Posts Tagged ‘Wilton Dedge’

Statutes and Compensation for Wrongful Convictions

Alejandra de la Fuente — January 27, 2016 @ 4:00 PM — Comments (6)

Sandy D’Alembertehttp://www.innocenceproject.orghttp://www.innocenceproject.org who have been wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit experience several injustices. One would think that once these people are finally released from prison, they can easily return to normal lives. However, this is usually not the case; many exonerees experience several issues ranging from trouble finding a job to familial and financial problems. One major issue that has recently come to light in regards to exoneration is compensation for people’s wrongful convictions. While 30 states and the federal government do have compensation statutes in place, many people feel that they are a measly excuse for an apology when it comes to putting a price on the decades some have spent wrongfully incarcerated. In fact, 20 states do not even have compensation statutes, meaning that exonerees are entitled to no money at all for the miscarriage of justice they endured.

According to federal law, those exonerated for federal crimes may receive up to $50,000 for each year they were wrongfully incarcerated. Exonerees may also receive an additional $50,000 for every year spent on death row.

Florida’s wrongful conviction compensation statute, which was most recently amended in 2014, states that exonerees with no prior felony convictions are entitled to $50,000 a year, with a maximum of $2 million. In addition, he/she may be reimbursed for fines or costs imposed during the time of his/her sentence, along with 120 hours of tuition at a career center, community college, or state university. Florida did not have a wrongful conviction compensation statute until 2008. Wilton Dedge, who was exonerated on August 11, 2004 with help from the Innocence Project, spent 22 years in prison for rape and burglary. After being released from prison for the crimes he did not commit, Dedge received no compensation from Florida for his wrongful conviction. After filing a lawsuit against the state that was dismissed by the trial court, he sought a private compensation bill from the Florida legislature. Although the bill originally did not pass, the legislature finally passed the private bill, which led to the creation of a Florida statute for wrongful conviction compensation in 2008. IPF founding board chair, Sandy D’Alemberte was principally responsible for helping Dedge get compensated. Florida’s statute, unfortunately excludes many exonerees who have felony convictions from prior to their wrongful conviction and incarceration.

Like Dedge, many exonerees feel cheated due to these statutes—or lack thereof—because they feel that most monetary maximums defined in them are not enough compensation for the time they wrongfully spent in prison. Because of this, many choose to file civil suits against the city, state, or the authorities that contributed to their wrongful convictions them in order to receive the recompense that they feel they deserve. Often times, these exonerees ask for millions of dollars, which cities and states are often not exactly willing to pay. This is another important issue in terms of wrongful conviction compensation that has gained increasing popularity. All over the United States, exonerees—especially those who have not received a penny for their time spent wrongfully imprisoned—are fighting back in the hopes of getting what they deserve. Alan Newton and David Ayers are just two examples of these exonerees who are still fighting municipalities decades later just to get what they deserve.

Alan Newton was convicted in 1985 for the rape, robbery, and assault of a New York City woman. After spending 21 years in prison for crimes he did not commit, he was finally exonerated on July 6, 2006 with help from the Innocence Project. New York’s statute for wrongful conviction compensation, which was amended in 2007, states that exonerees have two years from the time of their pardon to file a claim and receive compensation in a sum that the state deems fair and reasonable.

In 2010, a jury awarded Newton the $18 million he sought in a lawsuit against New York City. The following year, Manhattan Federal Court Judge Shira Scheindlin set aside that verdict because she felt that the city was not responsible for Newton’s wrongful conviction, and therefore he was not entitled to the money. On February 26, 2015, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Scheindlin’s judgment, subsequently rejecting New York City’s request to rehear the appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court also declined to hear the case after the city Law Department attempted to fight the case in that court.

Despite these rulings, New York City still will not pay Newton, citing that the decision of the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals focused on whether the city was responsible for Newton’s wrongful incarceration rather than the appropriateness or the excessiveness of the $18 million. The city Law Department will once again turn to Judge Scheindlin in the hopes that he will reduce the amount of the compensation, arguing that they have no issue with the verdict, just the amount of damages sought by Newton based on similar cases. Despite these court losses, the City just doesn’t want to pay.

Another man in Cleveland faces the same problem as Newton. David Ayers was convicted in 2000 for aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, and aggravated robbery. He was exonerated on September 12, 2011 with help from the Ohio Innocence Project after spending almost 12 years in prison for crimes that he did not commit. Ohio statute for wrongful conviction compensation states that as long as an exoneree did not plead guilty, he/she has two years to file a claim in which he/she is eligible to receive $40,330 a year along with lost wages, costs, and attorney’s fees. The state amended this statute in 2010 to allow eligible claimants to receive 50 percent of the $40,330 within sixty days of being determined to have been wrongfully imprisoned.

