Mark GodseyDaniel P. & Judith L. Carmichael Professor of Law, University of Cincinnati College of Law; Director, Center for the Global Study of Wrongful Conviction; Director, Rosenthal Institute for Justice/Ohio Innocence Project | Email | Profile
Justin BrooksProfessor, California Western School of Law; Director, California Innocence Project | Email
Cheah Wui LingAssistant Professor, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore Email | Profile
Daniel EhighaluaNigerian Barrister; Project Director, Innocence Project Nigeria Email
C Ronald HuffProfessor of Criminology, Law & Society and Sociology, University of California-Irvine Email | Profile
Phil LockeScience and Technology Advisor, Ohio Innocence Project and Duke Law Wrongful Convictions Clinic Email
Dr. Carole McCartneySenior Lecturer, School of Law, University of Leeds; Founder, University of Leeds Innocence Project | Email | Profile
Nancy PetroAuthor and Advocate
Kana SasakuraAssociate Professor, Faculty of Law, Konan University; Visiting Scholar, University of Washington School of Law; Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW)
Dr. Robert SchehrProfessor, Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, Northern Arizona University; Executive Director, Arizona Innocence Project Email | Profile
Shiyuan HuangAssociate Professor, Shandong University Law School; Visiting Scholar, University of Cincinnati College of Law Email | Profile
Ulf StridbeckProfessor of Law, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo, Norway
Martin YantAuthor and Private Investigator Email | Profile
Category Archives: Victims and victim issues
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
New Scholarship Spotlight: Destruction of Innocence: The Friedman Case: How Coerced Testimony & Confessions Harm Children, Families & Communities for Decades after the Wrongful Convictions Occur
Gavin DeBecker and Emily Horowitz have posted the above-titled article on SSRN. Download full article here: The abstract states:
Between 1984 and 1995, at least 72 individuals were convicted during the national hysteria of mass child molestation and satanic ritual abuse cases. Almost all thoseconvictions have since been overturned. This paper analyzes the present-day, on-going impact from wrongful convictions, focusing on the Friedman case, well-known as the subject of the landmark documentary film, Capturing the Friedmans. Though the US Appeals Court has ruled that Jesse Friedman was likely wrongfully convicted, the case has not yet been overturned. The impact on wrongly-imprisoned defendants is obvious, however the impact on hundreds of children has rarely been considered. Initially sure they were not sexually abused, and confident in their perceptions of reality, these children were dragged to a place of confusion, mistrust of adults, and uncertainty about themselves and the world. This paper provides new evidence and insight from extensive interviews with people police alleged were molested – and who now as adults confirm they were coerced into making false accusations. Also revealed are new witnesses who were present during alleged crimes against others, and now confirm there was no molestation. Child sexual abuse does happen, of course, and is a profound social issue; at the same time, false and hysteria-driven prosecutions robbed resources from cases of actual sex crimes, reduce the public’s faith in the legitimacy of such prosecutions, and interfered with the protection of children. The Friedman case provides a unique opportunity to heal a community still suffering from the wounds of false accusation, confusion, and deceit.
Further to my 22nd November post:
the story continues to develop. While the two victim’s efforts appear to have prevented an innocent man from being wrongly convicted of rape, the Police Commissioner of Barbados has now spoken out to claim that he is ‘happy’ with the investigation, and will not be losing any sleep over it. The real rapist is yet to be caught. Derick Crawford maintains that he was forced to confess, and there is no other evidence to link Crawford with the two separate rapes.See news items here:
Jeffrey Deskovic is not your archetypal exoneree. He holds strong views about the subject of wrongful conviction, and even stronger views on the sufficiency of state compensation for victims of wrongful convictions. In his article entitled - A Critique of Innocence Project Report on Exoneree Compensation ‘Making Up for Lost Time’ - he critiqued some of the recommendations made by the Innocent Project.
