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.”
Posted in Post-conviction relief, Uncategorized
Tagged Arson, arson forensic science, Bill Glaze, Bill Richards, Brady Violation, forensic science, Michele Yezzo, Minnesota Innocence Project, Ohio Innocence Project, prosecutorial misconduct, Sue Neill-Fraser, wrongful conviction
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Bite-Mark Evidence, Brady Violation, forensic science, junk science, Lamarr Monson, new evidence, new trial, recantations, reform legislation, Rodney Lincoln, University of Michigan Innocence Clinic
From the West Virginia Supreme Court’s ruling released Tuesday, November 10, 2015:
“This Court is presented with a situation in which a defendant repeatedly requested the results of DNA testing; was incorrectly informed that such testing was not yet complete; and was presented with a time-limited plea offer that he accepted upon advice of counsel. We find that the DNA results were favorable, suppressed, and material to the defense. Thus, the Petitioner’s due process rights, as enunciated in Brady, were violated by the State’s suppression of that exculpatory evidence.”
Further, “…This Court…remands this matter for an order granting habeas relief and permitting the Petitioner to withdraw his guilty plea.”
The West Virginia Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Buffey v. Ballard, reversing the June 3, 2014, order of the Circuit Court of Harrison County, enables Joseph A. Buffey to withdraw his 2002 guilty plea in the case of the rape of an 83-year-old woman and requires the prosecutor to either retry the case or Continue reading
Posted in Commissions/Innocence Commissions/Governmental Case Review Agencies, Compensation/Exoneree compensation, New Evidence, Prosecutorial conduct (good and bad), Reforming/Improving the system, wrongful conviction
Tagged Brady, Brady Violation, compensation, compensation legislation, exoneree compensation, new trial, prosecutorial misconduct, wrongful conviction
Sam Gross, editor of the National Registry of Exonerations, recently wrote an editorial for the Washington Post: The Staggering Number of Wrongful Convictions in American
In Hawaii, attorneys say they can prove that the investigation and prosecution resulting in Taryn Christian 1995 murder conviction were rife with fraud…
Illinois exoneree Alprentiss Nash who was convicted of murder in 1995 and released in 2012 after DNA tests proved his innocence, was fatally shot Tuesday after an argument…
New York’s highest court denies State’s appeal of 2014 court decision overturning the 1993 kidnapping convictions of Everton Wagstaffe and Reginald Connor…
New Conviction Integrity Unit formed in Orange County, New York…
Posted in Conviction Integrity Units, Editorials/Opinion, Exonerations, Post-conviction relief, Prosecutorial conduct (good and bad), wrongful conviction
Tagged Brady Violation, Conviction Integrity Unit, exoneration, exoneree, National Registry of Exonerations, Prosecutorial immunity, prosecutorial misconduct, Sam Gross, The National Registry of Exonerations, wrongful conviction
In Canada, a wrongfully convicted man has been exonerated 45 years after being convicted of manslaughter…
Lincoln Caplan argues in the New Yorker that a recent SCOTUS ruling, overturning a Ninth Circuit decision calling for the retrial or release of a California inmate on death row, will have dire effects on prisoner rights…
New evidence of prosecutorial misconduct may be the key to overturning former No Limit rapper’s manslaughter conviction…
In Kansas, protesters aim to raise awareness for those who are wrongfully convicted…
Posted in Exonerations, New Evidence
Tagged AEDPA, Antiterrorism andn Effective Death Penalty Act, Brady, Brady Violation, canada, Death Penalty, habeas corpus, lincoln caplan, new yorker, prosecutorial misconduct, SCOTUS, supreme court
The Center for Prosecutor Integrity (CPI), a non-profit organization which seeks “to preserve the presumption of innocence, assure equal treatment under the law, and end wrongful convictions” today released a proposed bill that would require federal prosecutors to implement an open-file policy. The bill addresses a weakness in the implementation of the Brady requirement to disclose all exculpatory evidence to the defense: Prosecutors currently determine what evidence is “material” (would likely impact the outcome of the case) and therefore subject to disclosure.
CPI’s Registry of Prosecutorial Misconduct has revealed that Brady violations —prosecutorial failure of the constitutional requirement to disclose exculpatory evidence relevant to the guilt or innocence and to the punishment of the defendant — as the leading type of misconduct by federal prosecutors.
The Federal Prosecutor Integrity Act would mandate that federal prosecutors, beginning at the time of arraignment, disclose all documents, scientific tests, witness statements, and other relevant evidence to the defense. Any additional information and evidence would need to be disclosed as the case progresses. Continue reading
In dueling commentaries in the Austin (TX) newspaper The Statesman, Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley here and John Raley (eight-year pro bono attorney on the Innocence Project team that represented Michael Morton) here, are giving voters two versions of why Michael Morton spent an extra 2,400 days in prison for a crime he did not commit. At stake is an election in which Bradley is struggling to keep his job. Bradley, who has been a popular tough-on-crime prosecutor in Texas for ten years, is trying to refocus the race on anything but the issue that is dominating it: His long record of resisting a second look at the conviction of Michael Morton.
For those who have observed prosecutorial resistance to post-conviction DNA testing that eventually proved a wrongful conviction, the story is tragically familiar. Continue reading
Cuyahoga County (OH) Prosecutor Bill Mason has hired Ned Searby, a former federal prosecutor, to defend the county and county officials in a $42 million dollar wrongful imprisonment lawsuit filed by Joe D’Ambrosio, who spent twenty years on death row before his conviction was overturned in 2006. A federal judge ruled that prosecutors had withheld evidence that might have exonerated him.
As establish in Brady v Maryland, prosecutors are obligated to turn over to the defense any evidence that might support the defendant’s innocence. Failure to do so is a Brady violation and can be reversible error, as it was in this case.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports here that Searby will charge the county no more than $745,000 for the defense legal fees.
D’Ambrosio, freed two years ago, was not acquitted of the murder, and the Continue reading