Category Archives: Eyewitness identification

Wrongfully convicted man receives $10.1 million compensation

Francisco Carrillo Jr. was exonerated after serving 20 years in prison for a homicide he did not commit. The case involved eyewitness testimony that resulted from unethical police influence on the witness. A re-enactment of the scene showed that it was highly unlikely that the eyewitnesses could have seen the shooting.  Mr. Carrillo was awarded $10.1 million for the 20 years he served in prison. This compensation is the highest amount awarded in the State of California on a per year basis – – about $500,000 per year served in prison for a crime he did not commit.  Link to LA Times article: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-francisco-carrillo-settlement-20160719-snap-story.html

Jack McCullough Exoneration. Case Not “Yet” Closed.

We have previously written about the Jack McCullough case here, here, and here.

Jack was convicted in 2012 of the 1957 abduction and murder of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph in Sycamore, IL. Jack was a neighbor of the Ridulph’s at the time. This used to be called the coldest case ever “solved.”

The current DeKalb County prosecutor, Richard Schmack, felt ethically compelled to review the case, and determined that evidence proved Jack could not be guilty.  Consequently, he filed a motion with the court to dismiss charges. Just this past April, Judge William Brady did dismiss the charges, but declined to do so “with prejudice.” This now leaves Jack vulnerable to being re-charged and re-tried. Maria Ridulph’s brother is continuing to seek appointment of a special prosecutor to re-open the case against Jack.

Now, a witness for the prosecution, who was incentivized to testify at Jack’s trial, has come forward to claim the the state did not live up to its part of the deal they made with him.

Well, if you’ve ever doubted the politically-driven and self-serving nature of the justice system, please see the recent CNN story HERE.

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The Oldest Cold Case Ever “Solved” is Now Still Unsolved. Jack McCullough’s Conviction Overturned.

We have reported on the case of Jack McCullough here before.  Please see:  https://wrongfulconvictionsblog.org/2016/03/25/illinois-prosecutor-says-man-convicted-in-oldest-cold-case-is-innocent/

An Illinois judge has recently overturned Jack’s conviction in the 1957 abduction and murder of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph in Sycamore, IL.

See the CNN story here.

 

Illinois Prosecutor Says Man Convicted in Oldest Cold Case is Innocent

We reported on this case two years ago.

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. Please see: Defendant in Coldest Case Ever “Solved” Appeals His Conviction.

The wrongful conviction litany just repeats and repeats. In this case it includes a false eyewitness identification, a false deathbed accusation, and (surprise) exculpatory evidence withheld from the defense.

See the CNN story here.

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Exoneration doesn’t always mean freedom or compensation

Not every exoneration has a happy ending. Many end up like Danny Brown’s. Fifteen years after he was exonerated by DNA, prosecutors in Toledo, Ohio, still cling to the dubious eyewitness identification of a then-6-year-old boy to insist that Brown remains a suspect in the rape and murder of the boy’s mother.

In all that time, prosecutors have successfully prevented Brown from collecting compensation for the 20 years he spent in prison even though they have uncovered no evidence linking Brown to the man whose semen was found on the victim.

As The Blade reports here, Brown is now homeless and in declining health. Jobs are hard to come by even when he’s in good health because he remains a suspect in a horrible murder and suffers from the anxiety that comes with it.

Clarence Moses-EL Conviction Vacated After 28 Years.

 

cmel

If there were ever a classic example of the lengths to which a prosecutor will go to preserve the “sanctity” of what they have to know is a wrongful conviction, this case is one of those examples.

See details of that case here from the Colorado Independent. There’s even an itemized list of the scummy, less-than-ethical things the police and the prosecution did to preserve this wrongful conviction for 28 years.

 

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Why is a Man Serving Life for a Murder that Feds Say Someone Else Committed?

From the Marshall Project:

The case of Lamont McKoy.

