Category Archives: Uncategorized

China: Court reverses death penalty decision; police officer arrested.

Inner Mongolia’s High People’s Court has overturned the conviction of Huugjilt, an ethnic Mongolian, for the rape and murder of a woman in Hohot. Huugjilt had been put to death in 1996. The court officially apologised to the man’s family and the head of the court made a personal donation of 30 k yuan. The case has attracted much criticism and outrage. Media report here.

The police officer in charge of the case has just been arrested and charged with using torture to obtain a confession among others. Media report here.

Center for Prosecutor Integrity Surveys Rise of Conviction Integrity Units

Press release from Center for Prosecutorial Integrity….

WASHINGTON / December 4, 2014 — Since 2007, state and federal prosecutors have established 16 Conviction Integrity Units to assure the accuracy of convictions obtained by their offices, according to a White Paper released today by the Maryland-based Center for Prosecutor Integrity.

Prosecuting attorneys in districts from Santa Clara County, California to Washington, D.C. began establishing the units after DNA evidence led to a rising number of exonerations.

The White Paper, titled “Conviction Integrity Units: Vanguard of Criminal Justice Reform,” outlines the structure and administration of the 16 conviction integrity units now existing in the U.S. The report reveals that the nine units established by the end of 2013 accomplished nearly 7,000 case reviews, resulting in 61 exonerations.

Gina Lauterio, Program Director of the Center for Prosecutor Integrity, said the report is the first to reveal how the number and effectiveness of the units has grown in recent years. “I hope that all District Attorneys in the country will consider what’s being done in these 16 districts and adopt similar practices.”

Lauterio noted the nonprofit Center encourages scholarship on the causes of wrongful convictions and efforts to minimize them. “We commend the growing number of prosecutors who are now devoting resources to reexamine questionable cases.”

The report is available on the Center’s website:  http://www.prosecutorintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Conviction-Integrity-Units.pdf

Recent Rash of Exonerations Only the Surface: Many More Remain Wrongfully Imprisoned

By Jefferey Deskovic for The Huffington Post

Fernando Bermudez. Sami Leka. Jose Morales. Reuben Montalvo. Lazaro Burts. Kareen Bellamy. Anthony Ortiz. Frank Sterling. Roy Brown. Dennis Halstead. John Kogut. Eric Glisson. Jonathan Fleming.

Those are the names of 13 men that I personally knew and served time with who were exonerated either during my 16 years in prison or thereafter.

Last year there were 91 exonerations. This year there have been 90 thus far. To date there have been 1482 exonerations overall, only 321 of them being DNA related. Since taking office this past January, Brooklyn DA Thompson’s conviction integrity unit has exonerated 11 people.

Most experts estimate the percentage of wrongfully convicted prisoners to be 2 to 5% of the inmate population — that is 120,000 people. I deem the number to be closer to 15 to 20%.

In either case, what is causing the staggering number of wrongful convictions?

Rogue Law Enforcement. In Brooklyn, disgraced retired detective Scarcella was found to have used the same drug addict as the sole eyewitness in six different murder cases. Various news accounts say as many as 70 homicides he worked on are being reviewed.

Forensic Fraud. In Pennsylvania, forensic scientist, Annie Dhookhan, was sentenced to three to five years in prison and two years of probation after pleading guilty to 27 counts of misleading investigators, filing false reports, and tampering with evidence.

Additionally, forensic scientists are given financial incentives for giving prosecutorial favorable results that lead to conviction in North Carolina, Illinois, Alabama, New Mexico, Kentucky, New Jersey, Virginia, Arizona, California, Missouri, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

Prosecutorial Misconduct. Lying to judges and juries about the existence of benefits and in some cases coercion to informants was a regular practice over the span of the 23 year tenure of former Brooklyn DA Hynes, as was withholding of evidence of innocence.

