Author Archives: Mark Godsey

Tuesday’s Quick Clicks…

In Ghana, a newspaper reporter is suing the government for 2 million Ghanaian Cedi ($500,000 USD) for wrongful imprisonment…

In Scotland, family members of the Lockerbie bombing victims lose bid to overturn the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi…

In the US, President Obama has signed a bill that will expand clemency powers to allow the release of nonviolent drug offenders…

Judge identifies 12 huge lies about Justice in America…

Monday’s Quick Clicks…

The New Jersey legislature has passed a bill that will increase the availability of DNA testing for all inmates claiming to have been wrongfully convicted…

The Michigan Supreme Court has granted a new trial for a Michigan Innocence Project client Leo Ackley…

Rhode Island expands law to allow DNA testing for those convicted of any violent crime…

Steve Wax of the Oregon Innocence Project explains the new Oregon DNA testing law

Thursday’s Quick Clicks…

The Governor of Oregon has signed a law that will expand access to post-conviction DNA testing…

The ACLU of Nebraska and the Nebraska Innocence Project are suing to obtain jailhouse records on behalf of an Omaha man who was convicted of murder in 2009…

The Economist reports a global trend toward abolition of the death penalty…

The Oklahoma Innocence Project has filed an application for post-conviction relief on behalf of a Tulsa man convicted of 2001 murder…

Wednesday’s Quick Clicks…

Adnan Syed of “Serial” podcast seeks evidentiary hearing on new alibi evidence…

new bill designed to strengthen the UK court system’s ability to overturn wrongful convictions has been presented to Parliament…

A year after being exonerated, Kevin Martin files $30 million compensation suit against the District of Columbia for the 26 years he spent wrongfully imprisoned…

Illinois exoneree Darrell Williams finally gets a shot at playing in the NBA

South African Constitutional Court Orders Immediate Release of Wrongfully Imprisoned Man

With help from the Wits Justice Project, South African  Thembekile Molaudzi was released from prison last week after serving 11 years for the 2002 murder of Dingaan Makuna, a Mothutlung policeman. The only evidence implicating Molaudzi was the confession of another man also accused of the crime. After a long battle, the Constitutional Court overturned Molaudzi’s conviction, issuing him a Warrant of Liberation that called for his immediate release.

Tuesday’s Quick Clicks

A new study suggests that North Carolina’s reckless use of the death penalty threatens the innocent…

Exonerated death row inmate Glenn Ford died yesterday a year after being released from prison…

In Alaska, an inmate’s confession promises new trial for the Fairbanks Four…

Monday’s Quick Clicks…

Wisconsin Innocence Project client Dan Scheidell’s 1995 conviction for sexual assault was vacated last week after DNA evidence implicated another individual…

Texas exoneree Anthony Graves who spent 12 years on death row before being exonerated in 2006, has been appointed to the board of directors for the Houston Forensic Science Center…

Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese and many others attended and spoke at the first International Innocence Conference held in Dublin, Ireland last weekend…

A Michigan man has been cleared of a 1992 rape after serving 17 years in prison for the crime…

According to LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey, Conviction Integrity Units are needed in order to preserve the integrity of prosecutor’s offices across the country…

Tuesday’s Quick Clicks…

In Canada, a wrongfully convicted man has been exonerated 45 years after being convicted of manslaughter…

Lincoln Caplan argues in the New Yorker that a recent SCOTUS ruling, overturning a Ninth Circuit decision calling for the retrial or release of a California inmate on death row, will have dire effects on prisoner rights…

New evidence of prosecutorial misconduct may be the key to overturning former No Limit rapper’s manslaughter conviction…

In Kansas, protesters aim to raise awareness for those who are wrongfully convicted…

The Irish High Court Issues a Ruling on Prisoner Access to Forensic Material

The Irish High Court recently ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to grant John Gerard McDonagh access to forensic materials collected during the murder investigation of Siobhán Hynes. McDonagh seeks the materials in a effort to prove himself innocent of Hynes’ rape and murder which took place in 2001.

According to the Court, access to these materials must be sought through the Garda Commission or the Director of Public Prosecutions. McDonagh is also entitled to seek access through the Court of Appeals.

In honor of the International Conference on Wrongful Conviction’s taking place in Ireland this week, here is a link to the Gaelic version of the article above.

Monday’s Quick Clicks…

USA Today discusses the post-release struggles of Jonathan Fleming who served 24 years of a life sentence before his murder conviction was overturned…

Last Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada denied Réjean Hinse compensation for the eight years he spent wrongfully imprisoned…

The DC Prisoners’ Project announced as one of 22 organizations to receive  DC Bar Foundation Legal Services Grant…

The West Virginia University College of Law Launches First National LL.M. Program in Forensic Justice

WVU-Law In conjunction with the Forensics & Investigative Science Department and the West Virginia Innocence Project, The West Virginia University College of Law, is launching the first national LL.M. in Forensic Justice. The one-year degree responds to the 2009 National Academy of Sciences Report on Forensic Sciences and the need for these scientific disciplines to be validated, and for lawyers to better comprehend how findings are used in the courtroom. Courses will be taught by both law faculty and forensic & investigative science faculty on topics such as Impression and Trace Evidence, Forensic Quality Assurance, and Foundations of Criminalistics. All courses are specifically created and structured for attorneys and for the use of science in the courtroom. Applications are now being accepted.
For more information, visit: http://law.wvu.edu/forensic-llm; or contact Valena Beety at: valena.beety@mail.wvu.edu.

