Posts Tagged ‘innocence project’


Reasons for Exoneration: Witness Misidentification

Victoria Inzana — November 14, 2017 @ 10:48 AM — Comments (0)

In the past Reasons for Exoneration posts, we have focused on perjury and false accusations. These statements are typically made by a witness in an intentionally malicious manner. However, this is not always the case. These statements are known as a mistaken witness identification. According to Innocence Project research, eyewitness misidentification is the greatest contributing factor to wrongful conviction. It has been found to have had a hand in wrongfully convicting about 70% of exonerees.

Despite the fact that research has proven that the human mind does not record events exactly as we see them, or recall them in exact chronological order, courts tend to find witness identifications to be very persuasive. This is why it makes up such a large percentage of wrongful convictions.

Some witness misidentification cases that the Innocence Project has worked on include a witness in a rape case being shown a photo array where the photograph of the suspect was the only photograph was marked with an “R”. Other cases include witnesses who “thought” the person “might be” the perpetrator when later, at trial, the jury was told that the witness had never wavered in their identification.

Because witness identification can be quite unreliable, there are many reforms which could be adopted to make it more accurate. Several procedures have been shown to significantly decrease the number of misidentifications such as:

  • Double- Blind/Blinded administration, where the officer administering the lineup is unaware of who the suspect is
  • A proper lineup composition, where the non-suspects in the lineup resemble the eyewitness’ description of the perpetrator, and the suspect appears similar to the fillers so he is not the only one of his race or facial hair
  • Standard Instructions, where the person viewing the lineup should be told that the perpetrator may or may not be in the lineup at that the investigation will continue regardless of the lineup result
  • Confidence Statements, which is a document that law enforcement will collect regarding the level of confidence the witness has in the identification made at the same time the identification is made.
  • Finally, a recording of procedures should be done whenever possible.

 

So far, 21 states and multiple jurisdictions have implemented these reforms.

The Innocence Project of Florida, partnering with the Innocence Project headquarters in New York, was also able to successfully pass a bill in April 2017 to reform eyewitness misidentification error here in the Florida Legislature. There is now a requirement that lineups are conducted using a double-blind or blinded procedure, and witnesses are instructed that the perpetrator may or may not be present. Should these practices be omitted, a court can consider noncompliance when deciding whether the identification can be admitted into evidence. The court must also instruct the jury that it consider whether law enforcement followed the eyewitness procedures when determining the reliability of a witness’s identification.

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Reasons for Exoneration: Perjury or False Accusation

Victoria Inzana — October 20, 2017 @ 1:00 PM — Comments (0)

Most people believe that the only reason innocent individuals are exonerated is due to new DNA evidence being revealed in their case. This blog series, Reasons for Exoneration, is intended to highlight the work that the Innocence Project accomplishes on cases that do not focus solely on DNA evidence.

This post is intended to focus on the role of perjury or false accusations in an exoneree’s trial. Perjury is known as the offense of willfully telling an untruth in a court after having taken an oath or affirmation. False accusations are when someone knowingly makes a charge of wrongdoing against another person. These perjury claims are usually proven based on a discrepancy between an initial deposition of a witness and their testimony on the stand. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, there have been 73 total exonerations in the year 2016 where perjury played a heavy role in the exoneration.

An example of a case occurred in Miami-Dade County. The defendant, Derrick Robinson had fit the description of a murderer, and so was arrested. During trial, there was an eyewitness who declared that Robinson was the killer. Robinson, who had claimed his innocence until trial had pled guilty to second-degree murder in 1989. After his conviction, another eye-witness came forward and identified a different man as the perpetrator. He revealed the actual perpetrator had threatened his family which leads to his false eye-witness report. After this new information was revealed, Robinson was exonerated in 1991.

If the testimony of the witness who had committed perjury or made a false accusation was an extremely large contribution to the initial conviction of our exonerate, and if it is possible for the representative of the Innocence Project to prove that perjury or a false accusation has happened, it is essential to an exoneree’s case.

