Peel asks judge to keep proffer statements out of trial

Steve Gonzalez Aug. 9, 2006, 8:08am

Gary Peel

As his child pornography, bankruptcy fraud and obstruction of justice trial approaches, former Lakin attorney Gary Peel filed a motion in limine asking District Judge Bill Stiehl to prevent federal prosecutors from introducing any and all oral statements and/or admissions made by Peel in his proffer sessions of Jan. 31, and Feb. 14.

Peel contends that the government should not be allowed to introduce any of the tangible items consistent with his continuing obligation to cooperate.

To proffer means to offer evidence in support of an argument, or elements of an affirmative defense or offense, often at trial. A party with the burden of proof must proffer sufficient evidence to carry that burden.

According to court records, Peel was approached by an assistant U.S. attorney and two FBI agents at a restaurant in Glen Carbon.

Peel was asked whether or not he was willing to cooperate in the investigation. He agreed but asked for a lawyer to be present.

Once Peel's attorney arrived (former appellate court judge Clyde Kuehn), the parties executed the standard proffer letter employed in the Southern District of Illinois on Jan. 31.

According to Peel, he answered all of the questions truthfully and to the best of his knowledge and allowed agents to search his office at the Lakin Law Firm and at his home in Glen Carbon.

Court documents show federal authorities seized one torn up picture, one HP printer cartridge, a printer strip, one crumbled piece of paper with Peel's name on top, and one piece of paper from his printer at the Lakin Law Firm.

Federal authorities seized a HP printer, copier, fax, photo smart all in one printer from his home.

Peel's public defender Phillip Kavanaugh wrote, "The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees that, '[n]o person . . .shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.' However, citizens can be compelled to waive the privilege or as part of a cooperation agreement waive it voluntarily."

"Given the fact that a Constitutional privilege is at stake, any surrender of that privilege requires that the protection of the privilege is co-extensive with the scope of immunity granted by the Court or the prosecutor," Kavanaugh continued.

"Peel provided evidence in the form of admissions, statements and tangible things which were required by his cooperation agreement," Kavanaugh wrote.

"Peel argues that this evidence is privileged."

Stiehl has yet to set a trial date. Any additional motions must be filed by Aug. 1. The government will have until Aug. 16 to respond, while Peel will have until Aug. 29 to reply. After that, Stiehl will set a trial date. The trial is expected to last about seven days.

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