The Ledezma-Martinez Case

This case was particularly troubling.  A poor Mexican woman was railroaded on a fraudulent prosecution where it can be easily proven that the prosecutor, ADA Paul Humphrey, committed egregious misconduct.  This was despite Madison and Dane County being perceived as the world’s bastion for progressive liberalism.

In Dane County Case No. 03 CF 1675, Ms. Ledezma-Martinez, a Mexican immigrant, was charged with a vehicular traffic homicide that took place on July 18, 2003, just off the capital square.  The victim was a German tourist, and the case received instant press.  Ms. Ledezma-Martinez was immediately jailed, and she was unable to post her $10,000 cash bail.  She would ultimately be held in the Dane County Jail until the completion of her eventual one year sentence, which basically amounted to time-served.  After her conviction, this mother of two small children was deported.  These are the facts behind her conviction:

First, there was an interesting twist to the criminal proceeding due to the City of Madison having an interest civilly in Ledezma-Martinez being criminally charged and convicted.  The intersection where the accident occurred was considered by many to be a dangerous spot (due to construction), and if the incident was deemed an “accident” any civil case against the City of Madison would undoubtedly be much stronger.  Conversely, if reckless driving by Ledezma-Martinez was the cause, the liability of the city of Madison would be less.  After the accident, the victim’s husband in a letter to the court indicated his desire to be compensated financially for all damages related to the accident, including pain and suffering.

Second, prior to the preliminary hearing, ADA Humphrey was informed by a Madison detective that the results of an accident reconstruction test indicated that Ledezma-Martinez was driving at a speed slower than the 25 mph speed limit.  Humphrey ignored what he was told and went forward and had Ledezma-Martinez bound over for trial on the basis that she was driving between 35-40 mph

Third, Humphrey withheld from the defense what the detective had told him.  He further withheld the accident scene measurements, thus preventing the defense from doing their own accident reconstruction analysis.

Fourth, Humphrey had a second accident reconstruction analysis done by the state patrol.  Their estimate of Ledezma-Martinez’s speed at the time of the accident was 20 mph (five mph under the speed limit).  Humphrey withheld this evidence.

Fifth, over ½ year after Ledezma-Martinez had been jailed, a court hearing was held on the issue of whether Humphrey was withholding evidence.  During the hearing, Humphrey withheld from both the defense and the court the results of both accident reconstruction tests.  Humphrey claimed that he could not provide the accident scene measurements because they had not been preserved.  The court was skeptical to how this could be.  This hearing was one of the rare instances where media coverage was involved.  Attachment #22 is the story.

Sixth, Humphrey, a few weeks later, in the face of a possible dismissal, located the measurements that he claimed in court could not be found.  Where were they located?  In the evidence locker in which they were supposed to be.  Humphrey, though, continued to withhold the results of the two aforementioned exculpatory speed analyses.

Seventh, shortly before the trial date, Humphrey utilized the prosecutor’s safety valve for weak cases, i.e. plead out and receive a time-served sentence.  Ledezma-Martinez took Humphrey’s offer, pled, received a time-served sentence, and was deported.

Eighth, after being provided with information on Humphrey’s actions in Ledezma-Martinez, OLR refused to even acknowledge the existence of the allegation for over one year.  After the matter was brought to the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s attention, another half year went by, with OLR doing nothing, and this having to be brought to the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s attention.

Roughly a year later, OLR drafted a complaint against Humphrey on Ledezma-Martinez.  However, for reasons that have never been explained, OLR apparently has never acted upon their complaint, and has refused to provide an answer why.  The Wisconsin State Journal’s purported exposé and coverage on Humphrey’s misconduct included the Ledemza-Martinez case.  And while a number of facts were inexplicably misreported, with the mistakes being to Humphrey’s benefit; this pales in comparison to the Wisconsin State Journal’s reporting on Raisbeck.  However, what can explain the Wisconsin State Journal’s apparent lack of curiosity to why OLR never followed through on their drafted complaint?

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