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

 

 

Quick Clicks relating to Chapter 3 Blind Ambition

New Orleans DA bullies public defenders for doing their job.

https://injusticetoday.com/new-orleans-da-accusation-illegal-travis-boys-bc3dc2ab95e6

 

Federal hearing to probe if there is ‘widespread lying’ by NYPD on witness stand

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/federal-hearing-probe-cops-lie-witness-stand-article-1.3570651

 

Chicago Detective Accused Of Framing More Than 50 Testifies

https://www.buzzfeed.com/melissasegura/chicago-detective-accused-of-framing-more-than-50-testifies?utm_term=.gpaLVv0jo#.oa2ANRMxv

 

Weekend quick links

Must watch video: Elizabeth Loftus: How Can Our Memories Be Manipulated?

Why Would Prosecutors Refuse DNA Testing that would endure the state doesn’t execute the wrong man?

How true crime podcasts are connecting listeners to criminal justice reform

Third Degree Lite: The Abuse of Confessions

Many law enforcement agencies don’t follow state lineup, interrogation rules, study says

We got this law passed in 2010 to improve how eyewitness identification procedures are done in Ohio, and to get police departments to record interrogations. During the legislative negotiations, law enforcement asked that the penalties for noncompliance be reduced on the promise that they would voluntarily comply. After seven years, very few police departments are following the law according to a study that the Ohio Innocence Project released. It’s encouraging, however, to see the AG’s quotes in this article that they want to do better…

http://www.dispatch.com/news/20171011/many-law-enforcement-agencies-dont-follow-state-lineup-interrogation-rules-study-says

 

Let prosecutors face justice for malpractice

King’s county elected prosecutor places a wake-up call to other prosecutors.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Tuesday, October 10, 2017, 5:00 AM

Eric Gonzalez, change agentThe all-but-certain election of Eric Gonzalez to a full term as Kings County district attorney places a wakeup call to other New York leaders, especially the lawmakers in Albany, to hold prosecutors accountable for the serious problems — not honest errors, but deliberate malfeasance — that land innocent people in prison.

Current laws in New York allow a prosecutor to withhold evidence and even lie about it with few consequences. When our lawmakers reconvene in January, they should pass a law punishing prosecutors who use deception and shady tactics to slant the scales of justice.

Four years ago, Kenneth Thompson ousted longtime DA Charles Hynes on the promise of making convictions in Brooklyn fairer. Thompson’s office then went to work correcting past injustices: Over the last three years, courts overturned 22 convictions.

Read more at http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/prosecutors-face-justice-malpractice-article-1.3552241

Blind Injustice now available in all formats

My new book Blind Injustice, which delves into the psychology and politics of wrongful convictions from my days as a prosecutor and now innocence lawyer, is now available in hardcover and digital versions here.

Most of my daily updates on wrongful conviction issues have now been moved from this blog to the Blind Injustice Facebook Group, which you can join here.

We will still post on this blog from time to time, but it seems that the days of people going to blogs are starting to wane a bit, as most people get their news and updates on social media.  Please tune in to the Blind Injustice Facebook Group.

Thanks for reading and I hope you find Blind Injustice interesting and informative.

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Prosecutorial Misconduct in Southern California

Southern California ranks high in reversals per capita in which prosecutorial misconduct was involved, according to a new study by the Fair Punishment Project at Harvard Law School.  The study notes that the Orange County DA’s Office has the worst reversal record per capita in California.

This finding, coupled with the recent “snitch crisis” revelations concerning the repeated misuse of jailhouse informants, offers further evidence to support a critical review of the leadership and ethical practices of the Orange County DA’s office.

The full story in the Orange County Register can be found here:

http://www.ocregister.com/2017/07/28/harvard-study-prosecutor-misconduct-taints-justice-in-southern-california/

 

The Terrible Old Rule that Undermines Conviction Accuracy

Samuel Gross has provided an insightful commentary in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 22 vote (6 to 2) in Turner vs. United States, that affirmed the murder convictions of seven men and reaffirmed “a terrible old rule that has done great harm to the accuracy of criminal trials…”

A professor of law at the University of Michigan and founder and Senior Editor of The National Registry of Exonerations, Gross notes that in half of more than 800 exonerations since 1989 in which people had been wrongly convicted of murder, the prosecution had concealed exculpatory evidence at trial.

