Fix the System

Fix the System

Postby Sarah » Thu Dec 15, 2011 12:27 am

Innocence Project
Stopping Wrongful Convictions Before They Happen


http://www.innocenceproject.org/fix/
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Re: Fix the System

Postby MustBeQuantum » Sat Dec 17, 2011 7:21 pm

I can not say enough about the wonderful work they have done. Their work through Northwestern University in Illinois is the group that really got me involved and they deserve all the support we can give them.

A Christmas donation?
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Re: Fix the System

Postby wkurt » Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:06 am

It will be very difficult and challenging to try to fix the system though still something that can be done and attainable at that.

I think that the next challenge will be how you will be able to go not in accord of the mindset of the greater lay people. I mean, it is not common for you to see someone going against the government though still something that you could probably capitalize on.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Norm51 » Sat Apr 07, 2012 12:33 pm

Looking at this problem in the US from a Canadian perspective: You have 50 different Countries that make up the US. How would you - for instance - write to the President and ask him what is going on in Nevada? It's a different country. In most countries - there is one criminal justice set of rules. In the US there are 50 different criminal justice systems. Warning signs need to be posted at the borders of the countries (states) showing what is different here when you cross this line.

That, in my opinion - should be fixed. Just sayin....
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Bruce Fischer » Sun Apr 08, 2012 6:24 pm

Norm51 wrote:Looking at this problem in the US from a Canadian perspective: You have 50 different Countries that make up the US. How would you - for instance - write to the President and ask him what is going on in Nevada? It's a different country. In most countries - there is one criminal justice set of rules. In the US there are 50 different criminal justice systems. Warning signs need to be posted at the borders of the countries (states) showing what is different here when you cross this line.

That, in my opinion - should be fixed. Just sayin....


It is definitely one of the challenges. In the coming weeks, http://injustice-anywhere.org will have state pages available for the United States. These pages will discuss the current laws in each state and the most urgent reforms that are needed. We will be looking for volunteers from different regions of the country to participate in updating the content of these pages. Over time we will build a nationwide network.
"This could happen to any one of you. If you don't believe it could happen, you are either misinformed or in a state of deep denial" -- Debra Milke
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Re: Fix the System

Postby RimRider » Wed Aug 15, 2012 4:02 am

I always felt that the first thing that should be fixed is that prosecutors should be required to find out what happened in a case, not frame people ruthlessly. If a prosecutor suppresses evidence or information, and the jury doesn't get to hear it, it should be possible to have him accountable for that. I'm not talking about stuff that is hard to see, but just for the obvious flaws which can be uncovered through the work of supporters, defense attorneys, or other volunteers. If they find out things, the paid prosecutor assigned to a case should be able to do the same, right? Such a rule would disallow prosecutors to continue and invent their stories.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby erasmus44 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:08 pm

I think that the low number of posts to this topic is partly due to its difficulty. I am going to try to take a stab at this from a 35,000 foot altitude and hopefully will provoke some discussion.

1. The current system is haphazard, random, and subjective. It has no fundamental methodological basis at all. Jurors are at sea as to how to weigh various pieces of evidence and are given no intelligent guidance on applying the reasonable doubt test. Worse yet, the system has no analytical basis and is in no way designed to prevent wrongful convictions. We really still do not have a systematic way to calculate the probability that various past events occurred and so we don't even have a logical framework or algorithm in which to insert data and information. Juries convict because defendants "look guilty" and we have no idea about the accuracy of jury perceptions in this regard. Jurors decide which testimony is to be believed based on their perceptions of credibility and we have no evidence about the ability of the average juror to determine who is telling the truth. We have no way to determine how likely a given defendant is to give a false confession. We really don't know whether jurors ignore a defendant's decision not to testify (I doubt that they do). We do know that jurors consider all sorts of irrelevancies - in my jurisdiction, defense lawyers have all defendants wear glasses because jurors think that people wearing glasses are less likely to commit crimes. We are at the stage baseball scouting was at the point before Moneyball came on the scene. It is no wonder that the system relies heavily on "confessions" and plea bargaining because no one can reliably predict how a given case will be decided by a jury.

2. We are on the threshold of various developments that are providing more and more reliable data relevant to determining guilt or innocence. We all know about DNA. We also have extensive surveillance camera data in urban areas. Cell phones generate enormous amounts of tracking data. We are running into more and more cases in which the initial intuitive reaction of the police is contradicted by this data (the Amanda Knox case is such a case) and in most cases the police go with the data but in some they stubbornly cling to their "hunch" or "gut reaction." In a real sense we are in the first few scenes of Moneyball with a tug of war developing between scientific data analysis and "hunches" based on the "expertise" of bureaucrats whose primary experience may be participating in the conviction of innocent defendants.

3. Some of the new data raises privacy issues. We can erect barriers to the use of DNA, cell phone tracking data, and surveillance camera tapes but we should realize that, if we do, we are fated to the largely random process we now experience. I would generally favor giving prosecutors more power to gather and use this type data even if it raised certain privacy issues.

4. We need to form a group which is committed to accuracy in the process and will advocate a more systematic, scientific approach than we have been using. Some of the changes will benefit defendants and some will benefit prosecutors. In general, innocent defendants will experience disproportionate benefits. An initial step is to design an alternative to the existing system which defendants will have the option to select.

5. Just as the selective service system imposed the cost of the Vietnam War upon draftees rather than the society as a whole so too the jury system imposes costs upon those selected. In order to give the government an incentive to make the alternative to the jury system attractive so that a substantial number of defendants will actually select it, I propose to pay all jurors at least the minimum wage for all hours devoted to jury service.

6. Nothing in going to be easy here. We have dug ourselves a very deep hole with an absolutely terrible system which is ineffective and expensive. Unless we are careful, we could blunder into something even worse - we did that with mandatory sentencing guidelines which were hailed as a "reform" when they were enacted and have proved to be an unmitigated disaster.

7. I anticipate lots of adverse comments and I welcome them. This is a tough issue and it will take a lot of very frank and honest reaction to any proposals for change to produce something really beneficial.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Norm51 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 11:57 pm

Erasmus, your points are well taken. Of course I can't help from Canada but we face similar problems here. At least we, as a country, can deal with it once - not ten times for each province. I see there are only 3 pages on Kirstin Lobatto - because there is not work to be done by us as analysts to prove she is innocent. She IS innocent and everyone knows it. That is what is so frustrating. If someone is innocent - why are they still incarcerated? Because someone would have to give up a win and doesn't have to? There’s so much to fix. Same problems in Canada and I'm sure the same problems in other parts of the so called democratic world. This site started with what was perceived to be an Italian problem but really opened our eyes to the vastness of injustice. Politicians don't want to deal with it - the media doesn't want to deal with it for the most part - because they were involved in the original character assassination so would have to admit they were wrong. So what's left - no media - no politician - there isn't much left. The man responsible for Kirstin's destiny couldn't even show up to receive the petition. He didn’t have to. Discouraging.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby LarryK » Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:20 am

My belief is that in the United States there is too much faith that the jury will get it right the first time. It's too difficult to appeal. I believe that all serious felony convictions should be subject to appeal, and the first appeal cannot be dismissed but must be considered. I would even allow for additional appeals under certain circumstances, such as scientific advances, potential or actual new DNA evidence previously unknown or denied to the defense, the discovery of any kind of recording with relevant information, or violations of the Brady rule when discovered (exculpatory evidence known to the prosecutor but withheld from the defense.) There would be one chance to argue that there was incompetent legal representation in the original trial. The defense would have the right to change the county of jurisdiction for the appeal. The appeal would have a time limit to be decided, and the convict would remain in prison pending resolution. (Also, an acquittal still could not be appealed.)

I think these changes would allow wrongful convictions to be rectified more quickly and easily, while not releasing the rightly convicted.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby erasmus44 » Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:20 am

Norm51 wrote:Erasmus, your points are well taken. Of course I can't help from Canada but we face similar problems here. At least we, as a country, can deal with it once - not ten times for each province. I see there are only 3 pages on Kirstin Lobatto - because there is not work to be done by us as analysts to prove she is innocent. She IS innocent and everyone knows it. That is what is so frustrating. If someone is innocent - why are they still incarcerated? Because someone would have to give up a win and doesn't have to? There’s so much to fix. Same problems in Canada and I'm sure the same problems in other parts of the so called democratic world. This site started with what was perceived to be an Italian problem but really opened our eyes to the vastness of injustice. Politicians don't want to deal with it - the media doesn't want to deal with it for the most part - because they were involved in the original character assassination so would have to admit they were wrong. So what's left - no media - no politician - there isn't much left. The man responsible for Kirstin's destiny couldn't even show up to receive the petition. He didn’t have to. Discouraging.



