Posted in Compensation/Exoneree compensation, Eyewitness identification, Junk science, New Evidence, Reforming/Improving the system, Uncategorized, wrongful conviction
Tagged Bite-Mark Evidence, Carrie Wood, compensation, Criminal Justice Reform, eyewitness identification, Lamarr Monson, Lana Canen, Lawrence McKinney, Ohio Innocence Project, Ohio Public Defender, Perjury, Tyrone Noling, wrongful conviction
Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, the former Green Beret surgeon who was first cleared in the murders of his pregnant wife and two daughters and then convicted in 1970, will have what may be his final chance at overturning his conviction after spending the past 36 years in prison for a crime that many experts now believe he did not commit. Oral arguments before a federal appeals court will commence on January 26. The crime took place prior to the use of DNA analysis and new DNA evidence and a lot of other evidence, including evidence of prosecutorial misconduct, flawed forensic testimony, and botched crime scene analysis, provides powerful support for his story that intruders killed his family in what was in some ways similar to the “Manson family” murders in that same era. People Magazine investigative reports will culminate in its major cover story, available on newsstands on Friday, January 20. Here is a link to the People Magazine digital story today that precedes the cover story:
Former Green Beret Surgeon Jeffrey MacDonald Says There’s Evidence He Didn’t Kill His Family: ‘I Am Innocent’
Posted in Compensation/Exoneree compensation, Conviction Integrity Units, Editorials/Opinion, Exonerations, forensic science, Junk science, New Evidence, Police conduct (good and bad), Post-conviction relief, Prosecutorial conduct (good and bad), Reforming/Improving the system, Uncategorized, wrongful conviction
Tagged compensation, Conviction Integrity Unit, DNA testing, forensic science, wrongful conviction
Posted in Exonerations, Eyewitness identification, New Evidence, Post-conviction relief, Uncategorized
Tagged Brendan Dassey, capital punishment, compensation, Conviction Integrity Unit, eyewitness identification, eyewitness reliability, Making a Murderer, Mike Hansen, Richard Rosario
What if Jerry Sandusky didn’t do it? Hard to believe, right? The evidence against him seemed to be overwhelming. But was it really?
Author Mark Pendergrast argues that much of the sensational 2012 child-abuse case against the notorious former Penn State assistant football coach hinges on flawed repressed-memory theory. In a commentary for The Crime Report here
, Pendergrast says it is relatively easy to generate false memories of abuse and documents how that may have occurred in this case.
Posted in Compensation/Exoneree compensation, Exonerations, Eyewitness identification, Junk science, New Evidence, Post-conviction relief, Reforming/Improving the system, Uncategorized, United Kingdom, wrongful conviction, Wrongfully Convicted Women
Tagged Arson, arson forensic science, compensation, DNA, exoneration, exoneree compensation, eyewitness identification, eyewitness reliability, Japan, miscarriage of justice, reform legislation, wrongful conviction
While writing the latest post about Jack McCullough‘s exoneration, and while reading Courtney Bisbee‘s latest filing with the US District Court for Arizona, I got to reflecting on my experiences with the justice system over the past eight years, and I thought I would share some of my (unvarnished) observations. Clearly, this will be very editorial. It will probably help to understand my comments to know that I am not an attorney. I am an engineer by training, and that’s what I did for my entire working career – until I started doing innocence work pro bono. So I see the justice system with the naivete’ of someone who is an “outsider” and is not a functionary of the system; but I do see the system as someone who has spent his entire life founded in objective truth and logic and fact. Again, this article will be editorial in nature, and represents my views and only my views. It will also be pretty bleak; however, I see no viable path to fixing the monster we’ve created over the course of multiple decades of politics and the frailties of human nature. This has been bottled up inside me for some time, and the cork has finally popped. And just for reference, my definition of the justice system includes the law, legislators, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the police.
We’ve been posting here about the exoneration of Jack McCullough in the 1957 abduction and murder of then 7-year-old Maria Ridulph in Sycamore, IL. 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 with prejudice; meaning that Jack could not be charged and tried for the crime again. For previous posts, please see here, here, here, and here.
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. See the latest CNN story here.
And so grinds the justice system. And now with the decision by the judge not to dismiss with prejudice, there is a petition going around Sycamore, IL calling for the appointment of a “special prosecutor.” Despite facts, logic, and reason, people will just not give up their biases, beliefs, and prejudices. And just as an aside, prosecutor Schmack can probably ‘kiss goodbye’ to any chance of being re-elected – all because he did the right thing. Such is politics, and such is the justice system. And we can only speculate about how politics in this ultra-high-profile case may have influenced the decision of the judge.
