Friday, May 26, 2017

Eric Loomis: Wisconsin; Technology; (Indiana Risk Assessment System): Judgment by algorithm; (Whatever happened to King Solomon? HL)...Eric Loomis just wants to know how, exactly, an algorithm determined he posed a high risk to the community."..."Sentencing him to six years of incarceration and five years of extended supervision, the trial judge pointed to Loomis’ history of recidivism and failure to take responsibility. Also, the court noted the result of an actuarial assessment tool that labeled him likelier to reoffend. Loomis filed a motion for post-conviction relief, arguing, in part, that his due process rights were violated because the court relied on the computer-based assessment program COMPAS (Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions). A central question is whether the claims by COMPAS developer Northpointe Inc. — that the calculations were proprietary — prevented Loomis from challenging the scientific validity of the assessment. Now the Supreme Court of the United States is considering taking a closer look."


STORY: "Judgment by algorithm," by Marilyn Odendahl, published by  The Indiana Lawyer on May 17, 2017.

PHOTO CAPTION: "Eric Loomis just wants to know how, exactly, an algorithm determined he posed a high risk to the community."

GIST: "The Wisconsin man was charged in connection with a February 2013 drive-by shooting in La Crosse. He has continued to maintain he was home cooking dinner at the time of the incident, but he did plead guilty to two related offenses of trying to flee police and driving a motor vehicle without the owner’s permission. Sentencing him to six years of incarceration and five years of extended supervision, the trial judge pointed to Loomis’ history of recidivism and failure to take responsibility. Also, the court noted the result of an actuarial assessment tool that labeled him likelier to reoffend. Loomis filed a motion for post-conviction relief, arguing, in part, that his due process rights were violated because the court relied on the computer-based assessment program COMPAS (Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions). A central question is whether the claims by COMPAS developer Northpointe Inc. — that the calculations were proprietary — prevented Loomis from challenging the scientific validity of the assessment. Now the Supreme Court of the United States is considering taking a closer look. Loomis filed a petition for writ of certiorari in October 2016 after the Wisconsin Supreme Court denied his motion for resentencing. In March 2017, the court invited the acting solicitor general to file a brief on the case. Risk assessments and algorithms are not new. They have been used routinely by criminal justice systems in many states to predict how likely the defendant or offender is to commit another crime.  Indiana has a set of such tools to help determine conditions for pretrial release, community supervision, prison intake, and re-entry. The Indiana Risk Assessment System scores an individual’s responses to a series of questions that range from criminal history and substance abuse to employment and social support Like the Wisconsin tool, the IRAS scores are based on algorithms. Both the Indiana Public Defender Council and the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council expressed reservations about IRAS. The organizations note IRAS scores have not been validated as to their accuracy when applied to the Indiana offenders. Moreover, they worry judges will rely more on the numerical score than their own discretion. IRAS scores are actuarial and not individualized. The assessment tools put the defendants or offenders in certain groups based on shared characteristics. The IRAS-Pretrial Assessment Tool labels an individual as low-, medium- or high-risk, depending on the typical behavior of the group..........Noting risk assessment tools are not going anywhere, David Powell, executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, said they must provide a valid, accountable, objective analysis and the outcomes have to be measured.  Algorithms cannot replace personal judgment, he said, giving the example that IRAS does not consider the nature of the crime. A person charged with a heinous act might be deemed low-risk if it was the first crime he or she committed. Prosecutors who turn the decision-making over to the victims have been disciplined for transfer of discretion, and Powell sees the same possibility for running afoul of court rules when judges rely too much on IRAS. “Prosecutors are not big fans of IRAS, by and large,” he said. “The fear we have is the tool will be used in lieu of judicial discretion.”.........News reports, including a series done by ProPublica in 2016, have focused on the potential for bias against minorities built into these kinds of assessment tools. Landis described particular questions in the IRAS, which he said ask the age of the offender’s first arrest and whether the offender has any relatives in prison, as being racially biased."
The entire story can be found at:

http://www.theindianalawyer.com/judgment-by-algorithm/PARAMS/article/43719

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Tyrone Noling; Ohio: Development: Bulletin: New rules the state’s high court adopted Monday (effective June 1) will enable inmates sentenced to death to appeal rejections of applications for additional DNA testing of evidence directly to the Ohio Supreme Court — a change prompted by a ruling late last year in this case...Reporter Marc Kovac...The Canton Repository. May 22, 2017..."He (Noling) twice was indicted for the crime and convicted about five years later, based on testimony of several young men who were involved with him in a string of robberies in Alliance, according to documents. Noling has maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings, arguing that there is evidence of other perpetrators. DNA evidence from the scene did not match Noling or the other men involved in the case and did not identify any alternative suspects, according to documents. State investigators also determined that shell casings and ring boxes from the crime scene have been contaminated and are not suitable for DNA testing, according to documents."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Just a few words to express my disgust and concern  over the alleged assault  last night by U.S. Republican candidate Greg Gianforte on journalist Ben Jacobs of The Guardian. In a statement, Gianforte, who has since been charged with a misdemeanor,  portrayed himself through a  spokesman  as the victim, of  'aggressive behaviour of a 'liberal journalist.'  The attack, which occurred to the backdrop of President Donald Trump's portrayal  of reporters as 'the enemy of the people'  was unwarranted and vicious.  Jacobs was just doing his important job. My job. The job of every reporter.  The assault, and Gianforte's response,  should be condemned by anyone who treasures freedom of speech regardless of their political stripe  - including Republicans. (Sadly, that's not likely  in the USA of today.)

Harold Levy:  Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog.

------------------------------------------------------------

"New rules the state’s high court adopted Monday will enable inmates sentenced to death to appeal rejections of applications for additional DNA testing of evidence directly to the Ohio Supreme Court — a change prompted by a ruling late last year in a Portage County murder case. Justices ruled in December that Tyrone Noling would be allowed to appeal a trial court’s earlier denial of further testing of evidence from the scene of the murder of an elderly couple more than 25 years ago. The rules change, which will take effect on June 1, outlines the process for inmates sentenced to death to appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court when common pleas courts reject applications for additional DNA testing. Noling, formerly of Alliance, was convicted for the April 1990 murder of the Bernhardt and Cora Hartig, who were found shot to death in the kitchen of their home in Atwater Township. He twice was indicted for the crime and convicted about five years later, based on testimony of several young men who were involved with him in a string of robberies in Alliance, according to documents. Noling has maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings, arguing that there is evidence of other perpetrators. DNA evidence from the scene did not match Noling or the other men involved in the case and did not identify any alternative suspects, according to documents. State investigators also determined that shell casings and ring boxes from the crime scene have been contaminated and are not suitable for DNA testing, according to documents.

http://www.cantonrep.com/news/20170522/appeals-involving-dna-testing-in-death-row-cases-to-go-directly-to-ohio-supreme-court



PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Establishing Innocence: It's a lot more difficult after a guilty verdict; Greg Brown: Pennsylvania; Arson; Establishing innocence: Why it can be "enormously difficult" to establish innocence "even when the case hinged on bad science."..."On this week’s episode of 90.5 WESA’s Criminal Injustice podcast, University of Pittsburgh law professor and show host David Harris talked to Marissa Boyers Bluestine, legal director for the Pennsylvania Innocence Project."..." Greg Brown was convicted of setting a fire in his home on Valentine's Day in 1995. And yet we believe that this is a case where it was not arson, that it was actually an accidental fire. But in putting out the fire, three firefighters died and then lost their lives tragically. Greg was prosecuted for that. He was convicted of it, and in about 10 years afterwards, we find out that witnesses had an undisclosed promise from the federal government that they would receive up to $15,000 reward money for their testimony. When we exposed that, Greg has granted a new trial, and he is still awaiting trial in federal court in Pittsburgh...These cases take years just to get the evidence to be able to show that this person is innocent. And even once we're in court, then it can be used more of litigation. With Greg Brown's case, the case that we have out of Pittsburgh, we started the case in 2010. We won the new trial in 2014, and even today in 2017 he's still awaiting trial. These are very long, drawn out cases. We don't have a magic wand. It takes very intensive work over years and years."

 


GIST: "The exposure of wrongful convictions began in 1989, and it upended the idea that guilty verdicts were always trustworthy. When there’s a wrongful conviction, what has to happen to get a court to exonerate someone? On this week’s episode of 90.5 WESA’s Criminal Injustice podcast, University of Pittsburgh law professor and show host David Harris talked to Marissa Boyers Bluestine, legal director for the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. She says its enormously difficult to establish innocence – even when the case hinged on bad science or faulty evidence – after a court declares someone guilty.

DAVID HARRIS: What sorts of errors are you looking for in the convictions?
MARISSA BOYERS BLUESTINE: We have almost a laundry list of errors that can go wrong in the trial. Could the eyewitness have misidentified the defendant? Could the defendant have given the confession that was false? Was there forensic science error? Could some of the witnesses who testified have lied, either for benefit of because they wanted to? Was there error from the prosecution or from the police? So we know that the system has error all sprinkled throughout it. It's our job to try to figure out where it happened in a particular case.

HARRIS: And when you say the system has error throughout it, what we're talking about is a systems problem. It's not people who are doing bad things, it's the system occasionally not working.
BOYERS BLUESTINE: That's absolutely right. It's not that police and prosecutors want to get it wrong. They don't. They want to get it right, but because it's a system built upon humans and where humans power it, there's going to be flaws. What we have to do to fix this is to understand where those flaws come in and try to help train ourselves against them so they're not so prevalent.

HARRIS: You had a really complicated case in Pittsburgh, the case of Greg Brown. Tell me about him.
BOYERS BLUESTINE: Greg Brown was convicted of setting a fire in his home on Valentine's Day in 1995. And yet we believe that this is a case where it was not arson, that it was actually an accidental fire. But in putting out the fire, three firefighters died and then lost their lives tragically. Greg was prosecuted for that. He was convicted of it, and in about 10 years afterwards, we find out that witnesses had an undisclosed promise from the federal government that they would receive up to $15,000 reward money for their testimony. When we exposed that, Greg has granted a new trial, and he is still awaiting trial in federal court in Pittsburgh.

HARRIS: It sounds like what you have to do is basically totally reinvestigate the case from the beginning.
BOYERS BLUESTINE: We absolutely investigate from the beginning. We leave no witness unspoken to. We talk to every witness who would talk to us, police officers, prosecutors, informants. It doesn't matter – co-defendants. We'll talk to everybody. We don't avoid talking to a witness, because we don't like what they might say. We don't avoid asking particular questions. We want to know the facts.

HARRIS: You said that you go forward with a presumption of guilt actually, not a presumption of innocence. Can you explain why what that means?
BOYERS BLUESTINE: We want to make sure that the cases we take are people who are actually innocent. If we go in with a belief of innocence and trying to "prove innocence," then we probably will get what we're looking for. We want to know what the facts are. So we don't try to gin the outcome. We don't try to get a witness to say something we think would be helpful. We just want to know what they have to say, because everything we do is based on the facts – not about what we want the facts to be.

HARRIS: How long can the process take? Are we talking a few months? Several years?
BOYERS BLUESTINE: It can be anywhere in between. In between a few weeks, months or years, but most likely years. These cases take years just to get the evidence to be able to show that this person is innocent. And even once we're in court, then it can be used more of litigation. With Greg Brown's case, the case that we have out of Pittsburgh, we started the case in 2010. We won the new trial in 2014, and even today in 2017 he's still awaiting trial. These are very long, drawn out cases. We don't have a magic wand. It takes very intensive work over years and years.

HARRIS: So you've been doing this in Pennsylvania since 2009. In that time, there have been eight exonerations through your organization's work. When you're successful, what kind of life can the newly proven innocent person expect?
BOYERS BLUESTINE: Because we don't have a compensation statute, it really is up to the individual and their support system to be able to provide a new life for them. They don't even get an expungement. The arrest will still show up on their criminal record, so we have to work to expunge the petition. But beyond that – getting them a job and housing and health care and mental health counseling and family reunification counseling and all that – that falls on us, because we don't just open the door and let them go. They're part of our lives now. We're part of theirs. So we have to do everything we can to help people with a successful re-entry. And sometimes that works in a phenomenal way. Our client Jean, he and his wife just had their second child together. He's in middle management at a really terrific job. I have another client who has two pairs of pants and runs from couch to couch to be able to try to have a place to live. So it really can go the whole gamut."

The entire story can be found at:

http://wesa.fm/post/establishing-innocence-lot-more-difficult-after-guilty-verdict#stream/0
 PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

David Harold Eastman: Australia; Bulletin: Second trial over murder of former Canberra Police Chief Colin Winchester pushed back more than six months...Reporter Megan Gorrey; Canberra Times. May 24, 2017..." Eastman, 71, was set to face a jury for the second time from July to fight allegations he gunned down Mr Winchester, in a fresh trial estimated at six months and with more than 300 witnesses. That trial has now been vacated and the case has been delayed until February next year. Eastman was charged with murdering Mr Winchester, who was AFP assistant commissioner at the time, in the driveway of his south Canberra home in 1989. He was convicted and sentenced to life behind bars in 1995 and has since launched a series of long-running legal battles in the ACT's courts. His conviction was eventually quashed in 2014 after a court found he did not get a fair trial and he was released from prison after serving more than 19 years in jail."