Friday’s Quick Clicks…

Governor of California Jerry Brown signs legislation authorizing $698, 400 pay-out to three wrongfully convicted individuals…

A Cook County Judge refused to grant a certificate of innocence to ex-death row inmate despite finding the man actually innocent…

Scott Henson named director of Texas Innocence Project…

In Alaska, the first of the “Fairbanks Four” leaves prison for halfway house…

Louisiana appeals court blocks release of “Angola Three” inmate Albert Woodfox…

Wednesday’s Quick Clicks…

The Shifted Paradigm: Forensic Sciences’s Overdue Evolution from Magic to Law

Chris Fabricant and Tucker Carrington have posted the above-titled article on SSRN.  Download here.  The abstract states:

A decade ago a controversial article in Science Magazine predicted a coming “paradigm shift” that would push forensic sciences toward fundamental change as the result of “[l]egal and scientific forces . . . converging to drive an emerging skepticism about the claims of the traditional forensic individualization sciences.” This article argues that the predicted paradigm shift has occurred. We support our thesis through a deconstruction of the jurisprudence of two of the forensic disciplines implicated in numerous wrongful convictions – forensic odontology (bite mark analysis) and forensic hair microscopy – and an examination of a confluence of unprecedented events currently altering the landscape of forensic sciences. The empirical evidence and data gathered here demonstrates that traditional forensic identification techniques, as well as the doctrines supporting them, are ultimately no more than a house of cards built on unvalidated hypotheses and unsubstantiated or non-existent data. Several very serious consequences result, among them that state, and to some extent federal, jurisprudence that stands for the proposition that this type of evidence is admissible is objectively erroneous and must be reevaluated and effectively rejected as valid precedent; and that the long-overdue paradigm shift presents a unique ethical challenge to criminal justice professionals, one that current professional ethics regimes fail to adequately capture, even though fundamental due process norms compel the conclusion that prosecutors, defense attorneys, forensic experts and their respective governing bodies have an ethical, moral and legal duty to revisit affected cases and provide remedies. Put differently, the “path forward” for forensic sciences that the National Academy of Sciences identified in its seminal 2009 report must have a rear-view mirror.

Citing U.S. Innocence Model, Israel Grants Inmate Right to Post-Conviction DNA Testing In Case of Murdered Judge

From Haaretz:

The state has agreed to let a man convicted in the 2004 murder of Judge Adi Azar to send cigarette butts that were collected from the crime scene for DNA testing as part of his request for a retrial to prove his innocence, after the High Court of Justice suggested it do so.

The prosecution had originally refused to hand over the evidence to Yitzhak Zuziashvilli, based on the doctrine of finality of judgment. But during a hearing last week on a petition Zuziashvilli had submitted to the High Court, Justices Elyakim Rubinstein, Hanan Melcer and Anat Baron suggested that the prosecution reconsider because they planned to accept the petition.

The Public Defender’s Office, which had joined Zuziashvilli’s petition, cited data from the Innocence Project in the United States, which is dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing. According to the data, DNA tests have led to the exposure of 329 wrongful convictions since the project was launched in 1992. In 149 cases, the testing led to the identification of the real criminal.

In addition to finality of judgment, the prosecution objected to the testing because Azar’s widow strenuously objected to have the case reopened, saying it would cause the family pain. To this defense attorney Shay Hemo countered with a quoted from Judge Dafne Barak-Erez in a different murder case in which additional forensic testing was requested by a defendant, who said, “The opposition of family members cannot be the only or determining factor, since the fate of the defendant is also at stake.”

The Public Defender’s Office criticized the policy of the state prosecution, which it said poses many obstacles to conducting testing on evidence for the purpose of requesting a retrial. According to the Public Defender’s Office, this policy has blocked the discovery of wrongful convictions and other errors in ostensibly conclusive verdicts, errors of the type that have been exposed in other countries by post-trial testing conducted on pieces of evidence.

The Public Defender’s Office cited seven instances in which it had sought help from the prosecution in locating investigative material to examine it after a trial. In four of them, the defense attorneys wanted the evidence to undergo scientific testing. In two of these cases the evidence had been destroyed, even though these were murder cases, for which evidence is meant to be kept forever. In the two other cases, the prosecution simply refused to give them access.

In the other three cases the defense attorneys wanted to read through and photocopy investigative material, but in two of them the material was never handed over, despite repeated requests.

Thursday’s Quick Clicks…

Friday’s Quick Clicks…

Another Success For Knoops Innocence Project in the Netherlands…

From website:

The Supreme Court of the Netherlands decided on Tuesday (26 May 2015) to reopen the case against Martien Hunnik and referred the case to the Court of Appeals for a new trial. Martien Hunnik was convicted in 1984 for killing the Hilversum record label boss, Bart van de Laar, in 1981.

Hunnik was convicted for manslaughter and sentenced to two years imprisonment and “TBR”, a closed treatment facility for mentally ill offenders with diminished criminal responsibility. In the Netherlands, there is a gradual system of accruing criminal responsibility to mentally ill offenders; therefore it is possible to impose both a prison sentence and to order treatment in a mental facility.

Hunnik, who is represented by Mr. Knoops and Ms. Vosman of the Knoops’ Innocence Project, was convicted on the basis of false confessions he made in January 1983 and which he retracted in April of that year. Behavioral research demonstrated that Mr. Hunnik, at the time of his false confessions, had the tendency to confabulate and to distort the facts. Mr. Hunnik himself says he was mentally ill at that time and in search of attention.

Tuesday’s Quick Clicks…

Tuesday’s Quick Clicks…