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: May 23

Alejandra de la Fuente — October 23, 2016 @ 9:38 AM — Comments (0)

Happy exoneration anniversary Marvin Mitchell and Orlando Boquete! Marvin was exonerated in Massachusetts in 1997 with help from the Innocence Project. nike air zoom pegasus 33 donna marvin Orlando is one of Florida’s very own exonerees and was exonerated in 2006 with help from the Innocence Project. asics kayano 23 femme He spent 13 years in prison for attempted sexual battery and burglary that he did not commit. New Balance 1300 homme Unfortunately, Chaussures New Balance he is ineligible for compensation because he managed to escape from his wrongful conviction twice before filing a motion on his own seeking DNA testing in 2003, nike internationalist femme the results of which proved he was not the perpetrator. He did, New Balance 373 femme however, Air Jordan 3 Homme fulfill his dream of becoming a U.S. Adidas Yeezy 750 Boost Homme naturalized citizen on March 27, 2015. nike tn homme 2017 Orlando and IPF have maintained close ties since his release, Nike Air Max Thea Homme Noir where we have helped him with myriad reentry issues. You can read more about his case here.

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Harward Exoneration Prompts Virginia Department of Forensic Science to Review Old Cases

Alejandra de la Fuente — October 13, 2016 @ 4:00 PM — Comments (0)

Thanks to the recent exoneration of Keith Allen Harward, the Virginia Department of Forensic Science’s (VDFS) review of old blood-typing cases was approved by the Virginia Forensic Science Board. The review will be conducted on 200 sample cases from 1982, 1986, and 1990. Harward spent 33 years in prison for the 1982 murder of a man and the rape of his wife, neither of which he committed. He was convicted in 1983 for capital murder and received a life sentence, but the conviction was overturned due to legal technical errors. Adidas Zx 500 Homme Harward was tried and convicted again in 1986 but for first-degree murder, and was once again sentenced to life. DNA testing later disproved the bite-mark testimony that helped convict him—a science whose credibility has been called into question in recent years. According to court papers, Harward’s attorneys argued that the simple blood test conducted more than 30 years ago proved Harward was not the perpetrator. Nike Roshe Run Femme David A. Pomposini, the forensic serologist for the VDFS who conducted that test, however, did not include those results in his formal report or testimony. Air Jordan 10 Homme The Innocence Project, which represented Harward, stated that Pomposini worked for the department from 1981 to 2012, during which time he also performed blood typing in Troy Webb’s case. Webb was convicted in 1988 for a rape in Virginia Beach that he did not commit, but DNA evidence exonerated him in 1996. According to a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, Pomposini should have excluded Webb as the assailant, but failed to do so. Before DNA testing became available in the early 1990s, possible perpetrator pools were narrowed down using blood-typing tests. Nike Pas Cher Those tests utilized antigens, which show a person’s blood type and are found in secretions such as saliva or sperm. New Balance 996 homme About 80 percent of people leave those antigens, while the secretions of the remaining 20 percent cannot determine a person’s blood type. Blood-typing test results revealed that Harward was a type-A secretor, which contradicted Pomposini’s formal certificate of analysis that was presented during Harward’s trial. The serologist stated that secretion-typing tests performed on seminal fluid that was left on Harward’s wife could not determine a blood type. During the 1986 trial, Pomposini testified that according to his tests, results showed the assailant was either a non-secretor, or was a secretor who failed to leave enough blood type evidence to identify his blood type. The prosecutor included those formal findings and testimony in his closing arguments to the jury during that trial, stating that although the sperm’s blood-typing did not include Harward, it also did not exclude him. The Innocence Project received Pomposini’s lab notes from the VDFS last year that revealed crucial evidence that was never presented during Harward’s trials, which is a violation. Nike Air Max 2016 Femme Those notes indicated that sperm presumably left by the assailant contained antigens that Pomposini determined to be of the O blood type. Another serologist stated in an affidavit that antigens consistent with a type-O secretor were clearly identified by Pomposini in his lab notes. According to counsel for the VDFS, until DNA testing became available in the early 1990s, they conducted routine blood group typing—the type of tests that were called into question during the Harward and Webb cases, which later incited the department to carry out the 200-case review. Nike Free 5.0 enfants The sample will consist of 100 cases from the VDFS’s eastern laboratory, and 100 from their northern laboratory. Lab notes, test results, and trial testimony will be reviewed in order to determine if there are any problems in any of the cases, along with a legal research engine that will examine appeals court opinions in cases that may be reviewed. The review team will consist of two department forensic scientists and perhaps a serologist unaffiliated with the department that would review randomly selected cases. The department may have difficulty finding qualified volunteers, as most serologists—including Pomposini—transitioned into DNA testing and many of which have since retired. Should the review team determine that an error might have been made, the department will attempt to locate the case’s prosecutor and defense lawyer. If requested and the prosecution and defense agree, or if a court order is issued, any remaining biological evidence will be tested by the VDFS. Nike Air Max Thea Femme Bleu According to the director of the VDFS, the goal of the review aims to determine whether an error that occurred was an isolated incident or if there was a systemic problem that needs to be addressed.