"David Eastman's planned mammoth retrial for the shooting death of former Canberra police chief Colin Winchester has been pushed back and will not start until 2018, more than six months after the case was expected to begin in the ACT Supreme Court. Eastman, 71, was set to face a jury for the second time from July to fight allegations he gunned down Mr Winchester, in a fresh trial estimated at six months and with more than 300 witnesses. That trial has now been vacated and the case has been delayed until February next year. Eastman was charged with murdering Mr Winchester, who was AFP assistant commissioner at the time, in the driveway of his south Canberra home in 1989. He was convicted and sentenced to life behind bars in 1995 and has since launched a series of long-running legal battles in the ACT's courts. His conviction was eventually quashed in 2014 after a court found he did not get a fair trial and he was released from prison after serving more than 19 years in jail. Prosecutors vowed to push ahead with a fresh trial, prompting Mr Eastman to launch an application for a permanent stay of proceedings. His lawyers argued a retrial would not be fair and extensive media coverage, as well as Eastman's age, mental health and time already served weighed against a second trial going ahead.........Acting Justice David Ashley last year threw out that application. Eastman strongly affirmed his innocence after the failed court bid and vowed he would continue to fight the allegations.........Eastman is on bail. The ACT government set aside more than $3.3 million for the DPP and court system, as well as $1.7 million for Legal Aid, for the Eastman case in the 2015-16 budget. "


Bryan Fish: New York; Police, false memory, perjury and arson: A toxic mix? Daily Gazette reporter Steven Cook reports on the aftermath of the Hulett Street fatal arson case..."Bryan Fish is facing trial next month on three counts of perjury related to the arson case. He allegedly told three separate lies about a driver in a now-discredited account about who started the May 2013 fire that killed three children and a father, as well as maimed then-5-year-old Safyre Terry. Fish faces up to 15 years in federal prison if convicted of all counts against him. Fish's attorney, Frederick Rench, is arguing that his client recanted false testimony within 11 days and that contradictory testimony offered by another figure in the case minimized the impact on the grand jury proceedings as a whole. Rench also gave notice that the defense may call an expert in the field of false memory to the stand. The expert, Deryn Strange, of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, would comment on the videotaped police interrogation of Fish. "She will testify as to the factors that can cause or contribute to false memory, the questions, comments, representations, misrepresentations and interrogation techniques used by law enforcement ... could impact the creation and maintenance of false memory in Bryan Fish," Rench wrote. Fish's false account helped lead to charges against Robert Butler, then 27, who was accused of setting the fatal fire."


STORY: "False memory expert could testify in arson perjury trial," by reporter Steven Cook, published by The Daily Gazette on May 18, 2017.

SUB-HEADING:  "Hulett Street fire killed 4 members of family."

GIST: "The last perjury defendant in the Hulett Street fatal arson case wants the charges against him either dropped or consolidated and may present an expert in false memories at his trial, according to recent court filings. Bryan Fish is facing trial next month on three counts of perjury related to the arson case. He allegedly told three separate lies about a driver in a now-discredited account about who started the May 2013 fire that killed three children and a father, as well as maimed then-5-year-old Safyre Terry. Fish faces up to 15 years in federal prison if convicted of all counts against him. Fish's attorney, Frederick Rench, is arguing that his client recanted false testimony within 11 days and that contradictory testimony offered by another figure in the case minimized the impact on the grand jury proceedings as a whole. Rench also gave notice that the defense may call an expert in the field of false memory to the stand. The expert, Deryn Strange, of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, would comment on the videotaped police interrogation of Fish. "She will testify as to the factors that can cause or contribute to false memory, the questions, comments, representations, misrepresentations and interrogation techniques used by law enforcement ... could impact the creation and maintenance of false memory in Bryan Fish," Rench wrote. Fish's false account helped lead to charges against Robert Butler, then 27, who was accused of setting the fatal fire. Butler spent nine months in custody before prosecutors dropped the charges and freed him as another suspect emerged."


The entire story can be found at:

https://dailygazette.com/article/2017/05/17/false-memory-expert-could-testify-in-arson-perjury-trial

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com.  Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Sith Blog;

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bulletin: René Bailey: New York; Bulletin: Freed in shaken-baby syndrome decision, Democrat and Chronicle reports she must stand trial again..."But in 2010 a volunteer lawyer, Adele Bernhard, agreed to look into Bailey's case. Bernhard later mounted a legal argument that the scientific underpinning of shaken-baby syndrome had changed. Bernhard said research had found that illness and accident, including falls, could cause injuries that previously had been ascribed to shaking. The research constituted new evidence in Bailey's case, she said. After a lengthy hearing in late 2014, state Supreme Court Justice James Piampiano reversed Bailey's conviction, saying there had been a "compelling and consequential shift" in the science surrounding shaken-baby syndrome. If today's scientific evidence had been available in 2001, he opined it was likely Bailey would not have been convicted. It was the first time a court had reversed a New York shaken-baby conviction on the basis of new science."... Reporters Steve Or and Gary Craig; May 23, 2017;



"A woman whose 2001 shaken-baby murder conviction was overturned in a landmark court decision must stand trial again, a judge ordered on Tuesday. State Supreme Court Justice Judith Sinclair denied a motion to dismiss the second-degree homicide indictment of Greece caregiver René Bailey and set a trial date of Sept. 5. Bailey was accused 16 years ago of violently shaking a toddler she was watching in her home day care, causing fatal brain injuries. Medical experts testified for the prosecution that Brittney Sheets' injuries could only have been caused by shaking or similar physical abuse. Jurors disregarded Bailey's assertion that Sheets had fallen from a chair and struck her head. But in 2010 a volunteer lawyer, Adele Bernhard, agreed to look into Bailey's case. Bernhard later mounted a legal argument that the scientific underpinning of shaken-baby syndrome had changed.
Bernhard said research had found that illness and accident, including falls, could cause injuries that previously had been ascribed to shaking. The research constituted new evidence in Bailey's case, she said. After a lengthy hearing in late 2014, state Supreme Court Justice James Piampiano reversed Bailey's conviction, saying there had been a "compelling and consequential shift" in the science surrounding shaken-baby syndrome. If today's scientific evidence had been available in 2001, he opined it was likely Bailey would not have been convicted. It was the first time a court had reversed a New York shaken-baby conviction on the basis of new science. In November 2016, a four-judge panel of the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court affirmed Piampiano's decision. That also was a first in New York. Bailey, now 57, would have been eligible for parole in January of this year had her conviction not been overturned. In February, Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley said she had decided to re-try Bailey. Bailey's lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, and argued the matter before Sinclair in April. The judge denied that motion Tuesday. Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Sara VanStrydonck, a prosecutor in the case, said she expects “a lot of medical testimony” at the September trial. “I don’t think they can parade a million quote-unquote experts in,” she said.
http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2017/05/23/greece-rene-bailey-shaken-baby-syndrome-retrial/340389001/

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com.

