News 02.29.12

The Innocence Project Online: February 2012

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Innocence Project


Innocence Project
FEBRUARY 2012

[ 289 EXONERATED ]

In This Issue


Prosecutorial Oversight Tour Begins in New York City


Texas Supreme Court Orders Inquiry into Prosecutorial Misconduct in Morton Case


Texas Victim of Unjust Conviction Memorialized


Why I Give: A Donor Profile

News Watch

Time’s “Game Changers” Series Features Co-Director Barry Scheck


Byron Halsey


Time magazine’s online “Game Changers” series has put out a video featuring Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck and exoneree Byron Halsey. The video uses Halsey’s story to show the injustice committed when the wrongfully convicted go to prison and the difference it makes when exonerations finally restore justice to the innocent.

Appeals Court Upholds Ruling in Starks Case

A decision from an Illinois appeals court would make it difficult for Lake County prosecutors to retry Bennie Starks for a 1986 rape for which DNA testing has definitively excluded him as the source of semen in the case. Prosecutors had sought to retry Starks using past testimony from the now-deceased victim, under the theory that the 68-year-old had sex with another man prior to the attack, despite the fact that she had told police she hadn’t had sex in weeks. The court upheld a lower court ruling that the past testimony was inadmissable.

Help Free the Innocent

With the generous support of individuals like you, the Innocence Project has exonerated scores of innocent people and worked around the country to reform our criminal justice system.


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What You’re Saying

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On exoneree compensation:


Candy D.

, via Facebook: “There isn’t enough money in the world to compensate for your life, but at least this makes a statement.”


Donna S.

, via Facebook: “Many people do not realize that exonerees do not have the same re-entry assistance (whatever that might be) as those who are released after serving their sentences or granted parole.”

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Prosecutorial Oversight Tour Begins in New York City

Firsenbaum and Friedman

On February 6, 2012, the Innocence Project, the Veritas Initiative, the Innocence Project New Orleans and Voices of Innocence held their first stop in a nationwide tour, “Prosecutorial Oversight: A National Dialogue in the wake of

Connick v. Thompson

,” at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City. The panel in New York was also sponsored by the Jacob Burns Ethics Center at the Cardozo School of Law. The goal of the tour is to explore possible policy reforms to prevent prosecutorial misconduct.

John Thompson, who lost his appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011 and was stripped of his $14 million civil award for the intentional misconduct that caused his wrongful murder conviction and near execution, was joined by Cardozo Professor Ellen Yaroshefsky, New York Supreme Court Judges Hon. Richard Buchter and Hon. Elisa Koenderman, Sarah Jo Hamilton of Scalise & Hamilton, LLP, and

Ross E. Firsenbaum and Shauna Friedman

 (pictured) of Wilmer Hale. The panel, which was moderated by Innocence Project Executive Director Maddy deLone, is the first in a series meant to spark a national dialogue on possible solutions. You can view the event in its entirety at the

Prosecutorial Oversight website

.


Watch a video about Thompson’s case.



Texas Supreme Court Orders Inquiry into Prosecutorial Misconduct in Morton Case

MMortonforNewsletter.jpg

Texas Supreme Court Justice Wallace Jefferson has ordered a court of inquiry to investigate possible prosecutorial misconduct by former Williamson County prosecutor Ken Anderson in his prosecution of Michael Morton. The Innocence Project, which represented Morton, discovered that evidence of Morton’s innocence was withheld from the defense at his original trial in 1987 and called for the court of inquiry to review the prosecution’s conduct in the case.

Morton was wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife and spent nearly 25 years in prison before his release in October. Among the suppressed evidence was a police transcript of the victim’s mother saying that the Mortons’ three-year-old son, who witnessed the murder, told her that his father was not at home at the time; a report from a neighbor observing someone outside the Mortons’ house before the murder; and a report on the recovery of the victim’s Visa card, which a woman had attempted to use fraudulently at a store in San Antonio two days after her murder.


Read more about Morton’s case

.



Texas Victim of Unjust Conviction Memorialized

Tim Cole Memorial

The Texas Historical Commission dedicated a monument to Tim Cole, the first person to be posthumously exonerated in Texas’ history, at a moving ceremony on February 5 at Cole’s Forth Worth gravesite. Wrongfully imprisoned for rape, Cole died 10 years before he could be proven innocent through DNA testing in 2009. The case sparked the Tim Cole Act, which increased compensation for exonerated prisoners and the Tim Cole Advisory Panel on Wrongful Convictions.


Read more about Cole’s case

.

Joyce_Kim.jpg


Why I Give: A Donor Profile


Joyce Kim


Co-Founder of the travel website

simplehoney.com


San Francisco, CA

I started working at the Innocence Project in 2002 when I was at Columbia Law School through a public interest internship. I was doing evidence searches, managing relationships with clients, writing briefs, and also interacting with prisons to help improve conditions for our clients. Prisoner welfare is not a high priority in most facilities, but if you put enough light on it you can get results. One of our clients had diabetes, and the prison wasn’t providing proper medical care so we spent a lot of time working with the prison authorities to make sure that he got proper care. I worked with the Innocence Project until I graduated from law school and two of my cases, Larry Peterson and Alan Newton, have resulted in exonerations. Since graduation and deciding not to practice law, I have become active in fundraising.

I’m co-organizing a fundraiser for technology entrepreneurs, bloggers and venture capitalists. I think it’s important to make sure that the Innocence Project is getting the exposure from people that are immersed in the internet. The web has become a critical tool for communication. We take it for granted, but it is now more powerful than radio and television in many ways. One message can go so much further if 1,000 people share it online than if 1,000 people hear it on the TV or radio. Ideally, I’d like to see the Innocence Project put itself out of business because it has solved all of these issues on the lobbying side, but I don’t think that’s a political possibility right now. Therefore, it’s very important for the IP to have the resources it can gather to help innocent people that are stuck in the system. They have no other way of getting out.


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