Tuesday’s Quick Clicks…

Pioneer in innocence movement earns renewed recognition

Before author Erle Stanley Gardner and his Court of Last Resort, before Jim McCloskey and Centurion Ministries, before Barry Scheck and Peter Neufield and their Innocence Project, there was Herbert Maris, a Philadelphia corporate attorney who pioneered prisoner innocence advocacy from the 1920s to the 1950s.
Maris estimated that he freed almost 300 innocent convicts during his 40-year part-time career, but his work is largely forgotten today. The New York Daily News gives Maris his due in an article here.

Monday’s Quick Clicks.

Wednesday’s Quick Clicks…

Tuesday’s Quick Clicks…

Monday’s Quick Clicks…

Johnson, Wheatt, Glover – All Charges Dismissed – After 20 Years

Johnson, Wheatt, Glover – this was the very first case I worked on with the Ohio Innocence Project eight and a half years ago. At the time, it was a GSR case (gunshot residue). The GSR evidence was always highly questionable, but it was a major factor in their conviction. As it turns out, not only was the GSR evidence bogus, but the case is also an example of egregious prosecutorial misconduct.

Please see the story by Maurice Possley on the National Registry of Exonerations website here.

 

Tuesday’s Quick Clicks…

Federal Judge Overturns Conviction of Brendan Dassey

On Friday, August 12, 2016, U.S. Magistrate Judge William E. Duffin overturned the conviction of Brendan Dassey, one of the defendants highlighted in the documentary ‘Making A Murderer.’ The judge has given the state 90 days to either initiate proceedings to retry him or release him from prison.

In his 91-page decision, the judge concluded:

“The investigators repeatedly claimed to already know what happened on October 31 and assured Dassey that he had nothing to worry about. These repeated false promises, when considered in conjunction with all relevant factors, most especially Dassey’s age, intellectual deficits, and the absence of a supportive adult, rendered Dassey’s confession involuntary under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.”

Law Professors Steven A. Drizin and Laura Nirider of the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth represented Dassey in the appellate process. The Clinic has represented Dassey since 2008.

View the full decision here.

Read the Center on Wrongful Convictions press release, which includes links to instructive  information regarding youth interrogation and false confessions.

Higashi Sumiyoshi Arson Case, Finally Acquitted Today.

I have posted several times about Higashi Sumiyoshi arson case. The Osaka District Court finally acquitted Ms. Keiko Aoki and Mr. Tatsuhiro Boku today.

From the Japan Times:

Retrial acquits Osaka woman, former partner in daughter’s 1995 fire death

Kyodo, Aug 10, 2016

The Osaka District Court acquitted a couple on Wednesday over the 1995 death of an 11-year-old girl, in a long-awaited retrial.

Keiko Aoki, 52, and Tatsuhiro Boku, 50, each served a little over 20 years for the murder of Aoki’s daughter in a house fire in Osaka Prefecture.

In the retrial, the court found no credibility in confessions that the pair allegedly gave during interrogation.

“I was given a complete acquittal. It was a great judgment,” Aoki said after the ruling.

She plans to sue the state for compensation for being deprived of liberty on false grounds. The pair were serving life terms when they secured the retrial.

It is the 10th case since 1975 in which a person sentenced to either the death penalty or life in prison has been acquitted in a retrial, according to the Supreme Court.

In Wednesday’s ruling, presiding Judge Goichi Nishino said none of the confessions made by Boku during investigations could be taken as evidence of guilt. The court similarly found no credibility in Aoki’s confession during investigations.

“There is a possibility that the two were forced into making false confessions after (investigators) instilled fear in them and applied excessive psychological pressure,” the judge said.

The ruling said the fire could have been accidental, adding that Boku’s confession contained nothing that could be considered first-hand insight.

The court also said it was possible that an interrogator coerced Boku into making an “unnatural” and involuntary confession.

But the court did not address the reason for the judiciary’s wrongful conviction, or apologize to Aoki.

Aoki and Boku were retried separately, with their verdicts given on the same day.

Prosecutors decided in March not to pursue fresh convictions against the couple as they could not prove the two were guilty of the crime in the retrial. The move effectively ensured the couple’s acquittal.

Aoki and Boku were convicted by the district court in 1999. Their conviction mainly relied on Boku’s confession that he spread gasoline inside a garage and set it on fire with a lighter.

Aoki and Boku have maintained their innocence throughout the retrials. They requested in 2009 that their cases be retried.

The couple were granted retrials by the court in 2012. The decision was upheld by the Osaka High Court last October and the two were subsequently released from prison.

But doubts were raised about Boku’s confession as evidence, following experiments conducted by both prosecutors and defense lawyers after their sentences were finalized by the Supreme Court in 2006. The experiments indicated the possibility that the garage blaze could have been accidental.

Another key piece of evidence that led to their retrials was an Osaka police diary detailing forceful police questioning.

The defense lawyers presented the diary during Aoki’s trial and also disclosed beforehand a portion of it to reporters.

In her retrial session in April, Aoki told the court she had falsely confessed to her daughter’s murder as she “felt like dying” after a prolonged interrogation by an investigator who continued to shout at her.

The couple were arrested in September 1995 on suspicion of lighting a fire that killed the girl at their Osaka home in July 1995. A life insurance policy had been taken out for the girl, then a sixth-grader in elementary school.

 

Tuesday’s Quick Clicks…

Monday’s Quick Clicks…

Wednesday’s Quick Clicks…

Tuesday’s Quick Clicks…

Post Exoneraton Developments in the Debra Milke Case

I hope that by now, everybody knows that Debra Milke, previously convicted and inprisoned in Maricopa County, AZ, for contracting the murder of her young son, has been exonerated.

We’ve posted about the Debra Milke case on this blog several times previously. In chronological order –  here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here(The red link is particularly germane to the subject of this post.)

Pursuant to her wrongful conviction, wrongful imprisonment (22 years on death row), and eventual exoneration, Debra filed suit with five claims against four defendants, including two former Phoenix police officers and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (Bill Montgomery), stating that that she was denied a fair trial and due process of law. The two police officers and the Maricopa County Attorney filed a motion with the court to dismiss the suit. Judge Roslyn O. Silver of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona has denied the motion to dismiss, and is allowing the suit to go forward.

See the story from azcentral here.

You can read the decision by Senior United States District Judge Roslyn O. Silver here:  97-OrderreMotionstoDismiss

 

Monday’s Quick Clicks…

Friday’s Quick Clicks…

Thursday’s Quick Clicks…

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

Thursday’s Quick Clicks…