The system relies on an overwhelming assumption of validity in jury convictions. After all, the reasoning goes, the jury is instructed to convict only if the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and the conviction vote has to be unanimous. Thus, subsequent review is very limited. This serves the purpose of making the system "workable" given the enormous volume of criminal cases in the United States (2.3 million people in prison with enormous year over year growth). It also allows the system to resolve cases without providing a coherent reasoned basis for the decision because jurors are not required to write an opinion explaining how they reached their decision. Thus, decisions do not really have to be consistent with one another. Different results can occur on virtually identical facts without any logical explanation for the difference. So, this system serves many bureaucratic objectives. The wealthier members of the community are generally not adversely affected because the system creates quite a few protections for those defendants smart and affluent enough to retain good lawyers and assert their rights.
The system is not really oriented to distinguishing between guilty and innocent defendants but to "processing" and "closing" cases. Thus, it is not really interesting to the authorities that Kirstin Lobato is actually innocent and could not conceivably have committed the crime. The only relevant issues on appeal are generally "process" issues - was the process correctly followed. The system is so bad that periodically comedies can be centered around its malfunctioning - we call chuckled at the "confessions" in "My Cousin Vinny" and then howled at the incompetent public defender. We were laughing because the only real way to strike back at this Leviathan is to make fun of it.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby erasmus44 » Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:27 am

LarryK wrote:My belief is that in the United States there is too much faith that the jury will get it right the first time. It's too difficult to appeal. I believe that all serious felony convictions should be subject to appeal, and the first appeal cannot be dismissed but must be considered. I would even allow for additional appeals under certain circumstances, such as scientific advances, potential or actual new DNA evidence previously unknown or denied to the defense, the discovery of any kind of recording with relevant information, or violations of the Brady rule when discovered (exculpatory evidence known to the prosecutor but withheld from the defense.) There would be one chance to argue that there was incompetent legal representation in the original trial. The defense would have the right to change the county of jurisdiction for the appeal. The appeal would have a time limit to be decided, and the convict would remain in prison pending resolution. (Also, an acquittal still could not be appealed.)

I think these changes would allow wrongful convictions to be rectified more quickly and easily, while not releasing the rightly convicted.



I agree. The US system depends heavily upon an overwhelming assumption that the jury got it right. The enormous number of obviously wrongful convictions should lead to changes in the process opening up the right to appeal. I also think that public defenders are woefully underfunded and that this is part of the problem. The problem with making post conviction relief easier to obtain is that it would "open the floodgates" to an enormous volume of cases given the gargantuan size of the American criminal justice system. We probably have more people in prison here than Stalin incarcerated in the USSR and the sheer size of the system makes reform difficult. The prison system has also become an important part of our economy with well organized unions of prison guards and communities dependent upon prisons located nearby to sustain their economies. If George Orwell were alive, he would be having a lot of fun with us.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby geebee2 » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:35 pm

If we are looking for innovative solutions, I suggest that the jury should have a legal advisor present during it's deliberations. The advisor would not advance his opinions, but would help the jury with the law, and also would produce a written report ( as in the Italian system ) of the reasoning behind the jury's decision. This would help ensure that the jury properly observes the law ( e.g. the case is decided on the basis of the evidence ).

This document would be published, and would be the basis for any appeal. This would make justice more transparent, and also provide a better basis for whether new evidence may have affected the verdict. For example, if the report discounted a piece of evidence as unreliable, then any appeal could not be on the basis of that evidence being unreliable ( since the jury already found it so ).
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Re: Fix the System

Postby erasmus44 » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:50 pm

geebee2 wrote:If we are looking for innovative solutions, I suggest that the jury should have a legal advisor present during it's deliberations. The advisor would not advance his opinions, but would help the jury with the law, and also would produce a written report ( as in the Italian system ) of the reasoning behind the jury's decision. This would help ensure that the jury properly observes the law ( e.g. the case is decided on the basis of the evidence ).

This document would be published, and would be the basis for any appeal. This would make justice more transparent, and also provide a better basis for whether new evidence may have affected the verdict. For example, if the report discounted a piece of evidence as unreliable, then any appeal could not be on the basis of that evidence being unreliable ( since the jury already found it so ).


There would be substantial advantages to this approach. However, the jury would have to be held for a longer time while the report was prepared. A process for deciding what to do if some, but not all of the jurors agreed with the report (in a case in which the jury agreed upon the result but could not agree upon a chain of reasoning) would have to be developed. It would definitely facilitate challenges on appeal; under the present system, the test is generally whether the evidence could support a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt by a reasonable jury. Under your approach, the specific line of reasoning adopted in the report could be challenged and, even in a case with sufficient evidence, the verdict could be overturned if the report revealed an illegal basis for the decision or a specious line of reasoning.
I think prosecutors would oppose it because it would make the system more expensive and time consuming and would open up new avenues of challenge.

I would propose that we permit defendants to waive jury trial and be tried before a special panel of judges. The defendant could challenge the first judge chosen randomly. The judges would have to write opinions. They could not be officed in the same building as prosecutors. They would attend a one week seminar each year on wrongful convictions. The penalties might be lesser. Prosecutors might go along with this because jury trials are a nuisance and the alternative would have to be made attractive in order to get some defendants to agree to the waiver.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby LarryK » Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:06 am

I should add that appeals should be able to reconsider the facts of the case, not just the procedures of the original trial. But not to the point of requiring them to redo the whole trial (as was done in Italy.) They should be able to reject evidence that was presented in court, or accept new or disallowed evidence, and decide whether the verdict of guilty without reasonable doubt can still be sustained, or whether the sentence should be reduced.

I think a 3-judge panel for these appeals would be appropriate. In order to avoid hopelessly clogging the courts, this expanded right of appeal would only apply where lengthy sentences are involved, perhaps 5 years or longer.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby erasmus44 » Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:43 am

LarryK wrote:I should add that appeals should be able to reconsider the facts of the case, not just the procedures of the original trial. But not to the point of requiring them to redo the whole trial (as was done in Italy.) They should be able to reject evidence that was presented in court, or accept new or disallowed evidence, and decide whether the verdict of guilty without reasonable doubt can still be sustained, or whether the sentence should be reduced.

I think a 3-judge panel for these appeals would be appropriate. In order to avoid hopelessly clogging the courts, this expanded right of appeal would only apply where lengthy sentences are involved, perhaps 5 years or longer.



I think we definitely have to reduce the presumption of finality accorded to jury verdicts given what we are learning about wrongful convictions. I also think that a project on the "Logical Basis For Determining Guilt" should be considered so that we have a framework for addressing these problems. I see many, many cases in which factors which are not really probative of guilt at all are critical to a jury's decision to convict.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Clive Wismayer » Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:39 pm

How about all cases must be tried by Injustice Anywhere members?
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Re: Fix the System

Postby ScifiTom » Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:15 pm

Clive Wismayer wrote:How about all cases must be tried by Injustice Anywhere members?


To Clive

Hey Clive, that is a great choice of what you are saying, even if I fix something, into the works, and like of what Doug said: Kirstin B. Lobato is a case of work and if it more celebrity style because it is in Las Vegas of going wrong convicted. I am willing to work on it through my blog, even I was planning to do celebrity lost in space. But it like I am trying to do my work into entertain everyone into entertainment, even this case is a mess up of wrong crime!!!
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Free: Kirstin Lobato Las Vegas NV & Dusty Turner Norfolk VA
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Re: Fix the System

Postby erasmus44 » Thu Sep 06, 2012 5:15 pm

Clive Wismayer wrote:How about all cases must be tried by Injustice Anywhere members?


Great idea! - It does bring home some important points. When you are called for jury service, don't duck it. I was recently called and tempted to duck but I went in and got picked. It was kind of a PITA but it is your civic duty and until we have a better system, the only way to make this one work better is to participate!!

Secondly, get the word out far and wide about the prevalence of wrongful convictions and it may make juries a little more hesitant to convict in doubtful cases. I have seen some really shocking cases on ID and they have changed my way of thinking.

Third, for you younger folks. Consider a career in law enforcement or defense law or forensics. We need some thoughtful, open-minded people.

No matter how the "system" is designed, it will be no better than the people who operate it. The problem, right now, is that we have a system which is considerably worse than the people who operate it.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Justinian » Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:06 am

erasmus44 wrote:I think that the low number of posts to this topic is partly due to its difficulty. I am going to try to take a stab at this from a 35,000 foot altitude and hopefully will provoke some discussion.

