By Jack Thorton
Anyone who has been remotely following the news in Idaho has become intimately familiar with the case of Christopher Tapp. On June 13, 1996, Angie Dodge was found dead in her apartment in Idaho Falls. Christopher Tapp, 20 at the time confessed to the crime and by December of 1998 he was convicted and sentenced to 30 years to life for her murder and rape. Although Daniel R. Clark, Bonneville County Prosecuting Attorney, may want you to believe these are the only important facts in the case, truth and law beg to differ.
Notice the statement made by Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Clark.
“If we could go back twenty years, and there was a plea agreement reached, as there is in most cases, what would the defendant’s sentence likely be for his part of this crime?” In every conversation, each one said a sentence between 10-25 years would have been appropriate.”
This statement implies that the punishment for pleading guilty should be 10-25 years regardless of how that confession was obtained, regardless of whether he was guilty or not and that the prosecutor has no responsibility to determine any of it.
But what Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Clark fails to bring up is the fact that during the interrogation police investigators repeatedly broke every ethical rule of conduct when questioning Tapp during the 20 hour recorded interrogation and up to another 20 hours unrecorded. And even though DNA evidence collected at the scene exonerated Tapp, four consecutive Post Conviction relief Petitions were all denied. There was ample evidence to exonerate Tapp as far back as 2008 but it took 5 petitions, an extensive Judges for justice investigation, a Dateline NBC program (2012), a STARZ documentary, a 48 hours Documentary, Crime Time and multiple other TV and print articles to finally get the Tapp released some 11 years later.
Even now Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Clark fells strongly that” justice has been served in regards to Christopher Tapp”. What this shows is how ethically bankrupt our Judicial System in Idaho has become and how little accountability there is.
Notice Idaho Court Rule 3.8 regarding the responsibility of Clark and any Idaho State Prosecutor:
A.) IDAHO COURT RULES Rule 3.8 Special responsibilities of a prosecutor.
The prosecutor in a criminal case shall:
(g)when a prosecutor knows of new, credible material evidence creating a reasonable likelihood that a convicted defendant did not commit an offense of which the defendant was convicted, the prosecutor SHALL:
(1) Promptly disclose that evidence to an appropriate court or authority, and
(2) if the conviction was obtained in the prosecutor’s jurisdiction,
(A) Promptly disclose that evidence to the defendant unless a court authorizes delay, and
(B) undertake further investigation, or make reasonable efforts to cause an investigation, to determine whether the defendant was convicted of an offense that the defendant did not commit.
(h) when a prosecutor knows of clear and convincing evidence establishing that a defendant in the prosecutor’s jurisdiction was convicted of an offense that the defendant did not commit, the prosecutor shall seek to remedy the conviction. (Effective July 1, 2004; Amended May 4, 2010)
Any Prosecutor / District Attorney in the State of Idaho has the sworn ethical responsibility to not only prosecute the guilty but also exonerate the innocent. And until the Idaho State Bar and the Idaho Attorney General start doing their jobs, by making men like Daniel Clark accountable, we should expect more injustice.