Archive for the ‘Press Release’ Category


Press Release: IPF Client Andre Bryant Exonerated

Seth — October 01, 2015 @ 4:00 PM — Comments (0)

Andre Bryant, Innocence Project of Florida Client, Exonerated and Released

Bryant has Served Over 8 Years for a Robbery He Did Not Commit

Tallahassee, Florida—On Thursday, October 1, 2015, Andre Bryant was released from the Franklin Correctional Institution in Carrabelle, Florida following his exoneration for a 2006 armed robbery, which occurred at a Walgreen’s in Manatee County, Florida. On the same day, Twelfth Judicial Circuit Judge Diana Moreland vacated Bryant’s conviction and 30-year sentence, pursuant to a joint stipulation filed by the State Attorney and Bryant’s attorneys, paving the way for Bryant’s release.

“This is a great day for Andre and this outcome is a testament to his consistent belief that the truth of his innocence would eventually be known and lead to his freedom. Everyone at IPF is so pleased to reunite him with his family after this ordeal and are excited to work with him to ease his transition from wrongful incarceration back into free society,” said Seth Miller, Executive Director of the Innocence Project of Florida and one of Bryant’s attorneys

On July 20, 2015, attorneys from the Innocence Project of Florida (“IPF”), along with local counsel Derek Byrd, filed an amended motion for postconviction relief, following the release of an investigative report on Bryant’s case by the Sarasota Herald Tribune. In the motion, IPF detailed the evidence already existing in the record demonstrating Bryant’s innocence and brought forward additional new evidence of innocence, including a recantation by one of the child victims who identified Bryant as the perpetrator and expert opinion that Bryant was not the perpetrator depicted on the newly enhanced Walgreen’s surveillance video at the time of the crime.

The State Attorney performed its own investigation into the case and determined that reasonable doubt existed as to Bryant’s involvement in the crime. Based on this conclusion, the State Attorney agreed to vacate the conviction and drop all charges against Bryant.

“The folks at the State Attorney’s Office, particularly assistant state attorney Bruce Lee, deserve tremendous credit for completely reviewing the evidence, old and new, and viewing it through an objective lens. We are thrilled that Mr. Brodsky and his team came to the same conclusion we had come to already: that justice demanded Andre Bryant’s conviction be vacated and that he be freed from his wrongful incarceration,” said Miller.

Bryant was convicted in 2007 primarily on eyewitness identifications by the victims. According to the Innocence Project of Florida, witness misidentification is the leading causes of wrongful convictions, contributing to 75% of the known exonerations nationwide. Bryant is the 57th exoneration in Florida since 1989, and IPF’s second Manatee County, Florida client exonerated in four years. Derrick Williams was exonerated of a 1993 Manatee County rape in 2011, after DNA testing proved he did not commit the crime.

The Innocence Project of Florida (IPF) is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to finding and freeing innocent people in Florida prisons. IPF, along with local counsel Derek Byrd represent Andre Bryant. IPF’s website is www.FloridaInnocence.org.

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Innocent Man Gains Freedom After Nearly 30 Years of False Conviction

Phuc Phan — February 19, 2015 @ 5:15 PM — Comments (0)
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Image Courtesy : LA Times.

Christopher Abernathy, 48, claimed his freedom one more time after the Cook County State’s Attorney lifted his life sentence. The last year DNA test had excluded Abernathy from previous DNA evidence obtained many years ago. He was 18 when he was arrested in the rape and murder of 15-year-old Kristina Hickey, who disappeared Oct.3, 1984. Back in the ‘80s, Abernathy signed an admission of guilt – which Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez called “quite thin”, since Abernathy has a “diminished mental capacity”. So for now, the killer of Kristina Hickey has still not been identified.

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Press Release: Seth Miller Elected President of Innocence Network

Marianne Salcedo — November 19, 2014 @ 12:30 PM — Comments (0)

Tallahassee, FL (November 18, 2014) — On November 14, 2014, Seth Miller, Executive Director of the Innocence Project of Florida (IPF) was elected President of the Innocence Network. Miller has served on the Innocence Network Executive Board since 2012.

The Innocence Network is an affiliation of 69 organizations around the globe dedicated to providing pro bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted and working to redress the causes of wrongful convictions.

“The Innocence Network is comprised of brilliant and skilled individuals at innocence organizations in the United States and abroad, who are fighting every day to rectify miscarriages of justice in the criminal justice system. Without their collective work, hundreds of innocent individuals would still be languishing in prison and we would not have a vital window through which to identify the myriad causes of wrongful conviction. It is an honor and privilege to be chosen by my colleagues to lead the Innocence Network in the coming years,” said Miller.