1. The current system is haphazard, random, and subjective. It has no fundamental methodological basis at all. Jurors are at sea as to how to weigh various pieces of evidence and are given no intelligent guidance on applying the reasonable doubt test. Worse yet, the system has no analytical basis and is in no way designed to prevent wrongful convictions. We really still do not have a systematic way to calculate the probability that various past events occurred and so we don't even have a logical framework or algorithm in which to insert data and information. Juries convict because defendants "look guilty" and we have no idea about the accuracy of jury perceptions in this regard. Jurors decide which testimony is to be believed based on their perceptions of credibility and we have no evidence about the ability of the average juror to determine who is telling the truth. We have no way to determine how likely a given defendant is to give a false confession. We really don't know whether jurors ignore a defendant's decision not to testify (I doubt that they do). We do know that jurors consider all sorts of irrelevancies - in my jurisdiction, defense lawyers have all defendants wear glasses because jurors think that people wearing glasses are less likely to commit crimes. We are at the stage baseball scouting was at the point before Moneyball came on the scene. It is no wonder that the system relies heavily on "confessions" and plea bargaining because no one can reliably predict how a given case will be decided by a jury.

[...]


I agree. There are a lot of other problems as well. There are so many problems that I think the whole system and all of the laws need to be scraped. Before the destruction of our current system and laws, other viable systems should be put to paper, debated, tested and voted upon.

As an example of an alternate system, suppose that if in the Amanda Knox trial two qualified individuals or groups were chosen to determine the validity of the double DNA knife evidence. A probability (or a set of probabilities) would be attached to each piece of evidence. The two groups would write their reports. The jury would then decide which report best described the truth and whether or not the probability of the evidence was sufficient. Each bit of evidence would be confirmed by the jury. Once the validity of the evidence is determined, then a judge would decide the over-all guilt or innocence. That way, if one piece of evidence was responsible for the conviction, an appeal could be mounted baised on that piece of evidence alone.

The first thing that should have been tossed out about the double DNA knife was the fact Amanda's DNA was on it. Since Amanda used the knife, the presence of her DNA on the knife served only to mislead the casual observer. The presence of Amanda's DNA on that knife meant nothing.

The appeal trial did kind of what I described. Unfortunately Amanda and Raffaele spent four years in prison while waiting for their real trial.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Justinian » Mon Sep 17, 2012 11:09 am

Thirty thousand drug cases are to be reviewed in Massachusetts.

In order to prove a case of possession or distribution of illegal drugs, the prosecution must prove that the material in question is indeed the illegal substance it says it is. Further, in many cases, the weight of the substance is also an ellement of the crime. In order to prove these elements, the prosecution relies upon chemists who test and weigh the substances, provide a written report and then testify at trial.

Usually, the one witness the prosecution can call at trial and not have to worry about too much cross-examination is the chemist.

Until now, that is.



Until recently, one such chemist was Annie Dookhan (hereinafter, “Ex-Chemist”). While the Commonwealth has yet to confirm it, Ex-Chemist is said to have been suspended from the lab because of allegations that she may have falsified evidence by, among other things, not following the proper protocol. She has since resigned.


The above quote is from:

http://www.bostoncriminallawyerblog.com ... e_b_1.html

An acquaintance has prepared a list of 5000 lawyers that may be used to establish the rights of many of those incarcerated by the work of the “Ex-Chemist”.

Expensive mistakes!
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Re: Fix the System

Postby erasmus44 » Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:54 pm

The Knox, Puracal, and Volz cases suggest that other countries have legal systems that are much more open to the reversal of wrongful convictions than the American system is. In our system, there is a notion of the "sanctity" of a jury verdict which should be "disturbed" unless there is virtually a divine revelation that it is wrong. I think that a study of how juries actually decide cases would be useful in supporting the argument that it is very, very easy for a jury to get it wrong.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Justinian » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:09 pm

erasmus44 wrote:The Knox, Puracal, and Volz cases suggest that other countries have legal systems that are much more open to the reversal of wrongful convictions than the American system is. In our system, there is a notion of the "sanctity" of a jury verdict which should be "disturbed" unless there is virtually a divine revelation that it is wrong. I think that a study of how juries actually decide cases would be useful in supporting the argument that it is very, very easy for a jury to get it wrong.


The American system will not get it wrong as often because only one of the eleven jurists has to dissent. The American system requires a unanimous vote for a criminal conviction.

The American system can get it wrong when the experts are wrong, as with the 50,000 chemical analyses done by Annie Dookhan as I discussed in my previous post.

The Massachusetts government is open to the idea of reversing as many as 30,000 cases and they are paying for the lawyers - 5000 if necessary.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Justinian » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:30 pm

I shouldn't have said that Massachusetts is prepared to hire 5000 public defenders. I only know that their entire list of 5000 approved public defenders was sent to the authorities.

I think the public defenders that handled the cases the first time will be re-hired. I believe over 1000 public defenders will be hired.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby McGirr » Thu May 08, 2014 12:26 am

erasmus44 wrote:I think that the low number of posts to this topic is partly due to its difficulty. I am going to try to take a stab at this from a 35,000 foot altitude and hopefully will provoke some discussion.

1. The current system is haphazard, random, and subjective. It has no fundamental methodological basis at all. Jurors are at sea as to how to weigh various pieces of evidence and are given no intelligent guidance on applying the reasonable doubt test. Worse yet, the system has no analytical basis and is in no way designed to prevent wrongful convictions. We really still do not have a systematic way to calculate the probability that various past events occurred and so we don't even have a logical framework or algorithm in which to insert data and information. Juries convict because defendants "look guilty" and we have no idea about the accuracy of jury perceptions in this regard. Jurors decide which testimony is to be believed based on their perceptions of credibility and we have no evidence about the ability of the average juror to determine who is telling the truth. We have no way to determine how likely a given defendant is to give a false confession. We really don't know whether jurors ignore a defendant's decision not to testify (I doubt that they do). We do know that jurors consider all sorts of irrelevancies - in my jurisdiction, defense lawyers have all defendants wear glasses because jurors think that people wearing glasses are less likely to commit crimes. We are at the stage baseball scouting was at the point before Moneyball came on the scene. It is no wonder that the system relies heavily on "confessions" and plea bargaining because no one can reliably predict how a given case will be decided by a jury.

2. We are on the threshold of various developments that are providing more and more reliable data relevant to determining guilt or innocence. We all know about DNA. We also have extensive surveillance camera data in urban areas. Cell phones generate enormous amounts of tracking data. We are running into more and more cases in which the initial intuitive reaction of the police is contradicted by this data (the Amanda Knox case is such a case) and in most cases the police go with the data but in some they stubbornly cling to their "hunch" or "gut reaction." In a real sense we are in the first few scenes of Moneyball with a tug of war developing between scientific data analysis and "hunches" based on the "expertise" of bureaucrats whose primary experience may be participating in the conviction of innocent defendants.

3. Some of the new data raises privacy issues. We can erect barriers to the use of DNA, cell phone tracking data, and surveillance camera tapes but we should realize that, if we do, we are fated to the largely random process we now experience. I would generally favor giving prosecutors more power to gather and use this type data even if it raised certain privacy issues.

4. We need to form a group which is committed to accuracy in the process and will advocate a more systematic, scientific approach than we have been using. Some of the changes will benefit defendants and some will benefit prosecutors. In general, innocent defendants will experience disproportionate benefits. An initial step is to design an alternative to the existing system which defendants will have the option to select.

5. Just as the selective service system imposed the cost of the Vietnam War upon draftees rather than the society as a whole so too the jury system imposes costs upon those selected. In order to give the government an incentive to make the alternative to the jury system attractive so that a substantial number of defendants will actually select it, I propose to pay all jurors at least the minimum wage for all hours devoted to jury service.

6. Nothing in going to be easy here. We have dug ourselves a very deep hole with an absolutely terrible system which is ineffective and expensive. Unless we are careful, we could blunder into something even worse - we did that with mandatory sentencing guidelines which were hailed as a "reform" when they were enacted and have proved to be an unmitigated disaster.

7. I anticipate lots of adverse comments and I welcome them. This is a tough issue and it will take a lot of very frank and honest reaction to any proposals for change to produce something really beneficial.


Excellent point's erasmus44 and much of what you say has come to light in the Russ Faria case. What has happened in the Russ Faria case makes what you say all the more fundamental and real.

