News 08.31.11

The Innocence Project Online: August 2011

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Innocence Project

Innocence Project
AUGUST 2011

[ 273 EXONERATED ]

In This Issue


A Landmark Ruling on Eyewitness Evidence


25 Years Later, Still Fighting for Exoneration

Join 66,700 Advocates in Calling for Justice in Chicago




New Multimedia Resource: Getting it Right




Why I Give: A Donor Profile

News Watch

West Memphis Three Freed

Damien Echols

Three men convicted as teenagers of a triple murder in Arkansas were freed last week after nearly 18 years in prison. Damien Echols (above) was on death row and two others — Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley — were serving life.

They were released after accepting an Alford plea, which allows defendants to assert their innocence while conceding that the state has enough evidence to convict them. Their case was championed over the years by pro bono attorneys, artists and thousands of activists worldwide.


Read more


about their case

s and

watch


the men’s moving press conference.

New Video: How DNA Tests Work


Huy Dao DNA

In this new video, Innocence Project Case Director Huy Dao explains in less than two minutes how forensic DNA testing works. Hint: It involves a chicken and a boxing glove.


Watch now.

New California Law Will Limit Informant Testimony

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law this month that will require all jailhouse informant testimony in the state to be corroborated by other evidence. Advocates said they expect the law to prevent wrongful convictions by limiting questionable testimony by informants with incentives to lie.

In more than 15% of wrongful conviction cases overturned by DNA testing, an informant or jailhouse informant testified against the defendant. Often, statements from people with incentives to testify — particularly incentives that are not disclosed to the jury — are the central evidence in convicting an innocent person.


Read more

.

Hawaii Man Cleared After 20 Years

Alvin F. Jardine III, who spent two decades in Hawaii prisons for a sexual assault he has always said he didn’t commit, was finally cleared when prosecutors dropped charges on July 21.

The Hawaii Innocence Project, a member of the Innocence Network, was established in 2005 and Jardine’s case is one of the first it accepted.


Read more

.

 

What You’re Saying

image

A roundup of some of the great conversations happening on social networks this month.


AJ

, via

Facebook

(on West Memphis 3 Case): “This is outstanding but again it shows the true fallacy of a legal system that simply refuses to admit that they were wrong.”


@MissJesssss,

via

Twitter

: “Way too worked up to go to sleep. I need to learn not to visit the @innocenceblog or @amnesty websites before bed.”


Eric

via

Facebook

(after the new California informant law was signed): “The next law should be no confessions are allowed unless audio and/or video-taped. In this day and age when even phones can record – there is zero excuse for a police officer not to preserve a suspect’s alleged confession. Too many examples of police lying about unrecorded confessions or “unsolicited spontaneous statements.”


@Redmangas,

via

Twitter

:         “I just wonder if this cost cutting of government services will lead to greater inaccuracies or wrongful convictions?”

Spread the Word

Connect with other Innocence Project supporters.

   

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Get in Touch

We welcome your feedback. Please contact us at the address below.

Cases for review

must be submitted via postal mail. You can also

email us

with questions or for more information.


The Innocence Project


40 Worth St., Suite 701

New York, NY 10013



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N.J. Supreme Court Orders Major Shift on Eyewitness Evidence


Lineup

The New Jersey Supreme Court issued a landmark decision yesterday that will require courts to greatly expand the factors that courts and juries consider in assessing the risk of misidentification. The impact of the ruling will affect how courts nationwide deal with this critical issue.

The new changes are designed to reduce the likelihood of wrongful convictions by taking into account more than 30 years of scientific research on eyewitness identification and memory.

“The court has recognized the tremendous fallibility of eyewitness identifications, and based on the most thorough review of scientific research undertaken by a court, has set up comprehensive and practical guidelines for how judges and juries should handle this important evidence,” Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck said yesterday.

Read more about the ruling in

today’s New York Times

and

download the full decision from our site

.