Junk science. For 40 years, FBI experts have testified in court about “bullet lead analysis” a procedure in which bullets found at a crime scene are tested for arsenic, tin, silver, and other contaminants or additives, and the findings were compared to analysis of bullets found in the possession of suspects. These experts claimed to be able to link one bullet to others from the same production run. For at least 20 years, FBI officials knew that there were no scientific underpinnings to this junk science — that in fact, there were no studies shown to determine how significant a “match” was.

Disgraced dog scent expert Preston came into courtrooms in Texas and Florida for over 20 years, stating that he had trained dogs which would bark if, after being given items to smell from a crime, the dog recognized the scent from a suspect’s item. Preston claimed that his dogs could smell human traces years or months after a suspect walked over the ground, on heavily trafficked streets, underwater, and even after hurricanes. He is not the only “expert” in this “field.”

In 2013, it was revealed that in 27 death penalty cases, FBI forensic experts may have exaggerated the scientific conclusions that were drawn from a so-called “match” between hair found at a crime scene and hair from a defendant.

Tire tracks, footprints, and bite marks are also junk science.

I served 16 years in prison, from the ages of 17 to 32, wrongfully convicted of a murder and rape in New York, despite the fact that the DNA never matched. I lost all seven of my appeals, including two of which now US Supreme Court Judge Sotomayor denied on procedural grounds for having been four days late despite my substantive innocence argument. Ultimately I was exonerated because further DNA testing identified the actual perpetrator, who killed another victim 3.5 years later.

Using $1.5 million dollars of compensation I received, I started The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice to exonerate the wrongfully convicted in DNA and non-DNA cases, educate the public, elected officials, and criminal justice professionals on the causes of wrongful conviction and the reforms need to prevent them, and help the exonerated reintegrate. In two years time, we helped exonerate William Lopez, who had served 23.5 years, and helped 4 wrongfully convicted men reintegrate back into society by providing short-term housing, which enabled them to pursue further education, and in one case open a business.

This holiday season, while celebrating with friends and family, we hope you’ll take a brief moment to remember all those who remain wrongfully imprisoned.

To learn more about The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice and how you can help, please visit here.

Ireland: Inaugural International Wrongful Conviction Conference & Film Festival

The Irish Innocence Project, working since 2009 at Griffith College, has announced Ireland’s Inaugural International Wrongful Conviction Conference and Film Festival – to newlogo2be held 26th and 27th June 2015. They have also launched a crowd funding appeal: “Be the Key: Set an Innocent Free”, to help the college students to work on overturning wrongful convictions in Ireland.

300914 Wrongful Conviction CR Shutterstock_0_0

See more details of the  conference and film festival – with great speakers, and the crowd funding appeal here:

Inaugural International Wrongful Conviction Conference & Film Festival

Great day in UK for Innocence: Cardiff University Justice Project Overturns Wrongful Conviction

The news coming from the UK in recent months, if not years, has rarely been good. Today (9th December 2014) is different, for today, the Criminal Court of Appeal found the conviction of Dwaine George ‘unsafe’ and overturned his  _79607026_ico12-1conviction for murder. George, convicted of shooting dead a teenager in a gang related incident in 2001, served 12 years of his life sentence behind bars, and was released last year.

Professor Julie Price and Dr Dennis Eady, who run Cardiff’s Innocence Project, were joined at the Royal Courts of Justice by 30 Cardiff law students, past and present, to hear the result of the students’ investigative work. Dr Eady said: “It has taken nine years of hard work since the project was launched to get to this point, and based on our students’ efforts the Court of Appeal has decided that Mr George’s conviction is unsafe.We appreciate that today’s decision will be difficult for Daniel Dale’s family, but if the wrong person was jailed then the right outcome has today been achieved.”

Prof Price added: “For Cardiff Law School Innocence Project, and other university projects working on alleged wrongful conviction cases, this is a significant day. It demonstrates that universities are about more than research, and can show public impact from innovative teaching and learning. This result has been achieved by collaborative effort. A huge thanks to our many supporters and students past and present.”