The system of recognising prosecutors for getting convictions is wrong, a good prosecutor in the Russ Faria case would have lost, and they would have been given no credit. No one would have said what a great prosecutor they were. It this part of the system that has resulted in what we are seeing now. Prosecutors going to great lengths to get a conviction rather than be criticised for operating ethically and transparently.

A prosecutor seems to be criticised for good hard honest work and rewarded for dishonest and unethical parsimony.

That absolutely has to change.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby sharon » Wed May 28, 2014 6:27 pm

You are absolutely correct about needing to fix the system. The judicial system is a joke. If you know the right people you can get anyone arrested. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? In our case the district attorney looked like she was putting on a circus act. Because of her theatrics in the closing statements she got her conviction. It didn't seem to matter what the expert witness proved was a definite case of suicide. All that mattered to the DA was making a name for herself and closing a cold case. What happened to people's ethics?
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Samson » Sat Jun 27, 2015 9:38 pm

I discovered this post from a New Zealand case, it would need checking for the source quote from Margaret Wilson, but it seems germaine to this discussion.

It’s possibly a factor but not necessarily the main factor. The justice system doesn’t like to admit its mistakes. Margaret Wilson, the then Attorney General, said in 2000 (when an inquiry into the Ellis case was being discussed by the government) that there should be no inquiry. She opined that an inquiry would raise doubts about the criminal justice system. So, according to her, it was more important that Ellis remain a convicted paedophile lest the public lose confidence in the justice system!

Ellis is universally deemed innocent but remains legally guilty.
Justice is an issue not a word. Find one issue that isn't fair and change that, and that's justice.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby roteoctober » Sun Jun 28, 2015 2:37 pm

erasmus44 wrote:4. We need to form a group which is committed to accuracy in the process and will advocate a more systematic, scientific approach than we have been using. Some of the changes will benefit defendants and some will benefit prosecutors. In general, innocent defendants will experience disproportionate benefits. An initial step is to design an alternative to the existing system which defendants will have the option to select.


It is an interesting concept, however I would be very careful before advocating some "automatic", "algorithmic" method in which one inserts the parameters of the case and gets the verdict, or anything resembling that thing.

Even if conceived as a support to judge/juries, my fear is that they would come to rely too much on it, as they already do with DNA without understanding its complexities.

I know that Americans love statistics, but my fear is that they too risk to be used in a way inappropriate with respect to complexities of real life.

Let's suppose that we have a case of murder with rape happened at night in a suburb of some big city.
Let's suppose that statistics state that 80% of murders with rape are perpetrated by young males below the age of 30 and that other statistics say that in that particular suburb 80% of such crimes are perpetrated by Bulgarian people (just not to use the usual minorities).

Now the defendant is a young Bulgarian male below the age of thirty: are those statistics enough to convict him?
Or on the other hand, are they enough to acquit a 55 years old man of Tibetan origin?

They sure aren't, but how would juries use them once they are instructed to rely on such devices?

In my opinion the only solution is to raise the bar for what concerns evidence necessary to convict, coherently with Blackstone's formulation.

I would in particular formally forbid any conviction based on circumstantial evidence alone in the absence of at least an element of forensic evidence.

Secondly, any consideration based on defendant's behavior should be banned and prosecutors should be legally prevented from presenting any such type of consideration to the judge/jury.

Thirdly I would equate any mistrial with 6 or more jurors in favor of an acquittal to a full acquittal.

I realize that such arguments will be met with severe opposition in any "tough with crime" environment, however it is an old tenet of bargainer that to get 5 (or even just 3) you have to begin demanding for 10.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Numbers » Mon Aug 24, 2015 2:30 pm

As to fixing the system, for the US, prosecutors have immunity against civil action, even, apparently, when they allegedly commit official misconduct.

Ending such broad immunity could be part of reforms to the judicial system.

Here's a recent opinion piece on this topic:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/evan-bern ... 79276.html
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Re: Fix the System

Postby McGirr » Sat Sep 26, 2015 12:17 am

Numbers wrote:As to fixing the system, for the US, prosecutors have immunity against civil action, even, apparently, when they allegedly commit official misconduct.

Ending such broad immunity could be part of reforms to the judicial system.

Here's a recent opinion piece on this topic:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/evan-bern ... 79276.html



There has been a steady shift in favour of the wrongly convicted. Typically you can rarely sue the prosecutor and I realise this is what we are essentially discussing on this thread.The prosecutor being the District Attorneys office or in my country the department of prosecutions.

You could sue the individual elements of a prosecution.Recently in New York the supreme court ( albeit very reluctantly and with an enormous sigh at the numerous civil suits that may result) gave precedence for the victims to sue the state forensic laboratories.


A prosecution case is compiled by different elements

Who may have liability

Police- Can be sued - Malicious prosecution.

The solicitor - Can be sued- Negligence, malpractice, misrepresentation,breach of trust.

Technically you could always sue the crime lab for malicious conduct but now it is slowly becoming actual practice.

I am guessing in certain circumstances you may with enormous difficulty be able to sue a Witness

With the legislative changes in California The Forensic Science and Standards Act of 2014 deals with expert witnesses and specifically junk science which may result in liability. There is also new (at least to me) legal term -Litigation science which developed by the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to help distinguish and evaluate the admissibility of experts.

The Barrister or advocate is very had to sue and I recall reading they are allowed to make a mistake.

It is all happening folks, the system is beginning to accept there are serious issue's. Powerful Organisations like the fbi and the academia of forensic science for me were the biggest obstacle and perhaps the reason it took almost 3 to 4 decades just to get even close to the truth.
The forensic academia were much like the academics that were ousted and highlighted during the financial crisis, who were paid enormous consultancy fees to encourage deregulation and other practices such as credit swaps. The "Financial Deregulation Project" was a program run by the American Enterprise Institute for example which was lauded in a recent article. Forensics was a similar field where large organisations pushed junk science as a legitimate practice.

Taking an example; The FBI had flawed testimony in 96% of it's Hair fibre cases.96% conveys to me a production line in scientific field that has it's roots in the academia who are propped and also paid huge consultancy fees. The similarity between the Forensic community and the financial community is stark and most notable is their uniquely small numbers and high levels of inter dependency. If one falls they all collapse.

I am seeking assistance at the moment on a case involving a forensic laboratory and a scientist that may have committed malicious fraud. As immunity does apply except in the case of malicious fraud and as no one has ever succeeded to overcome this immunity in the history of our legal system it is a tough challenge. Anyone here that could help on suing a state laboratory please let me know any way you can.

Please don't try and dissuade as I am aware it is a hard battle. The matter is also time sensitive, and I am pressing for time.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Numbers » Wed Dec 30, 2015 5:48 pm

Here is an outline of an article by US Judge Alex Kozinski on a range of measures to fix the criminal justice system:

http://wrongfulconvictionsblog.org/2015 ... isnt-just/

The full-text article itself is at:

44 Geo. L.J. Ann. Rev. Crim. Proc. (2015) and a PDF of it may be accessed from a link in the first paragraph introducing the outline at the site given above.

Here is a copy of the outline text:

A. The myths that cause us to think that the justice system is fair and just, when it’s really not.

Eyewitnesses are highly reliable.
Fingerprint evidence is foolproof.
Other types of forensic evidence are scientifically proven and therefore infallible.
DNA evidence is infallible.
Human memories are reliable.
Confessions are infallible because innocent people never confess.
Juries follow instructions.
Prosecutors play fair.
The prosecution is at a substantial disadvantage because it must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Police are objective in their investigations.
Guilty pleas are conclusive proof of guilt.
Long sentences deter crime.

B. Recommendations for reform – Juries

Give jurors a written copy of the jury instructions.
Allow jurors to take notes during trial and provide them with a full trial transcript.
Allow jurors to discuss the case while the trial is ongoing.
Allow jurors to ask questions during the trial.
Tell jurors up-front what’s at stake in the case.
Give jurors a say in sentencing.

C. Recommendations for reform – Prosecutors

Require open file discovery.
Adopt standardized, rigorous procedures for dealing with the government’s disclosure obligations.
Adopt standardized, rigorous procedures for eyewitness identification.
Video record all suspect interrogations.
Impose strict limits on the use of jailhouse informants.
Adopt rigorous, uniform procedures for certifying expert witnesses and preserving the integrity of the testing process.
Keep adding conviction integrity units.
Establish independent Prosecutorial Integrity Units.

D. Recommendations for reform – Judges

Enter Brady compliance orders in every criminal case.
Engage in a Brady colloquy.
Adopt local rules that require the government to comply with its discovery obligations without the need for motions by the defense.
Condition the admission of expert evidence in criminal cases on the presentation of a proper Daubert showing.
When prosecutors misbehave, don’t keep it a secret.

