Truth in Justice Newsletter - June, 2004

RECENT CASES


In 1986, newlyweds Dyke and Karen Rhoads were stabbed to death in their Paris, IL home.  Randy Steidl and Herb Whitlock were convicted of their muders on the strength of perjured testimony that contrradicted the physical  evidence.   Now Randy Steidl has been released. 
Herb Whitlock remains in prison, convicted by the same perjured testimony.
Lethal Injection Chamber

DEATH PENALTY ISSUES

The Massachusetts Plan for an Infallible Death Penalty


Governor Romney pitches the
"No-Doubt" Death Penalty
But even prosecutors see problems
DAs Rap Death Penalty Plan

Who's in charge of the evidence?
The Island of Misfit Cops

How justice really works in MA
22 Examples of MA Justice

Death Penalty



POLICE/PROSECUTOR MISCONDUCT

California Superior Court Judge William Danser of California's Santa Clara County was found guilty on all counts in his obstruction of justice trial. The judge was convicted of improperly dismissing 20 traffic tickets for professional athletes and acquaintances, and of transferring two DUI cases to himself so he could hand out lenient sentences.  Playing Favorites

Arizona:  Twice named prosecutor of the year, former Pima County prosecutor Kenneth Peasley has been disbarred by the Arizona Supreme Court for knowingly eliciting perjured testimony in the 1993 capital murder trials of Andre Minnitt and Christopher McCrimmon, and again in Minnitt's 1997 retrial.  The Price of Perjury

JUNK SCIENCE

Three separate FBI examiners — Terry Green, Michael Wieners and John T. Massey — identified a fingerprint linked to the Madrid train bombing as that of Oregon attorney Brandon Mayfield.  Even when Spanish authorities disagreed, the FBI stood by their conclusion of a "100 percent positive identification".  They gave Mayfield the "Richard Jewell/Wen Ho Lee" treatment -- smear his name, destroy his law practice, throw him in jail.  Oops.  The FBI was Wrong.

Commentary:  Until now, many people in the field of fingerprinting have defensively resisted calls for additional research and investigation of fingerprinting. Because experts are permitted to testify about "100 percent positive" matches and to claim in court an error rate for the technique of zero, they have little incentive to support any research. No matter how accurate fingerprint identification turns out to be, it cannot be as perfect as they claim.  The Achilles' Heel of Fingerprints

Commentary:  The pseudoscience of fingerprint identification lacks baseline standards.  It is subjective, based on "because-I-said-so" analysis.  The result is that the government can profess certainty and be Dead Wrong.

At the trial of Martha Stewart and her broker, Peter Bacanovic -- charged with lying to federal investigators -- govenment document examiner Larry Stewart testified that Bocanovic's worksheet notation to sell Martha's Imclone stock "at 60" was written in a different ink than the other notes.  It was "absolutely critical" to the government's case.  And It Was A Lie


HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS

A comprehensive study of 328 criminal cases over the last 15 years in which the convicted person was exonerated suggests that there are Thousands of Innocent People in Prison.

Click HERE to read the University of Michigan Law School study report. (pdf format - use Acrobat Reader)


Plea Agreements
:  Between 5% and 10% of those convicted of felony crimes are factually innocent -- and 95% of them pled guilty.  Producer Ofra Bikel's documentary, premiering June 17, 2004 on PBS' Frontline, examines the moral, judicial and constitutional implications of the push to resolve cases by pressuring defendants into plea agreements -- guilty or not.  The Plea


RECOMMENDED READING
Innocent
Innocent: Inside Wrongful Conviction Cases by Scott Christianson

Innocent graphically documents forty-two recent criminal cases to find evidence of shocking miscarriages of justice, especially in murder cases. Based upon interviews with more than 200 people and reviews of hundreds of internal case files, court records, smoking-gun memoranda, and other documents, Scott Christianson gets inside the legal cases and displays them through documents and images of the people and evidence involved.

Some of the defendants in Innocent are still in prison, trying to prove their innocence to the courts. Others have had their convictions reversed and the charges against them dismissed, and still others have been awarded civil damages after the state conceded their innocence. The result is a powerful work that recounts the human costs of a criminal justice system gone awry, and shows us how wrongful convictions can — and do — happen everywhere.


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, North Dakota and South Dakota. 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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