As executive director of the Innocence Project of Florida since 2007, Miller litigates post-conviction innocence cases, supervises the organization’s internship program, and regularly lectures to students, lawyers, and community groups on issues related to wrongful convictions. He also teaches Post-Conviction Remedies and Wrongful Convictions as an adjunct professor at the Florida State University College of Law.

“Seth’s election to the presidency of the Innocence Network will serve to nationally highlight innocence work in Florida and provide a broader platform to the Innocence Project of Florida and its mission,” said Robert Cromwell, retired FBI Special Agent and Chairman of IPF’s Board of Directors.

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Press Release,


Press Release: Extreme Injustice — A Presentation by Exoneree William Dillon

Marianne Salcedo — November 18, 2014 @ 12:09 PM — Comments (0)

Extreme Injustice: A Presentation by Exoneree William Dillon

At Tallahassee Community College

Tallahassee, FL (November 10, 2014) — On Tuesday, November 18, 2014, the sixth anniversary of his release from prison, exoneree William Dillon will present a talk at Tallahassee Community College in the Center for Workforce Development Ballroom. Dillon will be joined by Attorney Seth Miller, Executive Director of the Innocence Project of Florida. This event begins at 1:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

On November 18, 2008, William Dillon was freed from prison after 27 years when post-conviction DNA testing demonstrated his innocence of a 1981 murder. At the time of his release, Dillon’s 27 years was the longest time served by any of the DNA exonerees nationwide. He is the third man to be exonerated in Brevard County in recent years.

The State’s case against Dillon was based largely on the testimony of four key witnesses — an admitted perjurer, a fraudulent dog scent expert, a snitch whose charges were dropped in return for his testimony, and a half-blind eyewitness — as well as a t-shirt worn by the killer, which revealed through DNA testing that Dillon was not the murderer.

In March 2012, the State of Florida awarded Dillon $1.35 million ($50,000 for each year he spent wrongfully imprisoned), and he received a formal apology from Governor Rick Scott. “On behalf of the state of Florida, I apologize for what’s happened to you,” Scott said. On the Today Show, Dillon told Ann Curry, “I’m very blessed. It’s beyond anything anybody can really imagine.”

Today, Dillon has taken up professionally the music that helped him to survive as an innocent man in prison. He has been compared by many to Johnny Cash, and his single, “Black Robes and Lawyers” is available for download on iTunes. Most recently, William Dillon’s story was optioned by the Motion Picture Corporation of America. For more information, contact Marianne Salcedo at the Innocence Project of Florida at 850-350-1004.

 

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Innocence Project of Florida,Press Release,


Press Release: Cheydrick Britt Exonerated Based on DNA Test Results Proving Innocence

Jackie — November 21, 2013 @ 11:16 AM — Comments (5)

Cheydrick Britt Exonerated Based on DNA Test Results Proving Innocence
Britt Served Over Nine Years for a Sex Crime He Did Not Commit

 (Tallahassee, FL) On November 20, 2013, the State Attorneys Office for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit dropped all charges against Cheydrick Britt related to a 2002 sexual battery. Britt’s convictions and sentence for the sexual battery were vacated and he was released from prison on September 24, 2013, based on new DNA test results indicating Britt’s innocence of the sexual battery and lewd and lascivious molestation. Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Chet Tharpe signed the order vacating these convictions.

“I have been waiting for this moment for almost a decade. I always maintained my innocence and now the DNA testing has proven what I always knew to be true. Thank God for DNA,” said Britt upon his release.

The Office of the State Attorney agreed to postconviction DNA testing in this case on September 28, 2012 and the results showing that semen on the victim’s underwear came from an unknown male, excluding Britt as a contributor, were released on April 12, 2013. The DNA testing was performed at DNA Diagnostics Center, in Fairfield, Ohio. Local counsel, Charles Murray, Esq., and Melissa Montle, Esq. and Seth Miller, Esq., attorneys with the Innocence Project of Florida (“IPF”), worked closely with the Office of the State Attorney to facilitate the result on this case.

“I am thrilled that we were able to reunite Cheydrick with his family. We commend the State Attorney for taking an objective look at how these DNA test results impact the remaining evidence and pursuing justice in this case. This is a model for how prosecution and defense can collaborate to reach the just and right result,” said Melissa Montle, Staff Attorney with IPF.