E. Recommendations for reform – General

Abandon judicial elections.
Abrogate absolute prosecutorial immunity.
Repeal AEDPA § 2254(d). (Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act)
Treat prosecutorial misconduct as a civil rights violation.
Give criminal defendants the choice of a jury or bench trial.
Conduct in depth studies of exonerations.
Repeal three felonies a day for three years. (Refers to the fact that there are too many vague, overlapping laws on the books.)
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Re: Fix the System

Postby erasmus44 » Wed Dec 30, 2015 7:52 pm

I will be out with an article tomorrow
What American Can Learn From The Amanda Knox Case
with some recommendations.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby geebee2 » Tue Jan 05, 2016 2:19 am

erasmus44 wrote:I will be out with an article tomorrow
What American Can Learn From The Amanda Knox Case
with some recommendations.


I saw it - nice article, good suggestions.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby erasmus44 » Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:00 pm

geebee2 wrote:
erasmus44 wrote:I will be out with an article tomorrow
What American Can Learn From The Amanda Knox Case
with some recommendations.


I saw it - nice article, good suggestions.



Thanks. I think that we are beginning to develop momentum with the recent concern about shootings by the police, Making a Murderer, etc. We need a concerted effort to enact reforms and we need catchy elevator phrases to pitch this as a big political issue - maybe even get a referendum or two going. I got into some of this kind of stuff years ago and I feel it in my bones.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Numbers » Tue Feb 02, 2016 11:45 pm

The 2015 Report from the National Registry of Exonerations has just been published. One of its findings is that Conviction Integrity Units have been useful in finding cases of actual innocence. However, there are still only 24 CIUs in the US as of 2015, which produced 58 exonerations. However, some of the CIUs did not produce any exonerations, and the quality of the CIUs appear to vary considerably among the jurisdictions that have them. About one-half the CIUs did not have any exonerations, and some do not publish their contact information.

See the link to the Report (a PDF) at: http://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoner ... about.aspx
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Re: Fix the System

Postby erasmus44 » Wed Feb 03, 2016 1:00 am

We should:
1. have conviction integrity commissions in all jurisdictions with independent members, sufficient budgets to examine cases in detail, subpoena power, and a requirement to report quarterly on progress,
2. a requirement that in serious cases the trial judge writes a detailed opinion justifying his or her decision to uphold the jury's verdict as consistent with the evidence,
3. remove the restrictions on federal habeas corpus enacted during the Clinton and Bush administrations,
4. make funds available for more expeditious forensic testing in connection with post conviction relief,
5. required continuing professional education for prosecutors, judges, and police
6. no more elected prosecutors and sheriffs - these positions should be limited to those who meet qualification standards
7. prosecutors required to turn over ALL evidence and relevant material (not just evidence the prosecutor considers to be "exculpatory") to the defense. Any material failure to comply should result in an automatic new trial
8. application of stricter standards for forensic evidence (e.g., blood splatter "experts")

That would be a start.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby geebee2 » Wed Feb 03, 2016 4:00 am

erasmus44 wrote:We should:
1. have conviction integrity commissions in all jurisdictions with independent members, sufficient budgets to examine cases in detail, subpoena power, and a requirement to report quarterly on progress,
2. a requirement that in serious cases the trial judge writes a detailed opinion justifying his or her decision to uphold the jury's verdict as consistent with the evidence,
3. remove the restrictions on federal habeas corpus enacted during the Clinton and Bush administrations,
4. make funds available for more expeditious forensic testing in connection with post conviction relief,
5. required continuing professional education for prosecutors, judges, and police
6. no more elected prosecutors and sheriffs - these positions should be limited to those who meet qualification standards
7. prosecutors required to turn over ALL evidence and relevant material (not just evidence the prosecutor considers to be "exculpatory") to the defense. Any material failure to comply should result in an automatic new trial
8. application of stricter standards for forensic evidence (e.g., blood splatter "experts")

That would be a start.


I would add to that : the full record of every conviction ( videos, transcripts, exhibits, motions, autopsy reports etc. ) should be freely available, online, public records.

My recent blog on the subject of reform is here : https://geebee2.wordpress.com/2016/01/1 ... on-reform/
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Numbers » Sat Feb 27, 2016 9:14 pm

Information about a bipartisan bill in Congress regarding refunding a program for post-conviction forensic DNA testing

http://www.innocenceproject.org/news-ev ... uly-guilty
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Numbers » Sat Feb 27, 2016 9:24 pm

"The first “event” to consider is the increased level of interest from the public in the whole issue of confession—and of police interrogation tactics in particular— as seen by the reaction to recent television programs and film productions. The Making a Murderer series, for example, has received unprecedented attention worldwide (including from everyone waiting for a haircut at my barber’s in a small town in the United Kingdom, where it’s the main subject of conversation!). NBC received a great response on their Twitter and Facebook pages to their program, The Interrogation, focusing on the false confession of Robert Davis in Virginia. And the excellent film David & Me, featuring the story of David McCallum from Brooklyn, has also been very well received.

The reaction appears stronger than to the Central Park Five documentary in 2012. Then, I think, the majority of people saw the case as an exception and an unfortunate result of high crime levels and pressure on the police to solve cases. Now, there appears to be a growing acknowledgement that coercive interrogation and flawed investigations could have resulted in unsafe convictions on hundreds of cases."

Quote from:
Dr Andy Griffiths.
He is an expert on police interviews and interrogations, and has 30 years experience as a police officer in the United Kingdom. He has lectured extensively around the world and recently participated in an NBC Dateline documentary called The Interrogation.

- See more at: http://www.innocenceproject.org/news-ev ... o3VRS.dpuf
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Numbers » Fri Mar 18, 2016 8:17 pm

The essay at this link was pointed out elsewhere. It is a very good, thorough and thoughtful examination of the causes behind wrongful convictions in the US. I thought it should be referenced here.

http://wrongfulconvictionsblog.org/2013 ... ing-fixed/
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Sat Mar 19, 2016 1:17 pm

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk ... nts-rights

"The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (A.E.D.P.A.) is surely one of the worst statutes ever passed by Congress and signed into law by a President. The heart of the law is a provision saying that, even when a state court misapplies the Constitution, a defendant cannot necessarily have his day in federal court. Instead, he must prove that the state court’s decision was “contrary to” what the Supreme Court has determined is “clearly established federal law,” or that the decision was “an unreasonable application of” it."

"A landmark Columbia Law School study of virtually every state and federal death-penalty appeal from 1973 to 1995 reported that “courts found serious, reversible error in nearly 7 of every 10 of the thousands of capital sentences that were fully reviewed during the period.” There were so many mistakes, the study found, that after “state courts threw out 47% of death sentences due to serious flaws, a later federal review found ‘serious error’—error undermining the reliability of the outcome—in 40% of the remaining sentences.” Without federal habeas corpus, those serious errors would have gone unchecked. Instead of later being found not to deserve the death penalty, as happened in seventy-three per cent of the cases, or instead of being found innocent, as happened in nine per cent of the cases, these defendants likely would have been put to death." A very sobering article.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby erasmus44 » Sat Mar 19, 2016 11:38 pm

Parole decisions should be based on the prisoner's conduct during his or her term and the prospects for successful reintegration into society without recurrence of criminal behavior. It should be irrelevant if does not express "remorse" for the crime because the prisoner contends that he or she is innocent. This requirement of "accepting guilt" has excluded many wrongfully convicted inmates from eligibility for parole.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby roteoctober » Mon Mar 21, 2016 4:10 pm

erasmus44 wrote:Parole decisions should be based on the prisoner's conduct during his or her term and the prospects for successful reintegration into society without recurrence of criminal behavior. It should be irrelevant if does not express "remorse" for the crime because the prisoner contends that he or she is innocent. This requirement of "accepting guilt" has excluded many wrongfully convicted inmates from eligibility for parole.


I completely agree.

Basically, however, the same criterion is used also in Italy, albeit with more latitude and depending from judge to judge (we have specific judges doing the jobs of your parole boards).
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Sun Mar 27, 2016 4:03 pm

If a witness is paid through Crimestoppers, that fact should be automatically disclosed, because it bears on his or her credibility. It is unclear to me whether or not this information is presently disclosed. This question is pertinent to the Syed case.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Numbers » Thu Apr 21, 2016 6:41 am

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35971935

Could 'actual innocence' save the broken US justice system?

