Mark GodseyDaniel P. & Judith L. Carmichael Professor of Law, University of Cincinnati College of Law; Director, Center for the Global Study of Wrongful Conviction; Director, Rosenthal Institute for Justice/Ohio Innocence Project | Email | Profile
Justin BrooksProfessor, California Western School of Law; Director, California Innocence Project | Email
Cheah Wui LingAssistant Professor, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore Email | Profile
Daniel EhighaluaNigerian Barrister; Project Director, Innocence Project Nigeria Email
C Ronald HuffProfessor of Criminology, Law & Society and Sociology, University of California-Irvine Email | Profile
Phil LockeScience and Technology Advisor, Ohio Innocence Project and Duke Law Wrongful Convictions Clinic Email
Dr. Carole McCartneySenior Lecturer, School of Law, University of Leeds; Founder, University of Leeds Innocence Project | Email | Profile
Nancy PetroAuthor and Advocate
Kana SasakuraAssociate Professor, Faculty of Law, Konan University; Visiting Scholar, University of Washington School of Law; Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW)
Dr. Robert SchehrProfessor, Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, Northern Arizona University; Executive Director, Arizona Innocence Project Email | Profile
Shiyuan HuangAssociate Professor, Shandong University Law School; Visiting Scholar, University of Cincinnati College of Law Email | Profile
Ulf StridbeckProfessor of Law, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo, Norway
Martin YantAuthor and Private Investigator Email | Profile
Category Archives: DNA
Time and again, we are reminded that ‘junk science’ can so easily lead to injustice. This need not just be wrongful convictions, but can damage confidence in the justice system in many ways, including giving false hope to victims. However, it is shocking to still see cases where BAD science can lead to people being wrongfully convicted. It is still happening daily around the world. In the US, ‘bite mark’ evidence is still being used to convict, EVEN when the bite mark evidence given at trial is later reversed by the same experts - read the shocking story here….
Fortunately for one suspect – DNA evidence came to his rescue – albeit 3months after his arrest and imprisonment on child rape charges. The suspect had been identified by the victim AND failed a lie detector test, but was eventually freed when DNA testing that he had pleaded for, linked to another convicted felon who lived nearby. The Prosecutor had only reluctantly agreed to DNA testing, stating previously that it would be ‘a waste of taxpayers money’. Read here…
This is a shocking reminder that prosecutors and governments as a whole, often think of forensic science as a ‘cost’ that can be cut. This is playing out now in the UK, with the ongoing cost-cutting which has seen the closure of the Forensic Science Service and full privatisation of the forensic science ‘market’, as well as the slashing of police science budgets. Now, finally, the media are reporting on the shocking delay in the UK of utilising advances in DNA profiling. Read more here….
How long before we are counting the cost in terms of wrongfully convicted individuals?
- The legislature in the state of Washington has approved a measure that allows people who were wrongfully convicted to receive a minimum of $50,000 a year for each year they were behind bars. The House on Monday unanimously concurred with changes made by the Senate last week when that chamber unanimously passed the bill. It now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee, who is expected to sign it into law, and Washington will join 27 states, the District of Columbia and the federal government with similar laws on the books.
- Dr. Greg Hampikian, director of the Idaho Innocence Project, has developed a tool to help prevent DNA contamination in labs
- Article about confirmation bias in the forensic sciences
Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Kentucky in a unanimous decision, reversed a lower court ruling and opined that appellants were entitled to DNA testing in a non-capital case. The testing was sought by two men convicted in the 1992 murder of Rhonda Sue Warford. The men have always claimed innocence.
The opinion reflected the high court’s surprise by the state’s resistance to do the testing in view of the state’s own argument that the testing might not exculpate Continue reading
- Texas moves one step closer to establishing an exoneration review commission
- Kevin Curtis, the Elvis impersonator falsely accused of mailing letters laced with ricin to Barack Obama and U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, was released Tuesday night and gave an exclusive, and bizarre, interview to CNN’s Piers Morgan.
- In Canada, man wrongfully convicted of rape sues government 43 years later
- California Innocence Project supporters soon to begin their 600 mile walk for justice
- Great DNA access decision by Kentucky Supreme Court
- Spotlight on new West Virginia Innocence Project
- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has refused to hear en banc a 2012 decision affirming a grant of habeas corpus where the panel referenced scientific literature submitted by amicus curiae, The Innocence Project, on ways in which in-court identifications can be tainted by the facts of the crime, prior identification procedures and other factors.
- Statute of limitations issues may haunt prosecution of former prosecutor now judge Ken Anderson, charged with criminal offenses for his conduct leading to the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton.
- After 24 years in prison, Wyoming man gets retrial, taste of freedom, and a cookie
- Georgia needs a method to compensate the wrongfully convicted.
