Category Archives: Events

Flawed Forensics – Part of a TV Series from Al Jazeera America Examining the US Justice System

Al Jazeera America is running an eight part series called The System which examines the state of the justice system in the US.  This coming Sunday, June 1, the program will cover flawed forensics, and will highlight the case of Mississippi death row inmate Willie Manning.  Manning is a victim of the now-acknowledged faulty hair analysis practices of the FBI.

There is a zip code box on the Al Jazeera America home page to help you find their programming in your area:

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Here is the schedule for the entire series, The System:

Episode 1: False Confessions, Sunday May 18th at 9E/6P

Episode 2: Mandatory Sentencing, Sunday May 25th at 9E/6P

Episode 3: Flawed Forensics, Sunday June 1st at 9E/6P

Episode 4: Eyewitness Identification, Sunday June 8th at 9E/6P

Episode 5: Parole: High Risks, High Stakes, Sunday June 15th at 9E/6P

Episode 6: Juvenile Justice, Sunday June 22nd at 9E/6P

Episode 7: Geography of Punishment, Sunday June 29th at 9E/6P

Episode 8: Prosecutorial Misconduct, Sunday July 6th at 9E/6P
 

 

Friday’s Quick Clicks…

Innocence Network Conference…..

It’s time for the annual Innocence Network Conference, this year in Portland, Oregon.  All the innocence leaders from around the U.S. (and world) are currently descending on this beautiful city in the mountains for 3 days of learning and sharing.  Find details about the conference here

Wrongful Convictions Symposium in Chicago will Honor Rob Warden

The Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern School of Law will recognize its co-founder and longtime executive director Rob Warden as a “Champion of Justice,” at a Wrongful Convictions Symposium on May 9, 2014. The Symposium—to be held at Thorne Auditorium from 1:30 to 6:30 p.m.— is described as “a celebratory event to honor Rob Warden’s quest to free the innocent.” It is free and open to the public.

Barry Scheck, Co-Founder of the Innocence Project, will be the keynote speaker. The program will also include two panel discussions and a conversation with Warden and Eric Zorn, columnist for the Chicago Tribune. A reception will immediately follow.

Rob Warden, recipient of more than fifty journalism awards, is one of the leading pioneers in exposing the conviction of the innocent. He has dedicated much of his career to investigative journalism focused on cases of claimed injustice. His work has not only prompted the freeing of the wrongfully convicted, but also the expansion of awareness of the scope of conviction error. He has increased our understanding of the causes of and contributors to miscarriages of justice, and he has been at the forefront of exposing the risk of error in death penalty cases.

Lawrence Marshall, a former Northwestern law professor who co-founded the Center on Wrongful Convictions with Warden in 1999, credits Warden with contributing to the elimination of the death penalty in Illinois. At a conference in 1998, Warden helped highlight more than two-dozen persons who had been freed from death row. This sobering display of miscarriages in death penalty cases influenced then-Governor George Ryan in his decision to place a moratorium on the Illinois death penalty in 2000. It was abolished in the state in 2011.

Read more on Warden here, here, here, and here.

According to Dan Hinkel’s article in the Chicago Tribune (here), Warden, 73, has no intention of leaving the work of researching, writing, and advocating for an improved criminal justice system. The seemingly tireless journalist, author, and advocate intends to be a force in eliminating the death penalty nationwide.

Mr. Warden’s work has had an inestimable impact on the lives of those freed from prison after wrongful conviction and on our understanding of how the criminal justice system can come closer to its promise of fair and accurate justice for all. The upcoming symposium will provide an opportunity to celebrate and thank an inspiring original, an accomplished writer and advocate, a true American hero.

“Flawed Convictions – Shaken Baby Syndrome and the Inertia of Injustice”

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Sue Luttner has posted an excellent piece on her blog OnSBS about the new book by Prof. Deborah Tuerkheimer to be released in April – Flawed Convictions – Shaken Baby Syndrome and the Inertia of Injustice.

Please see Sue’s post here.

This book will be a must read for any involved in the SBS debate.

Tuesday’s Quick Clicks…

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The Center for Prosecutor Integrity Announces the 2014 Innocence Summit

The Innocence Movement is gathering momentum, credibility, and clout. The Innocence Summit 2014, to be held in Washington DC, will be the first time that the issue of prosecutorial reform moves front and center to become the focus of national deliberation and debate.