An article about a post-arrest, pre-trial screening program by a US state prosecutor.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby geebee2 » Sat May 07, 2016 4:10 pm

Please sign this petition: https://www.change.org/p/allow-federal- ... -the-aedpa

It's trying to build support to reform the "AEDPA", which has meant that

"Federal judges have been pretty much shut out from granting habeas relief in most cases, even when they believe that an egregious miscarriage of justice has occurred."

according to judge Alex Kozinski.

There is a long article about the issue here you may like to read first: https://theintercept.com/2016/05/04/the ... rime-bill/

Thanks.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Numbers » Tue Jul 05, 2016 9:53 pm

geebee2 wrote:Please sign this petition: https://www.change.org/p/allow-federal- ... -the-aedpa

It's trying to build support to reform the "AEDPA", which has meant that

"Federal judges have been pretty much shut out from granting habeas relief in most cases, even when they believe that an egregious miscarriage of justice has occurred."

according to judge Alex Kozinski.

There is a long article about the issue here you may like to read first: https://theintercept.com/2016/05/04/the ... rime-bill/

Thanks.


Thanks for the link to

https://theintercept.com/2016/05/04/the ... rime-bill/

One of the most important paragraphs in the article, about the problems of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), which too tightly limits the rights of those wrongfully convicted by state courts to seek federal habeas corpus relief:

Federal judges at the time were alarmed by the recommendations. In 1989, at a Senate Judiciary hearing convened by Joe Biden, Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th Circuit decried Powell’s report. “Finality and speed are the presumed objectives,” Reinhardt testified. “They seem to outweigh the concerns for fairness, justice, due process, and compliance with the constitution.” Citing his experiences with prosecutors who withheld evidence in capital cases — violations that can take years to discover — Reinhardt posed the question: “What can I do if someone comes in with affidavits and proof asking for relief from me when a man is about to be executed and the statute says I have no jurisdiction or authority to grant a stay or any habeas relief?”
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Fri Aug 12, 2016 4:36 pm

"Events took a dramatic turn in April 1999. Thirty days before his scheduled execution, an investigator discovered that there was a blood stain from the robber on the clothing of one of the carjacking victims, and that this evidence had never been disclosed to the defense. The prosecutors had ordered testing to determine the blood type of the stain – in fact, they had rushed the test – but when the blood type was determined, and was different from Thompson’s, they concealed it. Defense attorneys then obtained an affidavit from a former district attorney stating that a prosecutor in the case had admitted to intentionally suppressing the blood evidence. Defense attorneys also learned that Perkins – the witness who testified that Thompson had admitted the murder – had received $15,000 from the Liuzza family as a reward. When this evidence was presented to the trial judge, he granted a stay of execution and dismissed Thompson’s carjacking conviction, but he denied Thompson’s motion for a new trial on the Liuzza murder. In 2001, however, he reduced Thompson’s death sentence to life in prison without parole." https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exone ... aseid=3684

Let me focus on just one thing, the $15,000 payment (the possibility of a Crimestoppers payment in the Adnan Syed case has always bothered me, and I imagine that there are other examples). If I could rid the CJ of payments altogether I would, because it creates such an obvious incentive to lie. However short of that, I would require that payments to witnesses be disclosed, with the understanding that if they were not, this would automatically constitute an error sufficient to cause the a conviction to be thrown out.
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Re: Fix the System; Johnny Small case

Postby Chris_Halkides » Sat Aug 13, 2016 8:25 am

http://www.leagle.com/decision/19918134 ... v.%20SMALL
In the Johnny Small case (heard this past week in Wilmington, NC), a witness said that Smalls came out of the store. "[Nina] Raeford did not contact law enforcement authorities until August, after Crimestoppers had offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to an indictment in the case." I am told that work records put Ms. Raeford elsewhere at the time. http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/2016 ... ll-pending

More on the Small case from the Wilmington Star-News:
“This court does not find actual innocence in this case. I don’t know whether Mr. Small did this or not. Whoever did this is a monster,” Parsons said, “What I am here to decide is, did he receive a fair trial according to North Carolina and United States constitutions? And it is more than abundantly clear to me he did not.”
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Sat Aug 20, 2016 9:29 am

Here is an interesting article on exonerations. It is interesting that the number of DNA exonerations per year seems to have hit a plateau.
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/p ... 24757.html
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Bruce Fischer » Sat Aug 20, 2016 11:23 pm

Chris_Halkides wrote:Here is an interesting article on exonerations. It is interesting that the number of DNA exonerations per year seems to have hit a plateau.
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/p ... 24757.html


Thanks for posting. It is good to see that a wider range of factors are now being addressed. We are coming to realize that many of our beliefs of the past were flat out wrong. Fire analysis errors are being recognized, SBS cases are facing heavy scrutiny due to misdiagnoses, and false confessions are now being recognized. Not all cases of wrongful conviction involve misconduct, but rather incorrect beliefs.
"This could happen to any one of you. If you don't believe it could happen, you are either misinformed or in a state of deep denial" -- Debra Milke
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Re: Fix the System

Postby ScifiTom » Sun Aug 28, 2016 7:25 am

To everyone

Hey everyone, I was reading this about a new story of an innocent project and it all have to do with Pioneering Philadelphia Law and it about old times and this lawyer name Herbert Maris and his true story, and here the official link and enjoy reading this and talk to you soon everyone!!!

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/nationa ... -1.2768385
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Numbers » Fri Oct 07, 2016 10:30 am

New laws seek to overturn, prevent wrongful convictions

There’s new evidence that the climate on crime and punishment is changing in California: a handful of bills signed by Gov. Jerry Brown that will make it easier to overturn, or prevent, wrongful convictions.

One law, signed by Brown last week, will allow prisoners to challenge their convictions with new evidence that, more likely than not, would have changed the outcome of their trials, easing the current standard that requires near-certain proof of innocence. The law takes effect next year. Another measure allows immigrants facing deportation for criminal convictions to offer newly discovered evidence that they were wrongfully convicted.

A third bill, whose supporters included the California Police Chiefs Association, will require police to record all interrogations of murder suspects, recordings that jurors can use to decide whether confessions were voluntary or coerced. A decade ago, lawmakers twice approved legislation requiring recording of interrogations in all violent felony cases, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed both measures.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Numbers » Wed Oct 12, 2016 9:54 pm

Attitudes of prosecutors who can't admit to mistakes, as well as politicians and citizens who don't fully accept that there are wrongful convictions, make changes difficult:

https://theintercept.com/2016/10/11/don ... -attitude/

"But despite the burst of outrage, the ugly truth is that Trump’s attitude is all too common in district attorneys’ offices around the country. Not only have prosecutors defended the convictions of innocent people in the face of exonerating evidence, they will often block efforts to test for such evidence as DNA in the first place. Once a conviction is overturned, DAs often refuse to drop charges, dragging out a legal fight while dangling the specter of re-imprisonment over men and women who just want to move on with their lives. If a person is officially exonerated and seeks compensation, it is not uncommon for DAs to fight these efforts as well."
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Numbers » Thu Oct 13, 2016 3:23 pm

Here is a case from Puerto Rico, with three exonerees, demonstrating the many abuses that can occur in the investigation and trial of a murder/rape case:

http://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoner ... aseid=4999
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Numbers » Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:29 am

Internationally acclaimed author John Grisham voiced his concern for the state of the American criminal justice system today warning that there is nothing worse than wrongfully convicting an innocent person for a crime they didn’t commit while the true perpetrator remains free.

In an interview with The Marshall Project, the bestselling author pinpointed wrongful conviction as an ongoing crisis in the criminal justice system while appealing to Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions to address head-on much-needed reform efforts.

“I would never advise Mr. Sessions on how to handle his job, but I hope he understands that there are thousands of innocent people in prison serving long sentences for crimes committed by others; that their convictions could have been avoided and the real perpetrators brought to justice; that many segments of our criminal justice system are broken and must be fixed,” explained Grisham. “The two of us could have a long conversation.”

Source: http://www.innocenceproject.org/author- ... interview/

Full interview at: https://www.themarshallproject.org/2017 ... .VUtwpsuTp
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Re: Fix the System

Postby erasmus44 » Wed Jan 04, 2017 2:23 pm

Numbers wrote:Internationally acclaimed author John Grisham voiced his concern for the state of the American criminal justice system today warning that there is nothing worse than wrongfully convicting an innocent person for a crime they didn’t commit while the true perpetrator remains free.

In an interview with The Marshall Project, the bestselling author pinpointed wrongful conviction as an ongoing crisis in the criminal justice system while appealing to Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions to address head-on much-needed reform efforts.

