Holtzclaw secret court hearings could end up costing Oklahoma City

Surveillance video shows who attended a secret hearing on the Holtzclaw case at the Oklahoma County courthouse. (KOKH)

The man responsible for defending the city will not talk about his role in the secret hearings held in connection to the appeal of former Oklahoma City Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw. Holtzclaw is serving a more than 200-year sentence for sexually assaulting and raping women during traffic stops.

He is appealing his sentence but the state has held secret hearings about key information that could impact his freedom. The courts have not allowed any one from his defense to attend.

“[Holtzclaw is] on pins and needles and he wants to know if this is good news is this bad news, what is it,” said Brian Bates.

Bates worked on Holtzclaw’s defense team as an investigator and now operates a website dedicated to his ongoing defense.

“I don't care what side you come down on,” Bates said of the hearings, “Whether or not Daniel is guilty or innocent, what people need to be aware of is this could happen to them. Eventually they could find themselves in the crosshairs there could be secret hearings going on there.”

Thanks to surveillance video from outside the secret hearing obtained by FOX 25, we know the two-day proceeding included a team of prosecutors and the deputy police chief along with Oklahoma City's chief civil attorney.

The hearings lasted for two full days. Usually, the video shows, prosecutors with the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office were inside the judge’s office along with a representative of the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office. While court records indicate there was a court reporter present, but it is unclear what all was recorded for the record. The video of people coming and going show there were multiple times when only the lead prosecutor was left along either in the courtroom or in the judge’s private chambers.

The District Attorney’s office will not return our messages to determine if the court reporter captured all conversations that happened about the case or if the lead prosecutor had one-on-one discussions with the judge about Holtzclaw.

One of Oklahoma City’s senior attorneys who was present would not comment on his role at the hearing, and whether he was there to testify or acting as the attorney for the police department.

The victims in Holtzclaw's case are suing Oklahoma City, which means the hearing could either hurt those cases or create new legal problems for the city if it the hearing is focused on wrongdoing to Holtzclaw. Those who have followed the case the closest believe that is most likely the case.

“If you're asking me to guess,” Bates told FOX 25, “I would say this is obviously in Daniel’s favor. The prosecution has circled the wagons. I can guarantee you if any of this information was negative to Daniel they'd have sent it out in a press release.”

Even for those convinced of Holtzclaw’s criminal conviction, there was another party kept in the out; the victims who say they were sexually assaulted. Their lives could be dramatically impacted by the substance and outcome of the hearing but they too were not allowed a representative in the court proceedings.

Finally, the public, which pays for everything from the prosecution to the light bills that keep the courtroom illuminated, is left in the dark.

While District Attorney David Prater has not returned calls, emails or text messages about the hearing or its potential impact on other cases, he did issue a brief statement when FOX 25 first revealed the existence of new information in the case. He said then that the new information has nothing to do with any wrongdoing by his office or his prosecutors.

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