Students of the law and of wrongful convictions recognize these instances as Brady violations. In 1964, in Brady v. Maryland, the high court ruled that the government is obligated to disclose evidence that is favorable to the defense if it is “material” to the case. “Materiality” was later further defined as having a “reasonable probability” that the outcome of the trial would have been more favorable to the defendant if the evidence had been disclosed.

But can this rule be accurately applied? Is there a better way that could cure this nation’s “epidemic” of Brady violations? Gross answers both questions in his commentary, “How Concealing Key Evidence Convicts the Innocent.”

UK: Reports Point to Ongoing Disclosure Failings – Cause of Miscarriages of Justice

cardiff3Two very interesting reports have been published in the UK, both detailing the continuing crisis in disclosure, which is key to a just criminal process and crucial in ensuring a fair trial and preventing miscarriages of justice. Yet numerous reports and reviews always find disclosure to be a serious problem among the police and prosecuting authorities (the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in England and Wales).

Firstly, in a joint report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (a national oversight body for the police) and Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (providing oversight of the CPS), the findings are yet again damning:

“The inspection found that police scheduling (the process of recording details of both sensitive and non-sensitive material) is routinely poor, while revelation by the police to the prosecutor of material that may undermine the prosecution case or assist the defence case is rare. Prosecutors fail to challenge poor quality schedules and in turn provide little or no input to the police. Neither party is managing sensitive material effectively and prosecutors are failing to manage ongoing disclosure. To compound matters, the auditing process surrounding disclosure decision-making falls far below any acceptable standard of performance. The failure to grip disclosure issues early often leads to chaotic scenes later outside the courtroom, where last minute and often unauthorised disclosure between counsel, unnecessary adjournments and – ultimately – discontinued cases, are common occurrences. This is likely to reflect badly on the criminal justice system in the eyes of victims and witnesses.”

As well as a series of pragmatic recommendations, the report authors refer to a needed change in ‘culture’: “However, just as importantly as responding to each issue, is a need for a change in attitude to ensure that disclosure is recognised as a crucial part of the criminal justice process and that it must be carried out to the appropriate standards.”

The Criminal Cases Review Commission reported in their 2015/2016 Annual Report that they have seen a “steady stream” of miscarriages where the primary cause was a failure to disclose exculpatory evidence to the defence. The inspection concentrated upon ‘volume’ crime – as the focus on serious crime means that those cases considered less serious are often given a low priority – yet individuals are routinely remanded in custody, convicted and imprisoned wrongly on ‘minor’ charges. Read the Inspectorate report here: MAKING IT FAIR: A JOINT INSPECTION OF THE DISCLOSURE OF UNUSED MATERIAL IN VOLUME CROWN COURT CASES, JULY 2017.

Secondly, the case of the Cardiff Three – one of the most notorious miscarriages of justice in British history, led to the trial of 8 police officers for their role in the arrest and prosecution of five men (three were convicted). However, the case collapsed after crucial evidence went ‘missing’. An inquiry into the collapsed trial has now reported after 2 years, and concluded that the collapse (the missing evidence subsequently surfaced after the police staff were formally acquitted) was due to ‘human error’ and not ‘wickedness’.  The report makes 17 recommendations for the disclosure process – the author stating: “Disclosure problems have blighted our criminal justice system for too long and although disclosure guidelines, manuals and policy documents are necessary, it is the mindset and experience of those who do disclosure work that is paramount.”

Read the full report here: Mouncher investigation report, July 2017

Media reports here: Trial of Cardiff Three police collapsed due to human error, inquiry finds

DNA convicts killer of 1976 murder previously ‘solved’ by police coerced confession that sent wrong man to prison.

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailA man has been sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for the 1976 rape and manslaughter of Janet Commins, a 15 year old girl, a crime that made national news at the time. Stephen Hough was interviewed along with all local men aged 17-22, but was ruled out after claiming to have been stealing petrol at the time. Instead, another local young man, Noel Jones, a barely literate 18-year-old traveller who had been picked up by police the day Janet’s body was discovered, was interviewed for days without legal assistance. He denied all knowledge of the crime but later his girlfriend told police he had confessed to killing Janet and had asked her to provide him with an alibi. After two days of questioning, he signed two detailed confession statements. On the second day of his murder trial in June 1976, he admitted manslaughter and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Noel Jones spent 6 years in prison for the murder.