Hassan Diab: Canadian: Detained on extradition warrant in France: A powerful commentary by Mohamed Fahmy: "How a Canadian professor’s life became a horror show."..."At this point of the drama we get a view of the real bomber as he fills in the registration card at the Celtic Hotel in Paris and checks in under the alias of Alexander Panadriyu, a Cypriot citizen. Four handwriting experts have declared Diab’s handwriting does not match the writing of the bomber on the card. Several French experts insist his handwriting matches five words written by the suspect — a conclusion widely critiqued. The political thriller takes a new turn when the palm and fingerprints on the hotel registration card and in the car that transported the explosives do not match Diab’s prints taken by the RCMP. Case documents reveal the hotel receptionist and porter described the bomber as a man in his mid-40s. Diab was 26 at the time. Not a single hotel employee was able to identify Diab when the French police showed them his photo. Nevertheless, the unprecedented two-year extradition hearing ended in catastrophe."


COMMENTARY: "How a Canadian professor’s life became a horror show," by Mohamed Fahmy, published by The Toronto Star  on May 23, 2017. (Mohamed Fahmy is an award-winning journalist and war correspondent. He is the author of The Marriott Cell: An Epic Journey from Cairo’s Scorpion Prison to Freedom.)

SUB-HEADING: "French election results renew hope justice will finally come to Hassan Diab."


GIST: This story has been compared to a B-movie. Canadian-Lebanese professor Hassan Diab is left in awe when a French journalist approaches him in 2007 at the University of Ottawa to inform him he is under investigation in relation to a bombing that killed four people near the Copernic St. synagogue in Paris close to three decades ago. Thirteen months later the RCMP arrests Diab at the request of the French police, who consider him the suspect.  The suspenseful movie trailer begins with quick flashes of Diab’s life spiralling out of control as the extradition court battle intensifies on Canadian soil. Journalists film Diab and dozens of his supporters holding signs protesting his innocence. The flimsy case against Diab is built on German “secret unsourced intelligence” handed to the French. Authorities blamed the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine for the bombing. The militant group had claimed responsibility for a string of bombings, assassinations, and hijacking of airplanes in the late 1960s and 1970s. German intelligence reports submitted to court that I read indicate “five Palestinians” known to the investigators as members of the PFLP could have been behind the attack. Rania Tfaily, Diab’s wife confirmed to me that he was not born in Palestine and had no Palestinian origins. More shockingly, the intelligence names the suspect as “Hassan El Diab” not “Diab” — a big difference that could be translated into a case of mistaken identity. At this point of the drama we get a view of the real bomber as he fills in the registration card at the Celtic Hotel in Paris and checks in under the alias of Alexander Panadriyu, a Cypriot citizen. Four handwriting experts have declared Diab’s handwriting does not match the writing of the bomber on the card. Several French experts insist his handwriting matches five words written by the suspect — a conclusion widely critiqued. The political thriller takes a new turn when the palm and fingerprints on the hotel registration card and in the car that transported the explosives do not match Diab’s prints taken by the RCMP. Case documents reveal the hotel receptionist and porter described the bomber as a man in his mid-40s. Diab was 26 at the time. Not a single hotel employee was able to identify Diab when the French police showed them his photo. Nevertheless, the unprecedented two-year extradition hearing ended in catastrophe. Diab was committed to extradition in June 2011. He was flown to Paris in 2014 where he has been languishing in a tiny cell for 22-hours day after he lost his appeal to an embarrassing Canadian court order. To the naked eye this case would not have resulted in a conviction in a fair Canadian criminal court. Experts believe the 1999 Extradition Act is a black hole in the Canadian legal system that should be re-examined. Unfortunately, this is not a film we can stop or fast forward as we please. It’s a painful reality haunting Diab and his family every day......The good news is that French investigating judges ordered his release six times in the past year. One judge even confirmed there was “consistent evidence” Diab was a student in Lebanon during the time of the bombing in 1980."
The entire story can be found at:
https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/05/23/how-a-canadian-professors-life-became-a-horror-show-fahmy.html

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com.

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Rodney Reed; Texas; Death Row; Appeal court sends case back to judge to weigh claims about prosecutors’ presentation of false testimony in his 1998 capital murder conviction...A twist: State’s key expert witness at the trial, then-Travis County Medical Examiner Dr. Roberto Bayardo, has since disavowed his testimony implicating Reed in the murder...."Reed’s attorney Bryce Benjet said in a statement Wednesday that the state convicted Reed based on medical expert testimony that his semen was found in Stites’ body, which the state claimed could have only come from a sexual assault at or near the time of her death. Reed has claimed he and Stites were carrying on a secret affair, and Benjet said Stites’ cousin and co-workers have confirmed that relationship. Benjet said the state’s key expert witness at the trial, then-Travis County Medical Examiner Dr. Roberto Bayardo, has since disavowed his testimony implicating Reed in the murder by saying that, in his professional opinion, the sperm he found in Stites’ body could have been deposited days before her death, and that based on the very few spermatozoa in Stites’ body, it likely was deposited more than 24 hours before her death. Bayardo has said that if prosecutors had advised him they intended to present testimony that spermatozoa cannot remain intact in the vaginal cavity for more than 26 hours and argued Stites died within 24 hours of the sperm being deposited, he would have advised them that neither the testimony nor the argument was medically or scientifically supported. Benjet said a new analysis of the medical and forensic evidence by forensic pathologists Dr. Michael Baden and Dr. Werner Spitz establishes that Stites was likely killed hours before she was supposed to have left for work and that her body was moved to the location it was found after her death."


STORY: "Rodney Reed case sent back to Bastrop to weigh false testimony claim," by reporter Andy Sevilla, published by reporter Andy Sevilla on May 17, 2017. (Andy Sevilla is the editor of the Bastrop Advertiser and Smithville Times)


SUB-HEADING: "State’s highest criminal court rejects claim that recently discovered evidence supported Reed’s innocence. But appeals court agrees prosecutors failed to disclose the evidence potentially supporting his innocence.

