In short, if an attorney has information that would free a convicted suspect he can’t mention it. The innocent defendant will rot in prison. Such was the case with William Macumber in 1974 when he was allegedly framed by his wife while going through an ugly divorce.
Yet if you go to your family doctor and say you would rather die than live with tubes coming out of your body, fear your physician as you may return home, only to be greeted by the Police and escorted against your will for a mental evaluation.
The murder of a couple on a “Lover’s Lane” in Arizona north of Scottsdale happened in 1962. The case went cold until Macumber’s wife went to her boss in the Scottsdale P.D. and said (In the middle of an ugly divorce) that he (Macumber) had confessed to her of being the killer of the couple in 1962. This event happened in 1974 just weeks after Macumber’s wife had taken a class on forensics and how to lift prints. To add insult to injury, the evidence was not locked up and anyone with a badge could have tampered with the evidence.
One other piece of evidence Macumber’s defense had was a young girl who claimed to have known who committed the crime. She said it was a guy named Ernesto or Ernie Salazar. No such person could be found. In 1967, five years after the murders in the desert, a drifter named Ernesto Valenzuela was charged with a similar homicide. He told his lawyer, Thomas O’Toole that he had also killed the couple in the desert in 1962.
Thomas O’Toole was fresh out of law school at the time and just beginning a career with the Federal Public Defender’s Office. He thought when he saw the Macumber case: “They have the wrong guy”. But because of attorney-client privilege, he was not allowed to mention the confession and Valenzuela died in prison taking the truth with him.
Apparently, attorney-client privilege extends beyond the grave. 11 years later, O’Toole, no longer a public attorney was a judge and couldn’t shake the ghost of Ernesto Valenzuela. Judge O’Toole contacted the Justice Project and gave them the info he had on the confession of his late client. In 2012, the Justice project had all of the evidence they needed to present their case to the Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer for a Clemency hearing. Brewer rejected Macumber’s release twice. Later in 2012, Macumber agreed to plead guilty to 2nd degree murder and was released on time served. Talk about political wrangling to avoid a major wrongful imprisonment suit. So William Macumber spent 37 years in prison for something he didn’t do.
*Note! I have taken an oath never to plead guilty to something I am innocent of. Even if they promise me a new Ferrari. Never confess to guilt if you are not guilty. The D.A. will use money to get you to “plead out”. If you are accused of beating your wife and you have never laid a hand on your wife, you are given a choice to fight it in court costing you every penny you’ll ever earn for the rest of your life, OR you can plead guilty and take an anger management class and lose your 2nd amendment right for 10 years. Although you and God know that you are innocent, you will have that guilty plea follow you through life like an albatross. Do not do it.
Not surprising, the story doesn’t end there. 5 months later Macumber was back in prison for sexual assault accusations by younger members of Macumber’s own family. I can only wonder; Is this the spouse still trying to keep her ex-husband behind bars or does prolonged incarceration create the criminal? Macumber plead not guilty of the sex assaults but was found guilty at trial and is serving 4 years for sexual assault on a minor.
David Sarti’s only crime was trusting his doctor. Just as we have attorney-client privilege, we are also supposed to have doctor-patient privilege. (With a caveat). The doctor has the discretion/power to deem his patient mentally defective and a danger to himself. If this happens, you lose your 2nd amendment right and can be detained in a mental institute as long as medical professionals see fit. No judge, no jury and no public defendant. You also become an interest of the F.B.I. as long as you live.
Sadly Sarti had appeared on National Geographic’s television series “Doomsday Preppers”. Sarti is a boisterous somewhat loudmouth that likes to exaggerate and he did so in front of the wrong doctor. His cardiologist Andre C. Olivier said there was nothing wrong with his heart, but they could put tubes in him to help him breathe. I’m not sure what procedure Dr. Olivier was referring to. I can’t see why he would recommend a tracheostomy for obesity. Neither lungs were collapsed so I can’t see chest tubes being inserted in Sarti’s plural cavity. Perhaps his cardiologist was using fear to get Mr. Sarti to lose weight. I do not know what Olivier’s reasoning was. But Sarti made a statement that was not very well thought out. He said something to the effect that he would rather die than have tubes hanging out of him. Dr. Olivier took this as a confession of suicidal tendencies and ordered Sarti to go to the Emergency Room.
Let’s Stop right here. Sarti’s doctor asked Sarti if he was suicidal and Sarti replied: “No I’m a Christian and my religious faith prohibits suicide”. That should have been the end of the conversation.
Regardless; when Sarti refused to go to the Emergency Room and went home; Law enforcement officers were waiting for Mr. Sarti and took him to the E.R. against his will.
Where is the privacy called Physician-patient privilege?
The horror in the Sarti story is not so much what happened to David Sarti. (At least he’s not in prison serving a life sentence) But what has happened to all of us as a result of this? I seriously encourage you to no longer speak freely to your doctor without thinking about the unintended consequences. You MUST consider every sentence and your choice of words that you use when you are in the privacy of your doctor regardless of the Doctor-Patient privilege. I do not think it would be a good Idea to continue to see a doctor you do not have a good relationship with. I would not make an issue of it either. I would silently quit seeing your doctor and search for another doctor.
In both of these examples of privacy, the principle was used to keep an innocent man in jail, and to send an innocent man to a mental institution. The words of a former, late President keep haunting me.
“The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help. ~ President Ronald Reagan.