Category Archives: Prosecutorial conduct (good and bad)

Prosecutorial Misconduct and Brady Violations – From a Forensic Perspective

Benjamin-Brady Viol

Dr. David Benjamin is a world renowned clinical pharmacologist and forensic toxicologist. Consequently, he has substantial experience involving forensic evidence and “expert” testimony. He recently gave a presentation at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences annual meeting in the Jurisprudence Section focused on Brady violations from a forensic perspective.

There is a mountain of material contained in the presentation, including some specific recommendations for how to combat and counter Brady violations involving forensic evidence and expert testimony.

If you would like to investigate this further, you can contact Dr. Benjamin through his website, and request a copy of the presentation by e’mail.

 

Dog Scent Arson Detection – and Charging

pointerWe’ve posted before about “dog scent lineups.”  See those posts here and  here.  They’ve been called “the worst of the junk sciences.”

I can do naught but shake my head.  I thought we had seen the last of it, but this stuff is still going on. In Maricopa County, AZ, not one, but two, people were charged with setting their own houses on fire, based upon bogus dog scent evidence which was solely the result of unethical conduct by the Phoenix Fire Department investigators involved. An independent, professional fire investigator confirmed without question that the fires were NOT arson.  The charges against both were eventually dismissed, but not before one of them spent 16 months in jail.

See the aol.com Inside Edition story here … it should make you angry.

And here’s the kicker.  Despite the recommendation of six felony charges, the prosecutor declined to bring any charges against the dishonest fire department employees, and they are both still employed by the department.

Looks like the “good ol’ boy” network is alive and well in Maricopa County.

A Major Cause of Wrongful Convictions …….. POLITICS !?

[Editor’s note: this piece has been very difficult to write.  I’ve been working on it for months, and have deliberated about publishing it at all; I think because the objective it advocates is so daunting.  But I do think it goes to the heart of so much that is wrong with the justice system. I do not have hard data to support my position, and I doubt such data will ever exist, but I do have decades of study and careful observation.  I only report what I observe. Please read it, and just think about it.]

This article will be both editorial and somewhat philosophical, at least to the extent that it expresses conclusions on my part, so please bear with me. But it does address an issue that I believe is one of the key flaws in the justice system – and one that seems to be universally overlooked, not recognized, or dismissed. My hypothesis is that having “prosecutor” be an elected political position has a very deleterious influence on their performance of that job, and that this circumstance is not merely a contributor, but a root cause contributor, to wrongful conviction.                                                        (Note:  We are not considering federal prosecutors here, because they are not elected, and they need to be a whole separate subject.)

First, some personal background.  I grew up in an intensely political family.  I’ve seen politics at work “up close and personal.” My father was an elected official for over 30 years, until he retired.  My mother was very active in both state and local politics, and had seriously considered running for Congress.  We even used to have the Congressional Record delivered to our home.  I have very clear memories of, as a youngster, being down in the basement stuffing “sample ballots” into envelopes for delivery to voters.  My mother once told me about how intoxicating and addicting politics can be, and how easy it was to get caught up in it.  And (in my opinion) this is not driven by an overwhelming and compelling desire to serve the public – it is driven by an overwhelming and compelling desire for power and personal gain. No politician would ever admit this – probably not even to themselves; but you just can’t convince me otherwise. My apologies to the politicians out there, but that’s how I see it.  There may be some virtuous motives to start, but once you’re in it, you’re hooked. So what’s the point of all this?  It’s that I have observed and learned throughout my life that political positions, by their very nature, create a set of pernicious personal motivations for the office holder that can be, and usually are, contrary to the intent and spirit of the office.

Continue reading

Growing Number of Inmates in US Prisons Found Innocent

Here’s a neat YouTube video featuring both the National Registry of Exonerations and the Center for Prosecutor Integrity.

See the YouTube video here.

Editorial comment:  The video praises the recent creation of “conviction integrity units” within prosecutors’ offices.  These have received much good press in general. We can only applaud the effort and the results so far. After all, the correction of a wrongful conviction is the correction of a wrongful conviction. However, I remain skeptical. My view is that the CIU’s are cherry picking the easy, obvious cases, and what will happen when they start to run out of these? I also believe that the CIU’s are being established driven by political expediency, not some fundamental desire to serve true justice.  When the CIU’s start to be dismantled, I suspect there will be very little, if any, publicity about that.

 

Wednesday’s Quick Clicks…

  • In NY, the wrongfully convicted petition for prosecutorial oversight
  • Colorado to consider eyewitness lineup reforms
  • In Japan, will wrongful convictions be catalyst for criminal justice reform?
  • With a judge’s order throwing out his murder conviction in-hand, Tyrone Hood truly became a free man as he was exonerated at a Monday morning hearing after spending more than 20 years in prison for a slaying he’s continued to insist he did not commit.
    “I can’t even describe how I feel right now,” he said.  Nearly a month ago, outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn commuted Hood’s sentence, releasing him from prison.  The decision by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to dismiss the convictions against Hood and his co-defendant Wayne Washington, Jr. follows more than two years of investigation by her office’s conviction integrity unit – which began looking into the case in 2012 after the University of Chicago’s Exoneration Project championed Hood’s innocence.  Keep reading…..
  • New legislation in Texas aimed at expanding access for inmates to post-conviction DNA testing

Weekend Quick Clicks…

Senator Orrin Hatch to Loretta Lynch: “Clean Up DOJ” and Read Licensed to Lie by Sidney Powell

From PRnewswire.com:

NEW YORKFeb. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In last week’s confirmation hearings for the proposed new attorney general of the U.S., Loretta Lynch, esteemed Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah gave the nominee an urgent request:

“I recently read a powerful book… I read it in one day.”