Worthy of note is that among the featured speakers will be Jim and Nancy Petro.  Jim is a former Attorney General of the State of Ohio, and of course, Nancy, in addition to many other innocence related activities, is a contributing editor on this blog.  They are co-authors of the book False Justice – Eight Myths that Convict the Innocent.

Read about the 2014 Innocence Summit here.

Anthony Graves, Exonerated Death Row Inmate, to File Grievance Against Former Texas Prosecutor Charles Sebesta

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Yet another case of egregious prosecutorial misconduct.

Anthony Graves was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death for a gruesome multiple homicide that occurred in Somerville, TX in August of 1992.  He was ultimately exonerated and released from prison in 2010.

The prosecutor in the case, Charles Sebesta, under intense public pressure for a conviction of Graves with a death sentence, ignored all evidence pointing to his innocence,  pressed ahead, and, as the special prosecutor appointed to handle Graves’ retrial said, “Sebesta manufactured evidence, misled jurors and elicited false testimony.”  The special prosecutor laid the blame for Graves’ wrongful conviction squarely at the feet of Sebesta.

Anthony Graves and the Houston law firm of Bob Bennett & Associates will file a grievance with the Texas Bar’s Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel seeking sanctions against Sebesta for his central role in Graves’ wrongful conviction and imprisonment.

Read the case statement of facts here – Statement-of-Facts.

You can see the full press packet here.

And read the Texas Monthly story here.

Editorial PS:  I think it’s tragic that Mr. Graves has to pursue redress through the Bar Association.  He should have remedy available through the courts.

2014 Innocence Network Conference Call For Papers

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The 2014 Innocence Network Conference is being held in Portland, Oregon on April 11-12 (http://www.innocencenetwork.org/conference).

 I am chairing the Innocence Scholarship panel session and seeking paper submissions for consideration. If either you, or someone you know would like to present their new scholarly research pertaining to wrongful conviction at the 2014 Innocence Network Conference, please have them contact me via email. Also, please feel free to share this request for papers with others who may be outside the Network and who may not have access to this list.
We are specifically seeking high quality scholarship. 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 abstract to me by January 31, 2014.
Thanks!
Dr. Robert Schehr
Professor, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Executive Director, Arizona Innocence Project

ArizonaInnocenceProject.org

Northern Arizona University

P.O. Box 15005
Flagstaff, Arizona 86001-5005
928.523.9979

Monday’s Quick Clicks…

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Former prosecutor accepts deal with jail time

As reported by ABC News (here), former Williamson County (TX) District Attorney Ken Anderson, 61, accepted a plea deal Friday that will likely end criminal and civil cases against him as a result of his handling of the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton. Anderson will serve 10 days in jail. He also will be disbarred and will be required to serve 500 hours of community service.

Michael Morton, the man who served nearly 25 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of the 1986 bludgeoning murder of  his wife, was present at the proceeding at the Williamson County Courthouse where Anderson recently resigned from his position as district judge.

Morton reportedly said, “It’s a good day.”

According to Morton’s attorney, all cases handled by Anderson will be subject to an audit to determine other possible misconduct.

Blog editors discuss wrongful convictions in China

Wrongful Convictions Blog editor Mark Godsey, left, and contributing editor Nancy Petro, second from right, are shown visting the Great Wall of China on Saturday. They are joined by Mark’s wife, defense attorney Michelle Berry Godsey, and Nancy’s husband, former Ohio attorney general Jim Petro. All four were invited to China to discuss wrongful convictions throughout the world.

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One of ‘Angola 3′ Dies Days After Release

Herman WallaceHerman Wallace, one of the Angola 3, died October 4, just three days after release from 41 years in solitary confinement.

The Angola 3 were three young black men who tried to raise awareness of the horrific, disgusting conditions that prevailed at Angola state prison in Louisiana in the early 1970’s – known at that time as “Bloody Angola.”  You can read the background story here.

As a consequence of their actions, they were singled out for retribution, and were framed for the murder of a prison guard.

You can read coverage here and here.

