posted by admin on Dec 28
On December1, 2009 the New York Court of Appeals ordered a new trial in the case of pediatric neurologist, Phillip Riback. because of the testimony of controversial psychologist, Richard Hamill and an overzealous prosecutor. Dr. Hamill, who holds himself out as an expert in child sexual abuse, has increasingly been involved in controversial tactics in court. In one case heard in Cooperstown, New York, Dr. Hamill testified against his own client. While that case has not yet been appealed, New York’s Court of Appeals ordered a new trial in the Riback matter.
In late 2002 Phillip Riback was charged with criminal conduct involving sexual contact with 14 young male patients whom he treated between 1997 and 2002. There was extensive media coverage of the defendant’s arrest and the charges he faced. At a lengthy trial in June 2004, the prosecution presented testimony from 14 boys and their parent; the two police investigators who interviewed these children; a medical conduct investigator for the New York State Department of Health; a pediatric neurologist; and Dr. Richard Hamill, who despite the fact that he oversees one of the State’s largest sex offender treatment programs, is know as a prosecutor’s expert for hire throughout the state of New York.
The defense team was headed by the esteemed William Dreyer of Albany, who hired Edward Nichols– the nationally known consulting expert from Nichols Consulting. The defense called personnel from defendant’s medical practice — the administrator, nursing supervisor, medical secretary, and defendant’s secretary; and parents of four other boys whom defendant had treated. Defendant did not testify. The defense theory, brilliantly pursued through cross-examination of the People’s witnesses and in defendant’s direct case, was that any unusual behavior that defendant displayed toward his patients was designed to create rapport and put them at ease; and that the most damning accusations made against him were the distorted or mistaken product of suggestive and coercive questioning by parent and police.
Due to an obvious tag-team type act between Dr. Hamill and the prosecutor — in which Dr. Hamill told the jury what a pedophile is and the prosecutor went overboard in summation — Dr Riback was convicted of 12 felonies and 16 misdemeanors, the County Court imposed a determinate sentence of 48 years of imprisonment and five years of post-release supervision.
The appeals court concluded that the trial court should not have allowed Dr.Hamill to define “pedophilia” and the “central characteristics” of a “pedophile” Unfortunately, it is difficult to imagine that this information was unknown to the jurors.
In furtherance of the Dr. Hamill’s inappropriate testimony, the prosecutor told the jurors that they “heard the definition of a pedophile, didn’t you? Did you hear the definition of a pedophile from Dr. Richard Hamill? [Defendant] can’t stop.” A little later he again linked defendant and the word “pedophile,” reminding the jurors that they “heard the definition of a pedophile. He’s have sex with boys in his office. He’s not concentrating on medicine. He’s not concentrating on medical questions. He’s concerned with gratifying his own sexual desire.”
The prosecutor also commented on the presence of nationally known expert consultant, Edward Nichols: He said, “[g]et enough lawyers involved and jury consultants to make sure they pick the perfect jury.” The appeals court wrote in ordering a new trial: “This intimated that defendant was exploiting his wealth to engineer a sympathetic jury, and that the jurors should not let him get away with it.
Dr. Riback will get a new trial.
Edward Nichols commented, “I hope this decision spawns other appeals, and that eventually defense lawyers learn to hold Dr. Hamill’s feet to the fire”. Nichols has made a study of Dr. Hamill’s testimony at trial.