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: June 11

Alejandra de la Fuente — October 11, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

Happy exoneration anniversary Thomas McGowan and Frank O’Connell! Thomas was exonerated in Texas in 2008 with help from the Innocence Project. Canada Goose Citadel Parka 7848550.0 Frank was exonerated in California in 2012 with help from Centurion Ministries.

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: July 30

Alejandra de la Fuente — July 30, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

Happy exoneration anniversary Larry Johnson and Cameron Thomas!

Larry was exonerated in Missouri in 2002 with help from the Innocence Project.

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Cameron was exonerated in Texas in 2014.

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: July 27

Alejandra de la Fuente — July 27, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (2)

Happy exoneration anniversary Robert Lee Stinson, Reginald Connor, and Everton Wagstaffe!

Robert was exonerated in Wisconsin in 2009 with help from the Wisconsin Innocence Project.

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Reginald and Everton were convicted of the same crime in New York and were exonerated last year with help from the Innocence Project.

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Innocence Project Hires Exoneree

Alejandra de la Fuente — July 22, 2016 @ 1:00 PM — Comments (0)

Jarrett Adams has not let his wrongful conviction stop him from being successful. Despite insisting that sex he and two others had with a woman in a college dormitory was consensual, he was sentenced to 28 years in prison for rape when he was 17 years old. After spending almost eight years behind bars, Adams was exonerated in January 2007 after the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that he had received ineffective counsel because his trial attorney neglected to call a witness who had seen the woman smoking cigarettes with the three men in a dorm common area after the encounter. Following his release, unlike many individuals who struggle to readjust to life outside of prison, Adams did just the opposite by joining the other side of the criminal justice system.

After the Wisconsin Innocence Project helped exonerate him, Adams attended Loyola University Law School. Following his graduation last year, he worked for 7th Circuit Judge Ann Claire Williams and U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts of the Southern District of New York in a dual clerkship. Now, Adams is formally joining the innocence movement that helped set him free by working for the organization that many would argue initiated the fight for justice for the wrongfully convicted.

Adams’ wife accepted a job in New York City, and after passing the New York Bar exam in February, he too found a job in the Big Apple where he will now serve as a post-conviction litigation fellow for the Innocence Project. Law practice is something he has been passionate about for some time, as Adams said that he was moved from a Wisconsin maximum-security prison to a supermax facility with fewer privileges because he was considered a security threat since he had become such an effective jailhouse lawyer by helping other inmates while he was in prison.

Adams credited his success to his faith and hard work, and hopes that he will be an example for others facing obstacles.

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New Podcast on Wrongful Conviction

Alejandra de la Fuente — July 19, 2016 @ 1:00 PM — Comments (0)

More good news for Serial fans: there is another podcast coming out that will focus on wrongful conviction. The original series, called Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom, will be available on reVolver Podcasts and will detail the individual stories of people who have been wrongfully convicted. The episodes will be drawn from actual case files of the Innocence Project, and will feature exclusive details about exonerees’ experiences throughout their wrongful convictions. Research and data for each episode will also be provided by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, a nonpartisan law and policy institute revered for their research and advocacy regarding mass incarceration.

Flom is an American music industry executive, CEO of Lava Records, and a Founding Board Member of the Innocence Project. To celebrate the release of the original series, the podcast host has pledged to donate up to $1 million to the Innocence Project, donating $1 for every consumer download from September through December. In discussing the podcast, Flom called for reforms to the criminal justice system and hopes that people will be inspired to join him in the innocence movement.

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: July 19

Alejandra de la Fuente — July 19, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

Happy exoneration anniversary Johnny Briscoe, Sedrick Courtney, and Andrew Johnson!

Johnny was exonerated in Missouri in 2006 with help from Centurion Ministries.

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Sedrick was exonerated in Oklahoma in 2012 with help from the Innocence Project.

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Andrew was exonerated in Wyoming in 2013 with help from the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center.

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