Blog EditorRosenthal Institute for Justice/Ohio Innocence Project Order Here
Justin BrooksProfessor, California Western School of Law; Director, California Innocence ProjectOrder his book Wrongful Convictions Cases & Materials 2d ed. here
Daniel EhighaluaNigerian Barrister
Carey D. HoffmanDirector of Digital Communications, Ohio Innocence Project@OIPCommunicati1
Shiyuan HuangAssociate Professor, Shandong University Law School; Visiting Scholar, University of Cincinnati College of Law
Phil LockeScience and Technology Advisor, Ohio Innocence Project and Duke Law Wrongful Convictions Clinic
Dr. Carole McCartneyReader in Law, Faculty of Business and Law, Northumbria University
Nancy PetroAuthor and Advocate Order her book False Justice here Presumed Guilty here
On March 24, 2018, more than five hundred men and women marched through Memphis Tennessee. Most of them had spent a large part of their lives in prison– a combined 3,501 years among them– for crimes they did not commit.
The march was the closing event for the 2018 Innocence Network conference, a gathering of exonorees and lawyers working on behalf of those wrongfully convicted. Exonorees came from every state in the country and from countries across the globe. They marched with attorneys and advocates and family. They held signs demanding change in the system that had wronged them. Demanding accountability. Demanding, at least, public recognition that innocent men and women were being arrested and convicted by agents acting on the public’s behalf.
Just days before the march, the National Registry of Exonerations at the University of Michigan released a review of the 139 people exonerated in 2017. Of them, well over half were initially convicted as the result of official misconduct, such as officers threatening witnesses, lab analysts falsifying results, or exculpatory information being withheld at trial. This misconduct is statistically more likely to occur in Reading more here
Fascinating stuff related to confirmation bias and tunnel vision…
In 1975, researchers at Stanford invited a group of undergraduates to take part in a study about suicide. They were presented with pairs of suicide notes. In each pair, one note had been composed by a random individual, the other by a person who had subsequently taken his own life. The students were then asked to distinguish between the genuine notes and the fake ones.
Some students discovered that they had a genius for the task. Out of twenty-five pairs of notes, they correctly identified the real one twenty-four times. Others discovered that they were hopeless. They identified the real note in only ten instances.
As is often the case with psychological studies, the whole setup was a put-on. Though half the notes were indeed genuine—they’d been obtained from the Los Angeles County coroner’s office—the scores were fictitious. The students who’d been told they were almost always right were, on average, no more discerning than those who had been told they were mostly wrong.
In the second phase of the study, the deception was revealed. Read more here.
Fake media is coming for our memories
The recent exonerations of Eric Kelley and Ralph Lee for a 1993 robbery and murder in Paterson, New Jersey have sparked serious concerns from Attorney General Gurbir Grewal who has decided to take over the investigation from Passaic County Prosecutors. The wrongful convictions of both Kelley and Lee, which were overturned based on new DNA evidence pointing to another man who committed a similar crime, have moved Grewal to consider statewide reforms that would improve how the criminal justice system responds to wrongful convictions in the state. He has also called on Supreme Court Chief Justice James Zazzali to independently review how prosecutors managed Kelley and Lee’s case. The prosecutors defended the convictions of Kelley and Lee rather, yet failed to investigate the man identified by the DNA testing.
“We’re going to supersede the investigation … to ensure public confidence in light of the criticism that has been leveled and the coverage of the matter,” said Attorney General Grewal.
The proposed reforms Grewal has decided to pursue include creating a conviction review unit to examine wrongful conviction claims and help prevent innocent people Read more here
Can Prosecutors Put the Same Gun in the Hands of More Than One Shooter?
John Thompson vs. American Justice
The Power of Prosecutors
In the US, there have been almost two thousand wrongful convictions Yet in so many cases, prosecutors, police, judges and even defense attorneys simply refuse to acknowledge these catastrophic mistakes. Our guest – a former prosecutor – explains why we blind ourselves to these injustices. Read more and listen to the podcast here
Some law enforcement officers stepping up for innocence and pointing to tunnel vision as leading to a wrongful conviction…
His Clients Weren’t Complaining. But the Judge Said This Lawyer Worked Too Hard.
Letter: Probation is prison, minus the metal bars
An appeals panel on Thursday vacated the conviction of Adnan Syed, whose case was chronicled in the first season of the hit podcast “Serial,” and ruled that he should be granted a new trial on all charges.
Mr. Syed was convicted in 2000 of the first-degree murder and kidnapping of his former girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.
In the ruling, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals said he had received ineffective legal counsel at his trial because his original lawyer had failed to call a witness whose testimony, if believed, “would have made it impossible for Syed to have murdered Hae.”
