Court Staffer Fired for Helping Wrongfully Convicted Man

70-year-old great grandmother gave him a public document
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Suggested by Ghille
Posted Jul 29, 2013 7:27 PM CDT
Court Staffer Fired for Helping Wrongfully Convicted Man

Sharon Snyder is 70 years old. She's a great grandmother and has been working at a Missouri court for 34 years. In 2011, she gave an imprisoned man trying to overturn a 27-year-old rape conviction a public document to help him seek DNA tests. Last month, those DNA tests helped Robert Nelson go free. And then Snyder was fired. A Jackson County Circuit judge says she violated court rules by helping Nelson and his family—even though they could have obtained the document she provided them with themselves if they'd known what it was and where to get it, the Kansas City Star reports.

"The document you chose was, in effect, your recommendation for a Motion for DNA testing that would likely be successful in this Division," the judge wrote in his dismissal letter. "It was clearly improper and a violation of Canon Seven ... which warns against the risk of offering an opinion or suggested course of action." Snyder was nine months away from retirement when she was fired. "I lent an ear to his sister, and maybe I did wrong," she says. "But if it was my brother, I would go to every resource I could possibly find. I think I might have been the answer to his prayers." (Read more Kansas stories.)

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