The New York Times reported yesterday (here) that Roger Logan, 53, has been exonerated and released from prison as a result of the ongoing probe of 90 murder cases by a conviction review unit under the direction of Kings County District Attorney Kenneth P. Thompson. Logan—the seventh man to be released since Thompson took office on January 1, 2014—had steadfastly maintained his innocence during the 17 years he served in prison following his conviction and sentence of 25 years to life.
Logan had been convicted of the 1997 shooting of Sherwin Gibbons, who was killed in the vestibule of a Bedford-Stuyvesant building.
The Conviction Integrity Unit is looking at all 57 murder convictions involving former detective, Louis Scarcella, whose unorthodox tactics and unraveling convictions have prompted serious scrutiny, as well as other convictions stemming especially from the 1980s and 1990s, a time of rampant crime and violence. Continue reading
From the Associated Press:
NEW YORK — Brooklyn’s district attorney says he plans to spend more than $1 million to review questionable convictions over the next budget year.
District Attorney Kenneth Thompson told a City Council budget hearing Tuesday that his office is dealing with an “epic” number of questionable convictions.
He said his Conviction Review Unit has overturned the convictions of six men.
According to the Wall Street Journal (http://on.wsj.com/1tjaOqI ), he said “With every case that’s publicized, additional cases are sent to my office for review.”
Thompson says 10 of his office’s 153 prosecutors have been assigned to the unit, in addition to three investigators and other staff.
He came into office this year promising to make addressing allegations of wrongful convictions a priority.
It’s been a common refrain in the innocence movement that when an airliner crashes there is an intense investigation on how it happened to prevent similar crashes, but when a wrongful conviction occurs the criminal-justice system does nothing to prevent a recurrence.
Well, that’s about the change. According to The Crime Report, the major criminal-justice players in Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Baltimore have agreed to develop a system to review cases that went wrong or almost went wrong in an attempt to keep similar mistakes from happening again. Stephen Handelman writes about the project, which will be supported in part by the National Institute of Justice, here.
Are prosecutors’ conviction-review or conviction-integrity units a sincere effort to right wrongs or an insincere attempt to cover up challenged cases with a heavy layer of whitewash? Hella Winston explores the issue in an excellent article for The Crime Report, which you will find here.
Brooklyn (NY) Supreme Court Justice Raymond Guzman vacated the murder convictions of Antonio Yarbough, 39, and Sharrif Wilson, 37, Thursday after the two had served 21 years in prison for a 1992 triple murder—that of Mr. Yarbough’s mother, his twelve-year-old sister, and her friend. The two men, who were 15 and 18 at the time of the murders, have long claimed they did not commit them. Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson dismissed the cases against the men.
No physical evidence had connected the two men to the crime. The post-conviction breakthrough came last year when DNA testing of evidence found under the fingernails of Mr. Yarbough’s mother matched DNA from a subsequent rape and murder that occurred in 1999 when Yarbough and Wilson were in prison. Family members cheered as the decision was announced in court. Continue reading
- The unintended consequences of compensating the exonerated
- Canada’s system for reviewing alleged wrongful convictions “failing miserably”
- West Virginia University Law Innocence Project pushes interrogation recording bill
- What does a record number of U.S. exonerations in 2013 tell us?
- ESPN video on the wrongful accusation against Richard Jewel for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing
- Ex-cop exonerated after 20 years in prison awarded $9 million
- Mexican lawyers turned filmmakers win civil suit against them brought by family of victim in wrongful conviction case they exposed through the documentary Presumed Guilty
- Planned changes in UK’s compensation laws for exonerees will make it nearly impossible to obtain compensation after wrongful conviction
- New Zealand Innocence Project re-ignites debate about the need for a wrongful convictions commission
- Idaho Innocence Project client Sarah Pearce may soon be released—settlement discussions ongoing
Carole McCartney previously blogged about Victor Nealon’s case here and the set-backs he and his lawyer had encountered trying to get his conviction referred to the UK Court of Appeal via the UK Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), the latter which had repeatedly refused Nealon’s request for DNA testing. Subsequently, independent DNA testing commissioned by Nealon’s lawyer found new DNA evidence belonging to another unknown man on the victim’s clothes. The Court of Appeal finally heard Nealon’s case today and ordered his release. Nealon has spent 17 years in jail. Read the Guardian’s write-up of the case here.
As reported (here) in the New York Daily News, New York Supreme Court Justice Desmond Green yesterday denied a motion by the Brooklyn District Attorney to suppress a subpoena, submitted by lawyers for inmate Shabaka Shakur, to obtain the files of former police Detective Louis Scarcella. The retired detective is implicated in possible tampering in nearly 40 cases that may have resulted in wrongful convictions. In addition to the denied motion, the judge ordered the Brooklyn D.A. to provide the files of all the identified cases, two at a time, to the judge himself for review.
District Attorney Charles “Joe” Hynes had called for the review of Scarcella’s cases, after his Convictions Integrity Unit had cleared the conviction of David Ranta. Mr. Ranta had spent 23 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Continue reading