“Accordingly, Syed’s murder conviction must be vacated, and because Syed’s convictions for kidnapping, robbery, and false imprisonment are predicated on his commission of Hae’s murder, these convictions must be vacated as well,” the panel wrote. “The instant case will be remanded for a new trial on all charges against Syed.”
Mr. Syed’s new lawyer, Justin Brown, said both he and Mr. Syed were “thrilled” with the panel’s decision.
At a news conference, he said Mr. Syed “asked me to convey his deep gratitude and thanks from the bottom of his heart to all those who have supported him and believed in him.”
The accounts by the new witness, and other evidence seeming to cast doubt on the conviction, were the focus of “Serial,” which was a wildly successful podcast in 2014 and popularized the format for a general audience.
The 12-episode series featured Sarah Koenig, a former producer with the weekly public radio program “This American Life,” telling the story of the killing, investigation and trial in a conversational narrative with interviews. It was downloaded more than 175 million times and won a Peabody Award.
Mr. Syed’s lawyer, Mr. Brown, said he had been unable to locate the witness, Asia McClain, until the “Serial” team began investigating Mr. Syed’s story. He said the podcast had been “enormously helpful” in pursuing justice for his client continue reading here
Prosecutorial Misconduct Reaches Epidemic Proportions
Innocence Project Lawyers Support Texas Prosecutor
Martin Luther King Jr. remains frozen in time for many Americans. Seared into our consciousness is the man who battled Southern segregation.
We see him standing before hundreds of thousands of followers in the nation’s capital in 1963, proclaiming his dream for racial harmony. We see him marching, arms locked with fellow protesters, through the battleground of Alabama in 1965.
But on the 50th anniversary of his death, it is worth noting how his message and his priorities had evolved by the time he was shot on that balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis in 1968. Dr. King was confronting many challenges that remain with us today.
He was battling racism in the North then, not just in the South. He was pushing the government to address poverty, income inequality, structural racism and segregation in cities like Boston and Chicago. He was also calling for an end to a war that was draining the national treasury of funds needed to finance a progressive domestic agenda.
This may not be the Dr. King that many remember. Yet, his words resonate powerfully – and, perhaps, uncomfortably – today in a country that remains deeply divided on issues of race and class.
“All the issues that he raised toward the end of his life are as contemporary now as they were then,” said Taylor Branch, the Pulitzer-Prize winning historian who has written several books about Dr. King.
It is no surprise that Americans remember the man who focused on demolishing the legal underpinnings of Jim Crow.
Holding on to the memory of the earlier Dr. King allows us to focus on our nation’s progress, not on the deeply entrenched problems that remain.
Continue reading here
He was 27 when he went in. Now he’s 72.
This sets a record for the longest wrongful imprisonment in the US.
CINCINNATI — Today, the only thing that stops Ru-El Sailor from walking free after serving 15 hard years in prison for a murder that he didn’t commit is the fate of a motion to vacate his conviction. That motion was filed by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley.
If a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge approves O’Malley’s motion, Sailor will join his family, friends, and community in a celebration of justice that we don’t often see in today’s news.
He also will be greeted by Evin King, whom O’Malley exonerated last year. Evin spent nearly 23 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, but as a free man will welcome Sailor, who was wrongly convicted in the 2002 murder of a Cleveland man, to the family of Ohio’s exonerees.
Sailor is represented by two outstanding advocates, Cleveland attorney Kim Corral and Jennifer Bergeron of the Ohio Innocence Project. Corral and Bergeron worked tirelessly on Sailor’s case.
That work eventually brought them to O’Malley’s Conviction Integrity Unit, led by another committed attorney, Russell Tye.
If the motion to vacate Sailor’s conviction is granted, O’Malley and his Conviction Integrity Unit deserve much credit for his freedom.
It might seem to those unfamiliar with how wrongful conviction cases work that once evidence surfaces of the innocence of someone wrongfully imprisoned, prosecutors just agree to freedom, like we see on television shows or in movies. But unfortunately, too often that is not the case.
For those of us who do innocence work, we see case after case where prosecutors presented with evidence of a wrongful conviction resist that evidence. They dig in and refuse to admit a mistake no matter how great the showing of innocence. This is because prosecutors are human.
Read the full article here
This absolutely turns my stomach. This insanity has to stop.
See the story from HuffPost here.
Would that ALL exonerated people were able to re-insert themselves back into society this easily.
Hundreds marched in Downtown Memphis demanding criminal justice reform
Jennifer Thompson has told her harrowing tale many times. In 1984, a man broke into her apartment and sexually assaulted her at knifepoint. She picked Ronald Cotton out of a police lineup, and he was sent to prison. But a decade later he was proven innocent and released. The two met and eventually co-authored a book, “Picking Cotton.” They toured the country, advocating for laws that might prevent such tragedies. The real perpetrator, Bobby Poole, was identified through DNA, and died in prison in 1998.