Judge wants affidavits

Date: 2007-01-20

HEATHER CHAPIN-FOWLER

Defense attorneys have been asked to obtain an affidavit from Margaret Kern, and if they can't, they must sign an affidavit stating her refusal, which would allow them to subpoena her, said Ken Myers, who represents Sharen Gravelle.

Kern, a court advocate for the 11 Gravelle children, some of whom the Gravelles were convicted of abusing, told county commissioners this month that some county social workers perjured themselves during the trial.

Judge Earl McGimpsey said that the prosecutor and defense attorneys could have a half-hour to argue their case during the Jan. 25 the hearing.

In additional to a new trial, Myers has also asked the court to consider vacating the jury's verdict and lessen the felony charges to misdemeanors, according to court documents.

The Gravelles were each found guilty of two misdemeanor and four felony counts of child endangering and five misdemeanor counts of child abuse.

All three components of his request will likely be broached during the hearing, he said.

"Up until now, I didn't have any limitations or rules, and now I do. ... It's fine," Myers said. "I actually appreciate the fact that he's told us what the boundaries are in advance so we don't waste a lot of time."

In preparation for the hearing, Huron County Prosecutor Russ Leffler has said he's requested a copy of the Huron County commissioners meeting where Kern publicly complained the employees of the county's Department of Job and Family Services perjured themselves during the trial. He was not available for comment yesterday but has said he doesn't feel the Gravelles' new trial requests are "significant."

McGimpsey asked the defense attorneys to ascertain "who perjured themselves, the subject of perjured information, how Kern discovered the information and her source," Myers said.

So far, Myers hasn't been able to contact Kern or her attorney, he said. The judge has given the attorneys until Wednesday at 10 a.m. to file their affidavits, Myers said.

"He's properly wanting to find out what the situation is," Myers said.

The Gravelles are scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 12.

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