Court Clerk Fired After Helping Exonerate a Man Wrongfully Convicted of Rape

In 1984, Robert Nelson was convicted of rape in Kansas City, a crime that he insisted he did not commit, and was sentenced to 50 years. Nelson had requested DNA testings, but the judge denied his motions because they weren't properly done. After serving thirty years behind bars, Nelson was freed when he successfully petitioned to have his DNA tested against the evidence from the case.

That in itself is a case of miscarriage of justice, but, according to MSN Now, the story didn't end there. Turns out, Nelson's latest petition was only successful because it was modeled after a copy of a motion filed in a different case. That motion was provided by Sharon Snyder, who had been working as county clerk for 34 years.

And what did Snyder get for providing a copy of a public document that set free a man wrongfully convicted of rape? She was suspended without pay and then fired (by the same judge that denied Nelson's original motions):

Five days after Nelson was released, Court Administrator Jeffrey Eisenbeis took Snyder into Byrn’s office near closing time and told her the prosecutor and defense attorney “had a problem” with her involvement in the case. She was suspended without pay, ordered to stay out of the courthouse unless she had permission to be there and scheduled to meet with a human resources investigator June 20. [...]

Byrn fired her June 27, telling her she had violated several court rules by providing assistance to Nelson and talking about aspects of the case, even while under seal, to attorneys not involved in the matter.

In an interview with Chris Hayes of MSNBC, Sharon felt that she was being "severely punished" and forced to retire earlier than she'd planned. But, regardless, she said that she would do it again. "I am so happy that he got exonerated on this charge, and felt that would happen or he wouldn't have filed that motion to start out with."

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