Category Archives: Film/Cinema

Wednesday’s Quick Clicks…

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  • 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

Lawyers Gather in Buenos Aires for Second Annual Latin America Innocence Conference

Attorneys gathered from all over Latin America for the Red Inocente!  Second Annual Latin American Innocence Conference last week in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Over a span of three days, Enrique Piñeyro, the Director of the newly established Innocence Project Argentina, graciously welcomed participants from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, México, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Puerto Rico.  The group included attorneys, law students, judges, academics, politicians, scientists, and members of the media.

Director of the Innocence Project Argentina, Enrique Piñeyro

Director of the Innocence Project Argentina, Enrique Piñeyro

Piñeyro, also an accomplished Argentine film director, hosted the conference and organized speakers on an array of topics. Attorneys spoke about evidentiary issues.  Experts spoke about the criminalization of the poverty in the Latin American jails and corruption in the judiciary.  California Innocence Project exoneree, Rafael Madrigal, spoke about the seven years he spent in prison after he was wrongly convicted for an attempted murder in Orange County, California.  Exoneree, Eric Volz from Nicaragua, also spoke on his international experience resulting from his wrongful murder conviction.  Both of these talks allowed people to hear about the real-life experiences of those unjustly sent to prison and illustrated why innocence work is so important throughout the world.

Director of the California Innocence Project, Justin Brooks

Director of the California Innocence Project, Justin Brooks

This conference was the second conference of its kind.  The first conference was held in 2012 in Santiago de Chile.  Since the conference in Chile, innocence projects have taken root in Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and Peru.  The directors of these projects, as well as the director of the already long-established project in Colombia, were able to speak to the group and relay the problems, challenges, and successes of their work in their respective countries.

Participants and speakers from Brazil, Unites States, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Argentina.

Participants and speakers from Brazil, Unites States, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Argentina.

Piñeyro also showcased his documentary, The Rati Horror Show, to demonstrate the corruption and serious problems of the Argentine judicial system.  The documentary was pivotal in the release of Fernando Carrera, who was convicted of murder because the police altered evidence at the scene of the crime and manipulated witness testimony.  Carrera, in an unexpected Argentina Supreme Court decision, was ordered back to prison when the Court denied the decision by the lower court to reverse his conviction.  Carrera’s attorneys also participated in a forum where participants were allowed to ask them questions about the judicial decisions and the facts surrounding the underlying conviction.

The Mexican documentary, Presunto Culpable, was also shown at the conference.  The film vividly illustrates the struggle to exonerate an innocent man in the deeply flawed Mexican justice system.

Directors of the established  projects from Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Nicaragua, Colombia, and the United States.

Directors of the established projects from Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Chile, Nicaragua, Colombia, and the United States.

Red Inocente! hopes to organize a conference for Latin American innocence projects every year to continue to share information, experiences, and knowledge.  The conference will be held in Bogotá, Colombia in October of 2014.  Red Inocente! is a non-profit legal and education program designed to offer assistance to those who are trying to help secure the release of innocent prisoners in Latin America, promote legislative reforms to reduce the number of wrongful convictions, and offer information on latest developments in forensic science and law to the lawyers who litigate these cases.

Follow me on Twitter @justinobrooks

Professor Justin Brooks
Director, California Innocence Project
California Western School of Law
225 Cedar Street
San Diego, CA 92101
jpb@cwsl.edu
www.californiainnocenceproject.com

For more information, please visit the following websites:  www.redinocente.org, www.ipargentina.org.

Monday’s Quick Clicks…

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Monday’s Quick Clicks…

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  • The Manhattan district attorney will not reverse the conviction of a New York City man found guilty of killing a retired police officer during a botched 1998 robbery in Harlem, saying its re-investigation of the high-profile case found no evidence to warrant tossing the verdict. Defense attorneys called the decision “unjust” and a “tragedy” and vowed to continue their fight to free the man.  Jon-Adrian “J.J.” Velazquez was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life for the shooting death of Albert Ward at the illegal numbers parlor the former NYPD officer operated.
  • A review of the film L’Affaire Dumont, about a wrongful conviction in Canada
  • Alabama set to pardon Scottsboro Boys
  • In Arizona, Louis Taylor experiences shock upon release and looks forward to starting his new life
  • After 30 years, Jeffrey MacDonald, who was notoriously convicted of murdering his family, may be freed from prison. A celebrated filmmaker explains why he believes in MacDonald’s innocence.
  • Bill in Pennsylvania to compensate the wrongfully convicted

Thursday’s Quick Clicks…

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Friday’s Quick Clicks…

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  • Mississippi Innocence Project close to solving cold murder case that authorities have not been able to solve
  • Documentary film raises awareness of wrongful convictions in the Philippines
  • William Lopez freed in NYC after federal judge throws out conviction, saying case was “rotten from Day 1.”
  • Review of documentary film West of Memphis
  • Bennett Barbour was exonerated in Virginia and then died of cancer before he could be compensated, leaving family with unpaid legal bills; now a bill is pending to compensate the family
  • Review of play Innocence Lost
  • Duke Innocence Project seeks to exonerate Charles Ray Finch

Vigilante justice goes high-tech in Ohio

Emotions often run high in criminal cases, and the higher they run the greater the likelihood that a defendant may be wrongly convicted.