Britt was wrongfully convicted for these offenses in May 2004. Britt spent over 9 years wrongfully convicted and incarcerated and is the 14th individual to be exonerated through the use of DNA testing in Florida since 2000.

IPF worked on Cheydrick Britt’s case for free, including drafting key motions and facilitating the DNA testing. Bonita Springs, Florida attorney Charles Murray was lead counsel, representing Mr. Britt since 2008.

Cheyrick Britt, Florida's 14th DNA exoneree, with his legal team Charles Murray, lead counsel, and Seth Miller and Melissa Montle, attorneys with the Innocence Project of Florida.

Cheydrick Britt, Florida’s 14th DNA exoneree, with his legal team: Charles Murray, lead counsel, and Seth Miller and Melissa Montle, attorneys with the Innocence Project of Florida.

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Celebrating 10 Years of Freeing the Innocent

Jackie — April 02, 2013 @ 8:03 AM — Comments (0)

  Meet Betty Anne Waters, real life heroine of the movie Conviction, at Steppin’ Out with the Innocence Project of Florida in Miami on April 5th

TALLAHASSEE, FL (March 28, 2013) — For ten years the Innocence Project of Florida (IPF) has fought to free innocent people who have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned, often for decades. On April 5, 2013, at Miami’s Four Seasons Hotel, the statewide organization will celebrate its 10th anniversary with its annual fundraising event, Steppin’ Out with the Innocence Project of Florida.  This year’s theme is Wrongful Convictions: A Family Matter.

“Wrongful convictions leave a tragic impact on more than the individuals who are sent to prison,” said Seth Miller, IPF’s Executive Director. “They can be devastating for families who lose their loved ones.”

The evening’s special guest, Betty Anne Waters, who inspired the movie Conviction, will receive the Frank Lee Smith Innocence Award, named for Florida’s first DNA exoneree who died on death row 11 months before the State agreed to his testing in 2000. Ms. Waters spent many years obtaining both a college and law degree so she could prove her brother’s innocence. She will be recognized for her inspirational work and continued efforts to correct injustices caused by wrongful convictions.

Also in attendance will be William Michael Dillon, Florida DNA exoneree and recording artist, who will perform several original songs written during the 27.5 years he spent wrongfully imprisoned before his release in 2008.

The public is invited to join the Innocence Project of Florida at the Four Seasons Hotel in Miami on April 5, 2013, at 6 p.m. for cocktails, a silent auction, dinner and an opportunity to meet several of the men released through DNA testing.

“Our goal is to celebrate these men who have been exonerated and the families who stood by them,” said David Rothman, Miami attorney and IPF’s board chairman.

For more information about IPF, or to purchase tickets for Steppin’ Out, visit their website at www.floridainnocence.org or contact Jackie Pugh at jpugh@floridainnocence.org You can also pre-bid on several auction items online at IPF’s web site.

About the Innocence Project of Florida

Last year IPF processed more than 1,000 requests for assistance from inmates and their families. They are currently litigating dozens of cases with hundreds more in various stages of review and investigation. Proceeds from Steppin’ Out will provide critical funding for litigation efforts, including staff attorneys, document collection and review, investigation, expert witnesses and DNA testing.

While IPF’s primary goal is to find and free innocent people in Florida’s prisons, the organization has also worked with the state’s legislature to address issues important to the wrongfully convicted. In 2006, IPF successfully advocated to remove a mandatory deadline for filing post-conviction DNA claims.

The 2006 law also extended the right to post-conviction DNA testing to those who had pled guilty, a tacit acknowledgment that some pleas are for reasons having nothing to do with guilt. Many enter pleas to avoid harsher sentences such as life without parole or the death penalty, and some falsely confess due to mental impairment or an inability to withstand lengthy interrogations.

In 2008, IPF’s advocacy helped pass a compensation bill that provides $50,000 for each year of wrongful incarceration, full tuition for a college or university in Florida, expungement of the wrongful criminal record and refund of fines and attorney’s fees, if any, associated with the wrongful conviction. As of today, three individuals have been compensated under the law, including DNA exonerees, James Bain and Luis Diaz.

“The money I received has helped me rebuild my life and move on from my wrongful conviction,” said James Bain, an innocent Florida man who spent 35 years behind bars.

Florida has released 13 men after DNA testing proved their innocence. These men collectively spent 259 years in prison for crimes they did not commit.