Posted in Commissions/Innocence Commissions/Governmental Case Review Agencies, Compensation/Exoneree compensation, Conviction Integrity Units, Eyewitness identification, Junk science, New Evidence, Prosecutorial conduct (good and bad), Uncategorized, wrongful conviction
Tagged compensation, Conviction Integrity Unit, exoneration, exoneree compensation, eyewitness identification, Innocence Project, innocence project northwest, Oklahoma Innocence Project, prosecutorial misconduct, San Antonio Four, wrongful conviction, wrongful conviction compensation
I have long been dismayed by the state of ethics within the prosecutorial community. Here is just one more example of why. This one stretches the limits of credibility to the point of being sadly laughable.
Between 2010 and 2014, prosecutors in Colorado conducted what was called the “Justice Review Project,” which was federally funded for $2.6 million. The objective was to review over 5,000 convictions to determine if DNA testing could prove any of the defendants actually innocent.
The “Project” consisted entirely of prosecutorial staff, with the exception of the “Review Board,” which did have representation from the legal defense community. However, there was only one case that ever came before the review board, and that case was imposed upon the “Project” by outside defense counsel, which had already paid for independent DNA testing. This one case was also the only one out of over 5,000 that the “Project” determined was suitable for DNA testing. The “Project’s” selection criteria had been set up to allow off-hand disqualification of essentially every case.
The prosecutors then went on to claim (boast) that the “Project” proved that the Colorado justice system is infallible, and that Colorado prosecutors “get it right the first time” all the time. Not only that, but they also had the unmitigated gall to state in their final report on the “Project” that the one case in which DNA was tested (which they had forced on them), and proved innocence, was their “crowning achievement.”
Now the prosecutors are refusing to release (hiding) records of the “Project.” So, the Exoneration Project is suing in Denver District Court to have the records released.
See the Colorado Independent story here.
Photo: Chicago Sun-Times
See our recent post on this case here.
An Illinois judge has freed Jack McCullough from prison, and ordered a new trial. 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.” And I guess we can now call it an “exoneration,” since the prosecutor has indicated his intention to have the charges against Jack dismissed with prejudice; meaning Jack can never be brought back into court for this crime again.
CNN just published an article that includes an interview with Jack. This very insightful comment from that interview:
“People have to realize, it’s not about winning. It’s about justice. And this brave man — I probably shouldn’t talk about him at all — but he put his career on the line for me,” McCullough said. He thought a moment and carefully chose the words that followed:
“It isn’t about winning a case, it’s about justice. And God bless the man who stood up for justice. He’s probably going to pay a penalty for that because to everyone else it’s about winning. But it’s not about winning. It’s about doing the right thing.”
Let me add the editorial note that this is where politically ambitious, politically elected prosecutors get it wrong. It’s not supposed to be about “winning.” It’s supposed to be about seeing that justice is done. But … winning is much more important for your political record than is providing true justice. The prosecutor in this case is a rare and marvelous exception to that rule.
See the CNN story with the interview here.
Posted in Asia, New Evidence, Police conduct (good and bad), Post-conviction relief, Prosecutorial conduct (good and bad), Reforming/Improving the system, Uncategorized, wrongful conviction, Wrongfully Convicted Women
Tagged DNA, DNA testing, forensic science, miscarriage of justice, police misconduct, prosecutorial misconduct, wrongful conviction
Posted in Commissions/Innocence Commissions/Governmental Case Review Agencies, Compensation/Exoneree compensation, False confessions, New Evidence, Police conduct (good and bad), Uncategorized
Tagged compensation, exoneree, exoneree compensation, false confession, miscarriage of justice, new evidence, new trial, police misconduct, wrongful conviction, wrongful conviction compensation
Posted in Asia, Compensation/Exoneree compensation, Editorials/Opinion, New Evidence, Post-conviction relief, Reforming/Improving the system, Uncategorized, wrongful conviction, Wrongfully Convicted Women
Tagged compensation, DNA, exoneree compensation, Japan, miscarriage of justice, new trial, wrongful conviction
We’ve previously posted about the Melissa Calusinski case in Lake County, IL here. It would seem to clearly be a case of a coerced false confession, combined with bad medical “science.”
Lake County State’s Attorney, Michael Nerheim, has already declined to have his so-called “conviction integrity unit” review the case.
Now, despite the fact that the Lake County Coroner officially changed the cause of death from homicide to undetermined, and despite the fact that newly discovered X-ray evidence shows that the child had experienced previous head trauma, the prosecution is opposing a request for new trial by Calusinski’s attorney.
Why are we not surprised? See the Lake County Daily Herald story here.