Category Archives: Reforming/Improving the system

Thursday’s Quick Clicks…

Marissa Alexander Out of Prison – But It’s Not Over

We’ve previously reported on the Marissa Alexander case here.

This is one of the stupidest prosecutions I’ve seen in my years of doing this.  Angela Corey, the Florida State’s Attorney in the case, should be ashamed for setting such a shining example of prosecutors run amok.

Marissa fired a warning shot at her enraged and abusive husband, who had threatened to kill her, in fear for her life.  She was charged, tried and, despite the fact that Florida has it’s infamous “stand your ground” law, was convicted and originally sentenced to 20 years. She successfully appealed, and was facing a new trial — with a potential 60 year sentence.

Please see the Daily Kos story here.

“Friendship Nine’s” Convictions Vacated

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Pioneers of the civil rights lunch counter sit-in’s in South Carolina, known as the Friendship Nine, have had their convictions vacated and their names cleared.

See the CNN story here.

National Registry of Exonerations: 2014 was Record-breaking with 125 Exonerations in U.S.

For the first time, more than 100 exonerations were recorded in the United States in one year. According to The National Registry of Exonerations Report for 2014, 125 exonerations of innocent criminal defendants mark an increase of 34 over the prior record of 91 in 2012 and 91 again in 2013. The report notes the work of Conviction Integrity Units in the increase.

“The big story for the year is that more prosecutors are working hard to identify and investigate claims of innocence. And many more innocent defendants were exonerated after pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit,” said Michigan Law Professor Samuel Gross, editor of the National Registry of Exonerations and the author of the report.

Both the number of Conviction Integrity Units and the exonerations they produced increased in 2014. There were 49 CIU exonerations in 2014, including Continue reading

Debra Milke Trial on Hold Pending Appeal

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We’ve been following the Debra Milke case on this blog.  See here, here, and here.

Here is a recent update from TV5 KPHO in Phoenix, AZ.

Shaken Baby Syndrome Decision in Sweden

Score one for sanity, logic, reason, and science.

There has been a recent decision (October, 2014) by the Swedish Supreme Court that calls into question the scientific validity of the classic “triad” SBS diagnosis. According to the triad diagnosis, the symptoms of retinal hemorrhage, subdural hematoma, and diffuse edema of the brain are pathognomonic (exclusively indicative) of violent shaking or abusive head trauma.  The “triad” has been the mainstay of SBS prosecutions for decades, but in recent years, has come under increasingly critical scrutiny.

These quotes from the testimony of experts before the Swedish court:

It can be concluded that, in general terms, the scientific evidence for the diagnosis of violent shaking has turned out to be uncertain.”

The controversy is not about whether it is harmful to shake a child violently. The issue under discussion is with what scientific certainty it can be established how various injuries found in a child have arisen. The claim that the occurrence of the triad is strong evidence that violent shaking has occurred goes back to the late 1960s; however, the medical evidence for it was relatively thin. But the claim became generally accepted and grew into medical truth over several decades, even though the situation in terms of evidence did not change. It is known that a very large share of fundus haemorrhages are not linked to violence and arise in another way. Nor has it been shown that nerve fibers are torn, and that the brain therefore begins to swell, in connection with violent shaking. It can also be asked whether violent shaking can occur without neck injuries arising… To sum up, it can be said that the scientific support for the diagnosis of violent shaking is uncertain.

Sue Luttner, who edits the blog OnSBS, has done an excellent job of summarizing this decision and the case it involves, and has posted it on her blog here.

 

Federal Judge Blasts Yet Another Federal Prosecutor for Lying to the Court

On a recent occasion, this was a federal judge to an Assistant US Attorney:

“You’re branded a liar, and you’ll remain a liar for the rest of your life.”

For the rest of the story … see the New York Observer story here.