GIST: "The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday remanded death row inmate Rodney Reed’s case back to a Bastrop County court to weigh claims about prosecutors’ presentation of false testimony in his 1998 capital murder conviction. Reed was convicted of the 1996 murder of Stacy Stites, a 19-year-old Giddings resident whose body was found along a rural road in Bastrop County. Prosecutors argued Reed abducted, raped and strangled Stites while she was on her way to work. At one point in 2015, Reed was within 10 days of execution. Reed’s defense team, however, has maintained the Bastrop man is innocent and that recently discovered evidence will prove he didn’t kill Stites. In the ruling issued Wednesday by the state’s highest criminal court, the court rejected a 2015 claim by Reed’s lawyers that newly discovered evidence supported his innocence. But the court agreed with Reed’s other claim that prosecutors failed to disclose the newly discovered evidence and that the evidence “shows that the State presented false and misleading testimony, which violated his right to due process.” Reed’s attorney Bryce Benjet said in a statement Wednesday that the state convicted Reed based on medical expert testimony that his semen was found in Stites’ body, which the state claimed could have only come from a sexual assault at or near the time of her death. Reed has claimed he and Stites were carrying on a secret affair, and Benjet said Stites’ cousin and co-workers have confirmed that relationship. Benjet said the state’s key expert witness at the trial, then-Travis County Medical Examiner Dr. Roberto Bayardo, has since disavowed his testimony implicating Reed in the murder by saying that, in his professional opinion, the sperm he found in Stites’ body could have been deposited days before her death, and that based on the very few spermatozoa in Stites’ body, it likely was deposited more than 24 hours before her death. Bayardo has said that if prosecutors had advised him they intended to present testimony that spermatozoa cannot remain intact in the vaginal cavity for more than 26 hours and argued Stites died within 24 hours of the sperm being deposited, he would have advised them that neither the testimony nor the argument was medically or scientifically supported. Benjet said a new analysis of the medical and forensic evidence by forensic pathologists Dr. Michael Baden and Dr. Werner Spitz establishes that Stites was likely killed hours before she was supposed to have left for work and that her body was moved to the location it was found after her death. Stites’ fiancé, Jimmy Fennell, testified during the trial he was at home with Stites the entire evening before she left to work. Benjet said that testimony has been contradicted by close friend Curtis Davis, a Bastrop County sheriff’s investigator, during an on-camera interview with CNN in 2016, which hasn’t yet aired. Fennell confided to Davis he had been out drinking the night before Stites was killed and went home late. Benjet said that information that was never disclosed to the defense. He said new forensic evidence shows Stites was killed sometime before midnight April 22, 1996, and that her body was moved to the remote location where it was found, whereas prosecutors claimed Stites was strangled during the early morning hours of April 23 on her way to work.........Defense lawyers have argued that Stites was most likely killed by Fennell after he learned of her affair with Reed. Fennell is in prison serving a 10-year sentence for the kidnapping and sexual assault of a woman in his custody when he was a Georgetown police officer in 2007.' The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals said it found that although Reed “has failed to make a prima facie showing of actual innocence,” his lawyers’ claims about the failures to disclose evidence and the false testimony deserved to be heard in trial court, and it ordered the claims to be resolved within two months."


The entire story can be found at:

http://www.mystatesman.com/news/crime--law/rodney-reed-case-sent-back-bastrop-weigh-false-testimony-claim/XVKFPCF5fw77jKT3W3OknM/

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Susan Neill-Fraser; Tasmania; Bulletin; (News 9): Last-ditch appeal to Tasmanian Supreme Court set for tomorrow: (Tuesday 23 May, 2017)..."Susan Neill-Fraser is serving a 23-year sentence for the 2009 murder of her partner Bob Chappell, 65, whose body has never been found after he went missing from the couple's yacht. Neill-Fraser has always maintained her innocence and has failed in previous appeals, which have reached the High Court of Australia."


"A Hobart woman convicted of killing her husband is due to make a last-ditch appeal to the Tasmanian Supreme Court. Susan Neill-Fraser is serving a 23-year sentence for the 2009 murder of her partner Bob Chappell, 65, whose body has never been found after he went missing from the couple's yacht. Neill-Fraser has always maintained her innocence and has failed in previous appeals, which have reached the High Court of Australia. Her lawyers have won the right to an appeal hearing, due to start on Tuesday, claiming they have new evidence to prove their client's innocence.
http://www.9news.com.au/national/2017/05/23/03/32/convicted-killer-tries-again-to-clear-name

See earlier post of this Blog (February 9, 2016) at the link below:' Bulletin: Susan Neill-Fraser; Tasmania; She argues that there is "fresh and compelling evidence" which should open the door for a final right of appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal. She identifies three people who could have killed her partner Bob Chappell - and, "A fresh analysis by forensic science consultant and former top West Australian homicide investigator Mark Reynolds had debunked the Crown’s case the DNA was a secondary transfer, but was rather bodily fluids deposited by direct contact, according to the app­lication. It also claims fresh analysis of forensic evidence cast doubt on police methods. “In certain areas of forensic investigation, the application of accepted forensic techniques ... had not been undertaken with proper attention to detail or had not been undertaken correctly.” It goes on to say Neill-­Fraser could not have dumped Mr Chappell’s body overboard in the way police claimed. The analysis claims it would have been “mechanically imp­ossible for the applicant to have winched the deceased in the manner described by police." The Mercury."
 http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2016/02/bulletin-susan-neill-fraser-tasmania.html

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Tyler Edmonds: Mississippi; False confessions as a barrier to compensation for victims of wrongful convictions. Radley Balko asks 'What does Mississippi owe a 13-year-old who falsely confessed to murder?"..."The NBC News story is mostly a look at the limits of the laws states have passed to compensate the victims of wrongful convictions. Most of these laws prohibit victims who contributed to their own convictions from getting compensated, a stipulation that tends to ensnare people convicted because of false confessions. (Edmonds initially confessed, then retracted his confession a few days later.) This sort of exception to compensation laws is really unfair. It discounts all of the coercion and manipulation that can go into a false confession. In fact, there’s some evidence that innocent people are especially likely to confess under conditions such as prolonged interrogation, sleep deprivation and threats of additional charges. This is because in the moment, they calculate that a confession will at least end the interrogation, and because they’re innocent, the evidence will eventually exonerate them. But Mississippi’s refusal to compensate Edmonds is particularly troubling for a few reasons."


COMMENTARY: "'What does Mississippi owe a 13-year-old who falsely confessed to murder?, by Radley Balko, published by The Washington Post on May 17, 2017.  (Radley Balko blogs about criminal justice, the drug war and civil liberties for The Washington Post. He is the author of the book "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces.")