History is replete with news-media fueled hysteria leading to false allegations and convictions. The 1915 lynching is Leo Frank is one early example. More recently, we saw that in 1989 wrongful convictions explored in the searing new Ken Burns documentary, The Central Park Five, and in the false rape charges filed against three members of the Duke University lacrosse team in 2006.

Another possible injustice is currently unfolding in the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case of two members of the popular Steubenville High School football team. The alleged alcohol-fueled rape of an unconscious 16-year-old girl at a party while other boys supposedly watched and did nothing, has set off an international firestorm.

What makes the media conflagration different in this case is that it has been fueled by bloggers and hackers who contend that other boys should be charged and that authorities are trying to cover up other wrongdoing by people associated with the football team.

Contrary to the narrative perpetrated in the cybersphere, law enforcement was not dismissive of the allegations. The alleged rape occurred on August 11. The girl’s mother reported it to police on August 14. Charges were filed on August 27, the same day that local authorities requested the assistance of the Ohio attorney general’s office for additional investigation.

But that wasn’t good enough for some, particularly a purported local member of the international hacker collective Anonymous who calls himself K.Y.

K.Y. has released a lot of information (and some misinformation) on his LocalLeaks web site. He also has threatened to release the social security numbers and other personal information of people he believes have information on the rape if they don’t come forward.

While some of the information K.Y. has thus-far released might be helpful, much of it seems to be fueled by personal animosity and to have been obtained illegally. (Like some cops and prosecutors, K.Y. apparently feels it’s OK to break the law to make others pay a price for breaking the law.)

This is a new frontier in media-fueled rushes to judgment. While some, including Erika Christakis have expressed concern about this new form of vigilante justice, many in the traditional media have followed the social media’s lead.

What makes this particularly frightening is the instant worldwide distribution via social media of unproven allegations by a masked man who doesn’t mind destroying the reputations of teenagers who may have had nothing to do with the rape in question.

To anyone who cares about justice and the rights of the accused to a fair trial, CNN correspondent Gary Tuchman’s interview with K.Y. should be a cause concern. ”We aren’t the judge nor the jury, but it’s fair to say we are the executioner,” K.Y. said of Anonymous. The hacker added that, because some of the people have ”incriminated themselves” in online tweets and postings, there is no real need to wait for the courts to decide on their guilt or innocence. ”If you think they are guilty, that’s because your conscience is telling you they are guilty,” K.Y. said. Case closed.

Trials often lead to unjust results, particularly in emotionally charged cases. But trials sure beat having the accused subjected to a high-tech lynching by a self-anointed ”executioner” hiding behind a Guy Fawkes mask.

Tuesday’s Quick Clicks…

Wensday’s Quick Clicks…

Wednesday’s Quick Clicks…

  • Posthumous pardon sought for a pair of wrongfully convicted Boston men, Henry Tameleo and Louie Greco, who were among a group of Italian-Americans wrongfully convicted of murder amid a FBI set-up in 1968 involving members of the Boston mob and convicted federal agent John Connolly.
  • After more than 15 years behind bars, East Texas man Kenneth Boyd, Jr. is set to be released from prison following the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling that he was wrongfully convicted of a triple homicide in Shelby County.
  • Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters to join cast of The Exonerated
  • A review of the film The Central Park 5

Thursday’s Quick Clicks…

  • Article and performance video of The Exoneree Band
  • Yesterday, the Northern California Innocence Project hosted exoneree Gloria Killian, co-author of “Full Circle, A True Story of Murder, Lies and Vindication” at its Breakfast Briefing series. Killian gave a presentation to 70 attendees detailing her wrongful conviction for murder and robbery, the result of what a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judge referred to as one of the worst cases of prosecutorial misconduct he had ever seen. A third-year law student at the time of her arrest, Killian spent 17 years in prison. While imprisoned she became a zealous advocate for victims of domestic violence serving sentences for killing their batterers. Killian’s legal work assisted many women, and she was instrumental in helping create a USC law clinic devoted to assisting women in prison. Released ten years ago, Killian has continued to advocate tirelessly for incarcerated women and to shed light into the particular systemic injustices perpetrated in women’s prisons. Beginning in Fall 2013, Killian will re-enter law school at the University of La Verne on a full scholarship.
  • The film West of Memphis helps draw attention to the plight of the West Memphis 3
  • Northwestern’s Center on Wrongful Convictions files DNA testing application in the Illinois murder case of defendant Johnny Lee Savory
  • Dallas exoneree Claude Simmons arrested on a drug charge
  • The Innocence Project concerned there may be many more innocent prisoners who were victims of misconduct by St. Louis police department