Ayers rejected two plea deals offered to him by prosecutors and plead not guilty, making him eligible to sue for compensation under Ohio’s statute. In 2013, a federal court jury awarded Ayers the $13.2 million he sought in damages. The appeals court then upheld this verdict. However, just like New York City with Newton, Cleveland still will not pay Ayers. Cleveland officials argue that the two detectives who helped convict Ayers are responsible, not the city, and that the judgment of both courts was removed when one of those detectives filed for bankruptcy.

Thanks to cases such as those of Newton and Ayers, many states have recognized the need for reform in regards to wrongful conviction compensation statutes. Kansas, which is among the 20 states that still do not have these statutes, had a bill introduced to the legislature almost two weeks ago that would compensate exonerees for their time spent in prison. The bill was inspired by Floyd Bledsoe, who was exonerated in Kansas last month on December 8 with help from the Midwest Innocence Project after spending 16 years in prison for murder, child sex abuse, and kidnapping that he did not commit. Although the bill does not yet have a number or hearing scheduled, it is a step in the right direction towards the necessary reforms our justice system needs when it comes to compensating the innocent people who spent years behind bars.

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RSVP to Step Out for Justice with IPF

Alejandra de la Fuente — April 11, 2012 @ 12:28 PM — Comments (2)

RSVP today to reserve your spot to step out and support the innocence movement and sponsor fairness in our justice system. The evening will feature a special VIP reception where you’ll get to meet and speak with some of Florida’s exonorees, a magnificent silent auction, dinner with keynote speaker Professor Larry Marshall, an awards ceremony, and more.

Buy your ticket for justice today!

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William Dillon to Perform at IPF’s First Annual Gala

Alejandra de la Fuente — March 28, 2012 @ 1:23 PM — Comments (2)

Can you imagine losing decades of your life to punishment for a crime you did not commit?

Florida’s 13 DNA exonerees don’t have to imagine; they know just how it feels to serve time for crimes that they had nothing to do with. At Steppin’ Out with the Innocence Project of Florida, IPF’s first annual gala, you will get to hear the stories of these amazing men. Amazing, inspiring, and horrifying – the stories that they have to offer are the best proof that our justice system is broken and needs to be fixed.

William “Bill” Dillon is one of Florida’s DNA exonerees, and he will share his stories through song with a performance at this special event. Dillon learned to play guitar while serving 27 years for a murder he didn’t commit and released his first album, Black Robes and Lawyers, in 2011.

Reserve your spot today to step out for justice and hear these inspiring men share their stories.

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Steppin’ Out with Florida’s Exonorees

Alejandra de la Fuente — February 28, 2012 @ 5:56 PM — Comments (2)

Steppin’ Out with the Innocence Project of Florida is your opportunity to meet many of Florida’s exonerees who spent two or three decades wrongfully imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. Chat with them one-on-one at the VIP reception. Hear their inspiring stories of hope and perseverance.

You’ll get to know Derrick Williams, Alan Crotzer, Orlando Boquete, James Bain, William Dillon and others.  Learn what life is like after exoneration for them and their families.

William Dillon will perform several songs from his CD including Black Robes & Lawyers.  He wrote all of the songs on the CD during his 27.5 years of wrongful incarceration.

Buy your tickets today and step out for justice for the many others remaining in prison yet completely innocent.

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Innocence Commission to Begin; Prosecutors Grumble

Seth — July 01, 2010 @ 12:32 PM — Comments (4)

We have been busy here and haven’t been able to blog, but a lot has happened regarding the new actual innocence commission taking shape here in Florida.  The Commission will be headed up by new Chief Justice Charles T. Canady:

Included in the 2011 fiscal year budget is $200,000 to start an Innocence Commission to examine wrongful convictions in the state of Florida.

“I want to accomplish just as much as possible (on wrongful convictions) … because it is an important issue that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible,” Canady said.

It appears that there will be an executive order shortly to create the Commission and lay out its structure.  The Court is already hiring an Executive Director and an assistant, and the Florida Bar Foundation is providing roughly $100,000 of additional funding for the Commission’s work.

