Alice Leong and Leomia Myers have something in common. They both have suffered the pain of watching their sons wrongful convictions. For one of them, the suffering is over. Her son, Brian Banks, is now an NFL linebacker. The other still suffers everyday with her sons wrongful incarceration http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/05/14/california-innocence-project-marches-for-mothers-of-wrongfully-convicted
One of the 8,000 graduating students at Ohio State University to whom President Barack Obama gave the commencement address yesterday had a lot longer journey than most to get to that point. Virginia LeFever’s plans to get a bachelor’s degree in nursing were interrupted in 1990 when she was convicted of killing her husband, greatly because of the novel theory of an expert who lied about his credentials. When LeFever’s conviction was overturned in 2011 and she was released from prison, she started looking for a job and applied to continue her studies at OSU.
Getting into college proved to be easier than getting a job. Although LeFever’s criminal record had been ordered sealed, it still came up in background reports until the source was identified and the records were removed from its database. LeFever also had to overcome difficulties getting her nursing license fully reinstated. Now that she has her degree and a license, LeFever hopes to get a nursing job and start graduate work so she can become a nurse practioner. But it’s taken a two-year struggle and the help of her dedicated attorneys to get to the point that she hopes to be able to get a decent-paying job.
LeFever is not alone. As The New York Times reports here, “sealing or clearing a criminal record after a wrongful conviction is a tangled and expensive process” that many exonerees have difficulty getting through.
What financial number would you put on the loss of nine years, nine years of freedom exchanged for nine years in prison? What’s the price of family separation, damaged relationships, stress and anxiety? What’s fair compensation for health ramifications and ongoing required treatment? What about lost wages and impaired future earnings? As mentioned on this blog today (here), Nicholas V. Midey Jr., Judge of the New York Court of Claims, ruled on April 4, 2013, that for Daniel Gristwood, 46, a father of five who spent nine years in prison for a crime he did not commit, the appropriate compensation from New York state is $5,485,394.
Directly from Judge Midey’s 22-page ruling: Continue reading
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
From Fernando Bermudez:
Exoneree Fernando Bermudez is now touring around Germany, giving lectures about his experience and the innocence movement in the United States. The cities he will be visiting are: Bochum, Greifswald, Berlin, Passau, Tübingen, Wiesbaden, and Freiburg. Read the news here (in German).
Fernando Bermudez served over 18 years in New York prisons, following his wrongful conviction for murder, until proven innocent in 2009. Continue reading
More than 500 attendees from around the world, including at least 100 exonerees, are arriving in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the 2013 annual Innocence Network Conference, which will begin Friday, April 19, at 7:00 a.m. EST with opening remarks at 8:00 a.m. from Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck, co-founders of the Innocence Project, a model that has been emulated throughout the United States and internationally. The sell-out conference will conclude at 5:00 pm on Saturday, April 20. Exonerees will gather at a preliminary reception Thursday evening. Continue reading
- Article about torture during interrogations in South Africa, exposed by the Wits Justice Project
- Some lawmakers in the Florida want to speed up executions
- How the Retrial Act (which allows old cases to be reopened when new evidence of innocence surfaces) has given hope to the innocent in Thailand
- In California, walking 600 miles for the innocent
- Connecticut Innocence Project gets new director
- The Mississippi Supreme Court has thrown out the testimony of the prolific and controversial medical examiner Steven Hayne and ordered a new trial for convicted murderer David Parvin in a unanimous decision. It’s the second time in 20 years that the court has found problems with Hayne’s testimony in a murder case and may foreshadow things to come.
- Editorial on the need to compensate exonerees in the state of Washington
- Dallas DA Watkins discusses freeing the wrongfully convicted
This month marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most significant Supreme Court decisions this country’s criminal justice system has ever known – Gideon V. Wainwright. The case, along with later decisions, cemented the 6th amendment right to counsel for anyone, regardless if they have the ability to pay.But in a quick scan of the media today of monthly magazines to news dailies on the topic, readers will find one unified reflection expressed — half a century after Gideon, we are far from realizing effective representation for all. Keep reading here…
- Exoneree and football player Brian Banks talks about signing with the Atlanta Falcons
- Details on Innocence Project New Orleans’ upcoming 12th annual gala
- 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
The Brian Banks case has been reported on this blog a number of times. See posts here, here, and here. He was a sure-to-be NFL star when he was convicted of a rape he did not commit. He was eventually exonerated with the help of the California Innocence Project, and has had his heart set on getting back into football ever since.