(Picture l-r: Stephen Hough, Janet Commins and Noel Jones)

 

At the time of the investigation, police suspected Jones had an accomplice, and in 2006 they undertook a ‘cold case review’ to try and secure forensic evidence against their second suspect. This did not match, and was uploaded to the National DNA Database. A decade later, Stephen Hough was arrested after sexually assaulting another 15 year old girl. When DNA was taken, this was also uploaded to the National DNA Database where it matched the crime scene DNA from the 1976 murder.

Noel Jones described the six years he spent in prison as a “nightmare” which “absolutely destroyed my life”. He has never challenged his conviction, but says he is innocent and only confessed because police had pressured and coerced him.

The original investigation is now being re-examined. The police officer in charge of the investigation rose through the ranks to become Deputy Chief-Constable. At Hough’s trial he gave evidence that nobody thought to offer Noel Jones a solicitor during the initial stages of his questioning because he wanted to investigate “properly and thoroughly”. Police could be “impeded” by solicitors representing clients, he said, adding that “there was no requirement in those days for a person to be advised that he could have a solicitor”.

Yet another miscarriage of justice from the era prior to mandatory police recording of interviews, where police practice was to aim to secure confessions at all costs. One wonders how many more are laying dormant, with no DNA to reveal the truth after all these years.

Read more here:

Janet Commins: How police caught her killer after 41 years

Stephen Hough jailed for 12 years for Janet Commins killing

Janet Commins: Killer’s confession ‘made up by police’

 

Richard Leo on False Confessions

Here is a great article that interviews Professor Richard Leo about false confessions.  Check it out.  As you may know, Richard is one of the world’s leading experts on false confession, and his body of work can be found here for free download.

Blind Injustice Facebook Group

As social media platforms like Facebook seem to be supplanting blogs to some extent in terms of activity and relevance, please visit and join the Blind Injustice Facebook group here, for ongoing, daily discussions of wrongful conviction issues.  This blog will be updated from time to time with new, longer and more substantive posts, but most daily activity going forward will take place on Facebook at Blind Injustice. Thank you for continuing to follow this blog, and for you passion in fighting wrongful convictions.

4th of July Quick Clicks…

Breaking News: Osaki Case Wins a Retrial!

Kagoshima District Court granted a retrial for Ayako Haraguchi, who always maintained her innocence. She was convicted for a 1979 murder case, and served 10 years in prison. She filed her first request for a retrial in 1995. This was her 3rd plea for a retrial.

Previous post on the Osaki Case here.

From the Japan TimesContinue reading

Appeals Court Concurs: Brendan Dassey’s Confession Was Involuntary

Yesterday, a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal magistrate judge’s ruling that Wisconsin inmate Brendan Dassey’s confession in the rape and murder of Teresa Halbach (featured in the Netflix series “Making a Murderer”) was involuntary. The state Justice Department had appealed and will likely seek a review by the 7th Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court. The state also has the option of retrying Dassey within 90 days.

In an Associated Press article, Steven Drizin, an expert on false confessions, Co-founder of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth at Northwestern University, and one of Dassey’s attorneys said, Continue reading

Tyrone Noling Case in Ohio Supreme Court Today

Tuesday June 20th, Ohio Innocence Project attorney Brian Church Howe will be arguing in the Ohio Supreme Court on behalf of Tyrone Noling, an innocent death row inmate. Even though the witnesses against him have recanted and said they were pressured by the police to falsely implicate Tyrone, the state of Ohio wants to execute Tyrone WITHOUT giving him the DNA testing he deserves. DNA testing could prove his innocence. This is absolutely outrageous. Watch a powerful video about his case here:
https://vimeo.com/193942101

And watch Brian argue in the Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday morning here:
http://www.sc.ohio.gov/videostream/flash.asp His is the last argument of the day.

Read former Attorney General Jim Petro‘s powerful editorial about the need for DNA testing in this case here: http://www.cincinnati.com/…/petro-dna-testing-vi…/408458001/

Weekend Quick Clicks…