Thursday’s Quick Clicks…

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  • Exoneree says arrestee names should remain confidential
  • Murder conviction tossed in Georgia
  • An epidemic of prosecutor misconduct
  • Exoneree Fernando Bermudez to kick off ‘Dilemmas of Justice’ lecture series Sept. 24th
  • On Monday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that freed a California man who was wrongfully convicted in 1999 of being in possession of a concealed knife under California’s Three Strikes Law.  Daniel Larsen was convicted based largely on eyewitness identification. Two officers testified that they saw Larsen throw a knife under a car located in the parking lot of the Golden Apple Bar in Los Angeles. Because he had prior felony convictions, Larson was sentenced to serve 28 years to life in prison.  Larsen spent nearly 14 years in prison before his conviction was reversed by a U. S. District Court judge in 2010 after the California Innocence Project, which began representing Larson in 2002, found witnesses who testified seeing a different man holding the knife.

Friday’s Quick Clicks…

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California IP Kicks Off 600 Mile March for Freedom

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – Attorneys and students with the California Innocence Project at California Western School of Law have kicked off a two month, 600 mile march from San Diego to Sacramento.

Founded in 1999, the project’s mission is to reverse wrongful convictions and help release innocent people from prison.

“In some of these cases, I have actually had judges declare my clients innocent, and yet they are still sitting in prison,” said project director Justin Brooks.

Including the “California 12,” a dozen current inmates throughout the state whose individual cases, according to Brooks, show compelling evidence of innocence.

“Each one is a different reason, but there is one common theme and that is an innocent person who has been wrongfully convicted,” he said.

Among those showing their support Saturday was Ken Marsh. He spent 21 years in prison after being convicted in the death of a child who fell off a couch and hit his head.

“It’s so easy to incarcerate somebody. It’s an act of God to get them out of prison basically. And the California Innocence Project is doing just that,” he said.

Thanks to the efforts of the California Innocence Project, new evidence proved Marsh’s innocence. He has been free since 2004 and is now living in Colorado.

“Every day you spend in prison an innocent person just takes a day away from your life you never should have lost in the first place,” said Marsh.

NFL football player Brian Banks knows this all too well.

Last year, the Innocence Project made international headlines when it succeeded in getting his conviction on rape charges overturned, after he had spent five years behind bars for a crime he did not commit.

Just this month, Banks signed with the Atlanta Falcons.

“The idea we could exonerate a guy and get his entire life back, and now he’s in camp with the Falcons…That’s just incredible,” said Brooks.

Banks, as well as other exonerees, like Ken Marsh, will be joining parts of this 55-day trek to the state’s capital to show their support.

Notes from the 2013 Innocence Network Conference: Inspiring, Instructive, Productive

Not many wrongfully convicted people will one day play professional football. In fact, so far, just one Innocence Project client, exonerated after wrongful conviction and imprisonment, has been drafted by the National Football League. Brian Banks’s story is inspiring and higher-profile than most, yet, as the 2013 Innocence Network Conference convened last week in Charlotte, North Carolina, attendees were reminded that every exoneration is an inspiring story of determination and indomitable human spirit demonstrated by an unguaranteed quest for freedom and true justice, however delayed. Continue reading

Jeramie R. Davis Freed After Nearly 6 Years in Prison

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

National Registry of Exonerations to Hold Tweet Q&A Tomorrow….

The National Registry of Exonerations will be hosting a Twitter Q&A on April 3 from 1 to 1:30 PM EST.

Did you know that prosecutors and police are assisting with exonerations at record high levels?

This trend and other news from the National Registry of Exonerations will be discussed during a Twitter Q and A on Wednesday, April 3 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time. That day, the Registry will release a report on 2012 exonerations data.

Michigan Law Professor Samuel Gross, the editor of the Registry, and Maurice Possley, the Registry’s lead writer/investigator and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, will host a Twitter Q & A on their findings. The media and the public are invited to participate and ask questions by following #NRE12 or #innocence or @exonerationlist.

What is a Twitter Q and A?

It’s a time for Twitter users to gather online for a designated amount of time and discuss a particular topic organized around a common hashtag. This Q and A will run from 1:00 to 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Grab your lunch and join us!

How can I participate in the Twitter Q and A?

At 1:00 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, log in to your Twitter account. Tweet your questions to @exonerationlist. Use the hashtags #NRE12 or #innocence to follow the conversation.

Friday’s Quick Clicks…

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