The Truth About Wrongful Conviction

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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.

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<ul><li> 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.) </li> <li> Myths Everyone in prison claims to be innocent. Only people who live on the edge are charged with crimes they didnt 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 cant happen to me . </li> <li> Facts <ul><li>5% to 10% of U.S. prison population are factually innocent of the crimes of which they were convicted.* </li></ul><ul><li>In raw numbers, that means as many as 200,000 innocent people are imprisoned. </li></ul><ul><li>Of those innocent people, 90% pled guilty. </li></ul>*Based on 1996 National Institute of Justice Report. </li> <li> Causes of Wrongful Conviction </li> <li> Eyewitness Identification <ul><li>Compelling evidence but WRONG 50% of the time. </li></ul><ul><li>Techniques commonly used by police can skew identification. </li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>6-photo spread (pick the closest match) </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Use same suspects photo in repeat spreads (suspect starts to seem familiar) </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Use composite sketch to match with suspect photos </li></ul></li></ul></li> <li> Junk Science <ul><li>Defective or Fraudulent Science </li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Experts reporting inculpatory results from tests not conducted, or concealing exculpatory results </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Evidence based on debunked theories, such as microscopic hair comparison or bullet-lead matching </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Faulty DNA matching </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Overall high error rate in crime labs and medical examiners officesas high as 63%*! </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>*California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice </li></ul></li></ul></li> <li> Police Misconduct <ul><li>Tunnelvisionpick a suspect, ignore evidence that does not fit. </li></ul><ul><li> T&amp;DTrickery and Deceit, manipulative tactics designed to coerce confession, regardless of truth </li></ul><ul><li> Bottom Fishingscouring jails and prisons for snitches willing to frame suspects </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence Tampering/Concealment/Destruction </li></ul><ul><li>Witness Intimidation </li></ul></li> <li> Prosecutor Misconduct <ul><li>Culture of winning at all costs Never let the truth stand in the way of a conviction. </li></ul><ul><li> Poison the Jury Pool Use media to convict suspects before trial. </li></ul><ul><li>Withhold exculpatory evidence </li></ul><ul><li>Knowingly present perjured testimony </li></ul><ul><li>Misrepresent evidence during closing argument </li></ul><ul><li>Manipulate/misrepresent evidence pre-trial to coerce a guilty plea </li></ul></li> <li> Bad Defense Lawyering <ul><li> Do Nothing Does not meet with client, </li></ul><ul><li>does not understand facts, does not hire experts, </li></ul><ul><li>does not investigate, does not review discovery, </li></ul><ul><li>does not subpoena or call defense witnesses, </li></ul><ul><li>does not effectively cross-examine states </li></ul><ul><li>witnesses, does not object to objectionable argument, does </li></ul><ul><li>not argue motions or closing statement effectively. </li></ul><ul><li> Free or Fee Contrary to stereotype, bad lawyering </li></ul><ul><li>occurs equally among public defenders and private lawyers . </li></ul></li> <li> 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. </li> <li> Board of Directors of Truth in Justice </li> <li> Ira Robins <ul><li>40+ years experience as police officer and private investigator </li></ul><ul><li>Best known for work in Bambi Bembenek case </li></ul><ul><li>Developed new evidence in dozens of exonerations </li></ul><ul><li>Speaker, radio host and frequent television guest </li></ul></li> <li> Martin Yant <ul><li>Author of Presumed Guilty , a classic on wrongful conviction </li></ul><ul><li>Investigative journalist, editor, publisher and private investigator </li></ul><ul><li>Developed new evidence that has freed 12 people </li></ul></li> <li> Dennis Fritz <ul><li>Wrongly convicted of a murder he did not commit in 1987 and sentenced to life in prison. </li></ul><ul><li>Exonerated by DNA and freed in 1999. </li></ul><ul><li>Author of Journey Toward Justice ; speaker on wrongful conviction and justice issues. </li></ul></li> <li> Doug Berry <ul><li>40+ years experience as pharmacist </li></ul><ul><li>25+ years experience as professional photographer </li></ul><ul><li>Skilled web designer </li></ul><ul><li>Survivor of murder victim </li></ul></li> <li> Sheila Berry <ul><li>30+ years experience in civil and criminal litigation </li></ul><ul><li>10 years as director of DA-based victim assistance programs in Wisconsin </li></ul><ul><li>Author of fiction and non-fiction books </li></ul></li> <li> Launched in 1997, Using A New Medium the Internet </li> <li> 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 </li> <li> Advocacy &amp; Assistance <ul><li>Match pro bono or reduced fee forensic experts with cases </li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Tetrahedron Committee: Fire origin and cause experts who review arson convictions </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li>Work cooperatively with attorneys, innocence projects and journalists to develop new evidence in innocence cases </li></ul></li> <li> Past cases in which Truth in Justice has assisted <ul><li>Eve Rudd, Cleveland, Ohio </li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Charged with capital murder and arson </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li>Clarence Elkins, Waynesburg, Ohio </li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Convicted of rape and murder; served 8 years </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li>Beverly Monroe, Richmond, Virginia </li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Convicted of murder; served 6 years </li></ul></li></ul></li> <li> Current Cases in which Truth in Justice is involved <ul><li>Laurie Bembenek, Milwaukee, WI </li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Convicted of murder, served 11 years </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li>Nancy Smith, Lorraine, Ohio </li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Convicted of Satanic ritual sex abuse of preschool children </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li>John Maloney, Green Bay, WI </li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Convicted of murder and arson </li></ul></li></ul></li> <li> What Can YOU Do To Protect Your Family, Your Community, and Yourself? </li> <li> Know your Constitutional rights <ul><li>Innocence is no protection. </li></ul><ul><li>DO NOT TALK TO THE POLICE WITHOUT A LAWYER. </li></ul><ul><li>Do not agree to police polygraph or CVSA. </li></ul><ul><li>Do not consent to police search without a warrant. </li></ul></li> <li> Support Reforms <ul><li>Videotaping of police interrogations in serious felony cases, from beginning to end. </li></ul><ul><li>Eliminate suggestive eyewitness identification procedures. </li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Show photos one at a time, not in multi-photo spreads. </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Officer not involved in investigation should conduct the identification review. </li></ul></li></ul></li> <li> <ul><li>Adequate funding for indigent defense. </li></ul><ul><li>Innocence Commissions in every state to review compelling innocence claims. </li></ul><ul><li>With regard to the death penalty: </li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Decide for yourself what an acceptable error rate is (how many innocent executed per hundred); </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Then act accordingly. </li></ul></li></ul></li> <li> "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) </li> </ul>