Criminal Justice

Innocence Roundup

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A roundup of wrongful conviction-related stories from the last several weeks:

• Wisconsin court dismisses charges against rape and murder convict after the prosecutor withheld evidence of innocence. Ralph Armstrong was convicted in 1981. In 1995, a woman told prosecutors Armstrong's brother confessed to the crime, but prosecutors never informed Armstrong's attorneys. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered a new trial when DNA cleared Armstrong in 2005, but prosecutors kept him in prison another four years while they made plans to try him again. Believe it or not, it only gets worse from there. Some startling prosecutoral misconduct in this case.

Florida man released after DNA clears him of a rape for which he served 26 years in prison. Anthony Caravella, who is mentally disabled and was 15 at the time he was convicted, falsely confessed to the crime. His lawyer says he was beaten into a confession. Prosecutors had orginally sought the death penalty.

Oklahoma prosecutors drop charges, release two former death row inmates convicted of a 1993 drive-by shooting. A federal court threw out their conviction after learning that prosecutors failed to disclose that their main witness and only real evidence in the case had struck a deal in exchange for his testimony.

• The University of Michigan Innocence Project is seeking the release of a man they say was wrongly convicted of rape due to prosecutoral misconduct and junk science. Karl Frederick Vinson has been in prison since 1986 for the rape of a 9-year-old girl.

• Indiana Supreme Court orders state policy agencies to adopt the most stringent rules in the country for videotaping police interrogations of felony suspects.

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  1. startling

    O RLY

    Your comment does not appear to be written in an English script. Please comment in English.

    LOL WUT

    1. RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

  2. Imagine what recourse people rounded up by private police in Libertopia would have.

    1. Arms, dipshit.

      And you’re thinking of Anarchocapistan.

    2. Recourse? Um, maybe civil penalties that actually matter, and criminal charges that actually occur. Perhaps even a system that doesn’t circle the wagons and protect it’s own, instead watching out for the rights of the people it’s paid to protect.

    3. Oh-wee-oh-wee-oh!

  3. You’re first, Morris Edward.

  4. Edward, kill yourself.

    1. What Xeones said.

  5. MAN! Trolls are out in force today. Almost worth blowing off work to watch.

    P-P-P-PLEEEAAASEEE EDDY!

  6. Way to go Indiana!

    I’m a recent grad trying to get into the biz and I’ve been doing research for the state Lib. Party. I had a meeting the other day with Indy city-county councilman Ed Coleman the other day. Apparently, he’s the highest ranking libertarian in the country.

    Most libertarian state this side of the Mississippi?

    1. Correction: While he is a city councilman of a VERY large city he is not the highest “ranking” (I met him in February right after he switched, great guy). He represents the most people but there is a County Sherriff and a Coroner right here in Colorado with the big L attached to their registrations.

      Bill Masters and Bob Dempsey

      GO TEAM!

  7. Until there are serious and consistent sanctions on prosecutors for misconduct, this will continue. All the incentives now point one way – in support of abuse, which gets convictions, which make prosecutors look good. Until there are countervailing incentives, this will continue.

    1. Also the timeframes involved (28 years in the first example) don’t exactly allow any sort of swift correction or retribution for the misconduct.

      Ugh. Somehow Radley managed to eek more outrage out of me when I thought I had already used it up in earlier threads.

    2. Retaliatory bombings are a good start

      Threats of violence worked against Yale University Press

  8. Imagine what recourse people rounded up by private police in Libertopia would have.

    Libertopia, as a minarchy, will have regular ol’ police officers. Private citizens (including security guards) will probably have about the same powers of citizens arrest as they do now.

    What Libertopia will also have is strong legal principles in favor of restitution that will make a cop or citizen financially responsible for their wrongful actions.

  9. Until there are serious and consistent sanctions on prosecutors for misconduct, this will continue. All the incentives now point one way – in support of abuse, which gets convictions, which make prosecutors look good. Until there are countervailing incentives, this will continue.

    QFT. Disbarrment at a minimum. I’d like to see some prosecutors go to prison.

    1. [Wisconsin] Those tests, which were conducted illegally, used up the biological evidence and prevented it from being available for further testing. Moreover, the type of DNA testing Norsetter ordered would not have distinguished genetic material between male relatives, rendering it useless to the defense since the principal alternate suspect was Ralph Armstrong’s brother.