Lamont’s case is currently being handled by the Duke Law Wrongful Convictions Clinic at Duke University. I am very familiar with this case, as I have substantial time in on it, and I can tell you there is even more exculpatory evidence than what is cited in the above article.

 

Criminal Law 2.0, by The Hon. Alex Kozinski (Why the US Justice System Really Isn’t Just)

Alex Kozinski is a judge on the U.S. Ninth Circuit. He has recently authored an article for the Georgetown Law Journal, which he simply titles “Criminal Law 2.0.” It is a comprehensive review and critique of the flaws and shortcomings of the current US justice system. My opinion is that this article is a masterpiece, a classic. Here is an experienced, seasoned, knowledgable justice system “insider” who has “figured it out.” And not only has he figured it out, but he also has some very good ideas about fixing the problems, or at least some of them. You can see the full text here: Kozinski, Criminal Law 2. I strongly encourage reading the full article.

Here is a topical summary: (Please see the full article for Judge Kozinski’s discussion of each point.)

A. The myths that cause us to think that the justice system is fair and just, when it’s really not.

  1. Eyewitnesses are highly reliable.
  2. Fingerprint evidence is foolproof.
  3. Other types of forensic evidence are scientifically proven and therefore infallible.
  4. DNA evidence is infallible.
  5. Human memories are reliable.
  6. Confessions are infallible because innocent people never confess.
  7. Juries follow instructions.
  8. Prosecutors play fair.
  9. The prosecution is at a substantial disadvantage because it must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
  10. Police are objective in their investigations.
  11. Guilty pleas are conclusive proof of guilt.
  12. Long sentences deter crime.

B. Recommendations for reform – Juries

  1. Give jurors a written copy of the jury instructions.
  2. Allow jurors to take notes during trial and provide them with a full trial transcript.
  3. Allow jurors to discuss the case while the trial is ongoing.
  4. Allow jurors to ask questions during the trial.
  5. Tell jurors up-front what’s at stake in the case.
  6. Give jurors a say in sentencing.

C. Recommendations for reform – Prosecutors

  1. Require open file discovery.
  2. Adopt standardized, rigorous procedures for dealing with the government’s disclosure obligations.
  3. Adopt standardized, rigorous procedures for eyewitness identification.
  4. Video record all suspect interrogations.
  5. Impose strict limits on the use of jailhouse informants.
  6. Adopt rigorous, uniform procedures for certifying expert witnesses and preserving the integrity of the testing process.
  7. Keep adding conviction integrity units.
  8. Establish independent Prosecutorial Integrity Units.

D. Recommendations for reform – Judges

  1. Enter Brady compliance orders in every criminal case.
  2. Engage in a Brady colloquy.
  3. Adopt local rules that require the government to comply with its discovery obligations without the need for motions by the defense.
  4. Condition the admission of expert evidence in criminal cases on the presentation of a proper Daubert showing.
  5. When prosecutors misbehave, don’t keep it a secret.

E. Recommendations for reform – General

  1. Abandon judicial elections.
  2. Abrogate absolute prosecutorial immunity.
  3. Repeal AEDPA § 2254(d). (Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act)
  4. Treat prosecutorial misconduct as a civil rights violation.
  5. Give criminal defendants the choice of a jury or bench trial.
  6. Conduct in depth studies of exonerations.
  7. Repeal three felonies a day for three years. (Refers to the fact that there are too many vague, overlapping laws on the books.)

I would add two more to the General category:

•  Have all trial counsel, prosecution and defense, sworn in at the beginning of every trial.

•  Abandon political election of prosecutors.

Monday’s Quick Clicks…

The Connecticut Supreme Court upholds Judges decision to bar expert testimony on eyewitness unreliability…

Maine High Court denies Dennis Dechaine’s request for a new trial

Kansas University Innocence Project client Kimberly Sharp wins 10th Circuit appeal

200,000 pages of “Central Park Five” documents to be released

In North Carolina, Damian Mills and Teddy Isbell Sr. have reached a tentative settlement agreement with Buncombe County officials while their criminal convictions are still pending review…