WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review a lower court ruling against former Enid resident Daniel Holtzclaw.

The Supreme Court on Monday denied certiorari on Holtzclaw, Daniel K. v. Oklahoma. In December 2019, Attorney James L. Hankins asked the highest court to review a ruling against Holtzclaw issued by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals Aug. 1, 2019.

The denial of the written request for the Supreme Court to review the lower court’s ruling means the court of appeals decision stands.

“While we are disappointed, it is important to note that the high court’s denial of Daniel’s cert petition does not necessarily mean that the panel agrees with the OCCA’s outrageously flawed and scientifically illiterate decision," Daniel’s sister Jenny Holtzclaw said Monday morning. "According to the Court’s rules, at least four justices must agree that the lower court’s ruling warrants review.”

Jenny Holtzclaw also said the acceptance rate for SCOTUS cert petitions usually hovers at less than 5 percent due to the massive caseload.

"We are currently working on post-conviction relief, which is due exactly one year from today," Jenny Holtzclaw said Monday. "This is where we can introduce all new evidence we obtained and continue to obtain."

Details of petition

The petition focused on two key legal questions regarding “prosecutorial misrepresentation of scientific evidence at trial” and “improper joinder” of 13 accusers en masse alleging disparate crimes spanning 36 counts. The petition was filed Dec. 30, 2019, according to an online docket.  

Prosecutors accused Holtzclaw, a former Oklahoma City police officer, of targeting black women while on duty in 2013 and 2014. He was convicted in December 2015 on 18 of 36 counts of sexual crimes against 12 women and a teenage girl, including four counts of first-degree rape. Holtzclaw was sentenced to 263 years in prison.

The petition stated the facts of the Holtzclaw's case and cites a secret hearing, which Holtzclaw's defense was not allowed to attend, where the issues with DNA evidence were discussed, as a reason to accept the writ. The filing also cited Holtzclaw's claim of misrepresentation by counsel during his trial.

The writ also cited the misrepresentation of DNA evidence at trial and the joinder of charges from 13 victims for a total of 36 counts as issues unaddressed, or dismissed, by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.

In the findings of facts, Hankins outlined some the charges Hotlzclaw's jury accepted and dismissed, noting one victim could not identify him in court but said her assailant was a "short man with blond hair."

"Other allegations showed that the jury believed some but not all of the claims. In the case of T.B., the jury convicted Holtzclaw of sexual assault, but acquitted him of burglary and stalking; as to R.G., a prostitute and crack addict, the jury convicted Holtzclaw of forcible oral sodomy, but acquitted him of rape.

"In one case, the jury believed allegations made by S.E., even though she was unable to identify Holtzclaw in court, and described him as a black man shorter than her height of 5'11" and darker than her own skin tone – when Holtzclaw is 6'1" tall, pale-skinned, and Japanese-American."

Hankins also addressed issues with the DNA found on the fly of Holtzclaw's pants.

"This was a contested part of the case, since the police chemist, Elaine Taylor, admitted that it was possible that the DNA of A.G. could have been a 'secondary transfer' via Holtzclaw’s hands to the fly area of his pants after he had searched her purse," Hankins wrote.

"The DNA issue became more critical during closing argument, when the prosecutor asserted that the biological material found on the fly of the pants was vaginal fluid — when there was no science to confirm this, as a subsequent defense DNA expert has opined."

Issues raised

Hankins also noted in the petition Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals neglects to mention in its recitation of facts how Oklahoma City police found the majority of victims in their case.

"However, missing from the factual recitation by the OCCA is the fact that detectives used Holtzclaw’s police records to contact and solicit further complaining witnesses," Hankins writes. "This was done in the case of ten of the thirteen complainants through the police questioning specifically African-American women with criminal records who had been stopped or approached by Holtzclaw.

"When detectives contacted more than [40] African-American women with drug and prostitution histories and arrest warrants, detectives told these women that police had 'received a tip' that they were 'possibly sexually assaulted by an Oklahoma City police officer' who 'was a really bad guy.'

Hankins told the Supreme Court it should accept the case for two reasons: "This case raises an issue of national importance regarding incompetent government forensic analysts and nondisclosure of faulty DNA analysis and testimony, all under the shroud of a secret hearing attended by government lawyers where defense lawyers were excluded.

"Holtzclaw’s case is emblematic of numerous cases of mass sexual assault allegations against targeted individuals. The lower courts need direction on how to prevent the accused from being prejudice from improper joinder of offenses, as Holtzclaw was in this case, by the sheer number of disparate allegations of which lead the public and the courts to conclude, erroneously, that the accused is guilty of at least some of the charges."

A marathon, not a sprint

Jenny Holtzclaw described the post-conviction process as a marathon instead of a sprint.

"The average time it takes to exonerate an innocent person like Daniel is upwards of 14 years," she said. "As the University of Michigan reported last year, there were 151 exonerations in 2018, representing a ‘total number of years lost to exonerees of more than 21,000 years.’ This is devastating and Daniel lives through it every day, but he remains strong in his faith and spirit.”

Daniel Holtzclaw urged concerned Americans to explore the true facts of the "bias-driven" investigation and asked Gov. Kevin Stitt to ask what the crime lab and "police brass" were hiding and why.

" … Especially about the brazenly illegal secret hearings, the cover-up of the police department crime lab’s systemic failures, false testimony, prosecutorial misconduct and suppression of vital e-mails in my case," he said.

Daniel Holtzclaw, who has a GoGetFunding campaign, said his legal team and supporters are pursuing all post-conviction avenues to prove his innocence. Tax-deductible donations to aid in the legal defense of Holtzclaw and others can be made through the nonprofit Uncuff the Innocent.

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