Judge gives Steve Nunn access to his former attorney's case files

gkocher1@herald-leader.comFebruary 1, 2013 

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Steve Nunn, seen here at a hearing in Fayette Circuit Court on Aug. 19, 2010.

PABLO ALCALA

Steve Nunn, the former legislator who pleaded guilty to murder in the September 2009 shooting death of Amanda Ross, was granted access Friday to his former attorney's case files. But he will not receive "protected" photographs and materials that a judge previously ordered sealed and not to be released.

Nunn, 60, wearing a bright orange prison jumpsuit, appeared in court for the 15-minute hearing before Fayette Circuit Court Judge Pamela Goodwine. The judge made it clear that Nunn will not receive photographs of Ross nor photographs of other women that Nunn exchanged with other people, as Goodwine had previously ordered.

Nunn has not said why he wants the six boxes of court files, and he wasn't any more specific during Friday's hearing. But he might want them so he can prepare a complaint that Warren Scoville of London, his defense attorney, provided insufficient counsel. Scoville hinted at that possibility after the hearing.

Scoville said he didn't know why Nunn wants the files, but added: "All these cases end up the same: the lawyer's the guy that did it wrong."

Nunn, the son of former Gov. Louie B. Nunn, pleaded guilty to murder in June 2011. Ross, 29, was shot outside her Lexington townhouse after the two ended their engagement.

Nunn also pleaded guilty to violating an emergency protective order. The violation of that order was considered to be an "aggravator" in the murder case and the reason Nunn could have faced the death penalty had he not pleaded guilty.

Nunn is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole at Green River Correctional Complex, a state prison in Muhlenberg County.

In November, Nunn wrote a letter to Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael asking that he direct Scoville to mail his criminal case files to the prison. Ishmael is the judge presiding over a wrongful death suit filed by Diana Ross, the mother of Amanda Ross and the representative of her estate.

Ishmael forwarded the letter to Goodwine, who presided over the murder case, and also let other parties know about Nunn's request.

Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson and Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Lou Anna Red Corn filed a motion to prohibit the release of any "protected materials" — specifically, photographs of Amanda Ross — to Nunn.

In Nunn's criminal case, Goodwine had entered a protective order to prevent any release of those photographs which were found in Nunn's vehicle and on a thumb drive. A letter with "injurious comments" to Amanda Ross was also among the materials, Red Corn said Friday.

The commonwealth's motion asked that the protective order be reinstated to prevent any distribution of materials. The motion also asked that Scoville should be prohibited from providing a copy of any protected material to Nunn.

Nunn had also written to Scoville, who said in a response letter "I have had your entire file ready to be picked up" by Mary Elizabeth Nunn of Glasgow, Steve Nunn's daughter.

"She needs to call and we will welcome her to our office to retrieve the files," Scoville wrote. "I cannot send them to you in the penitentiary as there are many sensitive items in the file and I am sure that you remember that many of the items are under protective order not to be disclosed."

Goodwine noted another problem. In checking with corrections officials, she was told that Nunn is not allowed to have more than 2 cubic feet of materials in his cell, and prison officials will not store the excess.

Nunn said he will write Goodwine a note informing her where to send the excess files.

In the meantime, Goodwine said it will take three or four weeks for personnel to "remove any and all materials subject to the confidentiality order."

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305.Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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