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
“Most prosecutors are hard-working, honest and modestly paid,” The Economist says. “But they have accumulated so much power that abuse is inevitable.” The magazine explains how prosecutors became “the kings of the courtroom,” and how this contributes to wrongful convictions, here.
The Innocence Project has asked the State Bar of Texas to investigate former Navarro County prosecutor John Jackson relating to the arson case of Todd Willingham. Convicted of setting a fire on Dec. 23, 1991, that resulted in the death of his three young children — Amber, 2, and twins Karmon and Kameron, 1 — Willingham was executed on February 17, 2004.
Expert forensic testimony provided at the Willingham trial that equated burn patterns to the use of accelerants has been debunked by contemporary forensic science. Now, an article by Maurice Possley for The Marshall Project published in The Washington Post, details new evidence that undermines the second significant evidence that supported the conviction of Willingham, testimony from a jailhouse informant. Continue reading
Shareef Cousin was once the youngest person in the US on death row.
His case is yet another example of how mistaken (or false) eyewitness testimony can override an airtight alibi. And this one was also compounded by a Brady violation regarding the eyesight of the witness, a lying detective, and coerced snitch testimony.
Cousin has recently authored a CNN article decrying the death penalty.
This quote from the article: “It is hard to argue that the death penalty is applied fairly. Take it from me, someone who lived alongside guys on death row: The system does not identify and sentence “the worst of the worst” to death — just the most powerless.”
You can read the CNN article here.
David Ranta spent 23 years in prison for a murder he did not commit – as a consequence of false eyewitness identification, a bogus lineup, a jailhouse snitch, and police tunnel vision.
The David Ranta case has been previously reported on this blog here, here, here, and here.
The David Ranta family is now suing the NYPD for $15 million for their suffering. See the Huff Post story here.
In September, 2012, Jack McCullough was convicted of a murder committed in 1957. The conviction was based largely upon an eyewitness identification made 53 years after the crime by a woman who was 8 years old at the time of the crime. The unreliability of eye witness identifications has been well documented; but 53 years after the crime, and by an 8 year old?!
In addition, if you read about the exculpatory evidence that the judge ruled McCullough was not allowed to present at trial, including an alibi and the fact that he had been cleared by investigators, you have to believe he has a case.
See the CNN story and video here.
Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in 2004 by the state of Texas for setting a fire that killed his three young children.
We’ve reported numerous times on this blog about the Cameron Todd Willingham case, and here is just one of those articles – Will Texas Admit It Executed an Innocent Man?
It’s clear to even the casual observer of this case that Todd Wilingham was wrongfully convicted and wrongfully executed. The State used now-debunked junk science in determining the fire that killed the Willingham children was arson. The case is carefully documented in the award winning film Incendiary: The Willingham Case.
And now, another snake has just slithered out of the pit that the Texas justice system has made of this case. It’s been revealed that the Willingham prosecutor, John Jackson, made a secret deal with jailhouse snitch, Johnny Webb, in return for his testimony that Willingham had confessed the crime to him in prison. And further, that Jackson then concealed this deal from the Texas Board of Paroles and Pardons which was considering a stay of execution for Willingham.
Reported here by the Innocence Project – New Evidence Suggests Cameron Todd Willingham Prosecutor Deceived Board of Pardons and Paroles About Informant Testimony in Opposition to Stay of Execution.
Read the stories from the New York Times here, and the Manchester Guardian here.