CBS Denver Interview: Elijah McClain
On Monday this week, Aurora City Council paused the use of ketamine until an investigation into the death of Elijah McClain is complete.
McClain, a 23-year-old African-American massage therapist from Aurora, Colorado, was violently detained by police last year and injected with the powerful sedative. According to the Adams County coroner, it is unclear what exactly caused McClain to go into cardiac arrest.
In a recent interview with CBS Denver, defense attorney Jeffrey Wolf condemned the use of ketamine by emergency responders.
“It’s something that should stop being used altogether,” said Wolf. “Any doctor will tell you that you don’t give someone a medication as severe as ketamine without knowing what else could be on board or what other conditions they might have.”
Judge erred by excluding defendant from courtroom
The Colorado Constitution gives defendants the right to “appear and defend in person and by counsel,” and the Sixth Amendment guarantees the ability to confront witnesses. More broadly, Colorado recognizes that a criminal defendant has the right to be present at all phases of his prosecution.
So, what happens when a defendant and his lawyer are barred from observing all judge and jury communications during a trial?
“The problem really is that a jury is there to judge the defendant. They are judging everything from their clothing, haircut, posture, demeanor, facial expression and hand gesture. Every blink of the defendant’s eye is there, on display, to be judged,” said Colleen Kelley, criminal defense attorney and partner at Wolf Law, LLC. “When the defendant is suddenly absent, these ‘judges’ of behavior are free to wildly speculate about the most sinister explanation for the defendant’s absence.”
Click here to read the complete article and more insights from defense attorney Colleen Kelley.