130429Barrow2July 26, 2013

Rereading appellate defender Mark Montgomery’s thunderously compelling brief on behalf of Bob Kelly always delivers something I had either passed over earlier or forgotten. This time it was that

“(Jimmy) and Nancy Smith also declined to have their son Judson evaluated by one of the four therapists who saw the other children. By the time of trial, both Mr. and Ms. Smith had been accused by several children as having participated in the abuse. (One of the child-witnesses) said of Nancy Smith, ‘She’s Miss Betsy’s sister, so she must be mean.’ ”

The Smiths’ close call highlights once again the terrible randomness of the Little Rascals prosecutors’ accusation process.

How challenging the prosecutors’ decision-making must have been: Which child-witness had been adequately manipulated, and which couldn’t be counted on to earnestly describe the sharks, the butcher knives and the dead babies? Which innocent adult was vulnerable, and which might strike jurors as just too unlikely a serial ritual-abuser?

Nancy Smith (Barrow) recalls today that “I had NO idea I had been accused until working with (defense attorneys) Mike Spivey and Jeff Miller for Bob’s trial.  I happened to read some notes from police interviews and saw my name more than once….

“No member of my family – mother, father, Laura, Leslie, or Judson – was ever interviewed by police or prosecutors.  Jimmy and I talked with Brenda Toppin one afternoon in her office.  She only wanted to know about the state of Bob and Betsy’s marriage.”