The idea of giving a comprehensive look to why wrongful convictions happen and developing consensus reforms for preventing wrongful convictions in the future is something that transcends partisan politics.  Indeed, there seems to be near universal support from the public, media, legislature, court, defense community, and innocence community for this effort.  Yet given all this, the prosecutorial community just doesn’t think it is worth the time or energy:

Earlier this year, the Florida Legislature funded the commission for one year, providing $200,000. . . . A smarter investment by lawmakers, Wolfinger said, would be to plow more money into DNA labs run by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.  “The advent of DNA has been fantastic to prove guilt or prove innocence,” he said.

William Cervone is less supportive of the commission. He is state attorney for the Eighth Judicial Circuit, which includes Alachua County, and serves as president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association.  No prosecutor wants to lock up innocent people, he said, but he added, “I don’t know what another commission at public expense will do.”

People who have been wrongly convicted, he said, already have a remedy – appeals courts.

Cervone continued in the Ocala Star Banner:

“We do not live in a perfect world. The entire court system is designed to find truth through judges, juries and multiple levels of appeals,” he said. “Beyond question, the system generally works. There will be, by human nature, errors and we do our very best to correct them, to ferret them out.”

Those views aside, Cervone said the application of state funds for an Innocence Commission is questionable given recent lean budget years. By his estimate, the same dollar amount could be used to fund four additional entry-level assistant state prosecutors or public defenders in resources-strapped offices around the state.

It is so obvious to see the logical fallacy in Wolfinger’s and Cervone’s remarks, but it is worth rebutting here.  First there is the money argument, which I guess is supposed to appeal to people right now because of the down economy.  It must be said that this Commission is budget neutral.  The legislature took $200,000 from one place in the judiciary budget and earmarked it for the Commission.  I fail to see how taking that money from the judiciary and giving it to FDLE will help prevent wrongful convictions.  Such a move wouldn’t perpetuate a change in how law enforcement agencies prepare and administer lineups to make them less suggestive.  It wouldn’t make every law enforcement organizations video record the entirety of custodial interrogations to identify and weed out false confessions.  It wouldn’t address the continuing problem of nefarious jailhouse informants, and it wouldn’t even be enough money to have FDLE really look at whether their different forensic methods and conclusions are actually as reliable as advertised.

Similarly, Cervone actually argues that we could hire a few 26-year-old prosecutors or defense attorneys and somehow these four green lawyers will just solve all the problems in the criminal justice system in the entire State of Florida.  In the immortal words of SNL’s Weekend Update: Really ?!?!?!

Cervone also makes the claim that wrongful convictions are a rare, fluke occurrence and that simply by having due process, i.e. jury trials, appeals, postconviction proceedings, the criminal justice system provides enough protection to the innocent to alleviate the need for this Commission.

Tell that to Wilton Dedge, who was first denied relief on exclusionary DNA test results on purely procedural grounds, with the attorney general arguing in the appellate court that Dedge’s “innocence is irrelevant.” He spent 4 additional years in prison, and 22 years of total wrongful incarceration before he was exonerated.  Ask William Dillon whether he got a fair shake.  The state hid evidence and used a fraudulent dog handler to connect Dillon to the crime.  When the dog handler was later discredited, Dillon took advantage of those appeals Cervone speaks of and the court said too bad too sad.  Dillon was exonerated by DNA testing after 27 years in prison.  And let’s not forget about Jamie Bain, who was thwarted by the courts for 8 years of attempts to obtain DNA testing. Four petitions and many appeals later, and after he got competent counsel (IPF and the Polk Public Defender) to show the court that they had been rubber stamping the denials of that DNA testing the whole time, Jamie was exonerated through DNA testing after serving 35 years in prison, the longest known wrongful incarceration served by a DNA exoneree.  None of the 255 DNA exonerees nationwide and the 12 DNA exonerees in Florida were freed because of this criminal justice system.  Instead they were proven innocent  in spite of it, and in most cases over strong opposition from prosecutors like Cervone.

This is why this Commission is needed.  Because Florida’s criminal justice system is too big and too unwieldy to police and correct itself.   The creation of the Commission is a recognition that wrongful convictions of innocent people are a tragic reality that exists in Florida.  We know what the causes are and how to address them to prevent wrongful convictions in the future.  People like Cervone and Wolfinger can cover their ears and yell “la-la-la” till  they run out of breath but it won’t change the fact that there are systematic defects in the criminal justice system that cause wrongful convictions even when we do everything right, with the best intentions.

I just hope that the prosecutors understand that this is not a nuisance but an opportunity to work together with diverse criminal justice actors to do the right thing.  We need them to make meaningful and successful the potential reforms that emanate from this Commission.