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Your Support Is Needed for IPF to Receive Grant

Jackie — September 04, 2012 @ 3:40 PM — Comments (0)

Innocence Project of Florida Needs Area Support to Receive $250,000 Grant from Chase Community Giving

Area residents can make a huge impact by voting on Facebook

(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) – The Innocence Project of Florida (IPF), a non-profit working to find and free innocent people in Florida prisons, is competing with charities nationwide for grants ranging from $10,000 to $250,000 from the Chase Community Giving program. Supporters and local residents can help ensure their success by simply voting for IPF through the Chase Community Giving program on Facebook.

Through the utilization of social media networks, the Chase Community Giving program has already directed more than $20 million dollars toward charities nationwide, putting the power to bring positive change across the nation into the hands of those who need it most.

“In William Dillion’s case DNA testing alone cost $18,000,” said Seth Miller, IPF’s executive director. “Receiving even $10,000 could pay for DNA testing in multiple cases.” DNA testing proved William Dillon’s innocence and he was released from prison in 2008 after spending 27.5 years wrongfully incarcerated.

The Fall 2012 round of the Chase Community Giving program, designed to benefit smaller and local charities, is limited to 501(c)(3) charities with operating budgets under $10 million. The top eligible charity will receive $250,000 and the remaining 195 top charities earn $10,000 through $100,000 awards, for a total of $5 million dollars in grants.

“I am free today because of IPF,” said James Bain. “Without their help I wouldn’t have had the chance to buy my first home or witness the birth of my son.”  James Bain spent 35 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. With IPF’s help he was exonerated on December 17, 2009.

“With the help of donors, supporters and local residents, IPF has the opportunity to get much needed resources to help unlock the truth,” said Mike Minerva, IPF’s CEO.

How You Can Help

You can help IPF receive up to $250,000 by simply visiting Facebook.com/ChaseCommunityGiving and casting your vote! Votes will be accepted September 6-19, 2012.

JP Morgan Chase customers can also vote at www.chase.com/ChaseGiving.

About Innocence Project of Florida

Since 2003, IPF has utilized the science of DNA testing to help innocent inmates in Florida obtain their freedom and rebuild their lives. IPF screens and investigate cases in which meritorious innocence claims are identified; secures DNA testing when biological evidence exists; advocates for the release of each inmate excluded from criminal responsibility; provides transitional and aftercare services to exonerees; and advocates for necessary criminal justice reform to avoid wrongful incarcerations in the future. Florida has freed 13 men through DNA testing; these men collectively spent more than 250 years in prison for crimes they did not commit.

About Chase Community Giving

Chase Community Giving is grant program inspiring a new way of corporate philanthropy by letting participants vote to help determine which small and local non-profits will receive donations from Chase. The program has given away over $20 million in grants to charities nationwide, with focuses including animals & environment; education; health; military & veterans; poverty; and the arts. To learn more about the program, visit Facebook.com/ChaseCommunityGiving.

Innocence Project of Florida,Press Release,


Press Release: Honoring Holland & Knight at Miami Gala

Jackie — April 11, 2012 @ 12:31 PM — Comments (1)

The Innocence Project of Florida (IPF) will host its inaugural awards gala, Steppin’ Out, Friday, April 27th at the Four Seasons Hotel where they will present the first Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte Commitment to Justice Award to the law firm of Holland & Knight LLP.

The organization chose Holland & Knight to receive this year’s award “in recognition of their ongoing contributions to the cause of justice.” In 2003 the firm took on the bulk of the pro bono representation of IPF’s first 40 cases to prevent those clients from being time barred by the DNA testing deadline then in effect. Holland & Knight, whose Miami office is one of South Florida’s largest, was also the counsel of record in the Luis Diaz and Chad Heins cases, both of which led to exonerations.

“Holland and Knight played a critical role in getting this project’s mission off the ground,” says Seth Miller, IPF’s Executive Director. “In 2003 we had hundreds of requests from inmates, a two-person staff, a handful of student volunteers, and an arbitrary DNA testing deadline rapidly approaching. Holland & Knight provided considerable assistance when it was most needed. This state’s innocence movement owes them a huge debt of gratitude.”

D’Alemberte, for whom the award is named, practiced law in Miami for several years and represented Dade County in the Florida House of Representatives. He went on to serve as President of the American Bar Association (1991-1992) and President of Florida State University (1994 -2003). D’Alemberte also served as the founding chairman of IPF’s Board of Directors on which he continues to serve.

“The board wanted to honor Sandy in an enduring and meaningful way in consideration of all that he has done and continues to do in furtherance of the cause of justice in Florida, throughout the U.S., and abroad, including the establishment of the Innocence Project of Florida,” said Mark Schlakman, chair of the board of directors.

The Frank Lee Smith Innocence Award will go to Martin J. “Marty” McClain, Esq., the post-conviction attorney who represented Smith, for whom the award is given. Smith, the first Florida DNA exoneree, died of cancer while on Death Row before his exoneration. It was his struggle that in part led to the passage of Florida’s post-conviction DNA testing law and the formation of the Innocence Project of Florida.

“Marty’s work as a post-conviction litigator representing death row inmates has earned him the deserved reputation as a top defender of those in peril of execution. Among his many successes over the past two decades is the bittersweet posthumous exoneration of Frank Lee Smith. We are so pleased to honor Marty in this way,” said Michael Minerva, IFP’s CEO.

Also slated to be honored are 13 men who spent more than 230 years in Florida prisons for crimes they did not commit. It was not until DNA testing proved their innocence that they were exonerated and released. Florida DNA exonerees planning to attend the Miami event include Alan Crotzer, James Bain, Orlando Boquete, Luis Diaz, Derrick Williams, and William Michael “Bill” Dillon, who will perform some of the songs from his recently released CD Black Robes and Lawyers.

The evening will include a VIP reception with the exonerees, a silent auction, a gourmet dinner with open bar, and keynote address by Professor Lawrence C. “Larry” Marshall, Associate Dean of Stanford Law School and Co-founder of the Center on Wrongful Convictions. Master of Ceremonies for the evening will be Henry M. “Hank” Coxe, Past President of The Florida Bar. Ticket and sponsorship information is available at www.floridainnocence.org.

The Innocence Project of Florida is a nonprofit legal organization that works to find and free innocent people in Florida’s prisons, helps them rebuild their lives after decades of wrongful imprisonment, and works to reform the criminal justice system so wrongful convictions do not continue to happen. The funds raised from Steppin’ Out will assist the organization’s efforts to fulfill its mission.

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Press Release: DNA Exoneree & Recording Artist William Michael Dillon Performing In Tallahassee on Sept. 7

Jackie — August 31, 2011 @ 10:23 AM — Comments (0)

DNA Exoneree, Songwriter & Recording Artist William Michael Dillon Performing In Tallahassee on September 7, 2011

Dillon Will Release Full-Length CD, Black Robes & Lawyers on September 27, 2011

DNA Exoneree, Songwriter & Recording Artist William Michael Dillon will perform on Wednesday, September 7th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at The Moon (1105 E. Lafayette Street) in Tallahassee. Admission is free.

As an innocent man, Dillon spent 27.5 years in prison for a Brevard County murder that he did not commit. He was released in November 2008 after DNA testing proved his innocence. More information about Dillon’s case is available on the Innocence Project of Florida website, www.floridainnocence.org. Click here to learn more.

While in prison, Dillon learned to play guitar and began singing country and rock tunes with other inmates. He started writing song lyrics on the backs of official notices, on money receipts, on loose sheets of paper he’d pick up from the library.  Dillon remarks, “I’ve used everything, I think. I’ve even written a song on toilet paper.”

On September 27, Dillon will release a full-length CD of original songs. Each song speaks to the pain, sorrow and injustice of a lifetime lost. The wisdom gained from Dillon’s struggles shines through each verse as he sings of hope, perseverance and the eternal flame of the human spirit. The CD is currently available on iTunes.

William Michael Dillon continues to be a voice for the wrongfully incarcerated men and women in prisons across our nation. He now lives in Chapel Hill, N.C.

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Press Release: Law Enforcement, Victims, and the Wrongly Convicted Urge House to Pass Landmark Eyewitness Identification Bill

Jackie — May 02, 2011 @ 12:12 PM — Comments (0)

Law Enforcement, Victims, and the Wrongly Convicted Urge House to Pass Landmark Eyewitness Identification Bill;

SB 1206, Requiring Identification Best Practices, Passes Senate and Awaits House Consideration

(Tallahassee, FL) As Senate Bill 1206 awaits consideration by the full Florida House of Representatives, those most affected by misidentification and wrongful conviction— law enforcement, victims of crime, and the wrongly convicted—urge the House to pass SB 1206 in its current form and pave the way for its enactment in law.  SB 1206 will require all law enforcement agencies in Florida to follow certain scientifically proven best practices when preparing and administering eyewitness identification procedures.  SB 1206, sponsored by Sen. Joe Negron (R-Palm City), passed the full Senate on April 29, 2011, with a vote count of 34-5.

The most critical reform in SB 1206 is the required use of an independent or blind administrator who doesn’t know the identity of law enforcement’s known suspect.  Thirty years of scientific testing has shown that “blind” administration is the single most important way to remove intentional or inadvertent suggestiveness from lineup procedures that lead to mistaken identifications.

“Simply spoken, as long we delay and continue to conduct photo lineups in any way that is not ‘blind’ or ‘double blind,’ many innocent people will continue to be misidentified, wrongly convicted, and wrongly incarcerated.  That is a matter of public safety, for as long as the innocent subject remains incarcerated, the guilty and often dangerous subject walks the street,” said Robert Cromwell, former Special Agent-in-Charge for the Federal Bureau of Investigation for North Florida.

“Representative Snyder had it right when he relied on his own experience as a career police officer to conclude that sometimes folks in law enforcement are resistant to change and that the only way to diminish misidentifications and catch the real perpetrators the first time around is to require blind administration by statute. The House can heed Rep. Snyder’s words by passing SB 1206,” continued Cromwell, referring to statements of Rep. Bill Snyder (R-Stuart), made at the Florida Innocence Commission, as he implored the Commission to support Negron’s proposal that is now SB 1206.  The Innocence Commission, after six months of studying the issue of eyewitness misidentification identification, voted 12-8 in March 2011, to support Negron’s legislative solution.

Should Florida enact SB 1206 into law, it will be one of over ten states to address this issue legislatively and the fourth to adopt a statewide mandate of blind administration of eyewitness identification procedures, joining New Jersey, North Carolina and Ohio.  A recent survey of law enforcement agencies in Florida demonstrated that a mere 16% of those agencies even have a written policy addressing identification procedures.  Of those who have policies, four agencies in Florida, Hillsborough County Sheriff, Coral Springs Police Department, Lighthouse Point Police Department, and Margate Police Department, are already performing the best practices set out in SB 1206.  Additionally, scores of law enforcement agencies around the country, large and small, have implemented the best practices required by SB 1206, including The City of Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Police agencies across the country have implemented the very modifications to lineup procedures contained in SB 1206 out of recognition that they enhance the reliability and accuracy of identifications. These practices help law enforcement to avoid focusing on innocent suspects that derail investigations,” said Darrel Stephens, former Chief of Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department, which implemented the very procedures in SB 1206 as part of a statewide mandate in North Carolina.  “Law enforcement professionals in jurisdictions that have implemented these types of reforms, including the use of an independent administrator, find that these identifications are unassailable in court. Investigators do not have to spend time defending the practices they use to obtain identifications in court because they are scientifically-supported. There is no question that law enforcement benefits from the use of best practices in this area,” continued Stephens, who also served as the Executive Director, Police Executive Research Forum.

When the best practices set out in SB 1206 are not used, many suffer, especially the victims of crime and those wrongly convicted based on misidentifications.  “When Ronald Cotton was awaiting trial and being sentenced to life in prison, Bobby Poole, the man who actually raped me, was left on the streets of Burlington NC to further rape at least six other women.  It was my eyewitness identification of Ronald Cotton that led to this tragedy and still haunts me to this day.  Simple reforms can be put into place to help ensure we hold the guilty accountable, the innocent are free and the victims can receive true justice,” said Jennifer Thompson, a victim of a 1984 North Carolina rape, who now speaks with exoneree Ronald Cotton about the problems with eyewitness identifications.

Eyewitness misidentification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions nationally and in Florida.  Seventy-five percent of the 269 DNA exonerees nationally were originally wrongfully convicted based, in whole or in part, on mistaken witness identification.  In Florida, 10 of 13 DNA exonerees had an eyewitness misidentification contribute to their wrongful convictions.

“A very suggestive identification procedure was used in my case that led to my misidentifictaion and wrongful conviction.  I spent 24 years, 6 months, 13 days and 4 hours in prison for someone else’s crime while the real rapist remained free.  My ordeal could have been prevented had SB 1206 been in place during the criminal investigation that led to my wrongful conviction,” said Alan Crotzer, convicted of a 1981 double-rape in Tampa and exonerated through DNA testing in 2006.

Crotzer signed an open letter from the wrongly convicted in Florida to the House leadership urging them to pass SB 1206 in its current form.  This letter was recently published in the Orlando Sentinel and can be read here.

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