He has recently signed with the Atlanta Falcons, and now has a chance to resume his career.
Read the SportingNews story here.
The Brian Banks case has been reported on multiple times on this blog. See the post covering his exoneration here.
Brian Banks’ inspiring story will be featured on this week’s episode of CBS’ 60 Minutes show (Sunday, March 24th, 7 pm PT/ET). From the 60 Minutes website: “Blindsided” – Brian Banks may yet play in the NFL, but he knows it’s a longshot after spending five years in prison on a rape charge for which he was later exonerated. James Brown reports.” Brown speaks with Banks, his family, and California Innocence Project director Justin Brooks about the case and what is says about our justice system.
From Seattle Weekly:
The Innocence Project Tries Again with Wrongly Convicted Compensation Bill
As the saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
Thwarted during the last two legislative sessions in an ongoing attempt to push a bill through that provides financial compensation for the wrongly convicted, the Innocence Project – with help from its local, University of Washington-affiliated chapter and sponsor Rep. Tina Orwall (D – Des Moines) – have gotten back on the horse, championing HB 1341. If passed the legislation would require the state to dole out payments to those who were unjustly convicted of a crime they didn’t commit.
The bill is scheduled for a House Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday, with advocates planning a rally at the Capital Building in Olympia to coincide with the event. But much like was the case in 2011 and 2012, the bill’s ultimate fate is likely tied to something far more straightforward than public support and rallies – how much it will cost. Continue reading
Barry George, (subject of previous blog post here…) and three others, have lost their claims for compensation from the government, following the overturning of their wrongful convictions. One of the claimants, DID win his claim. Ian Lawless served eight years for a murder that he did not commit. He was jailed for life in 2002 and yesterday, a UK High Court judge ruled that the decision not to award Mr Lawless compensation, was legally flawed, and the government must re-consider. This leaves the door open for him to succeed in gaining compensation (read here…)
However, the other four claimants LOST their appeals to the High Court, with ramifications for all victims of miscarriages of justice in the UK.
The Court ruled that the government decision to not award payouts to those against who there was evidence that could possibly indicate their guilt was legal, applying for the first time, the Supreme Court ruling that a miscarriage of justice ONLY occurs when: a miscarriage of justice occurs “when a new or newly discovered fact shows conclusively that the evidence against a defendant has been so undermined that no conviction could possibly be based upon it”. Thus, not all those who have convictions overturned will qualify for compensation: “Procedural deficiencies that led to irregularities in the trial or errors in the investigation of offences will not suffice to establish entitlement to compensation”. It was concluded that a jury could STILL find a verdict of guilt against Barry George, thus, he was not a clearly ‘innocent’ person and the government were justified in refusing him compensation.
There are a further 11 cases awaiting a hearing, but with this decision, it is highly unlikely that the High Court will waiver, and the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2011, will stand firm. Barry George therefore, along with many others, will continue to live with the cloud over their head, that they have yet to ‘prove their innocence’, as many media outlets are reporting. See here….
- Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University 2012 report, outlining 5 exonerations during 2012
- Judge in Texas considering new trial in arson case of Ed Graf
- Charges dropped against detective accused of lying in the Tim Masters wrongful conviction case in Colorado
- Wisconsin Innocence Project wins new trial for Seneca Malone, in prison for murder, based on ineffective assistance of counsel
- RIP exoneree Bennett Barbour
- Exoneree Christopher Scott named Texan of the Year
The governor of North Carolina has signed full pardons
of innocence for 10 political prisoners wrongfully convicted of arson and conspiracy more than 40 years ago. Gov. Beverly Purdue pardoned the Wilmington 10
on Monday. The nine black men and one white woman, only six of whom are still living, were wrongfully convicted
of fire-bombing a grocery store after police shot a black teenager. ”I have decided to grant these pardons because the more facts I have learned about the Wilmington 10, the more appalled I have become about the manner in which their convictions were obtained,” Gov. Purdue said.