Anthony Broom was prosecuted by Polk County Assistant District Attorney (ASA) Hardy O. Pickard. ASA Pickard was known as “Mr. Homicide” in the early ‘80s as he was assigned to handle all of the alleged murder cases in the county. There have been many claims of prosecutorial misconduct against ASA Pickard from that time. Several cases that he prosecuted have since been overturned and new trials ordered. In most instances of misconduct, it was found that ASA Pickard had deliberately withheld evidence from the defense. Here are some examples of misconduct by ASA Pickard:
Kelley v. Singletary, 222 F.Supp.2d 1357 (S.D. Fla. 2002), Kelley’s petition for habeas corpus was granted, the conviction reversed and a new trial was ordered. Unfortunately, this order was later reversed, however, this order illustrates ASA Pickard’s tendency to withhold evidence. The Order held that there were several nondisclosures by the State which established a Brady violation and that the effect of the Brady violations prejudiced Kelley.
In this case, it was found that ASA Pickard withheld several pieces of evidence from the defense. Among the evidence withheld was information regarding one of the alleged conspirator's (Sweet) immunity agreement. Two key documents were withheld, which proved that Sweet had a deal for immunity on numerous serious felonies. This information would have been extremely useful to the defense in cross-examining this witness. In addition to the information on Sweet's immunity deal, the State deprived the defense of several other pieces of evidence, including the transcript of Sweet's first trial, a police report, whereby a witness was unable to positively identify Kelley shortly after the murder and a latent fingerprint report. District Judge Roettger says it best in his Order, “This case presents many incidences of prosecutorial misconduct. Hardy Pickard, Assistant State Attorney, has a habit of failing to turn over exculpatory and impeachment evidence”.
In Johnson v. State, SC08-1213, the State Bar of Florida investigated a complaint of attorney misconduct by ASA Hardy Pickard. In this case, ADA Pickard knowingly used a detective and an inmate’s false testimony in a suppression hearing in this case in 1981. In a letter to ADA Pickard, dated January 27, 2010, the Florida Bar stated that “the Court found that you ‘knowingly used false testimony and misleading arguments to convince the court to admit the testimony.’ In sum and substance, the Court vacated Mr. Johnson’s death sentence due, in part, to your deliberate, prosecutorial misconduct”. For his part of misconduct in this case Mr. Pickard received the following letter from the Florida Bar Association.
Would it be a surprise if there was prosecutorial misconduct by ASA Pickard in this case? The presentation of deceptive witnesses and withholding evidence seemed to be ASA Pickard’s strategy for a guilty verdict. After all, if someone is suspected and arrested for a crime, then they are guilty, right? FALSE! In Anthony’s case, ASA Pickard knowingly utilized an admittedly fabricated (by the Affiant herself) Probable Cause Affidavit/Arrest Report in order to influence the grand jury into returning a true bill indictment. In addition to this, was there evidence withheld? We hope to find out.
Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (FADP) has asked that the Governor appoint a special prosecutor to review every conviction won by ASA Hardy Pickard. To quote FADP, “Hardy Pickard is a liar and a disgrace to the legal profession…Any person who would knowingly lie in court and hide evidence pointing to a different perpetrator in order to send the wrong person to death row is an attempted murderer, and should be prosecuted as such” (http://www.fadp.org/pressrel46.htmll). There is a clear pattern here when it comes to ASA Pickard’s case strategy – charge the suspect and then do whatever it takes to get a conviction. Well, ASA Pickard, how would you like it if you were railroaded into prison for life or sentenced to the death penalty?