By Danielle Silva
In light of Ajay Dev filing an Ineffective Assistance of Counsel claim, the prosecution’s request for all of Dev’s previous attorney’s trial transcripts was denied.
Since 2009, Ajay Dev has been serving a 378-year sentence after being convicted of raping his adopted daughter. In the last few months, the case has been undergoing evidentiary hearings with claims that six witnesses have testimonies concerning the truthfulness of the alleged victim. The alleged victim (AV) allegedly told these witnesses that the sexual allegations were not true. Dev is currently represented by attorney Edward Swanson. Dev has also argued he had Ineffective Assistance in Counsel (IAC) from his previous attorney, Michael Rothschild.
Deputy DA Ryan Couzens, in response to the IAC claim, argued that he should have access to all of Rothschild’s files used during the trial. He specifically requested communications between Dev and Rothschild since Dev “has now waived the attorney-client privilege.”
Judge Janene Beronio denied the request for all of Rothschild’s previous trial documents. The court did find that Couzens should be provided with documents directly related to the habeas case, such as documents about the alleged victim’s credibility. This included information regarding the AV’s legal proceedings in Nepal, the witness testimonies of the AV being untruthful, the witnesses’ statements (both oral and written), and the investigator’s notes while interviewing the witnesses.
Swanson shared that these related documents have already been provided to Couzens.
Yadev had testified for nearly six hours at the last evidentiary hearing about the AV’s actions in Nepal. In the first hour, he noted how the AV had denied the sexual allegations against Dev to her grandmother but, following the passport trouble, believed the Dev family to be behind the Nepali charges against her and stated she would “do anything including telling a lie, and renew (the rape) case she had withdrawn before” in order to get back at Ajay Dev.
During cross-examination, Couzens questioned Yadev about the school’s finances which he stated Dev did contribute to – but so did the rest of the village. Yadev also said he had mentioned to the AV once to stay in Nepal and get married but it was not at the request of the Dev family, with which his family was not particularly close.
Couzens also attempted to delve into the Nepali culture and how it may relate to rape victims bringing shame to the family. This line of questioning included examining the witness at times without the interpreter and ending with Couzens asking if she would deny being raped even if she had been in order to prevent her family’s name from being soiled, which the court ruled to be a prejudicial question.
In a quick redirect, Yadev clarified that the AV’s family was related to the founder of the school and her family helped found the school.
Yadev is one of the six witnesses testifying in consideration of AV’s credibility on the sexual allegations.
The court shared that Yadev would be one of the witness testimonies that would be included in the materials provided to the Deputy DA.
The deputy DA also made a request for all communications regarding sexual relations related to the habeas corpus to be provided, which the court agreed should be provided to them.
The next evidentiary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 18, 2019.