“It’s titled, Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice.

“The author writes about many things, including the debacle that occurred in the misguided prosecution of Senator Ted Stevens, which I thought was out of this world bad. I was one of the people who testified as to his character, and he was one a person of great character. As you know, he lost the Senate race because of this type of prosecution. I know that case. Ted Stevens was a dear friend of mine, and I testified on his behalf. Only after he was convicted did we learn that the Justice Department prosecutors intentionally hid exculpatory evidence that could have helped his case.”

“Now, these were not mistakes. They were corrupt acts that violated every prosecutor’s duty under the Brady v. Maryland decision to turn over exculpatory evidence so that the trial will be fair.”

“Now I recommend that you read this book, because if even half of it is true, and I believe it is true, you have a lot of work to do to clean up that department. Will you consider doing that for me?”

Ms. Lynch replied: “Thank you sir, I will.”

Click here to watch the video.

Widely respected former federal prosecutor and appellate attorney, Sidney Powell, author of Licensed to Lie, applauds the Senator’s dedication to the rule of law and his appreciation of her work.

“Senator Hatch is a beacon of integrity in the Senate, and a leader in protecting justice for all Americans.  I am not surprised that he is appalled by the callous disregard for truth, justice and fundamental fairness exposed in my book. It is my great honor to add my research to this important discussion on reform led by Senators Hatch, Murkowski, Grassley, and others. I also implore Ms. Lynch to champion this cause for reform, and I will welcome any opportunity to meet with her to discuss these crucial issues.

“To restore confidence in the Department, Ms. Lynch should terminate the services of the attorneys in the Department who have been found to have committed intentional or reckless violations of their duties. She should end the Department’s stonewalling of its own Inspector General and provide the documents Congress has long requested in the IRS scandal, Benghazi tragedy, and Fast and Furious disaster.  Like every citizen, prosecutors need to be subject to the law, and to be held accountable when they flout it. Indeed, as officers of the court entrusted with the power of the Sovereign, they should be held to an even higher standard. Instead, abusive prosecutors have been promoted, gaining even more power that will make them even more corrupt.  What happened to the citizens in Licensed to Lie can happen to anyone.  Just ask the teams of the Innocence Project who work tirelessly to free people who have spent decades in prison for crimes they did not commit. More than half of those wrongful convictions were the result of prosecutorial misconduct.”

In addition to Senator Hatch, there has been much critical acclaim for Sidney Powell and Licensed to Lie from many respected minds including Brendan V. Sullivan, Jr., of Williams & Connolly. Mr. Sullivan said that this book is “more instructive than any criminal law course offered today in our best law schools,” and, “It’s malpractice to litigate against the Department of Justice without reading this book.”

Respected Federal Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has urged judges to “put a stop” to these abuses. In his private capacity, he wrote the Foreword to Licensed to Lie, which he urges friends of justice to read. In the oral argument of a recent case involving a California prosecutor, Judge Kozinski suggested consideration of perjury charges for prosecutors who lie.

This week, Licensed to Lie will be available on Kindle for only $2.99.  Hardback copies are available on Amazon.  For more information, please visit www.LicensedtoLie.com, @SidneyPowell1, www.facebook.com/licensedtolie

ABOUT LICENSED TO LIE: EXPOSING CORRUPTION IN THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

In Licensed to Lie, Powell leads readers through the disturbing events, missteps, cover-ups, malfeasance, and corruption of justice that have caused her to question the system to which she has been committed for over thirty years. With the narrative style of a legal thriller, this true story captures the drama of the law, the real human costs and consequences of the corruption of justice, and cautions for anyone facing the Department of Injustice.

ABOUT SIDNEY POWELL

Sidney Powell served in the Department of Justice for ten years in Texas and Virginia and has devoted her private practice to federal appeals for the past twenty years. She was the youngest Assistant United States Attorney in the country when she was appointed. Later, she became Chief of the Appellate Sections for the Western and Northern Districts of Texas. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers and served as its President. Recognized by her peers as a “Super Lawyer” and named as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” for years, she has been lead counsel in more than 500 appeals in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, resulting in more than 180 published opinions, and was President of the Bar Association of the Fifth Federal Circuit. Powell’s briefs have long been featured as samples for practitioners.

CONTACT:
CapitalHQ

Alexandra Preate (917) 748-6537 cell
apreate@capitalhq.com

Photo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150203/173196

SOURCE  Sidney Powell