      Maybe even have their “biological evidence” used up. Wow.

    2. Why not summary execution as well?

  10. Reading over the decision in the Wisconsin case cited above, I have to commend the judge. It’s one of the most forceful opinions I’ve ever read. The prosecutor is called out for his actions. The last paragraph says it all:

    “The facts of this case are as unusual as a five hundred year rain. But the prejudice to the defense was not an act of nature. It stemmed from a series of conscious decisions that had very adverse consequences … Because the defendant’s due process right to a fair trial has been irreparably compromised, the defense motion is granted and the case is dismissed”

  11. If it can be proven – in a court of law – that a prosecutor deliberately withheld exculpatory evidence, or manufactured incriminating evidence, shouldn’t that be a conspiracy charge?

    Kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment… there seem to be a few choices for what they should be facing.

    1. What’s the standard of proof? Here’s an anectdote: I handled a public complaint about a property owner claiming homestead exemption from taxes but not actually living at the homesteaded property. The complainant sent to the investigator a copy of the mortgage saying that the property was not the residence of the owner, and a statement from the current renters of the property indicating that they had lived there for a number of years. There were also photographs of the current residents. And the owner owns a different house in Los Angeles.

      The investigator called the tax cheat and got him to send an affidavit stating that he lived in the homesteaded property the whole time….and it was notarized in Los Angeles!! Last I spoke to the investigator, he closed the investigation due to lack of evidence.

      The point is that even with stern rules, prosecutors have a license to be terrible, awful people with levels of arrogance not allowed to anybody else.

  12. Hip, hip Hooray for the Indiana Supreme Court. Lot’s of us whio care about justice have been screaming for this for years. It appears that honest interrogators even approve because it removes the old I was coerced/beaten defense.

    Nobody moral should have a problem with transparency in interrogation.

  13. That Wisconsin case is horrific. What makes it even more so, for me, is the fact that the 1981 crime happened at the campus where I teach — and I had never heard of this case! A person can really fall between the cracks in this crazy system.

  14. Perhaps we should just bring back tar and feathering.

  15. Wait until Woody Allen and Whoopie see this one:

    The University of Michigan Innocence Project is seeking the release of a man they say was wrongly convicted of rape due to prosecutoral misconduct and junk science. Karl Frederick Vinson has been in prison since 1986 for the rape of a 9-year-old girl.

    Whole new round of making stuff up to defend Polanski, using someone who probably is innocent.

    1. Holy non sequitur, Batman!

      1. Well, it was making sense in my work addled brain when I wrote it.

  16. Where’s Roman?

    1. In a pool of sweat.

    2. “Where’s Roman?”

      Sitting over in the guilty section.

  17. Nobody moral should have a problem with transparency in interrogation.

    This is the problem I always have with the thin blue line. Shouldn’t all those good cops out there be all in favor of measures that ensure accountability? They can use them as evidence for the contention that it’s only a few bad cops. But the cops always fight measures like videotaping interrogations. It almost make you think that maybe, just maybe, the problems are widespread and systemic.

  18. From the Wisconsin link:

    On Thursday, Mississippi Circuit Court Judge Bobby DeLaughter pled guilty to lying to FBI agents who were investigating him in a corruption case. In the 1990s, when DeLaughter was a local prosecutor, he handled a rape and murder case involving Cedric Willis. Willis was arrested for raping a woman and, four days later, killing a man. Police and prosecutors always knew the same man committed both crimes ? and they were certain that man was Willis. When DNA testing proved Willis didn’t commit the rape, DeLaughter pressed ahead with the murder case against him and convinced a judge to withhold from the jury any information about the related rape for which Willis was proven innocent. Willis served 12 years in prison before he was exonerated.

    Slightly encouraging. Getting him on the lying to the FBI part isn’t all that it could be, but his bad conduct then led to his trouble now. No news yet what time DeLaughter will do.

  19. Roman P. contracted with an underage drugged girl (obviously unable to make a contract) to have sex. Contract void. I know it’s hard to understand for those who don’t understand contract.

    Anytime two people are in love it’s a beautiful thing. Consent is overrated.

  20. Artists are fucktards when it comes to contracts.

    Contest: Find an example. (Clue there are millions)

    Artist signs contract to become famous with help of studio/recording industry financial might.

    Later: once fame works out feels cheated.

    Analysis: Then don’t buy the insurance policy dipshit. Go out on your own. Fuck!

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