Sir Brian Levenson said in his ruling: “In addition to expressing our gratitude to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, we pay tribute to the work of the Innocence Project and Pro Bono Unit at Cardiff Law School, which took up the appellant’s case and pursued it so diligently.”

With the recent turmoil amongst those working in universities across the UK and their Innocence Projects (mostly called Justice Projects today because they do not satisfy the criteria for the title ‘Innocence Project’) this is a great victory. Many staff work tirelessly for little or no recognition, with students facing ever greater hurdles to have their work and dedication praised. Cardiff University;s staff and students will continue to work tirelessly and have many other cases that are working their way, slowly, through the CCRC. One can only hope that this is the first success of many. But today is a also shot in the arm for all of those working on behalf of the innocent – sorely needed, and richly deserved.

Watch news item and interviews here:

Cardiff Uni students help Dwaine George win murder appeal

Read more here:

UK judge praises students for helping overturn murder conviction

Judge praises Cardiff University law students for helping overturn Dwaine George’s murder conviction

Ex-gang member Dwaine George cleared of 2002 murder on appeal

Leighton Hay Exoneration in Canada…

From the Canada Times:

The charges opposite Leighton Hay, a Toronto male convicted of an execution-style murder in 2002, were cold this morning and he walked out of probity a giveaway male after some-more than 12 years in prison.

The Crown said it is no longer in a open seductiveness to pursue a case.

Hay, 19 during a time, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the July 2002 murdering of 51-year-old Colin Moore. But he appealed based on debate contrast on hairs found in his apartment.

Hay’s case was taken on by a Association in Defence of a Wrongly Convicted in 2011, that called it “factual innocence.”

Leighton Hay

Leighton Hay was 19-years-old when he was convicted of a murder he did not commit. (CBC)

“Leighton has been by a calamity for all these years,” pronounced James Lockyer, a association’s comparison counsel, who pronounced before Hay was expelled that his “walk into leisure today” would be ”momentous for him.”

“This was a miscarriage of probity of a top order,” Lockyer added.

Hay’s lawyers have asked Justice John McMahon to apologize on interest of a probity system.

Hair Justification Pivotal To Case

On Jul 6, 2002, Moore was hosting an eventuality during a nightclub in a Toronto suburb of Etobicoke. At 1:13 a.m. ET, dual group armed with handguns stormed into a nightclub, and shot and killed Moore.

Police identified one of a gunmen as Gary Eunick.

Eunick had borrowed a automobile of Hay’s mom and was pushing it a night in question, according to police.

When military found a automobile during Hay’s home, they arrested both Eunick and Hay.

Witnesses from a nightclub described a second gunman as carrying “two in. picky dreads” — longer hair than what Hay had during a time.

Leighton Hay leaves court

Leighton Hay and his father Lasalle travel from a Superior Court on Friday morning. (Michelle Cheung/CBC)

The Crown argued during his strange hearing in 2004 that Hay returned home after a sharpened and had a haircut.

The military searched for justification of a haircut during Hay’s home, and found some really brief hairs in a journal in a rubbish bin and on an electric razor in his bedroom.

Hay’s lawyers presented justification during a interest — a second interest on a crime — that questioned either Hay indeed got a haircut.

Hay’s lawyers also highlighted one declare who identified Hay with “80 per cent” certainty as a gunman during a nightclub. Two weeks later, the same declare did not name Hay’s print in a lineup.

Breaking News: Man Released from Prison by Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office

It was reported today in Japan that a man who was sentenced to 12 years in prison had been released. He was accused and convicted of rape and indecent assault, but filed a motion for a retrial.

The Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office has decided that he was actually innocent and already submitted a statement to the Osaka District Court.

It is said that the testimony of the victim which was the main evidence of his guilt was found to be false.

More news will follow…