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It’s all up to the Gov.

Seth — May 18, 2010 @ 6:08 PM — Comments (1)

The Florida Actual Innocence Commission survived attempts to strip its $200,000 appropriation out of the budget at the end of the legislative session.  Now it is all up to Governor Crist, as the budget sits on his desk and he can choose to veto individual appropriations in the bill.  On Sunday, the St. Pete Times wrote:

[The Innocence Commission] will be money well spent.

As envisioned, an innocence commission would audit Florida’s cases of wrongful conviction the way the National Transportation Safety Board examines plane crashes. Each detail of what went wrong would be studied to determine whether new procedures should be adopted to prevent similar errors in the future.

Florida needs this. People like Alan Crotzer and Wilton Dedge spent years behind bars before DNA evidence confirmed they actually were innocent of the crimes they were convicted of committing. But there are plenty of cases where there is no DNA to resolve guilt or innocence with such certainty. Preventing wrongful convictions in the first place is often the only way to avoid miscarriages of justice for those crimes with no possibility of DNA exoneration.

The ongoing case of Leo Schofield, in prison 21 years for the murder of his wife, illustrates how hard it is to uncover potential wrongful convictions without DNA. Schofield has always maintained his innocence, even rejecting a plea deal that would have had him out of prison about a decade ago. Still, Schofield was convicted without physical evidence linking him to the murder. Only recently, after fingerprints found in his wife’s abandoned car were matched to that of a convicted murderer, is Schofield being considered for a new trial.

If you would like to contact the Governor and politely  ask him to support this import effort by siging budget WITH the Innocence Commission appropriation in the bill, you can contact him at 850-488-7146 or

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Innocence Commission – The Ball is in the Florida Supreme’s Court

Seth — March 31, 2010 @ 8:50 AM — Comments (2)

We have had some new news on the Florida Actual Innocence Commission front.  We had previously discussed this idea on Plain Error a few months back here and here.  The Innocence Commission got some mixed news last week.

On March 22, 2009,  Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Peggy Quince sent Senator Mike Haridopolos, the next Senate President, a letter stating:

The court is very much interested in looking at the cases of actual innocence and is considering the establishment of a commission or task force to study this issue and to make recommendations.  We are most appreciative of your interest in and support of this effort, and hope that we can additionally count on the support of the Legislature during this session.

Justice Quince noted that the budget for the Gender Bias Study Commission over a three year period was $321,589, peaking at about $146,000 in fiscal year 1988. The Racial and Ethnic Bias Study Commission had a $378,350 budget over five years, with the highest yearly appropriation at $278,350 in fiscal year 1991.  Of course, Justiece Quince noted, that these figures needed to be adjusted for the passage of time.  This was a very positive letter.

In response to Sandy D’Alemberte’s petition to the Florida Supreme Court to create the Commission by rule, Chief Justice Quince sent Mr. D’Alemberte a separate letter stating that they were denying our petition to create the commission, BUT:

The Court, however, is very much interested in looking at the cases of actual innocence, and is considering the establishment of a commission or task force by Administrative Order,” she wrote. “As we explore the best avenue to make inquiries on this subject, we welcome any input you or your colleagues may have concerning funding sources, etc.

Since the letters, both the Daytona Beach News Journal and Jesse Diner, President of the Florida Bar have made impassioned pleas for the Supreme Court to create this Commission.

So it seems that either the court was blowing smoke or they are completely serious about  implementing the Innocence Commission if they can just find the money in these tough economic times.

Well, as of this morning, we are likely going to find out the Court’s real intentions.  Florida Today is reporting that Senator Mike Haridopolos is seeking to include $200,000 in THIS YEAR’s budget for the establishment of the Innocence Commission.  That funding, as well as his pledge of staff support, should be enough to get this thing off the ground:

“This is really a two-way street,” Haridopolos said. “It will protect accused people who are innocent of crimes, but also give people the confidence to know that the people in prison are guilty.”

Politics is a funny business.  I think it would be fair to say that Senator Haridopolos and I would agree on little in terms of the big public policy issues of the day.  But he has been one of the strongest leaders on innocence issues in his time in the Senate, beginning with his sponsoring of the Dedge compensation bill, continuing with the sponsorship of the Dillon claims bill, and now his pursuit of an Innocence Commission.

