Episode 12: “Update: Surprise Court Ruling Impacts Daniel Green’s Bid for New Trial”
On the surface, the North Carolina Supreme Court decision in the State v Harley Aaron Allen has nothing to do with Daniel Green, or his motion for reconsideration. But the ruling establishes a precedent that has everything to do with Green’s case.
DID INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL IMPACT DANIEL GREEN’S TRIAL?
One of the issues in Allen is whether his original defense team provided “ineffective assistance of counsel” (in layman’s terms, this means there’s a question about whether the defense attorneys did a good job representing Allen during the original trial). It’s a common basis for many appeals, including Daniel Green’s. The April 2021 decision by the NC Supreme Court addresses when a trial court should hold a hearing to consider evidence from both sides before ruling on defense claims like ineffective assistance of counsel.
WERE MISTAKES MADE IN DANIEL GREEN’S 1996 TRIAL?
The Allen case is important to Daniel’s case because his attorney Chris Mumma has always said his original defense attorneys made decisions about strategy without doing enough investigation or consulting the appropriate experts. For example, they never challenged the state’s ballistics testing to confirm whether or not the shooting could have happened the way Larry said it did when he testified at trial. They didn’t even start interviewing alibi witnesses until the trial was already underway. And they missed an important alibi witness altogether who could account for Daniel Green’s whereabouts the night James Jordan was murdered.
Mumma would have presented all this at a new hearing but she never got the chance.
DANIEL GREEN’S REQUEST FOR EVIDENTIARY HEARING DENIED
Back in March 2019 she got an email from Judge Winston Gilchrist denying Daniel’s request to have new evidence heard by the court. Mumma filed the motion again, but this time she included her affidavit detailing Larry Demery’s admission that he did not see Daniel shoot James Jordan. Mumma’s affidavit claimed Larry said he lied in court when he testified during the original trial. She hoped this critical piece of information would help bolster the case, but two days after she filed the motion to reconsider, it was denied by Judge Gilchrist again.
THE NORTH CAROLINA SUPREME COURT GIVES DANIEL GREEN NEW HOPE
Mumma wasn’t about to give up. She appealed the case to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in late July 2021. This is where the Allen case comes in. Supreme Court decisions create new case law that eventually trickles down and can impact a lot of cases. Seven months after the Supreme Court decision, the NC Court of Appeals made the connection from Allen’s case to Daniel Green’s. The court said because of the Allen ruling, similar cases with ineffective assistance of counsel claims needed to be reconsidered too. They vacated EVERYTHING in Gilchrist’s ruling – giving Daniel another chance.
The Court of Appeals said the trial court can’t make a decision about evidence in a vacuum. It needs to consider whether there is anything to support Daniel’s claims of ineffective counsel or questions of fact. If there are, under the law, Daniel needs to be given an opportunity to present that evidence.
DANIEL GREEN’S NEXT RULING FROM THE NC COURT OF APPEALS
Now the ball is in Judge Gilchrist’s court, again. Will he decide to grant Daniel a new hearing this time? It’s hard to say, but a state Court of Appeals decision carries a lot of weight. It’s not something a lower court judge can just categorically dismiss or take lightly. It’s enough to give Daniel and his team a reason to hope.
In this episode… What’s next for Daniel Green? Would the state retry the case after all these years? A law professor from NC Central University helps us understand the appeal process and what’s at stake for Daniel’s case.