In case you haven’t been able to check in on the National Registry of Exonerations lately, here’s an excerpt from the most recent data. Note the total is now up to 1,512, and the trend line is definitely UP.
I won’t belabor you by pointing out some of the more obvious observations. Just a few minutes of study will (should) lead you to some very clear conclusions.
It has been reported that the folks at the Registry are hard at work trying to incorporate the exonerations being generated by the newly formed “conviction integrity units” (CIU’s). For these cases the prosecutors running the CIU’s may not be very motivated to have their exonerations logged into the Registry.
I can’t gush enough about how critical and important this data is. It is this kind of HARD DATA that will provide the foundation for much needed and long overdue justice system reform.
Posted in DNA, Editorials/Opinion, Exonerations, Eyewitness identification, False confessions, Forensic controls, Junk science, Police conduct (good and bad), Prosecutorial conduct (good and bad), Reforming/Improving the system, Snitching
Dan Gristwood was convicted in 1996 of attempted murder for beating his wife with a hammer. He signed a confession, that he did not write, after 16 hours of interrogation by the NY State Police.
In 2003, the real attacker, Mastho Davis, came forward and confessed. Gristwood was released in 2005, and ultimately awarded $7.5M for his nine years of wrongful incarceration.
Sadly, on January 3, 2015, four months after receiving payment, Dan Gristwood died from lung cancer. See the ABC News story here.
The syracuse.com story about the case here is definitely worth a read, and reads like a script for the prototypical coerced confession.
In light of all the recent public – and police – furor about police conduct, and how they relate to the community, and how they should be respected, I can do naught but shake my head. When the police do stuff like this, how can they claim any high ground in this discussion? Dan Gristwood, after his release, said he thought the problem was a “few bad apples.” That may very well be so, but guess what? Those “few” bad apples make the whole barrel stink. And this problem belongs to the police – not the public.
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.