By Cris Barrish
The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal
WILMINGTON, Del. - A former pediatrician convicted in 2011 of raping more than 100 patients including babies as young as 3 months old has filed a new appeal that accuses his public defenders of providing ineffective counsel.
The appeal also claims Earl B. Bradley, who had hired high-profile criminal lawyer Eugene J. Maurer Jr. after his December 2009 arrest, was denied his constitutional "right to a counsel of his choosing" when Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden's office seized his assets, including bank accounts, days after he was charged.
This week's Delaware Superior Court filing comes 16 months after the state Supreme Court rejected a Bradley appeal that argued police illegally seized videotapes Bradley made of himself attacking young patients. Authorities had searched buildings at his Lewes, Del.-area medical complex not specified in a warrant.
The new appeal claims Bradley's public defenders, Robert Goff and Dean Johnson, should have challenged a Superior Court judge's consideration of evidence that did not appear in the actual warrant. It also charges they should have sought a new hearing before the Supreme Court after it "misapprehended a key fact" in the warrant.
Bradley, now 60, is serving 14 life sentences plus 164 years for raping and sexually abusing children he treated. He was convicted after a one-day trial in June 2011 in which his lawyers did not contest the videotaped evidence but preserved the right to challenge the search as illegal.
The pedophile pediatrician's crimes, and the fact that Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, prosecutors, police, medical colleagues and disciplinary officials failed to stop him despite complaints over more than a decade, rocked Delaware and its medical establishment.
Revelations from The News Journal and separate task forces appointed by Biden and Gov. Jack Markell led to sweeping legislative reforms designed to protect children and hold doctors, nurses and law-enforcement officials more accountable.
Goff said Thursday it's typical for defendants with lengthy prison terms whose direct appeals have failed to claim their lawyers failed them.
"We tried our best. We did our best. We did our duty to our client," Goff said.
In October 2012 Goff said that Bradley had exhausted appeals. But in May, piggybacking on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Delaware courts ruled that indigent convicts can get a taxpayer-financed lawyer to argue that their earlier lawyer was ineffective.
Court-appointed lawyers Patrick J. Collins and Albert J. Roop. Collins filed the new appeal and would not comment Thursday.
The appeal's first claim addresses the civil suit that Biden's office filed and the lien on his properties. The suit accused the doctor of engaging in racketeering at BayBees Pediatrics, using the office to "procure his victims."
The purpose of the lawsuit and the liens, Biden said then, was "to use the civil statutes to freeze his assets, ultimately for the victims in the case."
The appeal contends that was unjust.
"The state also knew or had reason to know that by freezing Mr. Bradley's assets, he would no longer be able to afford to have Mr. Maurer continue representing him," it says.
Maurer, who had said he was pursuing a mental illness defense for Bradley, asked to leave the case soon after the state moved against Bradley's assets. Without access to money, the doctor was represented by the state Public Defender's Office, which handles about 85% of criminal cases in Delaware.
Maurer said Thursday he wanted to remain as Bradley's lawyer but once the doctor's assets were frozen, "it was not possible" for his family to afford a private attorney. Maurer added that he believed his taxpayer-financed replacements did a fine job representing Bradley.
"Bob Goff and Dean Johnson are both fierce attorneys," Maurer said. "I think they did a great job for him."
Biden did not return calls about the appeal. In a written statement, his office said it would respond to the motion by the May 30 deadline.
The other two claims revolve around the search warrant, and what Collins and Roop contend were failures in challenging its legality.
Contributing: Sean O'Sullivan, The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal
The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal