Thank You, Judge Kozinski

Lawyers on Strike

…for taking to the pages of the Wall Street Journal, not only to point out the perils of junk science in the courtroom, but also to succinctly highlight the enormous difficulty of righting our justice system once it has gone wrong and convicted someone who is innocent, and noting the obvious, if unheeded, moral obligation the country has to right these wrongs:

Preventing the incarceration and execution of innocent persons is as good a use of tax dollars as any…As for past convictions obtained through discredited methods, the outlook remains grim… Setting aside wrongful convictions has become exceedingly difficult under a 1996 law called the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which severely limits the ability of federal courts to review state-court decisions. Congress should amend the legislation to authorize swift federal relief to prisoners who make a convincing showing that they were convicted with false or overstated expert…

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David Shelton

David Shelton has been in prison for more than 23 years for crimes that he did not commit, sentenced to 40-60 years for two counts of breaking and three counts of criminal sexual conduct.

The jury never saw evidence that proves David, aged 27 at the time, could not have committed the crimes.

1. DNA evidence found in one victims’s home and found in the mask that both victims said the criminal wore rules out all African-American men, including David.

2. Neither victim could identify David out of a lineup.

3. One victim originally stated that perpetrator was a white man, but later said it was a  black man. DNA evidence proves that her first description was correct.

4. The Michigan State Police who did the testing were never called to testify about the lab reports that prove David innocent.

5. The lead detective, Robert Aeileo only turned over 3 pages of the lab report, including a cover sheet, while 10 pages were concealed.

6. Head Deputy Cecil Dawson fabricated  a confession which David never made to obtain the conviction.

7. Cecil Dawson and Sergeant Christine Bursey who were in charge of the case were later both sent to prison for selling drugs, and the police department was shut down due to corruption ( see extract from news report below ).

8. David’s defense lawyer has been reprimanded and suspended numerous times.

David’s son has made two videos explaining the above points in more detail:

In 2004, the Innocence Project took on the case, and re-opened it in 2012, however so far all appeals have been denied.

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From a 2013 news report:

Last year former Township Supervisor William Morgan pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy in federal court and admitted to conspiring to accept a $10,000 bribe, defrauding the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Renewal and making a false statement in violation of the federal Clean Air Act. Morgan admitted taking the bribe in an attempt to steer a HUD demolition contract to the man who gave him the bribe.
While Gatewood was police chief in the late 1990s, his deputy chief, Cecil Dawson, was sentenced to seven years in prison for protecting drug houses in the township.
The Dawson case caused many in the community to vote against continuing with their own police department and in favor of sheriff’s patrols.
After 14 years, the sheriff’s department terminated its contract with the township this month over $300,000 in unpaid police service bills. Sheriff Michael Bouchard said funds from a voter-approved millage to support sheriff patrols weren’t making it to his department.
His cooperation with the DEA, FBI and other law enforcement agencies eventually led to charges against more’ than 25 people, including the former deputy chief of the Royal Oak Township Police Department and one of the township’s former officers, and two Highland Park public safety officers. For federal prosecutors in Detroit, Rodriguez, who was sentenced this fall to more than 17 years in prison, was a rare find, being so well connected with major drug traders. By the time Rodriguez’s reign ended, the federal government had agreed to pay more than $150,000 to move 40 of his relatives from Colombia and California to unknown locations in the United States. Rodriguez has expressed hope his cooperation will lead to a shorter sentence.
Rodriguez certainly changed the lives of the four metro Detroit officers. Three of the four pleaded guilty to charges related to cocaine trafficking. A fourth stood trial and was convicted. Former Royal Oak Township Deputy Chief Cecil Dawson, 49, of South-field was sentenced Dec. 8 to 10 years in prison; former Highland Park officer Albert Bursey, 47, was Sentenced to the same term Dec. 17. Krwin Heard, 46, a former Highland Park officer, was sentenced in May to 15 months in federal prison. Albert Bursey’s wife, Christine Bursey, 47, a former Royal Oak Township police officer, stood trial, was convicted and was sentenced Dec. 17 to 15 years and eight months in prison. lawyers for Dawson and Christine Bursey could not be reached for comment recently. But Dawson apologized at his sentencing.

Nothing to Smile About: Bite Mark Evidence Blasted Again

Wrongful Convictions Blog

Your smile could cost you your freedom.

Just ask Crystal Weimer from Pennsylvania, or William Richards from California.  Weimer and Richards don’t know each other, but their fates were eerily and tragically similar.

Both were tried and convicted of murder in unrelated cases.  Both of their convictions were based on testimony by so-called bite mark experts, who claimed to have matched marks found on victims with each of the defendant’s “bite mark.”  In both cases, the prosecution relied heavily on the “matching” bite marks as proof of the defendants’ guilt.  In both cases, the bite mark evidence was just plain nonsense.

A new report released this week by the President’s Counsel of Advisors for Science and Technology (PCAST), offered yet another devastating critique of bite mark evidence:

available scientific evidence strongly suggests that [bite mark] examiners not only cannot identify the source of bite mark with reasonable accuracy, they cannot…

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Michael Politte

Michael Politte was only fourteen years old when he was accused of murdering his mother, Rita Politte. Michael and a friend were asleep in his home on December 5, 1998, when the two boys woke up and discovered that smoke was filling the trailer. Michael and his friend ran out of the room and discovered his mother’s body on fire in the doorway to her bedroom. After the fire was extinguished, police arrived, and suspicion for the crime swiftly shifted to Michael. Interrogated just hours later, Michael never had a moment to grieve his mother, as he’s been fighting for his freedom ever since.

In 2002, Michael was falsely convicted of the crime largely based on unreliable fire-identification methods. At trial, the fire marshal testified, based on a visual examination, that the fire pattern and burn damage on and around the victim indicated that a liquid accelerant had been used. Additionally, an analyst testified that Michael’s shoes tested positive for gasoline, thereby tying the accelerant allegedly found on Michael’s shoes to the accelerant they believed had been used at the crime scene. Michael and his friends had previously been known to fill up their free-time in their small, rural town playing with homemade firecrackers, which the prosecution twisted to imply that Michael would have chosen fire as a means to kill his mother, despite any clear motive.

Michael is innocent. There is no physical evidence connecting him to the crime scene, and MIP has uncovered new evidence regarding the fire science used to convict him. This evidence not only supports Michael’s innocence, but further indicates that Rita’s killer is still free. Although several alternative suspects were at play during the initial investigation of the case, with much greater motive than the victim’s own 14-year old son, none were fully investigated by police. Michael’s release would be the first step to giving Michael, his sisters, and the rest of his family long-awaited closure.

Michael Politte is currently represented by MIP and the law firm of Langdon and Emison.

Source : http://themip.org/

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