September 21, 2012
Re "The case for 'blind' lineups," Opinion, Sept. 17 As Barry C. Scheck and Karen A. Newirth described, numerous studies have shown that using double-blind show-up procedures greatly reduce the risk of an erroneous identification. Los Angeles County has had its share of wrongful convictions. So I am surprised that the district attorney's office persuaded the Los Angeles Police Department not to participate in a pilot project, recommended by the Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice to improve the reliability of the eyewitness procedures, out of a concern that other departments that failed to adopt this best practice would be criticized.
August 25, 2012 |
HOUSTON - In what's becoming a familiar scenario in Texas, a man has been freed after spending years behind bars for a crime he did not commit. David Lee Wiggins, 48, of Fort Worth was imprisoned in 1989 for rape, largely because the 14-year-old victim picked him out of photo and live lineups. His fingerprints did not match any at the crime scene. Still, he was sentenced to life in prison. But this month DNA testing excluded Wiggins, and on Friday, State District Judge Louis Sturns in Fort Worth approved a motion overturning his conviction and freed him. Before Wiggins is officially exonerated, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals must accept the judge's recommendation or the governor must grant a pardon.
July 31, 2012 |
Ken Burns, Alex Gibney and Julien Temple headline the Toronto International Film Festival's documentary lineup this year, a program that also features work by Marina Zenovich and Matthew Cooke. Fans of nonfiction film can take in movies on everything from wrongful convictions in the U.S. justice system to Middle East relations and the continuing saga of Roman Polanski. Gibney, the Oscar-winning director best known for his U.S. military torture expose "Taxi to the Dark Side," focuses his attention on the child abuse scandal and cover-up within the Roman Catholic Church in his new film, "Mea Maxima Culpa.
May 20, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - More than 2,000 people have been freed from prison since 1989 after they were found to have been wrongly convicted of serious crimes, according to a new National Registry of Exonerations compiled by University of Michigan Law School and Northwestern University. Its sponsors say it is by far the largest database of such cases, and they hope it will help reveal why the criminal justice system sometimes misfires, prosecuting and convicting the innocent. "The more we learn about false convictions, the better we'll be at preventing them," said Samuel Gross, a University of Michigan law professor.
May 8, 2012 |
DALLAS - On the way to witness his first execution in the town known as the "Execution Capital of the World," the Dallas County district attorney stopped at the prison cemetery to find his great-grandfather's grave. Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery in Huntsville is the final resting place of inmates whose families could not afford burial anywhere else. Tall pines guard the grassy expanse nicknamed "Peckerwood Hill," where many gravestones bear prison identification numbers, not names.
April 6, 2012 |
Three men convicted of purse snatching -- one of whom was sentenced to 99 years in prison -- were exonerated Friday in Dallas. They are the latest examples of men who have been wrongly convicted of crimes in Texas. Darryl Washington, Marcus Lashun Smith and Shakara Robertson were arrested in November 1994 and charged with aggravated robbery. The victim could not identify them, but witnesses who gave chase claimed the trio was responsible. As a result, a jury convicted Washington, who received the 99-year sentence, while Smith and Robertson accepted plea deals and were sentenced to probation.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 4, 2012 |
Former Newport-Mesa Unified School District Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard took to Twitter last week in a quest to clear his reputation. After being convicted of two felony counts of misappropriation of public funds related to his post as Beverly Hills schools chief, Hubbard confirmed that he was using social media to expose what he termed a wrongful prosecution and conviction and to call attention to others suffering similar circumstances. "In coming weeks I will be exposing the lies and hypocrisy of the BHUSD, a greedy ex-superintendent, outright lies by the LA DA — bye for now," he tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 29, 2012 |
In a case that has highlighted the perils of forensic science, a federal magistrate is expected to rule soon on whether a man convicted of a triple murder arson may be innocent. During a three-day hearing ordered by a federal appeals court, U.S. Magistrate Michael J. Seng heard evidence last week that suggested George Souliotes, 71, may have been wrongly convicted of setting a fire in a Modesto rental home he owned that killed three tenants: Michelle Jones, 31; and her children, Daniel Jones Jr., 8; and Amanda, 3. Jones' husband was not at home during the fire.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 29, 2012 |
Gigi Gordon, a crusading criminal defense lawyer who battled corrupt police and overzealous prosecutors to free dozens of prisoners who had been wrongfully convicted, committed suicide after struggling with multiple sclerosis and depression. She was 54. Gordon, who had been sinking deeper into despair over the last year as her debilitating illness eroded her intellect and medication failed to alleviate her pain, overdosed on pills and died Jan. 18 at a Brentwood park, her friends said.
January 11, 2012 |
The Supreme Court refused to put new legal limits on the use of questionable eyewitness testimony at trials, ruling Wednesday that juries must weigh the evidence and decide what is true. The 8-1 decision came as a disappointment to some criminal law experts who say false identifications by eyewitnesses are a leading cause of wrongful convictions. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg acknowledged the problem, but disagreed that the right solution was to have judges consider the reliability of all eyewitness testimony prior to trials.