Weekend Quick Clicks…

Submit Papers for Innocence Network Conference…

The Innocence Scholarship Committee of the Innocence Network is seeking high quality social science and legal scholarship for presentation at the 2015 Innocence Network Conference in Orlando, Florida on May 1-2 (http://www.innocencenetwork.org/conference).

Areas of research are open but should touch upon the multifaceted causes, implications, and/or remedies of wrongful conviction. International papers are welcome but must be submitted in English. Please submit a title and paper proposal to the Innocence Scholarship Committee at this G-Mail account: innocencescholarship@gmail.com by February 13, 2015. Paper proposals must be no more than 200 words. Completed drafts must be submitted to the Committee by April 17th, 2015.

The Innocence Scholarship Committee is actively seeking publication for those papers accepted for Conference presentations in a law review symposium edition. More information about that is forthcoming.

The Innocence Scholarship Committee is comprised of the following Members: Professor Aliza Kaplan, Oregon Innocence Project, Lewis & Clark School of Law, Portland, Oregon; Professor Valena Beety, West Virginia Innocence Project, West Virginia School of Law; and Dr. Robert Schehr, Arizona Innocence Project, Northern Arizona University.

China: Court reverses death penalty decision; police officer arrested.

Inner Mongolia’s High People’s Court has overturned the conviction of Huugjilt, an ethnic Mongolian, for the rape and murder of a woman in Hohot. Huugjilt had been put to death in 1996. The court officially apologised to the man’s family and the head of the court made a personal donation of 30 k yuan. The case has attracted much criticism and outrage. Media report here.

The police officer in charge of the case has just been arrested and charged with using torture to obtain a confession among others. Media report here.

Mississippi Supreme Court Overturns Conviction Involving Steven Hayne, Shaken Baby Syndrome

We’ve posted previously about Dr. Steven Hayne here.  Hayne was the now-discredited, long-time medical examiner for the state of Mississippi; notorious for his questionable forensic testimony.

Dr. Hayne’s cases keep unraveling; however, this case does not center specifically on Hayne’s credibility, but rather on the defendant’s being denied the ability to hire an expert to challenge Hayne’s credibility in court.

See the story by Radley Balko of the Washington Post here.

Center for Prosecutor Integrity’s 2015 Innocence Summit – Call for Session Proposals

CPI Logo

2015 Innocence Summit – Invitation for Workshop Proposals

Crowne Plaza Hotel, Arlington, Virginia              June 12-13, 2015

 The Center for Prosecutor Integrity (CPI) is announcing its Invitation for Workshop Proposals for the 2015 Innocence Summit, themed “Forging Best Practices for Innocence Reform.” CPI invites individuals and organizations throughout the criminal legal system to submit a proposal.

Workshops are designed to educate attendees on issues of substantive law and practical interest. Recent research findings, program descriptions, case studies, legal analyses, advocacy strategies, and innovative solutions are all welcome.

Proposals must include the following:

  • Workshop title
  • Three learning objectives
  • Description of the workshop content (maximum 500 words)
  • Presenter biography (maximum 250 words)

Proposals are welcome from a variety of presenters and using a variety of presentation formats. Workshops will be 60 minutes in length.

Proposals should be submitted here: summit@prosecutorintegrity.org. Applications are due no later than Friday, January 16th, 2015.

Applicants will be notified whether their proposal has been selected by February 20th. Presenters are responsible for their own conference registration, travel, and lodging expenses. Further information about the Innocence Summit can be found here: http://www.prosecutorintegrity.org/summit/2015-3/

Last year’s Innocence Summit was a great success, and we invite you to participate in this exciting opportunity to advance best practices for innocence reform!

If you have any questions, contact Gina Lauterio, CPI Program Director, at summit@prosecutorintegrity.org .

Thank you,

Gina R. Lauterio Esq., Program Director, Center for Prosecutor Integrity (CPI)

P.O. Box 1221, Rockville, MD 20849

Office: 301-801-0608, Cell: 908-783-3542

Email: glauterio@prosecutorintegrity.orgInternet: www.prosecutorintegrity.org

The Center for Prosecutor Integrity, a 501(c)3 organization, works toward preserving the presumption of innocence, assuring equal treatment under the law, and ending wrongful convictions.

A Word About Conviction Integrity Units

There has been a reasonable amount of fanfare recently about the establishment of “conviction integrity units.”  See Mark Godsey’s December 11 WCB post, “Center for Prosecutor Integrity Surveys Rise of Conviction Integrity Units”, here.

We can do nothing but applaud these efforts, but there is one aspect of these units that troubles me.  They are all totally contained within the prosecutor’s office.  Does anyone else think this presents an inherent conflict of interest?  My suspicion is that, because of increasing publicity about wrongful convictions, prosecutors are establishing these things to politically bolster their public image. Call me cynical – and we should welcome every step toward true justice – but I tend to see a fox guarding the hen house and a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  Is there any requirement that all proceedings of these units be public record?

My belief is that the model for how these units should be set up is the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, which has been in operation since 2007.  What I think is notable here is the composition of the commission: the members include a Superior Court Judge, a Prosecuting Attorney, a Defense Attorney, a Victim Advocate, a Member of the Public, a Sheriff, and two Discretionary members.  This shows a reasoned effort to endow the commission with objectivity.

In a very recent development, the Innocence Project of New Orleans has announced that it is partnering with the Orleans district attorney’s office to establish a joint “conviction review project.” See the IPNO announcement here. This is a big deal, and will bear watching.

Appeals Court Dismisses Debra Milke Murder Charges

We have previously posted about the Debra Milke case here and here.

Milke was originally convicted of murder for having her 4-year-old son killed. The conviction rested upon the testimony of a rogue cop, who claims she confessed to him, although there is no documented record of that confession, and Milke denies it ever happened. This officer had a history of substantial misconduct, and that record was withheld from the defense.

In a ruling just today – citing “egregious prosecutorial misconduct,” the Arizona Court of Appeals on Thursday ordered a Maricopa County Superior Court judge to dismiss murder charges against Debra Milke with prejudice, meaning they cannot be brought again.

See the azcentral story here.