25 Years Later, Still Fighting for Exoneration


Michael Morton

New DNA tests provide strong proof that Michael Morton has served 25 years in Texas prisons for a murder he didn’t commit.

The Innocence Project has fought for six years to get DNA testing on key evidence in Morton’s case. Williamson County prosecutor John Bradley has continually blocked Morton’s path to testing. The state’s highest criminal court overruled Bradley’s objections last year, ruling that Morton had a right to DNA tests under state law. The new results point to Morton’s innocence and implicate another man in the crime.

Bradley’s office is reinvestigating the case, and a Texas judge has called for a progress report on the investigation by September 27. The Innocence Project, meanwhile, has questioned Bradley’s impartiality in the case. He is the former chairman of the Texas Forensic Science Commission and has been widely criticized by media outlets for his impartial handling of that panel’s investigation of the Cameron Todd Willingham case. In a Houston Chronicle column on Monday, Rick Casey wrote that “there’s a good chance that (Bradley’s) obstinacy in the Morton case not only kept an innocent man in prison five years longer than necessary, but also may have enabled the real murderer to do more harm during that time.”

Morton is pictured above on a 2010 prison visit with his parents.

Read more about his case here.



Join 66,700 Advocates in Calling for Justice in Chicago

Chicago9

DNA proves that nine Chicago men were convicted in the 1990s of crimes they didn’t commit, but prosecutors still won’t agree to overturn their convictions. Five of the men are still behind bars today, and we need your voice to help obtain justice in their cases. Above are Innocence Project clients Jonathan Barr (left) and Michael Saunders (right).

We launched

a petition

this month in partnership with Color of Change, the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth and University of Chicago’s Exoneration Project. Already more than 66,700 people have signed their names to urge Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to do the right thing.


Please join us by signing the petition today

— we’re planning to deliver the signatures in person next week and want to make sure your voice is heard.

The nine men were convicted of two separate murders three years and 12 miles apart, but their cases bear striking similarities. All nine were teenagers when they were arrested. Seven of them confessed under pressure, and all seven have since said the confessions were coerced during intense interrogations.

DNA test results from key evidence in both cases implicates other perpetrators who have committed similar crimes, but Cook County prosecutors have attempted to downplay the evidence, arguing to keep the convictions of these nine young men intact.


Sign the petition today to call for justice in Cook County.



New Multimedia Resource: Getting it Right


Getting it Right Widget

We launched a new multimedia resource on our website last week, featuring videos and interactive content on the central causes of wrongful convictions.

The new

“Getting it Right” widget

includes videos on eyewitness identification, false confessions, unvalidated forensics, law enforcement and defense representation. Also included are stories of exonerated individuals and background research to dig deeper into each issue. The project was made possible by a partnership with Brandon Garrett, the author of “Convicting the Innocent,” a recent book on the causes of wrongful conviction, and support from the Foundation to Promote Open Society.

The widget and videos are available for bloggers and other organizations to embed on their site.

Click here to get the code for your site.


Explore the new web feature and watch the videos here.

John Moran


Why I Give: A Donor Profile


John Moran


Royersford, Pennsylvania

I first learned about the work of the Innocence Project several years ago, after a family member suffered unjust treatment at the hands of the criminal justice system. The experience opened my eyes to the fact that we aren’t all treated as “innocent until proven guilty.” Money matters in the system, and poor defendants often have the cards stacked against them.

There are fatal flaws in our criminal justice system, and I know now that there are innocent people behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit. Inadequate defense representation creates an uneven playing field. Too many people are blindsided into taking plea deals for crimes they didn’t commit. People end up falling through the cracks.

I donate to the Innocence Project not only because of their noble work to overturn wrongful convictions, but also because they seek to provide a balance badly needed in a system that has veered far from the one that our founding fathers created.

I also frequently share news from the Innocence Project’s Facebook page with my friends because I feel that educating my generation will go a long way toward fixing the inequalities in the system. The Innocence Project is working to overturn injustice, and I’m proud to play a part in their successes.



Join John by donating online today.


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