Court rejects man's police perjury appeal

By Ed White

Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- The Michigan Supreme Court declined last Thursday to hear the appeal of a drug dealer who argued his conviction should be overturned because a prosecutor and judge allowed police to lie from the witness stand during his first trial.

In a 4-2 decision without explanation, the court declined to intervene on behalf of Alexander Aceval, 44, who is in prison until at least 2015 for cocaine trafficking. His first trial ended in a hung jury, and he pleaded guilty during a second trial.

While Aceval was in prison, his lawyer, David Moffitt, learned about the misleading testimony. Moffitt has repeatedly argued misconduct at the first trial was so severe that authorities should be barred from ever prosecuting Aceval on the drug charges.

But the state appeals court and, now, the Supreme Court have turned him down.

"The high court's approval of prosecutorial and judicial corruption as a means to obtaining convictions brings Michigan's justice system to national disrepute," Moffitt said last Thursday after the two-page order was released.

"To brush this corruption aside without comment is a disservice to the public," Moffitt said.

Retired Wayne County Judge Mary Waterstone, former prosecutor Karen Plants and two Inkster police officers are awaiting trial on perjury-related charges for their actions during the Aceval case.

Waterstone has said she allowed lies at trial to protect the safety of an informant, Chad Povish, who had hoped to get thousands of dollars after tipping police to a 103-pound cocaine deal.

Justice Stephen Markman, a former U.S. attorney, wrote a brief but sharp dissent in the Supreme Court's order, saying it was an "extraordinary" case that did not adhere to "constitutional ... principles of fair procedure."

Markman said there was a "reasonable chance" that Aceval would have been acquitted if the jury knew everything about Povish's role in the cocaine investigation, including an opportunity to get as much as $100,000 upon conviction.

And an acquittal, Markman noted, would have stopped prosecutors from a second trial.

He said he hopes to never again "see such a case within our criminal justice system."

Moffitt is not giving up. He said he plans to go to federal court to argue that Aceval's rights were violated under the U.S. Constitution.

Published: Mon, Dec 6, 2010

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