“I would never advise Mr. Sessions on how to handle his job, but I hope he understands that there are thousands of innocent people in prison serving long sentences for crimes committed by others; that their convictions could have been avoided and the real perpetrators brought to justice; that many segments of our criminal justice system are broken and must be fixed,” explained Grisham. “The two of us could have a long conversation.”

Source: http://www.innocenceproject.org/author- ... interview/

Full interview at: https://www.themarshallproject.org/2017 ... .VUtwpsuTp



We must continue flailing away at this issue and increasing public awareness. The extent of wrongful convictions in our system is a national disgrace. We should fix it before we start lecturing other countries on their "human rights" violations.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Desert Fox » Thu Jan 05, 2017 11:54 pm

I think Mr Sessons is the wrong person for this. . . .He is almost certainly a "Hang them High" type. . . .Oh, you are innocent, tough luck.
We are in for some horrible rolls for the next four years with regard to justice
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:24 pm

Desert Fox wrote:I think Mr Sessons is the wrong person for this. . . .He is almost certainly a "Hang them High" type. . . .Oh, you are innocent, tough luck.
We are in for some horrible rolls for the next four years with regard to justice

Ever the optimist, I will say that only Nixon could go to China.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Sat Feb 25, 2017 6:08 am

"In fact, there were no witnesses to the murder. In addition, Carla Brown, the main prosecution witness, was a confirmed drug addict who had motive to testify in order to secure favorable treatment from the police and had initially provided to police multiple versions of the events. It was discovered that police “worked on” her for months until she gave them the version of events that were propounded at trial. Carla Brown now admits that she lied at trial. Other witnesses admit they were coerced into lying or staying silent, threatened by detectives with being falsely charged with crimes or promised leniency. For example, witness Brian Ramsey stated in a post-conviction affidavit that he falsely testified to seeing Johnson outside the bar that night, and that he only saw Walker in the crowd: “I actually never saw Mr. Johnson.” New evidence points to the actual perpetrators, as those who were previously held as witnesses are in fact now suspects."
https://freelorenzojohnson.org/about/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lorenzo-j ... 16574.html?

The passage above is about the Lorenzo Johnson case, but I keep seeing this issue come up in other wrongful convictions (Ronald Cotton also comes to mind): the police threatening witnesses or promising them leniency. If I were czar of fixing wrongful convictions, this might be the first thing I would work on.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby geebee2 » Sun Mar 05, 2017 5:25 am

Chris_Halkides wrote:The passage above is about the Lorenzo Johnson case, but I keep seeing this issue come up in other wrongful convictions (Ronald Cotton also comes to mind): the police threatening witnesses or promising them leniency. If I were czar of fixing wrongful convictions, this might be the first thing I would work on.



Here's a case of two women drug-users, informants, setting someone up.

Quick summary:

Jason Sadowski was accused by two women, Angel Paris and Becky Bressette, who robbed him, and then “played the victim”, staging a scene so they could accuse him of assaulting them. Angel called 911 and got her story in first, saying they had been taped to poles for hours. Jason was wrongly convicted in 2014, it was overturned in December 2015, and there is a retrial on March 6, 2017.

A defense request for DNA tests to be performed was denied.

The investigation was totally botched.

All aimed at convicting someone the police chief didn't like ( and who was in competition with his brother-in-law's Medical Marijuana business ).

The retrial is tomorrow.

More here https://freecoachjason.wordpress.com/
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:02 pm

From what I can gather AG Sessions has ended the National Forensic Science Commission and suspended the review of certain disciplines. He has proposed having an office of forensic science within the Department of Justice. An association of prosecutors is all cock-a-hoop about this development. Why am I not surprised?
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/pu ... 091c61ad43

DNA scientist and textbook author Norah Rudin wrote, "Putting an office of forensic science under a law enforcement agency if a fundamentally bad idea. This would take us backwards, not move us forward. Additionally, the composition of the board is problematic. It is slanted toward public agencies and provides no voice to independent scientists. Again, this takes us backwards not forward. The problems that the field of forensic science is experiencing is largely due to the insular approach the field has taken historically." https://forensicsforum.net/2017/03/15/r ... c-science/

Six forensic scientists (at least one of whom is a textbook author) wrote a letter opposing ending the commission. From this letter: "For too long, decisions regarding forensic science have been made without the input of the research science community...The inclusion of an array of research scientists is necessary to further improve the foundation and practice of forensic science and to the justice system. The representation of these fields has been one of the strengths of this Commission and has been critical to its success. Any forum for forensic science issues must include significant numbers of independent scientists and researchers."
pps.washingtonpost.com/g/documents/local/scientists-on-national-commission-urge-panel-be-renewed-in-letter-to-attorney-general/2404/

The members of the commission include Suzanne Bell (author of a textbook on forensic chemistry), John Butler(author of a textbook on DNA profiling), Law Professor Paul Giannelli (reporter for the ABA committee that wrote the model rules of DNA evidence), The Honorable Jed Rakoff, and Peter Neufeld, cofounder of the Innocence Project. Mr. Neufeld said, "The department has literally decided to suspend the search for truth."
https://www.justice.gov/ncfs/members
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Re: Fix the System

Postby McGirr » Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:33 pm

This all goes back to Koons and his role as the Golden Boy of the FBI, Koons has been ridiculed by the Forensic science community not least in the area of glass forensics where his work and scientific journals were found to be mathematically flawed. Koons has been at loggerheads with the scientific community who have published letters condemning his work as flawed. I have no doubt that his interests are a driving factor in the closure of the commission and at the same time Koons is a weak link in this debacle as it can now be argued in criminal trials that any work stemming from Koons at the FBI lab is flawed. Resulting in unpredictable outcomes in criminal trials and a dogmatic frustrating ground hog day process for counsel as they have rehash the same arguments to new juries day after day and trial after trail in order to win.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby erasmus44 » Tue Apr 11, 2017 9:15 pm

Chris_Halkides wrote:From what I can gather AG Sessions has ended the National Forensic Science Commission and suspended the review of certain disciplines. He has proposed having an office of forensic science within the Department of Justice. An association of prosecutors is all cock-a-hoop about this development. Why am I not surprised?
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/pu ... 091c61ad43

DNA scientist and textbook author Norah Rudin wrote, "Putting an office of forensic science under a law enforcement agency if a fundamentally bad idea. This would take us backwards, not move us forward. Additionally, the composition of the board is problematic. It is slanted toward public agencies and provides no voice to independent scientists. Again, this takes us backwards not forward. The problems that the field of forensic science is experiencing is largely due to the insular approach the field has taken historically." https://forensicsforum.net/2017/03/15/r ... c-science/

Six forensic scientists (at least one of whom is a textbook author) wrote a letter opposing ending the commission. From this letter: "For too long, decisions regarding forensic science have been made without the input of the research science community...The inclusion of an array of research scientists is necessary to further improve the foundation and practice of forensic science and to the justice system. The representation of these fields has been one of the strengths of this Commission and has been critical to its success. Any forum for forensic science issues must include significant numbers of independent scientists and researchers."
pps.washingtonpost.com/g/documents/local/scientists-on-national-commission-urge-panel-be-renewed-in-letter-to-attorney-general/2404/

The members of the commission include Suzanne Bell (author of a textbook on forensic chemistry), John Butler(author of a textbook on DNA profiling), Law Professor Paul Giannelli (reporter for the ABA committee that wrote the model rules of DNA evidence), The Honorable Jed Rakoff, and Peter Neufeld, cofounder of the Innocence Project.
https://www.justice.gov/ncfs/members



This is very very unfortunate. How can the Republicans call themselves libertarians with a "Freedom Caucus" when they want to reduce safeguards against having the government deprive innocent people of all of their liberties?
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:06 am

This is a link to the response of the "A Path Forward," NAS report on the state of forensic sciences. It is interesting to read the testimony of the prosecutors in 2009, at least one of whom was introduced by then Senator Sessions. My take on this is that AG Sessions has always sided with the prosecutors, some of whom did not like the report.
https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-111s ... g54720.htm
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Re: Fix the System

Postby erasmus44 » Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:06 am

Chris_Halkides wrote:This is a link to the response of the "A Path Forward," NAS report on the state of forensic sciences. It is interesting to read the testimony of the prosecutors in 2009, at least one of whom was introduced by then Senator Sessions. My take on this is that AG Sessions has always sided with the prosecutors, some of whom did not like the report.
https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-111s ... g54720.htm