Yesterday, the Texas House voted on HB 166, a bill that would create the Timothy Cole Exoneration Review Commission. This so-called innocence commission would investigate past exoneration cases to find out why the wrongful conviction happened in the first place. The group would not intervene in pending cases or open cases without an exoneration.
A Vancouver man suing for compensation for 27 years in prison for sex assaults he didn’t commit has won a preliminary round in court against the provincial government. The government opposed Ivan Henry’s application in B.C. Supreme Court to change his legal claim that would spell out the circumstances where the province can be held liable for breaching his rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The government claimed the rule of prosecutorial immunity only allows claims for charter breaches to succeed if they arose from malicious conduct by the prosecutor. But Justice Richard Goepel ruled in Henry’s favour, finding “that a claim lies against the province for charter damages if the plaintiff can establish that Crown counsel acted in a marked and unacceptable departure from the reasonable standards expected of Crown counsel.”
- Nice profile of Donna McKneelen of the Innocence Project at Cooley
Judge Louis Sturns of Fort Worth today issued an arrest warrant for former Williamson County Prosecutor Ken Anderson, currently a Texas District judge, for his handling of the case of Michael Morton. According to the Wall Street Journal (here), following a weeklong Court of Inquiry earlier this year, Judge Sturns has ruled that there was sufficient evidence that Anderson “was guilty of all three charges brought against him: criminal contempt of court, tampering with evidence and tampering with government records.” Continue reading
Congratulations to Jeramie R. Davis and to the Innocence Project Northwest!
From Spokane, Washington (The Spokesman-Review):
A man who spent nearly six years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit had one request today after a judge set him free: a double cheeseburger from Zips.
Jeramie R. Davis, 42, also looked forward to bonding with his 5-year-old son, Elijah, who was born shortly after his arrest in 2007.
“He really doesn’t know who I am,” Davis said of his son. “I want to get to know him.
Today’s release ended years of investigations, a conviction, DNA tests, a second trial that convicted a different man and scores of legal arguments stemming from the June 17, 2007, bludgeoning death of 74-year-old porn shop owner John G. “Jack” Allen.
“I’m grateful,” Davis said of years of legal battles by defense attorneys Anna Tolin, Kevin Curtis and others who labored on his behalf. Continue reading
- In St. Louis, Rodney Lincoln’s lawyers, from the Midwest Innocence Project, argue that DNA results contradict faulty science and misleading testimony that was key to sending him to prison three decades ago on a double life sentence.
- Karen A. Goodrow, former Director of the Connecticut Innocence Project, appointed to the bench in CT.
- The Illinois Appellate Court on Friday granted an evidentiary hearing to a Chicago man, Charles Johnson, who has long claimed he was wrongfully convicted of a 1995 double murder, saying new evidence that defense attorneys claim implicates another man “would probably” lead to his acquittal at a retrial. The appeals court also took the unusual step of assigning the case to a new trial court judge, agreeing with defense attorneys that Cook County Judge Joseph Kazmierski “appears to have prejudged a central issue” regarding the evidence. Kazmierski had presided over the original trial.
- New Jersey bill would raise compensation for wrongfully convicted
- A woman who served 27 years of a life sentence for her husband’s murder — despite not being present when he was killed — was among 87 people granted clemency by Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday. Peggy Jo Jackson left the Logan Correctional Center on Friday and headed to South Carolina, where she’ll live with her sister and mother and complete her parole, said Erica Nichols-Cook, an attorney with the Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois-Springfield.
This is my second stab at responding to an opinion piece (here) in the New York Times written by Leila Schneps, a mathematician and mystery writer, and her daughter Coralie Colmez, who have co-authored “Math on Trial: How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Courtroom.” (I deleted yesterday’s post to give this more thought and expand on the issues raised in the op-ed piece.) I’ll first briefly address the authors’ troubling and rather contrived tie-in to the Italian High Court’s overturning of the acquittal of Amanda Knox. The NY Times piece otherwise makes a point worth stressing. Continue reading
Singapore: DNA results (among others) leads to the quashing of death row inmate’s conviction by the Singapore Court of Appeal
On 11 March 2013, the Singapore Court of Appeal quashed the conviction of a death row inmate. Mervin Singh had been sentenced to death for drug trafficking by the lower court.
Singapore’s Misuse of Drugs Act presumes that a person is possesses a drug for the purpose of trafficking if he or she is found with certain drugs above specified amounts. The said person is then required to rebut this presumption. Singh argued that he had not known that the package he had been found with contained drugs. Rather, he believed that the package held contraband cigarettes. The Court of Appeal accepted Singh’s argument. Among others, the Court of Appeal cast doubt on the narcotics officer’s claims that he had seen Singh opening and looking into the package, highlighting inconsistencies between the officer’s earlier statement and his testimony at trial.
The court also noted that Singh’s DNA had not been found on the box, the newspaper sheets, or the plastic bags containing the drugs.
