Author Archives: Mark Godsey

Quick Clicks

Wrongfully Convicted Man Freed After 45 Years Doesn’t Hold a Grudge – He Just Wants Some Gumbo

Can you spot an unethical prosecutor?

Petition claims DNA proves innocence of Virginia man sentenced to 100 years for 1990 rape of 10-year-old girl

Battler for the wrongly convicted will join Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office

Blind Injustice Chapter 8 Solutions

After years of going head to head with Wayne County prosecutors and building a reputation for freeing the wrongfully convicted, criminal defense attorney Valerie Newman is joining the prosecutor’s office.  Newman was asked to help prosecutors get better at what they do and she hopes to prevent wrongful convictions before they happen.

Quick Clicks

Evin King becomes the 2121 exoneration in America.

The success of conviction integrity units exonerating innocent inmates proves every county should have one.

Are prosecutors obligated to believe the evidence they present at trial?

By Radley Balko

“You might think that, from an ethical standpoint, prosecutors should believe that the evidence they put in front of juries is actually true and accurate. After all, they’re state employees, paid with public funds, and they’re entrusted with enormous power. At the very least, we should expect them not only to refrain from putting forth evidence they know to be false but also to exercise some due diligence to ensure that everything they tell jurors is true.

As it turns out, that just isn’t the case. 

Quick Clicks

New Wrongful Convictions Series “Final Appeal” Premieres on Oxygen Sunday, January 7 at 7/6 central

NYC finalizes $40M settlement with ‘Central Park 5’

For the First Time Ever, a Prosecutor Will Go to Jail for Wrongfully Convicting an Innocent Man. This blog post from 2015 is an important reminder of holding prosecutors accountable.

Is your memory good enough to convict? A suspect’s fate can depend on what an eyewitness remembers, even though we know memory is fallible

Chapter 5 Blind Memory

If a suspect’s fate can depend on what an eyewitness remembers, how do courts deal with the fallibility of memory?

The Innocence Project helps to exonerate individuals who have been wrongfully convicted of a crime they didn’t commit. They’ve reported that eyewitness misidentification is the greatest contributing factor to wrongful convictions.

Karen Newirth is a senior staff attorney at the Innocence Project, working in the strategic litigation unit on eyewitness identification. She says one of the most powerful parts of her job has been “hearing stories of wrongful convictions in the cases where witnesses talk about what it is like to realize that their memories were wrong and that through their testimony they put an innocent person in prison. The system doesn’t help them to sort through what might be a real memory and what might be contamination or an elaboration.”

“When we see eyewitnesses, victims and defendants in highly emotional situations, their memories are just so plastic,” said Julia Shaw, author of “The Memory Illusion” and a psychological scientist and memory expert who testifies in court. “So I wanted to understand how exactly that works.” Shaw set out to see if she could convince participants in a study to adopt the memory of a crime they hadn’t committed. “I’ve had conversations with neuroscientists who essentially argue that the distinction between imagination and memory is mostly meaningless,” she said. “It’s the same neurons doing the same tasks. So the only difference is maybe strength. And if you reinforce something often enough than memories and imagination just pretty much look identical.”

Read the full story here

To hear the results of Shaw’s study, listen to “Court of Memory.” https://embed.radiopublic.com/e?if=memory-motel-WwEYL8&ge=s1!8f0c7722d13ad723abab7a1cde4c5a46088835e8“>here

Quick Clicks

After half a century a state district court Judge Richard Anderson has overturned Wilbert Jones’ 1974 conviction in the abduction and rape of a Baton Rouge nurse, saying “highly favorable” evidence was withheld from the defense. Read the full story here.

An appellate attorney is out of a job after speaking publicly about a lack of funding in a death penalty case — comments that Weber County officials deemed “harmful to the county’s reputation.” Read the full story here.

Judges Ordered to Direct Prosecutors to Turn Over Information Favorable to Defense

All judges who preside over criminal cases in New York state will order prosecutors to disclose information favorable to the defense at least 30 days before a trial on a felony, a change that some legal experts say will dramatically change the way trials are conducted.

“This newly adopted measure will go a long way to help prevent and remedy systemic errors that contribute to wrongful convictions,” Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said in a statement slated to be issued Wednesday.

Read the full story here

Quick Clicks

America’s Prosecutors Were Supposed to Be Accountable to Voters. What Went Wrong?

Center on Wrongful Convictions client Kerry Masterson acquitted of 2009 murder

The Woman Who Invented Forensics Training with Doll Houses

 

Quick Clicks

2,111th Exoneration: Rickey Newman was sentenced to death in a one-day trial. He was exonerated 15 years later by DNA evidence, as well as evidence of another man’s motive. He is the 118th death row exoneration in the Registry.

http://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/casedetail.aspx?caseid=5218

 

Daniel Dougherty awarded 3rd trial in 1985 arson deaths of sons

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/daniel-dougherty-awarded-3rd-trial-in-1985-arson-deaths-of-sons-20171031.html

Getting Away with Perjury

How far must prosecutors go to acknowledge a lie by one of their witnesses? Is it enough for the defense to point out the lie on cross-examination? Fascinating and important case. -Steve Drizin

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2017/10/30/getting-away-with-perjury?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=share-tools&utm_source=facebook&utm_content=post-top

 

Quick Clicks

Innocent, Disabled and Vulnerable: A judge protects an exonerated man from his lawyer.

