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Links to archived best of the blogs:
March 10, 2010
Withheld Evidence - Not Wrongful Imprisonment?
June 11, 2012
Child Protective Svc's & Controversial Medical Diagnoses
October 3, 2009
Problems with Justice: How Far is Too Far for a Conviction?
|Posted on September 22, 2009 at 1:12 PM||comments (56)|
In 2007, Ohio Rule 16 was not yet revised to mandate that prosecutors turn over all evidence against (and for) the defendent when his/her attorney requested discovery in a criminal case. That means, for a civil case, such as a credit card company suing for non-payment, or a fender-bender car accident, you were entitled to full discovery and you'd know if there was an eye-witness that had come forward to tell the prosecutor you weren't even there in the first place. But woe to the person who was up for the death penalty, such as my husband, accused of murder, felonious assault, and a number of other charges falling in this category because legally it was not required of a prosecutor to let known the fact an eye witness might have exoneration information about you!
In the event that someone is not familiar with the 2008 article in the Plain Dealer (largest newspaper in Ohio) let me post some memorable quotes here now:
"This month, a federal ap peals court overturned yet another death-penalty sentence in a case tried in Cuyahoga County because prosecutors had hidden evidence the defense should have had" (Gaylord, 2008).
"Reginald Jells has languished on death row for 20 years while this miscarriage of justice persisted" (Gaylord, 2008).
"Consider Carmen Marino - a former star prosecutor (in Cuyahoga County) criticized for repeated prosecutorial misconduct, including failing to disclose exculpatory evidence" (Gaylord, 2008).
Maybe this is okay, though. I mean after all, as I said in the first journal, a "fair trial" and "due process" is served so on appeal, which is his right, he'll be found innocent and all's well with the world again. Consider the fact that Mr. Jells spent 20 years in prison anticipating being put to death for a crime he did not commit. 20 years.
Maybe it's not so okay, is it?
I helped get a few signatures for the lobby to push the Supreme Court to vote favorably for Full Discovery; while most defense lawyers were obviously onboard with it, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office protested (other prosecutors were accepting of it). On April 30, 2009, "After decades of passionate debate, prosecutors and defense lawyers throughout the state have joined forces in crafting a proposal for sharing evidence in criminal trials" (Atassi, 2009). Except in cases where it would potentially endanger a witness, the defense attorney is now be allowed to see everything, make photocopies and not be forced to speed write as a prosecutor reads select passages or just outright doesn't offer the excuplatory evidence.
It makes me wonder about two missing blood tests allegedly not ordered. It's altogether possible since everyone seemed to be working under the conclusion that their assumption was based in scientific fact at Rainbow Babies that my daughter was the victim of abuse, namely "Shaken Infant Syndrome" as was the diagnosis littered throughout the medical records. But there are other things my husband's defense team never gave me, indicating to me they didn't have them. Was it their error? Did they just not realize to get the information or is it that it was never offered? Rumors tell of DNA evidence telling where my daughter fell, of DNA not found on the coffee table my husband fell on earlier in the day proving my daughter was not involved with it, and a few other items. Why weren't the lab results included with the defense attorney's copies? My belief is they did not have it.
On the other hand, police are allowed to lie to an accused during interrogation. Oh yes, they are! Surprising isn't it? They can lie like a rug and it's all perfectly legal. So maybe it never really existed to begin with (like the standard blood tests allegedly not ordered)...right?
I asked for things like that about a month ago and was told the prosecutor's office would have been turned over anything like that. No word about what existed only that the prosecutor's office had it and I'd have to ask them. After all, the wonderfully sympathetic people at the prosecutor's office would surely be willing to hand over their evidence to me if I asked them nicely and said "pretty please". Lol...
But what does it matter in the long run? Justice isn't about the truth necessarily. It's just about whatever can be convinced to a jury. Silly me, looking for the truth again. After all, it wasn't their daughter, husband and family.
