Exonerees Earn Law Degrees; Become Innocence Attorneys

Wrongful Convictions Blog

Many exonerees, upon release from prison, undertake some form of innocence work. After all, being wrongfully convicted and incarcerated has to qualify as one of the most profoundly life-altering events a person can endure. So it’s not surprising that many dedicate the rest of their lives to trying to fix the broken system that wronged them so terribly.

There are even some who go on to earn a law degree, so they can confront the system in a personal and “head-on” way. Several of these “JD-carrying” exonerees were featured in the recent edition of the American Bar Association Journal.  See the article from the ABA Journal here.

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Brian Peixoto

Brian Peixoto was wrongfully convicted in 1996 for the murder of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son Christopher Affonso, Jr., and sentenced to life in prison in Massachusetts. Peixoto’s supporters state that the child died from injuries sustained during a fall, not from child abuse, and they have four nationally and internationally recognized medical experts that support their claims. New expert evidence proves Brian’s innocence.

Source: Injustice Anywhere

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Charles Farrar

Charles Farrar, was wrongly accused of abuse by his step-daughter when she was age 15, then at age 18 she recanted her story and admitted in a signed affidavit, then twice under oath at evidentiary hearings, that she’d lied.

The case made its way to the Court of Appeals which confirmed Judge Leopold’s decision, then to the Colorado Supreme Court which in 2009 narrowly upheld Charles’s conviction 4 to 3, with Judge Michael Bender authoring a sharp dissent as follows:

“The victim’s suspect initial testimony, when coupled with the lack of corroborative evidence in this case, demonstrates that the key witness’s recantation would probably bring about an acquittal.  Thus, justice requires a new trial.”

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Anthony Vasquez

In August  1994, while Anthony was enjoying a night of roller skating at World on Wheels Skating rink, a murder was committed. He was arrested January 1995 and wrongfully convicted in July 1996. There was no physical evidence tying him to the crime, he was implicated by the testimony of a man also accused of the same crime, in exchange for charges being dropped.

See this Case Summary for more details.

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Another forensic disaster : secret forensic “science”experts allowed to coerce crime suspects into plea deals.

All interactions between law enforcement and suspects or witnesses should be recorded!

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TrustForensicSci copy

I am rarely shocked about nefarious dealings or subterfuge in the ecosystem of forensic ‘science’ and the criminal justice arena. But I just read that a police department has a cadre of 3 “anonymous” dentists in Indianapolis, Indiana, who provide dental assistance to police authorities. That assistance, of itself is typical, as most larger jurisdictions and states have a practicing dentist available for dental identifications. NAMUS is a national group of mostly volunteer dentists who assist in missing and unknown person investigations and dental data collection for the federal government.

The shocking part is police use of certain dental findings in police interrogations of suspects from this same “anonymous”  group (or any other dental consultant). Points of my objection are, bitemark “matches” or comparisons. Lets jump past the unreliability aspects of this subject and just call it junk. Regardless of this, dentists have not become mum about their 60 years of…

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Lincoln Keith

Lincoln Keith was arrested in 1984 and convicted of murder-for-hire based on coerced testimony from the killer and another defendant in exchange for leniency.

The State claimed the victim’s granddaughter offered him $400 , but she was acquitted.

The State claimed he “blurted out” a confession with many people present, that only one detective heard, Snow Robertson.

The bullet and casing recovered did not match Keith’s gun.

One juror was a family friend of detective Robertson.

He had an alibi, but the witness was not called at trial.

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