ruth in Justice Newsletter - November, 2003


Congress is intensifying its probe into FBI misconduct, with the powerful House Judiciary Committee now planning its own national examination of the way FBI agents handle criminal informants.  Hopefully, they'll look at the case of Pasquale Barone, Jr.  His brother-in-law was forced to commit perjury, naming Barone the killer of his own best friend.  When notified in a police memo of the recantation, the US Attorney not only hid the memo from defense attorneys, he forged a new memo and forced the witness to lie under oath.  Barone is free, but still under a cloud.


Terry Harrington embarked on his new life on October 24, 2003, free after serving 25 years of a life sentence and always maintaining his innocence.  At long last, he is a free man.

Terry Harrington 
Terry Harrington (AP)


After three indictments, two trials and a handful of appellate proceedings, some of the best legal minds in Virginia still are trying to decide whether Merry Pease was a domestic-violence victim or a cold-blooded killer. It is the claim of prosecutorial misconduct -- which was one of the reasons the case was overturned the first time around -- that is drawing new attention to it.  What Can Go Wrong, Did Go Wrong

UPDATE:  On October 31, 2003, the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed Merry's conviction.  Prosecutor Tim McAfee, whose egregious misconduct in Merry's first trial led to reversal of her conviction, has dodged the bullet of disbarment because in the eyes of the Virginia State Bar, in obtaining a second conviction against Merry, McAfee "cured" his misconduct.  Click HERE to read the Virginia Supreme Court's rationalization. (MS Word document)


Almost 30 years ago, a snitch (who later recanted) fingered Maurice Carter for shooting an off-duty Michigan police officer.  No physical evidence connected Carter to the crime, and the clerk who got the best look at the gunman says it was "one hundred percent definitely not" Carter.  Yet his motion for a new trial and his petition for clemency languish.  Meanwhile, Carter has end-stage liver disease and will die without a transplant -- which he cannot get as long as he is in prison.


Fifteen years ago, Arlene Tankleff was slashed across the throat and bludgeoned to death, and her husband, Seymour, was mortally wounded in the middle of the night in their affluent Long Island home. Their son, Martin, 17, confessed, then recanted. But in 1990 he was convicted of their murders in a highly publicized trial that was featured on Court TV.  Ever since, he and the other surviving relatives have insisted that he did not kill his parents. Seymour Tankleff's brother, Norman, said that he never doubted the son's innocence. Mrs. Tankleff's sister, Marcella Falbee, said, "From the beginning, none of us ever believed he did this." Now Martin Tankleff's supporters claim to have new evidence, obtained by a former New York City homicide detective, that they say points to the real culprits. 


MassachusettsCongress is intensifying its probe into FBI misconduct, with the powerful House Judiciary Committee now planning its own national examination of the way FBI agents handle criminal informants.  Congressional Probe
Illinois: Michale Callahan, the Illinois State Police lieutenant who was assigned in 2000 to reinvestigate the 1986 murders of newlyweds Dyke and Karen Rhoads in downstate Paris, has sued three state police officials in federal court. His complaint alleges that the officials demoted him in part for concluding that earlier state police investigations had blown the Rhoads case and helped put the wrong men in prison.  The saving grace is that AG Lisa Madigan continues her investigation into this case.  Madigan Passes the First Test

The jury got it wrong when it acquitted former FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. of leaking information that prompted his longtime informants, James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, to kill two men, according to court documents unsealed October 15, 2003.  Flemmi says the FBI agent fingered an undercover informant and a witness ready to talk, both of whom were promptly murdered.  Boston FBI = Vipers Nest

"What do you want, tears?" sneered retired FBI agent H. Paul Rico, when asked how he felt about the wrongful imprisonment of one of the four, Joseph Salvati, for more than 30 years. He was unrepentant and arrogant with a congressional committee investigating the case of four men jailed for decades for a murder they did not commit. The stunning injustice, the congressmen charged, was orchestrated by FBI agents to protect the real killer: a prized informant.  Now Rico's been charged with murder for orchestrating a mob hit.  Don't Expect Tears

The Innocents
The Innocents
by Taryn Simon, with Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld

These are the faces and voices of the wrongfully convicted. These are the stories of people imprisoned for years before finally proving their innocence. This collection of photographs and oral histories of fifty men and women gathered from across the United States forcefully describes a judicial system most of us would not recognize, where corrupt prosecutors, sleeping lawyers, bent cops, and jailhouse snitches subvert the most fundamental principles of justice. Photographer Taryn Simon and leading attorneys Neufeld and Scheckk bring us face-to-face with individuals falsely accused and convicted.


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Sheila and Doug Berry

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