The Truth About Wrongful Conviction

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Information about The Truth About Wrongful Conviction

Published on June 27, 2007

Author: Sheila.Berry

Source: slideshare.net

Description

Examines the myths surrounding the conviction of innocent people for crimes they did not commit, and suggests ways to protect yourself and your family from becoming victims of a broken justice system.

The Truth About Wrongful Convictions “ Anybody who understands the justice system knows innocent people are convicted every day."               ~ Fla.  Supreme Court Justice Gerald Kogan (Ret.)

Myths Everyone in prison claims to be innocent. Only people who live “on the edge” are charged with crimes they didn’t commit. People who are exonerated must have done something to get charged in the first place. Wrongful convictions are extremely rare. Exonerations prove the system works. It can’t happen to me .

Facts 5% to 10% of U.S. prison population are factually innocent of the crimes of which they were convicted.* In raw numbers, that means as many as 200,000 innocent people are imprisoned. Of those innocent people, 90% pled guilty. *Based on 1996 National Institute of Justice Report.

5% to 10% of U.S. prison population are factually innocent of the crimes of which they were convicted.*

In raw numbers, that means as many as 200,000 innocent people are imprisoned.

Of those innocent people, 90% pled guilty.

Causes of Wrongful Conviction

Eyewitness Identification Compelling evidence – but WRONG 50% of the time. Techniques commonly used by police can skew identification. 6-photo spread (“pick the closest match”) Use same suspect’s photo in repeat spreads (suspect starts to seem “familiar”) Use composite sketch to “match” with suspect photos

Compelling evidence – but WRONG 50% of the time.

Techniques commonly used by police can skew identification.

6-photo spread (“pick the closest match”)

Use same suspect’s photo in repeat spreads (suspect starts to seem “familiar”)

Use composite sketch to “match” with suspect photos

Junk Science Defective or Fraudulent Science Experts reporting inculpatory results from tests not conducted, or concealing exculpatory results Evidence based on debunked theories, such as microscopic hair comparison or bullet-lead matching Faulty DNA matching Overall high error rate in crime labs and medical examiner’s offices—as high as 63%*! *California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice

Defective or Fraudulent Science

Experts reporting inculpatory results from tests not conducted, or concealing exculpatory results

Evidence based on debunked theories, such as microscopic hair comparison or bullet-lead matching

Faulty DNA matching

Overall high error rate in crime labs and medical examiner’s offices—as high as 63%*!

*California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice

Police Misconduct Tunnelvision—pick a suspect, ignore evidence that does not fit. “ T&D”—Trickery and Deceit, manipulative tactics designed to coerce confession, regardless of truth “ Bottom Fishing”—scouring jails and prisons for snitches willing to frame suspects Evidence Tampering/Concealment/Destruction Witness Intimidation

Tunnelvision—pick a suspect, ignore evidence that does not fit.

“ T&D”—Trickery and Deceit, manipulative tactics designed to coerce confession, regardless of truth

“ Bottom Fishing”—scouring jails and prisons for snitches willing to frame suspects

Evidence Tampering/Concealment/Destruction

Witness Intimidation

Prosecutor Misconduct Culture of winning at all costs– “Never let the truth stand in the way of a conviction.” “ Poison the Jury Pool”– Use media to convict suspects before trial. Withhold exculpatory evidence Knowingly present perjured testimony Misrepresent evidence during closing argument Manipulate/misrepresent evidence pre-trial to coerce a guilty plea

Culture of winning at all costs– “Never let the truth stand in the way of a conviction.”

“ Poison the Jury Pool”– Use media to convict suspects before trial.

Withhold exculpatory evidence

Knowingly present perjured testimony

Misrepresent evidence during closing argument

Manipulate/misrepresent evidence pre-trial to coerce a guilty plea

Bad Defense Lawyering “ Do Nothing” – Does not meet with client, does not understand facts, does not hire experts, does not investigate, does not review discovery, does not subpoena or call defense witnesses, does not effectively cross-examine state’s witnesses, does not object to objectionable argument, does not argue motions or closing statement effectively. “ Free or Fee” – Contrary to stereotype, bad lawyering occurs equally among public defenders and private lawyers .

“ Do Nothing” – Does not meet with client,

does not understand facts, does not hire experts,

does not investigate, does not review discovery,

does not subpoena or call defense witnesses,

does not effectively cross-examine state’s

witnesses, does not object to objectionable argument, does

not argue motions or closing statement effectively.

“ Free or Fee” – Contrary to stereotype, bad lawyering

occurs equally among public defenders and private lawyers .

What is Truth in Justice? Truth in Justice is a Virginia non-stock, nonprofit corporation organized to inform the public of the frequency of criminal conviction of factually innocent people and the reforms needed to prevent and alleviate such wrongful convictions, through education, partnership, and action.