GIST: NBC News has published a long story about Tyler Edmonds, a Mississippi man convicted in the 2003 murder of his half sister’s husband. Edmonds and his half sister Kristi Fulgham were both convicted of the crime. The NBC News story is mostly a look at the limits of the laws states have passed to compensate the victims of wrongful convictions. Most of these laws prohibit victims who contributed to their own convictions from getting compensated, a stipulation that tends to ensnare people convicted because of false confessions. (Edmonds initially confessed, then retracted his confession a few days later.) This sort of exception to compensation laws is really unfair. It discounts all of the coercion and manipulation that can go into a false confession. In fact, there’s some evidence that innocent people are especially likely to confess under conditions such as prolonged interrogation, sleep deprivation and threats of additional charges. This is because in the moment, they calculate that a confession will at least end the interrogation, and because they’re innocent, the evidence will eventually exonerate them. But Mississippi’s refusal to compensate Edmonds is particularly troubling for a few reasons.........Edmonds in particular checked off a lot of boxes of the factors that can lead to false confessions. He was a minor who had been coerced by a family member whom he trusted and admired. He was also a minor who had just been separated from a parent. He was emotionally and physically immature for his age, also common among false confessors. Edmonds also quickly recanted his confession, common among the innocent. And his confession itself contained inconsistencies, included falsehoods and fell short of taking complete responsibility for the crime. These, too, are all factors common among people who falsely confess. His teachers, his relatives, the parents of his classmates and his school counselor all testified that he was gentle and good-natured. He got good grades, rarely got into trouble and had never been prone to violence. All of this should have cast doubt on Edmonds’s confession from the beginning. But even if prosecutors really believed that Edmonds helped Kristi Fulgham kill her husband, the most likely scenario was that he was a fragile kid who had been emotionally manipulated by a sociopathic sister he adored and saw as a maternal figure. This was no coldblooded killer. And then there was Steven Hayne. Regular readers of The Watch will recognize that name......... At Edmonds’s trial, the prosecutor (Allgood himself didn’t prosecute Edmonds) asked Hayne whether he had viewed Edmonds’s videotaped confession. He had. She then asked whether, in light of that confession, he had considered the position of Joey Fulgham’s body. He said he had. She then asked, “based on the path of the projectile and everything that was viewed,” whether Hayne thought “the defendant’s version of the events is consistent with what you found in Mr. Fulgham?” In other words, were the wounds in Joey Fulgham’s body consistent with Edmonds’s videotaped confession — the one in which he said he and his sister held and fired the gun simultaneously? It was a preposterous question. No medical examiner can tell by the bullet wounds in the body if the gun that fired those bullets was being held by one person or two. Edmonds’s attorney object. This brings up another issue we’ve explored often here at The Watch — the inability of the courts to keep bad science out of criminal trials. Edmonds’s defense team likely knew that Hayne would be getting this question — the prosecutor said as much in her opening statement. “You’re going to hear how Kristi stood behind him and held him and you’re going to hear how they both put their finger on the trigger and you’re going to hear how they both shot and killed Joey Fulgham.” The defense requested a Daubert hearing on the matter. A Daubert hearing is named for the trio of Supreme Court cases in which justices laid out how federal courts should assess the credibility of expert testimony. In the hearing, the trial court judge listens to evidence from both sides about whether proposed testimony from an expert witness is reliable and supported by scientific research. In Edmonds’s case, the defense wanted to argue that there’s no scientific research to suggest that a medical examiner can give an opinion on how many people were holding a gun based on the bullet wounds inflicted by that gun. Incredibly, the judge denied the hearing. Just to be clear: The judge didn’t hold a hearing and then rule against the defense. The judge refused to hold a hearing at all. He didn’t think the “two hands on the gun” theory was even controversial enough to merit discussion. The prosecutor then asked the question again. Did Hayne find the crime scene evidence, his autopsy and the other forensic evidence to be consistent with Edmonds’s videotaped confession (as opposed to his recantation story, which suggested that his sister acted alone)? At this point, a conscientious medical examiner might have answered something like, “You’re asking me to speculate on something that’s not only outside my area of expertise but that really couldn’t be determined by anyone.” Instead, Hayne answered, “Within a reasonable medical certainty, it’s consistent with the scenario provided to me and would be in compliance with the facts I saw.” But the state’s transgressions against Edmonds didn’t end there. Later in the trial, his attorneys attempted to call their own expert witness, Allison Redlich, an experimental psychologist who has done extensive research into false confessions. Redlich was prepared to testify what this post has already discussed — that Edmonds exhibited many characteristics often found in people who falsely confess. The prosecution objected and requested its own Daubert hearing. The judge not only granted the request but also set aside an entire day to hold the hearing. After a day of testimony, the trial judge ruled that Redlich’s testimony wasn’t scientifically reliable. The jury would hear no expert testimony about false confessions. The judge’s Daubert analysis is really a case study in how inept courts can be at assessing the validity of scientific evidence.......... Today, it’s well accepted in the scientific community that false confessions occur and that they’re especially likely among children. Today, it’s also well accepted in the scientific community that you can’t look at bullet wounds and draw opinions about how many people were holding the gun. Yet for Edmonds’s trial, the state of Mississippi argued that the former was scientifically dubious and that the latter didn’t even deserve a hearing. And the trial judge agreed. Edmonds was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Kristi Fulgham was also convicted. She was sentenced to death, which was later reduced to a life sentence. Four years later, the Mississippi Supreme Court threw out Edmonds’s conviction, finding that Hayne’s testimony about the gun wasn’t scientifically reliable. Edmonds was retried in 2008, this time without that testimony. The jury acquitted......... Today, Mississippi argues that because Edmonds confessed to the crime, he contributed to his own conviction and, therefore, is ineligible for compensation. The state is also arguing that an acquittal is not an exoneration and that, therefore, Edmonds hasn’t really been proved innocent; he has only been found “not guilty” by a jury. Both arguments ignore the great lengths to which the state of Mississippi went to put a 13-year-old boy in prison for a crime it now seems highly unlikely that he committed. The state interrogated him away from his mother. The police used his sister to coerce him. The state then brought in its long-favored expert to offer quack testimony wholly outside the realm of science, not to mention common sense, all while successfully suppressing testimony from an expert who planned to cite documented research showing that someone like Edmonds was a prime candidate for a false confession. As demonstrated in the subsequent trial, had Hayne not been permitted to give that testimony, the jury probably wouldn’t have convicted. Had the judge ruled correctly with respect to both experts, acquittal seems a near-certainty. Mississippi state officials not only have refused to conduct a thorough review of the cases in which Hayne has testified to see whether there might be other wrongful convictions but also still defend Hayne and the convictions won in part or primarily due to his testimony. In short, as the state of Mississippi steadfastly refuses to take responsibility for mistakes made by its public officials that sent who knows how many innocent people to prison (we don’t know the number, because the state won’t conduct a review), the same state of Mississippi is demanding that Edmonds be held accountable for the mistaken confession he made … as a 13-year-old boy."

The entire commentary can be  found at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2017/05/17/what-does-mississippi-owe-a-13-year-old-who-falsely-confessed-to-murder/?utm_term=.689e99fd6536

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Sunday, May 21, 2017

From our 'Chutzpah' department: (Chutzpah as defined by Merriam-Webser: 'nerve, gall.')...U.S. AttorneyGeneral Jeff Session's war on science/forensics; (Part 18); Forensic Magazine reports that the U.S. Justice Department - under the leadership of A.G. Jeff Sessions - is asking the public for suggestions on how to improve forensics. Very curious indeed. Especially since Sessions has arbitrarily disbanded the much-heralded Commission on Forensic Science - an independent body which was well on the way to removing so called sciences from the courts which of dubious worth that didn't belong there, and caused a litany of wrongful convictions. Talk about cutting off the nose to spite the face. HL.