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2017/10/24/innocent-disabled-and-vulnerable

 

5 Exonerated in China Based on Mitochondrial DNA Hair Analysis

https://www.forensicmag.com/news/2017/10/5-exonerated-china-based-mitochondrial-dna-hair-analysis

 

Tyra Patterson to Be Released From Prison After 23 Years

http://www.newsmax.com/TheWire/tyra-patterson-released-prison-innocence/2017/10/26/id/822218/

How you can remember a moment when you weren’t even there

Very good article about how easily and fervently we can come to believe in memories that aren’t real.

Blind Injustice Chapter 5 Blind Memory

https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2017/10/29/how-you-can-remember-a-moment-when-you-werent-even-there.html

Quick Clicks

 

A prosecutor meets the juvenile lifer he locked up for 40 years – and apologizes

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/crime/kevin-brinkley-juvenile-lifer-gerald-dugan-innocent-wrongful-conviction-20171026.html

 

Tyra Patterson to Be Released From Prison After 23 Years

http://www.newsmax.com/TheWire/tyra-patterson-released-prison-innocence/2017/10/26/id/822218/

Prosecutors block release of N.J. men whose murder convictions were tossed

Blind Injustice Chapter 2 Blind Denial. What happens when prosecutors cannot admit a mistake has been made?

By S.P. Sullivanssullivan@njadvancemedia.com, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

PATERSON — Ralph Lee, Sr. saw it as a test from God.

After 24 years waiting for his son’s release from prison, his prayers were about to be answered — until, suddenly, they weren’t.

Ralph Lee, Jr. and another Paterson man, Eric Kelley, were scheduled to be let out on bail Wednesday after a state Superior Court judge, citing DNA evidence raising doubts about their guilt, vacated their convictions.

But an eleventh-hour challenge from the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office stalled Judge Joseph Portelli’s ruling that Kelley and Lee could be freed on $20,000 bail while awaiting new trials.

Lawyers from the Innocence Project and Centurion Ministries — two legal groups dedicated to freeing the wrongly convicted — called the move a cruel and unnecessary attempt to delay the inevitable.

Prosecutors contend DNA testing from a key piece of evidence, a hat found at the scene of the killing, doesn’t exonerate the pair. They say the two men should be treated like any other defendant facing fresh murder charges and held until trial.

“They don’t want to admit their error: that they have two innocent men in jail,” said Paul Casteleiro, Lee’s attorney.

Read Full story at:
 http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2017/10/after_24_years_2_nj_men_walk_out_to_face_new.html#incart_river_mobileshort_index

 

Quick Clicks

When Race Tips the Scales in Plea Bargaining

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2017/10/23/when-race-tips-the-scales-in-plea-bargaining?ref=hp-2-111

Suffolk DA Thomas Spota, top aide indicted in cover-up

https://www.newsday.com/long-island/crime/suffolk-da-thomas-spota-top-aide-indicted-in-cover-up-1.14617467

Gov. Brown Signs Bill Allowing Felons To Vote In Jail

http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2016/09/28/gov-brown-signs-bill-allowing-felons-to-vote-in-jail/#.Wezc2Bix0Wk.facebook

Knoops’ Innocence Project to be featured in a TV show

 

Today, the Knoops’ Innocence project will be featured in a TV show looking at 5 cases the Innocence Project worked on over the course of 5 years. Watch the trailer featuring Knoops’ work here: http://www.knoopsadvocaten.nl/2017/10/23/rtl4-onschuldig/

 

Blind Injustice: How ‘Tunnel Vision’ Convicts the Innocent

 

Dean2-Gillispie-1170x809Here is a piece I wrote about the amazing Dean Gillispie, who served 20 years in prison for rapes he didn’t commit. He was recently exonerated. Please take a minute to read about my dear friend, who is an inspiring human being. And then share.

When you can’t find the light that guides you in the cloudy days,

When the stars ain’t shining bright and you feel like you’ve lost your way,

When those candle lights of home burn so very far away,

Well, you’ve got to let your soul shine.

 

 

 

 

Quick Clicks looking at Prosecutorial Misconduct and withholding evidence.

Panelists Rail Against Prosecutorial Misconduct, Wrongful Convictions During UCI Forum

http://www.ocweekly.com/news/panelists-rail-against-oc-wrongful-convictions-at-uci-forum-8512913

 

Former prosecutors shouldn’t be judges. Here’s why

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/4/27/1520718/-Former-prosecutors-shouldn-t-be-judges-Here-s-why

 

Another week, another crime lab scandal

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2017/10/20/another-week-another-crime-lab-scandal/?utm_term=.0948d6a3fb67

I Served 26 Years for Murder Even Though the Killer Confessed

His lawyers wouldn’t tell anyone because of attorney-client privilege. Meanwhile, I kept a homemade metal shank with me at all times.
By Alton Logan with Berl Falbaum illustrated byCornelia Li

This article was published in collaboration with the Marshall Project.

In 1983, Alton Logan was convicted of killing off-duty Cook County corrections officer Lloyd Wickliffe in a Chicago McDonald’s, and sentenced to life in prison. What Logan didn’t know was that another man had confessed to the crime.

Andrew Wilson confided his guilt to his attorneys, Dale Coventry and Jamie Kunz, who didn’t come forward with the information for more than two decades. The lawyers said they were bound by a sacrosanct rule of legal conduct: attorney-client confidentiality. But according to the lawyers, Wilson agreed they could disclose the confession after his death.

“Now I pray that the innocent who are imprisoned will hear the steel doors of their cells unlock and will walk out with their heads held high. Even if it takes 26 years.”

-Alton Logan

Read Alton’s story of conviction based on undisclosed ballistic evidence, fighting the system, the emergence of an affidavit that set him free, and life after exoneration here: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/evb4ap/i-served-26-years-for-murder-even-though-the-killer-confessed