Truth in Justice Newsletter - August, 2004

RECENT CASES

The latest inmate to be released from an Illinois prison after DNA tests exonerated him filed his own petition to seek the DNA test even though he has limited ability to read and write.  Moreover, he was represented at his trial on rape charges 11 years ago by a lawyer who apparently was disbarred a short time later.

Lethal Injection Chamber
Police used ruses -- and drawn guns -- to get Afton Cain to confess to robbing a bank in a town she never heard of and implicating a woman -- Latosha Haliburton -- she had never met.  The case against them has fallen apart, but  the FBI agent, the cops and the prosecutor are satisfied with their conduct.  "I would do it all again," said the prosecutor.  That's the scariest part of this story.

False Confessions
It began after reading THE PROBLEM OF FALSE CONFESSIONS IN THE POST-DNA WORLD by Steven Drizin and Richard Leo (North Carolina Law Review, March 2004, Vol. 82 No. 3). In their monograph they identified 125 false confessors of serious felonies who have now been found to be legally innocent. Robert Perske's search is only for persons with "intellectual disabilities" who have been exonerated. So far, 34 have been found and the number is climbing.



INNOCENT IMPRISONED

David Lemus and Olmado Hidalgo have spent 12 years in jail for the murder of a New York City nightclub bouncer named Marcus Peterson and the attempted murder of another man on Nov. 23, 1990.  A 2002 New Police Department investigative report concluded Thomas Morales committed the murders, but Morales is free while Lemus and Hidalgo remain in prison.

EYEWITNESS ID

Boston Police Update Eyewitness Identification Methods
After nine men were convicted here for crimes they did not commit, Boston police and the Suffolk County district attorney's office have agreed on a series of reforms on how evidence is gathered, especially from witnesses to a crime.




POLICE/PROSECUTOR MISCONDUCT


CaliforniaThe California Highway Patrol is investigating claims that two of its officers were pressured to lie on the witness stand in a lawsuit by a Ramona man awarded $4.5 million by a jury in April, 2004.  Under Pressure

Pennsylvania
:
The "sheer heft of the truly damaging and irrelevant conduct" of Asst. U.S. Attorney James D. Clancy led to Darrick Moore's conviction for arson in federal court in Pennsylvania.  Now the 3rd Circuit has ruled that Clancy's closing speech was not only unfairly prejudicial, but that it capped a trial studded from beginning to end with unfairly prejudicial evidence relating to alleged prior bad acts by Moore.  Inflammatory Closing

New York:  In 1991, Ronald Bower was framed for two rapes that were probably committed by the cop who arrested him.  In 1996, New York State prison investigator Timothy Huff kept his promise to Bower and called the Queens, New York special victims unit about Bower's case.  The investigator who answered told Huff he believed Bower's innocence claim.  Eventually the two investigators were joined by an FBI agent and one of New York's top criminal justice officials.  At last, Bower's case is under judicial review and he could get a new trial.  Making It Right


JUNK SCIENCE
Dr. Patricia Moore, a former Harris County, Texas associate medical examiner accused of botching an autopsy that led to a young mother's imprisonment has come under scrutiny in several other cases in which her conclusions were later contested or revised.  Moore attributed infant deaths to shaken baby syndrome at a rate considerably higher than the rate at which it happens in the general population.  Biased Autopsies


INNOCENCE PROJECTS

Innocence Projects provide representation and/or investigative assistance to prison inmates who claim to be innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted. There is now at least one innocence project serving each state except Hawaii. Most of these innocence projects are new and overwhelmed with applications, so waiting time between application and acceptance is long. Wrongfully convicted persons should not be dissuaded from applying to Innocence Projects because of this, but should have realistic expectations regarding acceptance and time lags.  Check the list for the innocence project in your area; we update it regularly.


LINKS

The links pages at Truth in Justice are frequently updated.  Be sure to check them for resources, "must" reading, websites of inmates with compelling innocence claims and more.  Start at http://truthinjustice.org/links.htm

SITE SEARCH ENGINE

There are now over 900 pages at Truth in Justice.  The site search engine on the main page can make it faster and easier to find what you seek.

And remember, YOU can make a difference!

Sheila and Doug Berry



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