The important role played by DNA testing in this case is noteworthy. Many studies show how the practice of DNA testing has led to the prevention and overturning of wrongful convictions in many countries. Singh was fortunate on many counts. He was lucky that there was evidence that could be subjected to DNA testing. He was lucky that DNA analysis was conducted. And he was lucky that the Court of Appeal gave sufficient weight to the results of this analysis. This raises a number of points: 1. Sometimes a piece of evidence that could be submitted for DNA analysis may not be available at the time of trial or the said evidence, though available, may not have been tested due to unintentional oversight or mistakes made in good faith; 2. It is necessary to ensure that there are laws or regulations in place that provide for the preservation of evidence, access to evidence, and DNA testing; 3. There should be accessible and transparent procedures that enable convicted persons and their legal representatives to request access to preserved evidence or submit new evidence for DNA testing at a post-conviction stage.
Last Friday a federal jury awarded $13.2 million in compensation to David Ayers, who served 13 years of a life-without-parole prison sentence for a murder that DNA eventually proved he didn’t commit. This should certainly get the attention of Cleveland and Ohio taxpayers if the horror of an innocent person languishing in prison while the true murderer escapes justice is not troubling enough. It should also motivate voters to signal zero tolerance for official misconduct (a recurring contributor to wrongful convictions) and to require implementation of known best practices in criminal justice procedure.
- Ohio’s public records law dies slow death of 1,000 cuts
- More than 30 years after he was convicted, a Virginia man has been cleared of abducting a woman and her two young children. The Virginia Supreme Court on Monday granted Garry Lowell Diamond a writ of actual innocence, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said in a news release
- In the UK, a man jailed in connection with a murder in Chorleywood 18 years ago is to have his case heard at the Court of Appeal. Kevin Lane was found guilty of using a shotgun to kill Robert Magill while he walked his dog in 1996. Appeals judges are expected to hear concerns over a Hertfordshire police officer involved in the investigation who was later jailed. Lane’s solicitor Maslen Merchant told the BBC: “This is a significant development in what has been a long and arduous journey for Kevin and his legal team.” The case has been reviewed twice by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) which refused to refer the case for appeal. He subsequently applied directly to the Court of Appeal which instructed the CCRC to look at “particular points”. The announcement comes almost exactly a year after the Innocence Network UK (INUK) listed Lane’s among 45 cases it believes should be heard by the Court of Appeal.
While the U.S. Supreme Court debates whether police should have the right to take DNA samples from all people arrested for crimes, Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, goes further. He says governments should take DNA from everyone as the best way to prevent wrongful convictions as well as to solve more crimes. You can read his Slate commentary here.
- Washington State exoneree Ted Bradford sues detective on his case
- Allegations of false confessions in high-profile prosecution in the Ukraine
- Exoneree Brian Banks on a mission
- The Ryan Ferguson case highlights how difficult it is to correct a wrongful conviction
- More than 10,000 untested rape kits found in Michigan
- California Innocence Project attorneys Justin P. Brooks and Jan Stiglitz have been named Attorneys of the Year by California Lawyer magazine.
- State of Washington considers exoneree compensation bill
- On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard two habeas cases with relevance to innocence work
- Exoneree Bill Dillon to speak at the University of North Carolina
- Wyoming waits to finally find the answer, innocent or guilty, as DNA testing begins in its first post-conviction DNA testing case.
- Citing Michael Morton’s wrongful murder conviction, Texas state Sen. John Whitmire filed a bill Tuesday that would reset the statute of limitations for exonerated Texans who allege that a prosecutor improperly hid evidence or information favorable to the defense. Senate Bill 825 would give exonerees four years from the date of their release from prison to file a grievance with the State Bar of Texas, which oversees attorney discipline. The statute of limitations currently begins at the time a violation occurs, though it allows time to be extended if a violation could not be discovered earlier because of “fraud or concealment.”
- Exoneree compensation bill in the works in Colorado and in Washington state
- Defiant, angry and frustrated, former prosecutor Ken Anderson took the stand on Friday to defend himself, ending a week of dramatic testimony in an unusual court of inquiry that is examining whether the former district attorney committed criminal misconduct during the trial that led to the wrongful murder conviction of Michael Morton.
- Randolph Arledge walks free in Texas after DNA test results are returned; exoneration in his murder case pending
Amanda Knox will give her first TV interview, since being absolved of murder charges in Italy, with Diane Sawyer on ABC April 30, 2013.
See story here.
- Director explains name change from “Medill Innocence Project” to “Medill Justice Project”
- Exoneree Michael Morton says inquiry into prosecutor turned judge Ken Anderson and his role in allegedly hiding exculpatory evidence marks the beginning of the “road to accountability.”
- Innocence Project of Florida wins right to DNA testing for Esdras Cardona, who was convicted of rape in 2006