Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hank Skinner; Michael Morton: The Austin Chronicle asks "Where's the evidence?" - a masterful article by reporter Jordan Smith on the increasing risk of miscarriages of justice resulting from the failure to preserve and retain crucial evidence of forensic significance.

STORY: "Where's your evidence?" Advances in forensic science have made physical evidence increasingly crucial in criminal justice - but the practice of preserving and maintaining that evidence is often underfunded, poorly managed, or just plain sloppy," by reporter Jordan Smith, published in the Austin Chronicle on February 15, 2013.

GIST: "Of course, it is hard to know exactly how many people may be serving sentences for crimes they did not commit – and that worries Primo, as he struggles to get his county to enact policies that might prevent that outcome. "The issue becomes, how many other cases could have, or would have, been resolved in a more just manner if the evidence had been retained?" he wonders. To think that the state could be preventing miscarriages of justice but simply isn't because of a lack of will or even a minimal amount of funding for training and preservation, disturbs Primo. "To a person sitting in a jail cell who knows they're innocent who wants testing, to find out that the county hasn't cared about that evidence ... that's really sad." Indeed, UT law professor Bill Allison knows well the power of long-held evidence; he represented Michael Morton back in 1986 after Morton was accused – falsely – of murdering his wife Christine at their home in Williamson County, a crime for which Morton spent nearly 25 years behind bars before finally being exonerated in 2012, thanks to DNA testing of evidence that had until recently been ignored by the state. "We ought to be looking five to 10 years down the road," toward scientific advancements and should be working toward them, he says. "We ought to know what's coming." Dallas D.A. Watkins agrees. "Out of an abundance of caution," he says, Texas needs to act now to ensure compliance with evidence laws and to mandate proper training for all in law enforcement who handle evidence. "Science will progress, and science allows us not only to find mistakes that were made in the past and to make them right, but also to go forward to ensure that we don't repeat these mistakes in the future.""

The entire story can be found at:


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The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

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Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.