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: "Forensic Magazine reports that the U.S. Justice Department - under the leadership of A.G. Jeff Sessions - is asking  the public for suggestions on how to improve forensics. Very curious indeed. Especially since Sessions has arbitrarily disbanded the much-heralded Commission on Forensic Science - an independent body which was well on the way to removing so called sciences from the courts which were of dubious worth and caused a litany of wrongful convictions. Talk about cutting off the nose to spite the face, so to speak."

Harold Levy: Publisher The Charles Smith Blog;

-----------------------------------------------------------

STORY: "DOJ (Department of Justice) Asks for Suggestions to Improve Forensic Science," by senior science writer Seth Augenstein, published by Forensic Magazine on May 10, 2017.

GIST: "Last month, the much-heralded National Commission on Forensic Science was disbanded by the then-new Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The NCFS was the agency that was setting the policy of reevaluating forensic science during the Obama administration. But at the same time, the Department of Justice said it would take stock of the state of forensic science in the Trump administration, but do most of its work in-house. The DOJ has asked for public comment on how to do this. So far, 16 people have commented. One month remains for the public to make its concerns heard. The federal agency asks a list of open-ended questions pertaining to all levels of American law enforcement: identifying the biggest needs in forensic science, how best to improve practices and laboratory capacity, what barriers there are to productivity and how the DOJ can best foster resources and relationships. But there are two more specific questions: how to better leverage digital forensic evidence analysis and how the DOJ can best coordinate with the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC)."

The entire story can be found at:
http://www.forensicmag.com/news/2017/05/doj-asks-suggestions-improve-forensic-science?et_cid=5945690&et_rid=979655504&type=cta&et_cid=5945690&et_rid=979655504&linkid=http%3a%2f%2fwww.forensicmag.com%2fnews%2f2017%2f05%2fdoj-asks-suggestions-improve-forensic-science%3fet_cid%3d5945690%26et_rid%3d%%subscriberid%%%26type%3dcta

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Kathleen Folbigg; Australia; She has spent 14 years in jail for killing her babies, but experts say there's real doubt over her conviction, Joanne McCarthy reports in The Herald..."Central to the Crown case in 2003 was evidence that there were no known cases in the world of three or more children in the same family dying of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The evidence was not only wrong, but would have left the jury discounting SIDS, and “leaving multiple homicides as the only explanation”, leading United Kingdom statistician and professor of mathematics Ray Hill said in a review of the Folbigg case that forms part of the Newcastle petition. A large American study in 1987 included two families where four babies had died of SIDS and related conditions, and later British and Norwegian studies of SIDS included a number of families where three babies had died. The studies concluded that babies born in families where one child had already died of SIDS were up to 10 times more likely to become SIDS victims. The ‘‘risk of adverse outcomes [was] significantly greater’’ for babies where two or more previous siblings had died of SIDS, they found. In a 120-page report Professor Cordner, who is also head of international programs at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, found much of the forensic pathology discussed at the trial was ‘‘misconceived’’. He found the default diagnosis of murder was ‘‘wrong’’ and there was no forensic pathology support for the Crown case that Kathleen Folbigg smothered her four children. "It seems not to have been explicitly stated in the trial, but there is no forensic pathology evidence, no signs in or on the bodies, to positively suggest that the Folbigg children were smothered, or killed by any means. - Forensic pathologist Professor Stephen Cordner" ‘‘It seems not to have been explicitly stated in the trial, but there is no forensic pathology evidence, no signs in or on the bodies, to positively suggest that the Folbigg children were smothered, or killed by any means,’’ Professor Cordner said in his report."


STORY: "Kathleen Folbigg has spent 14 years in jail for killing her babies, but experts say there's real doubt over her conviction," by reporter Joanne McCarthy, published by The Newcastle  Herald on May 17, 2017.


GIST: Kathleen Folbigg is the Hunter woman guilty of the worst crimes imaginable – killing her four babies . But as Folbigg starts her 15th year in jail, and nears her 50th birthday in June, NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman is considering a brief of evidence arguing an alternative scenario – that she is at the centre of an extraordinary miscarriage of justice requiring a judicial review. Key to the petition for a review submitted in June, 2015 by three Newcastle barristers is what has been described as an “overwhelming weight” of forensic pathology evidence to say the Folbigg babies died of natural causes or sudden infant death syndrome.........The petition includes the view of internationally respected Monash University forensic pathologist Professor Stephen Cordner, that there is ‘‘no forensic pathology support for the contention that any or all of these children have been killed. Technically she can be left in jail to serve out her full sentence but is it fair, is it just, when there are experts casting real doubt? I don’t think so, and I hope we get the opportunity to have it looked at again rather than the government just sit it out and wait for it to become someone else’s problem. If the convictions in this case are to stand, I want to clearly state there is no pathological or medical basis for concluding homicide,’’ Professor Cordner said. Folbigg was sentenced to 30 years' jail in 2003 for the manslaughter of her first child Caleb, 19 days old, and the murder of her three children Patrick, eight months, Sarah, 10 months, and Laura, 19 months, at Singleton between 1989 and 1999, but has always maintained her innocence. A 2005 appeal to the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal noted that each child died suddenly and unexpectedly because of "cessation of breathing", although post-mortems failed to establish exactly what had caused the cessation of breathing. Central to the Crown case in 2003 was evidence that there were no known cases in the world of three or more children in the same family dying of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The evidence was not only wrong, but would have left the jury discounting SIDS, and “leaving multiple homicides as the only explanation”, leading United Kingdom statistician and professor of mathematics Ray Hill said in a review of the Folbigg case that forms part of the Newcastle petition. A large American study in 1987 included two families where four babies had died of SIDS and related conditions, and later British and Norwegian studies of SIDS included a number of families where three babies had died. The studies concluded that babies born in families where one child had already died of SIDS were up to 10 times more likely to become SIDS victims. The ‘‘risk of adverse outcomes [was] significantly greater’’ for babies where two or more previous siblings had died of SIDS, they found. In a 120-page report Professor Cordner, who is also head of international programs at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, found much of the forensic pathology discussed at the trial was ‘‘misconceived’’. He found the default diagnosis of murder was ‘‘wrong’’ and there was no forensic pathology support for the Crown case that Kathleen Folbigg smothered her four children. It seems not to have been explicitly stated in the trial, but there is no forensic pathology evidence, no signs in or on the bodies, to positively suggest that the Folbigg children were smothered, or killed by any means. - Forensic pathologist Professor Stephen Cordner ‘‘It seems not to have been explicitly stated in the trial, but there is no forensic pathology evidence, no signs in or on the bodies, to positively suggest that the Folbigg children were smothered, or killed by any means,’’ Professor Cordner said in his report. The petition will also include a psychological report challenging the suggestion Folbigg’s personal diaries included admissions of guilt about killing her children. A clinical psychologist found Folbigg’s diary entries were consistent with psychological literature of the thoughts and feelings of mothers whose children had died, and maternal grief reactions. There was no attempt by Folbigg to conceal her private writings, the petition said. In his review, Professor Hill said flawed statistical evidence about the probability of multiple SIDS deaths in families had led to serious miscarriages of justice in four United Kingdom cases where, in the past decade or so, women were charged with murder after three SIDS deaths in their families. A medical expert's 1989 report that stated, "one sudden infant death is a tragedy, two is suspicious and three is murder until proved otherwise," led to the UK women being charged despite significant evidence about the increased likelihood of SIDS deaths in families after one SIDS death. Challenges to that report from statisticians, including Professor Hill, played a significant part in the cases against the UK women being dropped. Professor Hill said he had no idea how widespread the "three is murder until proved otherwise" view was among pathologists and paediatricians worldwide, until he was asked to review the Folbigg case by Newcastle University Legal Centre. Newcastle barristers Robert Cavanagh, Isabel Reed and Nicolas Moir, and University of Newcastle Legal Centre director Shaun McCarthy, sent the petition to NSW Governor David Hurley in June 2015, seeking a judicial review, after serious concerns about the convictions were first raised by legal academic Dr Emma Cunliffe in her 2011 book,  Murder, Medicine and Motherhood."