Board of Directors of Truth in Justice

Ira Robins 40+ years experience as police officer and private investigator Best known for work in “Bambi” Bembenek case Developed new evidence in dozens of exonerations Speaker, radio host and frequent television guest

40+ years experience as police officer and private investigator

Best known for work in “Bambi” Bembenek case

Developed new evidence in dozens of exonerations

Speaker, radio host and frequent television guest

Martin Yant Author of Presumed Guilty , a classic on wrongful conviction Investigative journalist, editor, publisher and private investigator Developed new evidence that has freed 12 people

Author of Presumed Guilty , a classic on wrongful conviction

Investigative journalist, editor, publisher and private investigator

Developed new evidence that has freed 12 people

Dennis Fritz Wrongly convicted of a murder he did not commit in 1987 and sentenced to life in prison. Exonerated by DNA and freed in 1999. Author of Journey Toward Justice ; speaker on wrongful conviction and justice issues.

Wrongly convicted of a murder he did not commit in 1987 and sentenced to life in prison.

Exonerated by DNA and freed in 1999.

Author of Journey Toward Justice ; speaker on wrongful conviction and justice issues.

Doug Berry 40+ years experience as pharmacist 25+ years experience as professional photographer Skilled web designer Survivor of murder victim

40+ years experience as pharmacist

25+ years experience as professional photographer

Skilled web designer

Survivor of murder victim

Sheila Berry 30+ years experience in civil and criminal litigation 10 years as director of DA-based victim assistance programs in Wisconsin Author of fiction and non-fiction books

30+ years experience in civil and criminal litigation

10 years as director of DA-based victim assistance programs in Wisconsin

Author of fiction and non-fiction books

Launched in 1997, Using A New Medium – the Internet

Current Subject Sections Recent Cases Innocent Imprisoned Wrongly Convicted Cops Death Penalty Eyewitness ID Junk Science Arson False Child Abuse Claims How the System Works Police/Prosecutor Misconduct Madison, Wisconsin Recommended Reading Innocence Projects Life After Exoneration Additional Features: Discussion Forum, Truth in Justice Files Editorial Blog and Truth in Justice Radio

Advocacy & Assistance Match pro bono or reduced fee forensic experts with cases Tetrahedron Committee: Fire origin and cause experts who review arson convictions Work cooperatively with attorneys, innocence projects and journalists to develop new evidence in innocence cases

Match pro bono or reduced fee forensic experts with cases

Tetrahedron Committee: Fire origin and cause experts who review arson convictions

Work cooperatively with attorneys, innocence projects and journalists to develop new evidence in innocence cases

Past cases in which Truth in Justice has assisted Eve Rudd, Cleveland, Ohio Charged with capital murder and arson Clarence Elkins, Waynesburg, Ohio Convicted of rape and murder; served 8 years Beverly Monroe, Richmond, Virginia Convicted of murder; served 6 years

Eve Rudd, Cleveland, Ohio

Charged with capital murder and arson

Clarence Elkins, Waynesburg, Ohio

Convicted of rape and murder; served 8 years

Beverly Monroe, Richmond, Virginia

Convicted of murder; served 6 years

Current Cases in which Truth in Justice is involved Laurie Bembenek, Milwaukee, WI Convicted of murder, served 11 years Nancy Smith, Lorraine, Ohio Convicted of Satanic ritual sex abuse of preschool children John Maloney, Green Bay, WI Convicted of murder and arson

Laurie Bembenek, Milwaukee, WI

Convicted of murder, served 11 years

Nancy Smith, Lorraine, Ohio

Convicted of Satanic ritual sex abuse of preschool children

John Maloney, Green Bay, WI

Convicted of murder and arson

What Can YOU Do To Protect Your Family, Your Community, and Yourself?

Know your Constitutional rights Innocence is no protection. DO NOT TALK TO THE POLICE WITHOUT A LAWYER. Do not agree to police polygraph or CVSA. Do not consent to police search without a warrant.

Innocence is no protection.

DO NOT TALK TO THE POLICE WITHOUT A LAWYER.

Do not agree to police polygraph or CVSA.

Do not consent to police search without a warrant.

Support Reforms Videotaping of police interrogations in serious felony cases, from beginning to end. Eliminate suggestive eyewitness identification procedures. Show photos one at a time, not in multi-photo spreads. Officer not involved in investigation should conduct the identification review.

Videotaping of police interrogations in serious felony cases, from beginning to end.

Eliminate suggestive eyewitness identification procedures.

Show photos one at a time, not in multi-photo spreads.

Officer not involved in investigation should conduct the identification review.

Adequate funding for indigent defense. Innocence Commissions in every state to review compelling innocence claims. With regard to the death penalty: Decide for yourself what an acceptable error rate is (how many innocent executed per hundred); Then act accordingly.

Adequate funding for indigent defense.

Innocence Commissions in every state to review compelling innocence claims.

With regard to the death penalty:

Decide for yourself what an acceptable error rate is (how many innocent executed per hundred);

Then act accordingly.

"There is no crueler tyranny than that which is exercised under cover of law, and with the colors of justice ..." - U.S. v. Jannotti , 673 F.2d 578, 614 (3d Cir. 1982)

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