Atassi, L. (2009, May 2). Ohio prosecutors, defense lawyers to draft proposal to share evidence in criminal trials. The Plain Dealer. Retrieved from http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/cuyahoga/124125327775460.xml&coll=2
Gaylord, B. (2008, August 26). Ohio justice should be blind; defendants should be able to see -. The Plain Dealer, p.
|Posted on September 22, 2009 at 12:39 PM||comments (64)|
Some of you are probably wondering how an innocent person would get caught up in this. After all, I've heard enough times "where there's smoke there's fire" so I'm sure you'll all be familiar with that assumption as well.
I was reading an article in Newsweek (it was an available recent magazine in the doctor's office yesterday and that's all) yesterday and in looking for the article on Frankenstein Revisited instead stumbled upon "Innocent Until Executed: We have no right to exoneration" (Lithwick, 2009).
My blog isn't about death penalty arguments, although I suppose since the article was slanted in that manner it could be. "The Innocence Project...claims there have been 241 postconviction DNA exonerations, of which 17 were former death-row inmates spared execution" (Lithwick, 2009). I just want to make my point about how innocent people get caught up in a system. The way this man, Cameron Todd Willingham, got stuck in its grasp is essentially the same as my husband; a crime was created where there really wasn't one.
Essentially, Willingham had a house fire in 1991 that killed his daughters and was found guilty at "a fair trial" to use Chief Justice John Roberts' words (Lithwick, 2009). The house fire was deemed arson and yet in 2004 acclaimed scientist and fire investigator, Gerald Hurst, "conducted an independent investigation of the evidence...and came away with little doubt that it was an accidental fire - likely caused by a space heater or faulty wiring" (Lithwick, 2009). The Innocence Project took the case on, but Willingham was unable to convince the Texas governor's office or State Board of Pardons and Paroles that it was good enough to say his execution. "In 2007 the state of Texas commissioned another renowned arson expert, Craig Beyler, to examin the Willingham evidence" (Lithwick, 2009). He too concluded that the original investigation that proved Willingham was guilty of arson and 3 counts of murder had "no scientific basis" (Lithwick, 2009).
My husband was originally up for aggravated murder charge, which carries the death penalty in the state of Ohio. I have to wonder at it all because look at how close he became to being the Ohio version of Willinham. I shudder to even imagine it.
Two cases. Two different men. Both are caught up in a system that ignores truth or science or facts in lieu of this ideal of law being blind, a fair trial means due process was served (or in my husband's case, defense lawyers so far in over their heads convincing their client to plead guilty to murdering his daughter and spend life in prison because after all he must be guilty if they can't find the defense), and therefore not worth listening to those trite pleas of innocence afterward. After all, "everyone in (prison) is innocent, you know that" (The Shawshank Redemption, 1994).
In my husband's case, the three appellate judges concluded that as my husband took a guilty plea, which is a legal confession regardless of actual reasons for pleading it, then even though the trial court made any mistakes then it didn't matter. Any protestations now of innocence are "self-serving" and such is the lingo of appeals.
Our third appeal will have a different approach; obviously I cannot tell you anything about it, but as soon as I can afford to get experts ready...it will be filed. Please take the time to go to the homepage of this site and consider making a donation. Everything helps. Obviously if some billionaire were to stumble on this website and want to donate a considerable amount to our defense fund that would be extraordinarily great luck for us. In the meantime, I appreciate anything you can offer, even if it's just the equivalent of a dinner out with the family or taking a sandwich to work and donating the difference of the cost in eating out that day. I certainly won't turn that away. It all goes toward helping me get those experts at trial, postage to mail files, copying and scanning costs at an unmentioned place is akin to highway robbery and the mafia has no market cornered on rackets like fees and costs at the courts associated with things like obtaining copies of transcripts or whatnot.
Thank you for reading my blog today. Stay tuned when I discuss "Full Discovery in the State of Ohio."
Lithwick, D. (2009, September 14). Innocent until executed: we have no right to exoneration. Newsweek, p. 25
Marvin, N. (Producer), & Darabont, F. (Director). (1994) The Shawshank Redemption [Motion Picture]. USA: Columbia Pictures.