Friday’s Quick Clicks…

Thursday’s Quick Clicks…

Friday’s Quick Clicks…

Thursday’s Quick Clicks…

  • A review of the film West of Memphis, on the West Memphis 3
  • A Montana man seeking a new trial for a 2002 rape conviction faced his male accuser in court here Wednesday for the first time in 10 years – and heard the accuser take back an earlier recantation he made to officials with the Montana Innocence Project.  The alleged victim – now a 24-year-old prison inmate – said he falsely told Innocence Project officials in 2009 and 2010 that the jailhouse rape never occurred because he wanted them to quit bothering him about it.
  • Ohio Supreme Court will hear arguments in case in which Ohio Innocence Project has been denied DNA testing for a man on death row
  • Exoneree Arthur Whitfield pleads guilty to domestic violence offense
  • New documentary film about an alleged wrongful conviction called Incident at Devils Lake
  • The Arson Project releases two new reports about cognitive bias in arson investigations here and here

Tuesday’s Quick Clicks…

Tuesday’s Quick Clicks…

  •  In Canada, appellate court overturns exoneration that had been based in part on the unreliability of bite mark evidence
  • In Massachusetts, exoneree Shawn Drumgold (who had previously served more than a decade for a murder he didn’t commit) acquitted of drug charges
  • Ohio man who served 8 years in prison for a crime he says he didn’t commit, sues state for alleged bogus testimony of toxicologist who put him behind bars
  •  In Ohio, oral arguments set for January 8th in front of Ohio Supreme Court in the case of Tryone Noling; the Ohio Innocence Project seeks DNA testing in the case
  • Profile of the Innocence Clinic at Wake Forest University
  • Controversial documentary ‘The Central Park Five’ plays at Chicago film festival as lawyers demand filmmaker Ken Burns turn over footage so city can defend itself in $250M federal lawsuit
  • Exoneree Edwin Arnell Chandler of Kentucky given $8.5 million in compensation by state of Kentucky
  • Exoneree James Bain speaks today at Florida Southern College

Powerful Documentary Focuses on Wrongful Conviction in Philippines, Airs in U.S. Tomorrow……

From source:

NEW YORK – “Give Up Tomorrow,” an astonishing documentary about an outrageous miscarriage of justice, comes to PBS on Thursday, Oct. 4.

Produced by Marty Syjuco and directed by Mike Collins, a longtime gay couple living in Brooklyn, N.Y., the documentary is part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the “POV” (“Point Of View”) series on PBS.

The documentary won the Audience Award at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival and has captivated audiences around the world, including in the Philippines, where the judicial system failed spectacularly in a double murder case.

“Give Up Tomorrow” exposes the corruptness of the Filipino judicial system, the ineptness of its police force and criminal investigators, the stunning lack of evidence in the case, bribery, cronyism, the racial and economic divide within the country, and so many other issues.

In an exclusive interview with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, Marty Syjuco describes how he and his partner spent more than seven years to complete the project that was fraught with danger and risk. They smuggled a camera into prison so they could get footage from behind bars, and had to figure out ways to get the tapes safely out of the country. They also had unprecedented access to the two central figures in the documentary:

• Paco Larranaga, a 19-year-old college student from a prominent Spanish-Filipino family in the Philippines who is framed for the presumed rape and murder of two Chinese-Filipino girls, whose family wielded important political connections to the nation’s president.

• Mrs. Chiong, mother of the missing girls, who manipulated the Filipino media to her advantage and befriended the one and only star witness who confessed he was part of the killings.

Syjuco said he was helped by his family connections – his brother is married to Paco’s older sister – and their status asmestizos – a mixed race group that traditionally dominates the social and political circles in the Philippines.

SDGLN: Why did you get involved in the making of this documentary?

Marty Syjuco: In 1999 Paco was first sentenced to life in prison. He appealed to the [Philippine] Supreme Court and his family patiently waited for the decision, Continue reading

Wednesday’s Quick Clicks…

  • Video:  director Ken Burns talks about his new documentary on the Central Park 5
  • Sarah Palin weighs in on the Jeffrey MacDonald case, which we previously blogged about here, here, and here
  • Cardiff University’s (Wales) Innocence Project is helping an organisation to provide evidence that may assist in a campaign to reform the doctrine of Joint Enterprise (or “Common Purpose”), which critics claim has led to many wrongful convictions in the UK. Described as a “lazy law”, there has seemingly been a marked increase in recent years in joint enterprise convictions. Some say this is due to a misguided attempt to address “gang culture” crimes. Prosecutors are charging multiple individuals all with a major offence rather than charging individuals to reflect more accurately their different involvement. In some cases, it is urged, there should be no charges where someone just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Recent exoneree Brian Banks signs contract to play professional football in Las Vegas

Thursday’s Quick Clicks…