The story of the miscarriage of justice for Steven Castanedo is not only heartbreaking, it serves as a warning to all citizens that the law does not discriminate: we are all susceptible to being railroaded by the corruption of the system.
What went wrong for Steven
Steven’s life was just getting back on track when he was arrested for the murder of his friend, Juan Tavarus. He was ultimately charged with 2nd degree murder. February 2008 turned out to be a horrific experiene; it seemed unreal to Steven. Over the course of time, his life unfolded. One would ask “how does this happen?” Well, the many flaws of our US judicial system lends us all to being prey to this happening. Not only was physical evidence missing, but he had an attorney who could not try his case (because he was not prepared) and subject to the cruelness of an unempathetic prosecutor and judge.
How Stevens life crumbled before his eyes
Steven had an inadequate defense attorney. Not only was he unprepared (failing to review the case, depose witnesses etc..) he was disinterested. What a lethal combination in a defense attorney, to say the least. He took an oath, and under that oath he has obligations which he failed to meet. He coerced a young and fearful 17 year old into taking a plea for 35 years. A plea to the maximum penalty hardly seems to be a plea at all.
The defense attorney, Mr. Kevin Shirley, is noted on court record as having said:
“In all candor, Judge, I don’t believe that I am ready to try this case. I don’t know whether the State is or not but Mr. Krug told me he has no objections to this continuance”.
After a two other continuances, the judge was fed up with the requests and Steven suffered as a result. He was coerced for a simple reason: lack of preparation and Mr. Shirley’s unwillingness to take his case to trial.
The Defense attorney’s pattern of misconduct
This was not Mr. Shirley’s first time being unprepared, he has a track record and disciplinary actions for this very same thing. Steven was yet another victim of Mr.Shirley and the corrupt judicial system.
With the prosecution and defense both being on the same side, they were not willing to have a mistrial. All of this led to the coercion of the plea bargain. The prosecutor knew Steven’s attorney was not prepared, and did not want to risk having to retry this case anymore than Mr. Shirley wanted to prepare for it.
Mr. Shirley has disciplinary records by the Florida bar association on file. He has a pattern of being unprepared. He is only creating more victims under his guidance and trust.
The record states the following reprimand handed to Mr. Shirley:
Kevin Clifford Shirley, your actions have discredited the legal profession of the State of Florida. Such conduct cannot be tolerated by your fellow lawyers and should not be tolerated by you.” Florida State Bar, Twentieth Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee ‘C’