Let’s give credit where it is due.  If you get a chance, drop the good Senator a line and thank him for his leadership and commitment to this issue:

District Office:        (321) 752-3131
Tallahassee Office:  (850) 487-5056

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Innocence Commission is Cooking with Gas

Seth — February 14, 2010 @ 9:00 AM — Comments (1)

As you can see from our Press Release below, IPF’s efforts to create an Actual Innocence Commission in Florida have just been buoyed by one of, if not the most conservative members of the Florida Senate, Mike Haridopolos (R-Brevard).  It is not insiginificant that he also happens to be the next President of the Florida Senate.  He sent a letter this week to Chief Justice fo the Florida Supreme Court, Peggy Quince, supporting and offering legislative assistance in the creation of the Innocence Commission, the creation of which is being considered currently being considered by the court.

The Commission would not determine claims of innocence, which is the primary function of IPF, prosecutors and courts in innocence-based litigation.  However, it would look at those cases where innocence has been determined and find out why those wrongful convictions occurred so it can make recommendations for policy reforms that will prevent wrongful convictions going forward.

Senator Haridopolos has cut his teeth on wrongful conviction issues by being the Senate sponsor on claims bills to compensate Florida DNA exoneress Wilton Dedge and, now, Bill Dillon.  John Torres from Florida Today reports:

“Our goal should be justice,” Haridopolos said. “I’m known as being tough on crime, but let’s make sure the right guy is behind bars.”  He said the letter is a result of his research on a special bill for William Dillon, a Satellite Beach man who spent 27 years in prison before DNA ultimately excluded him from key evidence.Haridopolos said the commission would save the state money by weeding out frivolous lawsuits and keeping guilty inmates from “abusing the system.”  It also would eliminate the need for special compensation bills in the future because it would help limit wrongful incarcerations.

Haridopolos said the commission idea had been “floating around” for a couple of years. He said Florida could use a similar project in North Carolina as a model.  “Their hard work has provided an example of how other states should react when faced with a plethora of wrongful incarcerations,” he wrote.

Reached in Tallahassee Thursday, Haridopolos said the time is ripe for this to happen.  “The criminal justice system is not perfect,” he said. “We need to have something established like this. It will make sure that when a person is sentenced to a life sentence, or even to the death penalty, that they are truly the guilty one.”

This is just more proof that the “Innocence” issue must not be an issue where lines are drawn by party affiliation or political persuasion.  With the support of the legislature and the recent unanimous support of the Florida Bar Board of Governors, the chances of creating this Innocence Commission have dramatically improved.

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More About Snitch Testimony in Dillon

Seth — November 05, 2009 @ 10:50 AM — Comments (0)

As we chronicled here on Tuesday,  Roger Dale Chapman, who testified during William Dillon’s 1981 trial that Dillon made a jailhouse confession, attended Dillon’s compensation hearing on Monday to set the record straight.  The news reports don’t really do this riveting moment justice.  So I wanted to recount what occurred from my perspective at counsel’s table:

  • While Dillon was on the stand, he was asked about his time in the county jail.  He noted that while he in jail after arrest, he was in a large cell with upwards of 20 inmates and a story about the Dvorak murder came on the TV.  Many people asked him about it and Bill stated that he told them “I had nothing to do with that there.”
  • Dillon also stated that he did not know Roger Dale Chapman, and therefore didn’t know if he had ever spoken with him at the jail.  The first time he found out about Chapman was when Chapman was on the stand testifying to the jailhouse confession at trial.
  • Then Dillon was dismissed and counsel called Roger Dale Chapman to the astonishment of the hearing officers and just about everyone in the room.
  • Chapman stated that he was in the county jail after being falsely accused of rape.  A Sheriff’s Office Agent, Thom Fair, came to him in the jail and made him an agent of the State for the purposes of soliciting damaging admissions from Dillon.  Fair threatened Chapman with jail time if he didn’t comply.
  • Chapman then stated that he went into the “bullpen” where Dillon was being held with many other inmates and, when the story of the murder came on the TV with a picture of Dillon, he asked Dillon whether he did it and Dillon protested his innocence vehemently.
  • Several days later, Fair came back to the jail to meet Chapman.  At this point Fair already knew that medical testing came back which demonstrated that Chapman could not have committed rape.   Yet, when Chapman stated that Dillon didn’t give him anything and maintained his innocence, Fair held out his hand and stated “I have your life in the palm of my hand and if you don’t give me something on Dillon, I can make that rape charge come back.”
  • Fair also told Chapman that they had Dillon as their “fall guy.”
  • Chapman then stated that he didn’t have anything to say so Fair decided to record a statement by Chapman which would implicate Dillon, only when Fair asked the questions about the specifics of the crime, another investigator held up the answers so Chapman could parrot them back for the recording and the eventual transcribed statement.
  • Dillon’s counsel also entered into evidence secret handwritten notes from Dean Moxley, the Chief Assistant State Attorney, indicating that Chapman may have been made an agent of the State and that they already gave him a bond reduction and they should probably enter into a deal with him.
  • Chapman then testified at trial that Dillon confessed to him in jail with detail about the crime.  Chapman’s rape charge was dropped in exchange.
  • After this testimony, Chapman apologized to Dillon for contributing to his wrongful conviction.

