s divorce and custody case. Even though Kellett managed to get a conviction of Filler in the first trial, the facts of the case were so obviously shaky that the family court gave him custody of his children. Due to Kellett’s violations of the rules of procedure, the rules of evidence and the State Bar’s rules of ethics for prosecutors, Filler’s conviction was overturned on appeal. After three years, he was finally convicted of pouring water on his wife, Ligia Filler.
In the mean time, Filler, who now lives in Georgia with his children, brought nine charges of misconduct against Kellett. The State Bar’s counsel recommended that Kellett be disciplined and now the Board of Overseers has agreed. That’s true despite the fact that Kellett has never been disciplined before. In most cases, suspension is a punishment meted out to an attorney with a history of infractions in which more lenient discipline, such as reprimand, has been ordered. That strongly suggests that, even though they weren’t part of the record regarding Filler’s complaints, the Board was aware of the many previous cases in which Kellett has abused the power of her office in an attempt to railroad men accused of sex crimes into prison even though there was insufficient evidence of guilt or even evidence of actual innocence.
Indeed, Stop Abusive and Violent Environments lists some nine separate cases in which Kellett ignored the ethical requirements of prosecutors in cases in which men were charged with sex crimes.
The simple fact is that, at least when it comes to allegations of sex crimes, Mary Kellett is a rogue prosecutor. At this far remove, her behavior looks tragically typical of a certain kind of person who’s been taught to believe that men are uniquely dangerous creatures, that women don’t lie about sexual assault and therefore that every allegation, regardless of how unbelievable, must be prosecuted with maximum vigor.
Even a casual reading of the ethical requirements for prosecutors shows that to be wrong, but it looks to have been Kellett’s MO anyway. Unlike all other attorneys, because they exercise the vast power of the state, prosecutors are ethically bound to carefully analyze cases and only pursue those allegations that are backed by probable cause to arrest and charge an individual. Other lawyers can take a shaky case to court and see if they can get a jury to rule for their client. Prosecutors may not do that, but Mary Kellett routinely ignored those ethical rules.
So, apparently, did her supervisor who did nothing to rein in her subordinate. I would argue that, once Kellett is disciplined, the District Attorney of Hancock County should be investigated for ethical violations and punished if any are found. My strong suspicion is that the attitudes displayed daily by Mary Kellett aren’t unique to her. If she had only attacked Vladek Filler, I’d say she acted alone, but her misdeeds go back many years and that can only happen when a supervisor either turns a blind eye or actively encourages unethical behavior. My guess is that Mary Kellett and her supervisor are birds of a feather. My further guess is that they share the belief in women’s innocence and men’s corruption and used the power of the District Attorney’s office to put that belief into practice.
Kellett’s Anti-Male Bias Common in Criminal, Family CourtsIt’s an unhealthy and dangerous mindset that we see all too often in the law when it tries to adjudicate disputes between men and women, fathers and mothers. Just recently, for example, we’ve seen the New Jersey psychologist Marsha Kleinman have her license to practice revoked because of her unstinting efforts to get small children to make make claims of sexual abuse against their fathers. Kleinman, like Kellett, seems never to have seen a claim of sexual abuse against a man that she didn’t believe and actively participate in fabricating evidence to prove.
Then there’s the study of social workers in Scotland. They’re the ones who are involved in investigating allegations of abuse against fathers. The study reports case after case in which social workers assumed the dad’s guilt despite obvious signs of innocence, that the mother had reason to lie, that the mother was in fact the bad actor, etc. The study was unambiguous in describing exactly the same sort of Kellett/Kleinman mindset on the part of the social workers.
Back in the United States, we need look no further than the absurd utterances of Vice President Biden on issues of domestic violence or indeed the Violence Against Women Act itself to find the same mindset. For his part, Biden has never owned up to the fact that women assault their male partners and sometimes seriously injure or even kill them. When confronted on national television by Whoopi Goldberg on that exact point, Biden literally threw up his hands.
And of course VAWA funding goes almost exclusively to female victims of domestic violence, leaving male victims to fend for themselves. The same holds true when it comes to perpetrators. Female abusers find themselves unable to get help for their violent tendencies while men who commit domestic abuse are “treated” with Duluth Model indoctrination that – you guessed it – looks very much like the Kellett/Kleinman mindset.
Kleinman’s license revocation and Kellett’s likely suspension are clearly steps in the right direction. Both say loudly and clearly that lawyers and mental health professionals adopt that mindset at their peril. The headlong rush to condemn men at all costs for real or imagined infractions may be acceptable in Women’s Studies programs, but can meet with resistance from those who understand that indoctrination to be the dangerous workings of rogue state power.
So it’s interesting that the linked-to article, courtesy of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network and reporter Susan Sharon, does its best to apologize for Mary Kellett’s misbehavior and obscure its many ill effects. Reading it, you’d have no idea about the nine previous cases in which Kellett has wasted state resources in a blind effort to convict innocent men. There’s no suggestion that Ligia Filler is the mentally unstable person she was at the time of her divorce, unfit to parent her children and who clearly leveled false charges at her husband in a vain effort to gain an advantage in their custody battle. Sharon’s article betrays not a hint of the repeated abuse of state power by Kellett and the Hancock County District Attorney’s Office.
There was a time when the liberal press, like Maine Public Broadcasting, showed a healthy mistrust of state power and criticized its overuse. In some cases, it still does. When it comes to findings of actual innocence by The Innocence Project for example, public broadcasting stations can be relied on to provide a framework that’s critical of state power. But that’s often placed in the context of the obvious and outrageous racial and class disparities with which the criminal justice system has always been rife.
What the liberal press never seems to notice is the rampant bias against men by that same system. Yes, it’s true that men commit more crimes than do women and that men commit more crimes of violence. But what goes entirely unnoticed and unmentioned is that study after study shows the system to be far more lenient toward female perpetrators than toward their male counterparts. All things being equal, a woman is far less likely than a man to receive a custodial sentence and, when she does, she serves markedly less time that he does.
This criticism of the overreaching by the state when it comes to race and class, while embracing the exact same behavior when targeting men, leaves liberal commentators twisting in a gale of their own making. Maybe the obvious-for-all-to-see contradictions in those positions will someday occur to them, or maybe not. Whatever the case, Susan Sharon’s regret at the discipline of Mary Kellett is based predictably not on her draconian abuse of state power against individuals, but on the fact that losing her license will hinder Hancock County from doing more of the same. Unsurprisingly, she quotes another prosecutor.
“Well, I think that from the perspective of a prosecutor, I’m sure that this is pretty devastating to, not just to Mary Kellett and the DA’s Office in Hancock County, but to all of us, because our job is a difficult one and we make a lot of split-second decisions. So when you have people reviewing our conduct that have less than a large familiarity with what we do, it puts us at a disadvantage – and I say that in all due respect to the finders here, to the people who made a decision.”Stated another way, let prosecutors decide whether prosecutors have done wrong; let the fox guard the hen house.
Thanks to Tatyana, Kevin and many others for the heads-up.