Steele’s Attorney: Incompetent or Complicit?
By Pat Shannan
When Colorado attorney Robert T. McAllister surrendered his law license early last month, more red flags went up in the minds of Edgar Steele’s supporters regarding McAllister’s questionable court defense presented in the Steele case in Idaho only a month earlier.
On June 6 in Denver, McAllister waived his right to a hearing, presumably to avoid further exposure, embarrassment and potential civil or criminal litigation, and voluntarily accepted disbarment.
The court’s action arose from McAllister’s misuse of client funds on at least two recent occasions amounting to over $105,000 being transferred to his own bank accounts without those clients’ permission. This harsh action by the court evolved from a previous censure and discipline in 2004 for similar infractions that dated back nearly a decade. At that time the court ordered McAllister to pay back more than $160,000 and attend the Bar Association’s ethics school because the “respondent violated his duty of honesty to his clients.”
Now, many want to know if McAllister, harboring this longtime character flaw that the ethics school failed to remedy, might have also had “his palms crossed with silver” by federal prosecutors in the high-profile Steele case. In this modern era where behind-the-scenes corruption so easily trumps integrity, such an assumption does not require an outrageous imagination anymore.
Over the past year AFP has exposed little-known statutes that allow federal courts to present cash awards of $10,000 to $25,000 to prosecution witnesses—the amount paid being in direct proportion to how much that particular testimony contributed to a conviction.
Nothing is awarded in the event of an acquittal. So the question looms: If such highly unfair payoffs are available and are paid in undisclosed amounts to witnesses who help secure a conviction, just how much of a stretch does it take for even more to be pushed under the defense table to the chief counsel in order to ensure a prosecution victory?
The courtroom performance of Grant Cooper, Sirhan Sirhan’s chief attorney in 1970, reeked of such duplicity when he failed to recognize that the serial number presented by the ballistics expert identifying the murder weapon that killed Sen. Robert Kennedy was not the same as the number on Sirhan’s revolver. Two accounts of the RFK conspiracy are provided in Everything They Ever Me Told Was a Lie and New World Order Assassins.*
When examining McAllister’s deficiency in the Steele case, it begins with the indictment. Count one accuses Steele of “using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder for hire.”
The entire four-count indictment should have been defeated before trial because Congress changed the wording of 18 USC 1958 in 2004, and its jurisdictional reach now extends to the exclusive intrastate use of a facility of interstate commerce, including defendant Steele’s alleged use of a telephone in this case. Under the previous version of this statute, Steele could not have been charged federally because no calls were alleged to have been made across state lines.
*Everything They Ever Me Told Was a Lie ($30, softcover, 280 pages) by Pat Shannan and New World Order Assassins ($30, softcover, 280 pages) by Victor Thorn are available from AFP’s FIRST AMENDMENT BOOKSTORE. Call 888-699-6397 to order by major credit card
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(Issue # 31, August 1, 2011)