His views were in direct response to the Project’s report on the question of legislating compensation and the reasonableness thereof. See pdf report - http://www.innocenceproject.org/docs/Innocence_Project_Compensation_Report.pdf
Jeffrey goes on in his article to make the point that, compensating the innocent must be sue generis. It must take account of each individual’s circumstances; station in life, pain and suffering, education, present and future earnings et al. Read his article herehttp://www.examiner.com/article/a-critique-of-innocence-project-report-on-exoneree-compensation-making-up-for-lost-time
While his criticism does weigh up the issues, and on balance, seem to tilt towards a case by case consideration of each application, it is submitted that, the courts still remain the best fora to determine what is best, or what represents adequate compensation for each victim. No legislation can set the amount of compensation in stone for every given situation. What a Statute does, and can do, is to set a benchmark, albeit a guide for the courts to be guided by in coming to a decision on compensation. The ultimate decision will always boil down to each individual circumstances.
One good way to reduce wrongful convictions is to stop passing more arcane criminal laws and funding more police officers to enforce them. But politicians in many countries have been doing just the opposite for the past 30 years.
In the United States, legislators have increased the number of federal offenses by 50 percent since the 1980s and state legislators have been following suit. They’ve also raised funding for increasingly militarized police forces to enforce those laws. This has had dubious impact on public safety while greatly increasing the chance of putting innocent people behind bars, often for mid-level drug offenses that usually don’t earn the attention of those who fight wrongful convictions. A disproportionate number of the innocents swept up in this process are minorities.
It’s time to try a different approach, according to a study released today by the Justice Policy Institute. Rethinking the Blues: How we police in the U.S. and at what cost documents how overpolicing contributes to “a criminal justice system that disconnects people from their communities, fills prisons and jails, and costs taxpayers billions.” You can read more here.
From The Telegraph: Colin Firth is to star in a film based on the true-life story of the West Memphis Three, one of the most notorious ‘miscarriage of justice’ cases in US history.
The film, Devil’s Knot, will dramatise the case of Jessie Misskelley, Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols, who were convicted as teenagers of murdering three eight-year-old boys in 1993.
The victims’ bodies were found naked and bound with shoestrings in West Memphis, Arkansas.
Echols was sentenced to death and his fellow defendants to life imprisonment.
But after 18 years in prison, the three men were released in August 2011 in an unusual deal which allowed them to assert their innocence while agreeing prosecutors had enough evidence to convict them.
Firth will play Ron Lax, an investigative journalist who spent years fighting to prove the men’s innocence and uncovered vital DNA evidence. Reese Witherspoon will co-star as the mother of one of the victims.
Details of the film, to be distributed by The Weinstein Co, were unveiled in Cannes. Filming begins in Georgia next month and the producers said: “We believe this story needs to be told on screen, and we couldn’t ask for a higher calibre of talent to do so.”
Two of the men, Misskelley and Baldwin, will be executive producers on the Hollywood project. Misskelley initially confessed to the murders but later recanted.
While the man were campaigning to be freed, the case attracted celebrity supporters including Johnny Depp.
The new film is likely to upset some relatives of the victims. When a documentary about the case was nominated for an Oscar, family members petitioned the Academy to ignore it and said the freed men were “travelling the globe and partying with rock stars” while the victims lay “dead in their graves”.
Very interesting story, too long to cut and paste into one post, but important and good enough to deserve its own post…
From the Dallas Observer:
This week’s feature tells the story of Debbie Jones, a Richardson woman who was raped and robbed at knifepoint in 1985, when she was 19.
Soon after the crime, Jones picked Thomas McGowan out of a photo lineup. He was convicted of burglary and sexual assault and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. Jones tried her best to move on with her life. But when DNA evidence exonerated McGowan in 2008, she suddenly had to live with the knowledge that her mistaken identification had put an innocent man in prison. At the time, her real rapist hadn’t yet been found — and when he finally was, the statute of limitations to prosecute him had passed.
