We just found out about this story ourselves and had to share it with you. 70-year-old Sharon Snyder had been working in the Missouri court system for nearly forty years when she was terminated in July. What makes Snyder’s story so galling is why she was fired. When a judge found out that she had helped Robert Nelson get access to information on a previously heard case that involved DNA testing, he fired Snyder.
The DNA testing information was vital to Nelson because in 1983 he was wrongfully accused and convicted of rape, and had spent all that time in the Kansas State prison system. DNA testing that was not available at the time of his trial would have exonerated him. Using the information about the case that Snyder provided his sister, Robert was able to finally get evidence from his trial re-tested at the behest of his attorneys and the Missouri state police lab has officially ruled him out as being the source of crucial evidence in the case.
“The document you chose was, in effect, your recommendation for a Motion for DNA testing that would likely be successful in this Division. But it was clearly improper and a violation of Canon Seven … which warns against the risk of offering an opinion or suggested course of action,” said the letter that was given to Sharon upon her termination. What an appalling situation all around. A man spends a huge portion of his life locked-up for a crime he didn’t commit and then a senior citizen with a considerable public service record is summarily fired for helping to actually dispense justice. The Missouri judge who fired Sharon owes her an apology and her job back. None of the information she provided Nelson or his family was top-secret or involved national security — it was publicly available court transcripts.
What do you think the resolution of this case should be?
EDIT 8/16/13 to reflect this happened in Kansas City, Missouri and not Kansas.
Watch the an interview with Sharon Snyder and the man she helped set free, Roger Nelson, here, courtesy of MSNBC: