Local News

State Bar Committee Takes Another Look At Alan Gell Case

Posted March 16, 2005

— Prosecutors Debra Graves and David Hoke were reprimanded by the State Bar in September for withholding evidence in the 1998 murder trial of Alan Gell, but some question whether the bar went far enough with its punishment.

After the initial trial, Gell ended up on death row. Gell was granted a new trial in 2002. He was eventually acquitted and released from prison. In September, a State Bar panel decided that Graves and Hoke did not intentionally withold evidence. However, both are still practicing law.

"Maybe some other innocent person is going to be sent to prison or death row because a large-enough message hasn't been sent to the prosecutors," Gell said.

Numerous people have characterized the investigation of Graves and Hoke as "lightweight," saying the lead investigator was not interviewed and no witness testimony was presented. The committee will make a recommendation to the State Bar president at the end of the hearings.

"Perhaps the process was not as wholesome as it should have been. The State Bar President, President Siler, wants to clear the air, to look under every rock to see if there was anything improper," said Wade Smith, committee chair.

Lawyers who were involved in the investigation said there was no corruption.

"We did our jobs. We're the only ones who did our jobs," said Dudley Humphrey, former State Bar president.

Some people who testified Tuesday said the latest set of hearings is not really about misconduct, but is about the death penalty. They feel those who are questionning the punishment of Hoke and Graves have an anti-death penalty agenda.

Hoke is second-in-command at the Administrative Office of the Courts. Graves is a federal public defender.

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