Jones agreed to speak with the Observer about her experiences, the first time she’s been interviewed at length. But one of her main concerns was McGowan: She wanted to make sure nothing in the article hurt or upset him. Although she never could have imagined it, the two have tentatively formed a friendship; today, they occasionally speak at events together about wrongful conviction and Continue reading
Following on the heels of the Patrick Obinna Okoroafor saga in Imo state, a fledgling situation is emerging in Lagos, of the detention of a minor for over 4years in police custody. Miss. Blessing Effiong was 16 when she was taken into police custody following disagreements, arising from the purchase of a mobile phone transaction that had gone awry. She claimed she was 16, but the police would have none of that. Not that they had any proof, or evidence to the contrary. Still, they proceeded to keep her in detention despite entreaties, pleadings and complaints from her guardian. She was never charged to court. She is awaiting trial. Read report here
This speaks volume about the nature of the workings of the Nigerian police force; but I am more worried about the involvement and the role played by the ministry of justice, and indeed, the Office of the Lagos state Public Defender. The Lagos state Office of the Public Defender is reputed to be doing a good job, supplementing at the state level, the work of the Nigerian legal aid council. For both arms of the justice delivery system to have simultaneously failed Miss. Blessing Effiong leaves no one in doubt about the accuracy and veracity of the numerous independent reports, of the state of decay within the system of administration of justice in Nigeria. In the Patrick Obinna Okoroafor case, it was the concerted efforts of Amnesty International, along with some local NGOs that finally ensured justice was done.
The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Ade Ipaye is a well respected Lagos lawyer and academician. His office, working in tandem with the Office of the Lagos state Public Defender should do the needful and ensure Miss Blessing Effiong does not remain in detention a day longer than necessary. That, of course, should be followed by an apology and a serious impact assessment of the ministry, and the Office of the Lagos state Public Defender. It is also about time that Lagos state begin to engender and implement legal reforms that will truly deliver justice. I trust the Attorney General will take the lead and prioritise this, within his tenure of office.
Convicted murderer Charles Wilhite has an unusual advocate: the niece of murder victim, Alberto Rodriguez. Marialyn—who requested that the Boston Globe not reveal her last name due to safety concerns—rallied in support of Wilhite on Saturday, May 5, 2012, in Springfield, Massachusetts, because she believes Wilhite was wrongfully convicted of killing her uncle.
As reported here, a key witness in the trial now claims that a Springfield detective and the assistant district attorney pressured his testimony. The witness has recanted his identification of Wilhite as the killer. A decision on whether or not his original testimony will stand is expected today from Hampden Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis. Continue reading
From new source:
Editor’s note: The victim in the wrongful conviction case of Joe Jones has been in contact with the Journal-World since October. She has expressed gratitude for the articles about the case, and their role in reopening the case, leading to a DNA profile match. However, the woman has expressed frustration, at times, with the coverage and a lack of information from her point of view. While the woman declined a Journal-World interview request, she provided this letter.
I am the victim that Joe Jones was convicted for kidnapping with a knife and raping in 1985. Confirmation has been made through DNA that the true assailant has been found. This is a day I thought would never come. I want to thank Shaun Hittle for pursuing this matter. However, his articles have never been about the victim’s side of the story. In fact there have been some things printed that were not correct, but I was not asked before they went to print. For instance I was not even in the town the night Joe Jones was arrested. He was seen walking down the street the next night by my witnesses and that’s how he was arrested. I am writing this because these articles on this case are strictly one-sided and I believe it makes my witness and I feel like wolves. Shaun Hittle knows better than that but it never made it to print. These articles were going to be written no matter what it put the victims through. I believe when you open up people’s lives like this there should be more of a balance and a compassion for both sides and relate the hell that both sides have gone through. If that’s not going to be done at least get the details right. I know the big story here is about a wrongly convicted person which is big. My life has not been the same for the 26 years either. Not from living that night, to the release of Joe Jones in 1992, or since Shaun Hittle showed up about eight months ago out of nowhere to drag me through all this again.
I must admit that I was pretty angry for the first few conversations with Mr. Continue reading