Dorthy Moxley is a friend of mine. She is also the mother of Martha Moxley, who was bludgeoned to death by Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel on October 30, 1975. On June 7, 2002 Skakel was convicted of murdering Martha Moxley and sentenced to 20-years to life in prison.
Despite numerous failed appeals over the years, Connecticut Judge Thomas Bishop yesterday granted Skakel a new trial on the grounds that he received inadequate trial representation from his high profile attorney, Michael (Mickey) Sherman.
“The defense of a serious felony prosecution requires attention to detail, an energetic investigation and a coherent plan of defense (capably) executed,” Bishop wrote in his decision. “Trial counsel’s failures in each of these areas of representation were significant and, ultimately, fatal to a constitutionally adequate defense.”
In death penalty cases it is common for appeals attorneys to claim that trial counsel was ineffective. Proving that their lawyer was ineffective at trial is a way for convicts and their appeals lawyers to get their convictions overturned. This is a right that is protected by the sixth amendment to the United States Constitution.
Unfortunately, Dorthy Moxley has no such rights. Unlike Michael Skakel she will never be free. Over the years Dorthy has attended numerous court hearings over Skakel’s appeals and parole. “It’s a tough lesson to learn but you realize it never goes away,” she said.
Dorthy Moxley is a gentle, soft spoken soul. She is diminutive in size, but gigantic in character. I just wish that Connecticut’s criminal justice system gave her the respect that it has doled out to a convicted killer. Then, perhaps, justice would finally be served.