Tennessee ADA Hid Cop’s Lies but Keeps Job, Pay, & Pension.
April 25, 2020 Chris Smith via Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle
An assistant district attorney in Stewart County has been censured by the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court for withholding key information during a criminal case three years ago.
Erin Danielle “Dani” Bryson, with the 23rd Judicial District, received the public censure on Tuesday, according to a news release from the board.
On April 7, 2017, Bryson was prosecutor during a preliminary hearing in an animal cruelty case against Clifford McGown Jr., according to additional information obtained by The Leaf-Chronicle. The hearing was in Judge Larry Logan’s court.
During the hearing, then-Sheriff’s Office Investigator David Evans leaned over to Bryson and told her he had samples of the evidence at issue “in my car.” According to the release, on direct examination, Bryson asked the investigator if he had samples of the evidence, and he testified, “I do. That’s being held in evidence.”
On cross examination, the defense counsel asked where the samples were, and Evans testified “currently in the sheriff’s office … [i]n the evidence … room,” contradicting what the investigator had just told Bryson.
After the hearing, Bryson checked with the Stewart County Sheriff’s Office and determined that the evidence was not in the evidence room.
Evans has not been criminally charged with making false testimony, and he received no disciplinary action, according to Sandra Garrett with the Board of Professional Responsibility.
He resigned from the Sheriff’s Office in February 2018, two months after an incident in which a man killed himself with a gun stolen from Evan’s patrol vehicle.
A timeline of what happened next
On April 11, 2017, the investigator prepared an amended “Investigative Report” that explained his incorrect testimony. On April 28, 2017, Bryson prepared a memorandum to her file about the investigator’s testimony, the release said.
On Oct. 23, 2017, Bryson emailed a settlement offer to the defendant, McGown, with a copy of her April 28, 2017, memorandum.
According to the release, Bryson did not tell McGown’s attorney, Mike Flanagan, about the false testimony for six months, and she didn’t inform the court at all.
This put her in violation of Rule 3.3(h), which requires an attorney to “promptly report the improper conduct to the tribunal”; and Rule 3.8(d) in failing to “timely” disclose to the defense information known to her which “tends” to “mitigate[ ] the offense.” Bryson is also in violation of Rule 8.4(d) (prejudice to the administration of justice), the release said.
Bryson did not respond to a Wednesday message seeking comment by Friday morning. District Attorney Ray Crouch responded but did not comment on the censure.
A public censure from the board is a rebuke and warning to the attorney, but it does not affect the attorney’s ability to practice law, the release said.
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