Obviously, none of this was turned over to the defense before trial and at trial, the State insisted that there was no deal.

This is the most pernicious kind of misconduct.  Law enforcement had their mind made up and then just needed to fabricate the evidence to fit that preconceived notion.    We call this tunnel vision.

This misconduct seems to have been the norm in Brevard County in the 1980s and the John Preston+snitch formula worked for the State in Dedge and Dillon, and we’ll find out whether it worked in the case of Gary Bennett.

Either way, this is the beginning of the pulling back of the curtain of the muck that regularly served to cause wrongful convictions in Brevard.  I suspect it won’t be the last we hear.

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Preston and the Magical Dog: Prosecutor relents and candidates weigh in

Seth — July 27, 2009 @ 4:57 PM — Comments (3)

We had a big weekend on the Brevard County/John Preston front.  We we have noted here, here, and here, that there has been mounting pressure on Brevard prosecutor, Norman Wolfinger, to do the simply task of looking through his own files to determine any cases that may have involved John Preston.

Wolfinger continually said that he wouldn’t do that, instead arguing that it was up to individual inmates to challenge their convictions that may have been tainted by John Preston and his magic dogs.  Meanwhile, Florida Today and the local public defender commenced their own investigations into identifying the universe of John Preston cases.

Now, the state attorney’s office has finally realized that it may be wise to get out in front of this issue before it gets out of control.  from Florida Today’s Saturday edition, Wolfinger said:

I asked my staff to re-review the cases we can identify as involving John Preston. To the best of my knowledge, there are four people in prison today who had cases in which Preston and one of his dogs were used.

Wolfinger also explained that his office did an examination of the Preston cases in 2004 after Wilton Dedge’s exoneration and that they believed then, and they believe now that three of the four people still in prison, possible because of Preston’s fraud, are in fact guilty.  He also noted that this re-review would be limited to sexual battery and murder cases

One way to look at this is that it is better late than never.  But there are a so many problems with these statements.  First, as I stated int he article, this proposed state attorney reinvestigation is too narrow.  It only looks at those cases where Preston was involved and the subject is still in prison.  But the offending acts took place over twenty-five years ago.  Those affected may have been released or maybe even are deceased.  Or maybe they pled when they were confronted with Preston’s conclusions.  And what about the cases that are not rape and murders?  So this proposed investigatio is clearly not adequate.

Second, and probably most disturbing, is that when they reviewed the cases in 2004, after Dedge, they apparently didn’t even turn up Bill Dillon’s case.  As we all know, Bill was an IPF client who was exonerated last fall.  So how thorough could they have been and how thorough can we expect them to be this time around.

Third, can we trust them?  The reason folks of all stripes have been urging an outside investigation is that no one really believes that an internal investigation will be anything more than a CYA mission.  Despite all the highminded rhetoric about justice and innocence, when Wolfinger’s office did a review of Preston’s work in the 1980s, his office determined that it was sound and admissible and that critiques about the Preston’s veracity or reliability were mere complaints by guilty litigants.  The same people who came to that conclusion then, are still with the state attorney’s office and will likely be the one’s who perform the proposed re-review.

This is a classic example of the ox guarding the henhouse.  Luckily, as the Orlando Sentinel noted on Sunday, candidates for Florida’s highest office are weighing in on the side of accountability:

At that moment in 1984, every one of the cases in which Preston testified should’ve been reviewed.

So says State Sen. Dan Gelber, a former prosecutor and one of two Democrats hoping to face the Republican Kottkamp in the attorney general’s race next fall. “The nightmare of any prosecutor is to put an innocent person in jail,” Gelber said. “It’s an abomination of the system.”

His Democratic opponent, Dave Aronberg, agreed. “The attorney general has an obligation to do justice, no matter what. And justice is not just convictions,” he said. “I will look at this. I will not ignore it.”

So there is hope, I guess.  Lots of rhetoric, we’ll see about the action and whether it is honest, or a self-serving attempt to make this issue go away.

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