On criminal justice issues, this administration seems to be clearly coming down on the statist, pro-prosecution, pro-criminalization side of the Republican Party rather than the Libertarian side which emphasizes individual rights and freedom. How they can talk about a "Freedom Caucus" escapes me. Unfortunately judicial appointments will probably also follow this trend. They should be called out on this. Permitting prosecutors to imprison innocent people is the most outrageous expansion of government power at the expense of individual liberty that there can be. They are not the Party of freedom and liberty; they are the party of oppressive BIG GOVERNMENT.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:39 pm

The Raymond Jennings case is remarkable for its lack of evidence, and yet he was still convicted (he seems to have been convicted on the basis of making apparently contradictory statements to police). One of the people who worked on his case shared his thoughts about conviction review units: "Conviction-review units can move more quickly because of their narrower mandate. Applicants have no right to an explanation or appeal when their claims are denied, so the units do not get bogged down. This lets investigators focus their resources on the minority of cases that merit their attention."

https://crimewatchdaily.com/2017/02/21/ ... continues/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions ... e7b467296a

EDT
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-m ... story.html
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Thu Apr 13, 2017 4:05 pm

The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf wrote, "Sessions, a former federal prosecutor, is bringing the matter back “in house,” though DOJ staffers have institutional incentives to avoid upsetting the status quo, and have utterly failed to sufficiently address the problem from within across decades of misconduct. The result is not only the imprisonment of the aforementioned innocents, but also uncaught criminals in those cases roaming the streets."
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/ar ... source=fbb
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:24 pm

Discussing the 2009 hearings (see link above) Radley Balko (one of the best reporters on forensics) wrote, "One witness at the hearings was a prosecutor from Wyoming who was testifying in opposition to the report. Sessions tossed him a softball: “Do you believe that the report, perhaps trying to get our attention, used some pretty strong language suggesting the unreliability of what I have always understood to be proven scientific techniques? Is that something that the district attorneys are finding . . . that this is being thrown up to create the impression with a jury that there’s no basis for these kinds of reports?”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the ... 3ab623a0e3
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:08 am

The Raymond Jennings case suggests another reform. How about not allowing profiling in a criminal trial as evidence against the defendant? I thought that profiling was supposed to be about developing leads, or am I misunderstanding something.
http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2017/01/ ... ing-death/
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Thu Apr 27, 2017 10:45 am

Author of a textbook on forensic chemistry, Suzanne Bell wrote an article in the aftermath of Sessions' decision:
"DOJ is not a science agency and thus not the ideal place to address core scientific issues. The department is staffed with dedicated public servants and exemplary forensic scientists, but the independence of science (real and perceived) remains a concern. The loss of the NCFS, of which I was a member, disrupts our work to help forensic science come of age and to insure the scientific validity of all its subdisciplines—a desirable outcome for its practitioners, the legal system, and all of us who are served by it."
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_an ... ience.html
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Re: Fix the System

Postby erasmus44 » Thu Apr 27, 2017 11:49 am

Chris_Halkides wrote:Author of a textbook on forensic chemistry, Suzanne Bell wrote an article in the aftermath of Sessions' decision:
"DOJ is not a science agency and thus not the ideal place to address core scientific issues. The department is staffed with dedicated public servants and exemplary forensic scientists, but the independence of science (real and perceived) remains a concern. The loss of the NCFS, of which I was a member, disrupts our work to help forensic science come of age and to insure the scientific validity of all its subdisciplines—a desirable outcome for its practitioners, the legal system, and all of us who are served by it."
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_an ... ience.html


I agree completely. You really have to get the science right or else we might as well just flip coins to decide who is guilty.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Numbers » Sun Jun 18, 2017 8:16 am

Texas Governor Signs Landmark Comprehensive Legislation to Prevent Wrongful Convictions

https://www.innocenceproject.org/texasg ... ign=buffer
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Fri Jun 23, 2017 10:44 am

https://news.vice.com/story/supreme-cou ... onvictions
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/201 ... n-evidence

"There was no physical evidence linking anyone to the crime scene. Prosecutors relied solely on witness statements to convict eight young men of first-degree murder. What the prosecutors didn’t disclose was that they had also identified another suspect." (from the first link)

Brady doesn't go far enough. We need open discovery.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Fri Jun 23, 2017 1:55 pm

With respect to the Catherine Fuller case, it almost deserves its own thread, or perhaps it could be appended to the Central Park Five case, with which it has some similarities. My first quick pass suggests to me that the conviction wouldn't stand up to careful scrutiny.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Fri Jun 23, 2017 3:19 pm

Here is another article on the convictions. From what I can gather there was physical evidence, and some of it might still be analyzed. http://www.npr.org/2011/07/05/137505451 ... tion-marks

"The government never disclosed to the defense they had three eyewitnesses who saw McMillan leaving the crime scene right around the time that the body was found," Pollack says.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Sat Jun 24, 2017 9:03 am

Here is a link, to SCOTUS blog, on the arguments before the Supreme Court: http://www.scotusblog.com/2017/03/argum ... rder-case/
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Bruce Fischer » Sat Jun 24, 2017 10:53 am

Chris_Halkides wrote:Here is another article on the convictions. From what I can gather there was physical evidence, and some of it might still be analyzed. http://www.npr.org/2011/07/05/137505451 ... tion-marks

"The government never disclosed to the defense they had three eyewitnesses who saw McMillan leaving the crime scene right around the time that the body was found," Pollack says.


I know it cannot be used as evidence in this case, but it is pretty telling that McMillan went on to commit similar crimes which landed him in prison for life.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Sat Jun 24, 2017 10:59 am

IIUC the one person who has been released so far had a clean record before this crime. Another problem with the prosecution's theory is that no one saw a big gang of people.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:13 pm

Washington Post "“I was on a mission. I still am,” says [Christopher] Turner, who denies being part of the Fuller attack, or even part of a gang. He says that there was no such thing as an Eighth and H gang and that most of the teens rounded up in connection with Fuller’s death had met one another only after they were arrested." It should be possible to verify these assertions.

Slate has an article on the Supreme Court's decision.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:06 pm

At The Atlantic Emily Yoffe wrote, "In Nashville, I was struck by how many people were in court because they had been picked up for driving with a suspended license. It’s a common practice, I learned, for states to suspend the licenses of people who have failed to pay court costs, traffic fines, or child support. In 2011, for example, Tennessee passed a law requiring the suspension of licenses for nonpayment of certain financial obligations. Both Glenn Funk, who must enforce this law, and Dawn Deaner, the head of the public defender’s office, agree that it’s absurd, in part because the scheme is almost perfectly designed to prevent the outcome it seeks. If people stop driving when their licenses are suspended, they may no longer be able to reliably get to work, which means they risk losing their jobs and going deeper into debt. As a result, many people whose licenses have been suspended drive anyway, putting themselves in constant jeopardy of racking up misdemeanor convictions. It is common for defendants charged with such minor infractions to represent themselves, even if they don’t understand the consequences of pleading guilty, and even if there might be some mitigating circumstances that an attorney could argue on their behalf. Plead guilty to enough suspended-license misdemeanors, and a subsequent charge can be a felony."

I had assumed that the suspension of a license was the result of a driving infraction. To use it for the nonpayment of obligations is ludicrous and counterproductive.
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Re: Fix the System

Postby Chris_Halkides » Tue Aug 22, 2017 6:25 pm

“Lawyer Kent Gipson also cited previous DNA testing of hairs found from Gayle's shirt and fingernails that also excluded Williams, and said footprints at the scene did not match Williams. The conviction was based on the testimony of two convicted felons - Henry Cole and Laura Asaro - who were set to receive $10,000 as a reward from the victim's family for information on the case, according to Mr Gipson.” Independent

As of tonight Marcellus Williams was granted a stay of execution, on the basis of DNA evidence (link).These kinds of payments are extremely dubious IMO. If I were a juror and knew of such a payment, I would assign a weight of zero to evidence that came from someone who was paid. What is less clear to me is whether or not the jury always knows of the existence of such payments (the Adnan Syed case comes to mind). I would like see such payments be made illegal, or at the very least that the existence of any payments to a witness must be automatically disclosed to the court, no matter the source of the money.

Here is a little bit more on the two witnesses: "Williams’ conviction rested on the testimony of two controversial informants, a former cellmate, and a crack-addicted ex-girlfriend, who came forward only after learning of a $10,000 reward. The two later admitted to meeting to discuss their testimony, and several other inmates have since come forward to say they were approached by law enforcement to corroborate the jailhouse informant’s testimony against Williams."
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