Joshua Duggar’s defense files appeal brief

(Washington County Detention Center via AP)
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 10:47 PM CDT
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - Joshua Duggar’s defense team filed an appeal brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit on Oct. 3.

Content partner KARK said the filing comes after a trio of deadline extension requests by the defense. The deadline for Duggar to file the brief was originally set for Aug. 1, but on July 28 Judge Michael Gans granted the defense an extension until Aug. 22 and another until Sept. 12. A third unopposed motion to extend the deadline was made on Sept. 8.

Duggar, 34, was sentenced on May 25 to 151 months in federal prison, followed by 20 years of supervised release with a host of special conditions attached, after his December 2021 unanimous conviction on a pair of child pornography charges.

The 64-page brief was unsealed by the court on Oct. 4 and included a summary of the case, citations, and Duggar’s request for 20 minutes of oral argument time before the federal appeals court.

The document states three specific issues in requesting an appeal of Duggar’s conviction:

1. “Whether the district court violated Duggar’s constitutional right to present a complete defense by precluding Duggar from calling and, if necessary, impeaching a critical witness at trial.”

2. “Whether the district court erred by denying Duggar’s motion to suppress statements after a federal agent physically stopped him from contacting his attorney and subsequently interrogated him outside the presence of his counsel.”

3. “Whether the district court erred by permitting the Government’s expert to offer testimony on EXIF metadata and prohibiting Duggar’s expert from testifying to the unreliability of the methodology used by the Government’s expert.”

“Each of the errors giving rise to this appeal is sufficient to warrant reversal of Duggar’s conviction,” the brief concludes. “Together, the problems are compounded. The Constitution guarantees criminal defendants a meaningful opportunity to present a complete defense. The district court denied him that opportunity. This Court can right that wrong.”

The statement of the case reviews the details of the execution of a search warrant, an account that agents “physically grabbed the phone out of Duggar’s hand, confiscated it, and stopped Duggar from speaking with counsel”, and an interview Duggar consented in which “no attorney was present for any portion of this interview”.

The defense filing continues by saying that “during the government’s entire pre-indictment investigation, agents did not speak with Caleb Williams or investigate him as a potential perpetrator, analyze any of Williams’ devices, or consider that Williams previously worked at Wholesale Motorcars, regularly used the only device in this case that had child pornography on it, was tech savvy, and sent Duggar a text message on May 7, 2019 offering to ‘watch the lot’ during the following week despite the crimes in this case allegedly being committed between May 14, 2019 and May 16, 2019.”

During the trial, no evidence was presented by the defense that Williams was present at the car lot on the dates when illegal child sexual assault material (CSAM) was downloaded on the HP desktop computer in the car lot’s office.

The court ordered that Williams would only be allowed to testify as a witness if he had “knowledge or recollection of being present on the car lot on or about May 13 through May 16.”

The defense acknowledges that “it chose not to call Caleb Williams for the very limited purpose that the Court would allow” and objected testimony from the prosecution’s forensics experts.

“Fottrell’s testimony about these exhibits purported to place Duggar at the car lot at certain dates and times,” the filing states.

The defense objected to this testimony on the grounds that the topic was not presented as one of Fottrell’s areas of expertise before the trial.

KARK said the brief cited a plethora of prior cases in support of its three main points raised in the appeal.

“Because the subsequent interrogation with Duggar was custodial and law enforcement continued to question him without his attorney present, Duggar’s statements should have been suppressed. On de novo review, this Court should reverse Duggar’s conviction, suppress the statement, and grant Duggar a new trial,” said the brief. “Each of the errors giving rise to this appeal is sufficient to warrant reversal of Duggar’s conviction.”

Duggar is currently serving his sentence at FCI Seagoville outside Dallas.

The prosecution has 21 days to submit a response to Duggar’s brief.