The entire story can be found at:
http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4628278/monster-or-miscarriage-of-justice/

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Friday, May 19, 2017

Laurence Webb: Cameron Mansell; Australia: Bulletin The 'sacking' of Webb, a highly reputed West Australian scientist, over alleged DNA 'corner cutting' has Mansell, convicted of the 2010 murder of multi-millionaire Craig Puddy, contemplating a fresh appeal; Reporter Phil Hickey; The Canberra Times; May 16. 2017..."According to the ABC's 7.30 Report, Mansell has written to his Perth lawyer Tim Saayman in which he raises new concerns about DNA material used in the case against him. It follows revelations that one of the state's top DNA scientists was sacked for "cutting corners" during testing. Laurence Webb was reportedly involved in analysing DNA samples for dozens of major cases, including Mansell's. Mr Webb also gave evidence at Mansell's trial in 2011. "We need to remember there was a jury, that after hearing this large volume of evidence, they spent two full days on either side of the weekend trying to come to a verdict," Mr Saayman told the 7.30 Report. "There was obviously some discussion going on in there. "Some people weren't necessarily convinced even with the DNA material. Take out the DNA material, what would have happened?"



http://www.busseltonmail.com.au/story/4665695/cameron-mansell-considering-new-puddy-murder-appeal-after-dna-bungle/?cs=7

See earlier post at the link below: "Laurence Webb: Australia: Significant Development: 'Unprecedented' forensic disaster; This leading Australian DNA scientist has been 'sacked' - and 27 criminal convictions placed in doubt to date - West Australian Attorney General John Quigley says..."Mr Quigley said Laurence Webb, the senior forensic biologist with the state-run pathology centre Path West, had been dismissed for failing to follow established protocols. He said Mr Webb's dismissal cast doubt on the convictions of at least 27 people, including those involved in a number of high-profile murder cases. Mr Quigley said Mr Webb was sacked in August 2016 following an investigations by Path West, but the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) was not informed of the sacking until two days before Christmas. Mr Quigley, who became the state's Attorney-General two weeks ago, said he was only told on Monday this week. He described Mr Webb's sacking as a disaster that would have serious consequences."


 http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2017/03/laurence-webb-australia-significant.html

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Thursday, May 18, 2017

US Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton: Forensic issues at the heart of his appeal of his homicide conviction in the death of a Filipino Transgender Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude..."“Here, the picture formed by the prosecution is neither convincing nor is it complete. It was not able to prove that when Pemberton left Laude, the latter was already dead. The Prosecution further failed to prove that no one else could have killed Laude, as the evidence undeniably proves that there was an intruder whose DNA was left on Laude’s neck; who stole Laude’s money; and whose necklace was left in the hand of Laude."


STORY: "Pemberton asks CA to reverse ruling," by reporter Rey Requejo, published by The Standard on May 13, 2017.

GIST:" US Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton has pleaded to the Court of Appeals to overturn its earlier ruling and exonerate him of homicide charge for the death of Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude.........The American soldier also lamented that the appellate court has ‘cherry-picked’ the evidence to “This Honorable Court, with due respect, erroneously ignored the implication in Rose’s testimony that Laude may have been merely unconscious when Pemberton left him at the motel (“choked it until it stop moving and then dragged into the bathroom at that point he left and then took a cab back to the sea port”). It also disregarded the implication that Pemberton did not drown Laude and did not dunk his head into the toilet bowl,” Pemberton said. He also claimed that the CA disregarded the evidence that another person could have entered the room after Pemberton left the lodge. Pemberton argued that that the CA disregarded the fact that Pemberton voluntary surrendered to his superior even before a warrant for his arrest was issued. The CA’s conclusion that Pemberton ensured Laude’s death before he left the lodge has no basis, he said. The motion pointed out that there was no evidence that Laude was already dead when Pemberton left the place or that he dunked Laude’s head into the toilet bowl. It added that one of the witnesses even admitted that when Pemberton left, he still found Laude unconscious. Pemberton stressed that the CA ignored other important evidence such as the necklace that Laude was clutching with a third set of DNA, the missing money, different position of Laude from that of Pemberton’s description, among others. “Here, the picture formed by the prosecution is neither convincing nor is it complete. It was not able to prove that when Pemberton left Laude, the latter was already dead. The Prosecution further failed to prove that no one else could have killed Laude, as the evidence undeniably proves that there was an intruder whose DNA was left on Laude’s neck; who stole Laude’s money; and whose necklace was left in the hand of Laude.........Pemberton was convicted in December 2015 and sentenced to six to 10 years imprisonment by the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court, Branch 74, following a closely-watched trial that lasted for a year."

The entire story can be found at:
http://thestandard.com.ph/mobile/article/236513

See earlier post of this Blog (August 24, 2015)  at the link below: "A United States Marine accused of killing a transgender woman in the Philippines acknowledged on Monday that he had choked her until she was no longer moving, but he stopped short of saying that he had killed her, according to the prosecutor assigned to the case. The serviceman, Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, 20, was arrested in October in connection with the death of a 26-year-old Filipino, Jennifer Laude, whose name at birth was Jeffrey. Corporal Pemberton had met Ms. Laude in an Olongapo City nightclub while he was on liberty during military exercises, then accompanied her to a nearby hotel room, where she was later found dead. Corporal Pemberton, who has been charged with murder, testified during his trial on Monday. It was the first time that he had publicly provided his account of what took place in the room with Ms. Laude. He said that he brought Ms. Laude and another woman to the hotel, not knowing that they were transgender. He received oral sex from the women, he said, and one then left to buy condoms. Ms. Laude remained in the room, and he reached down to touch her vagina, he testified. “He said they began fighting when he discovered that she had a penis,” Emilie Fe Delos Santos, the prosecutor in the case, said by phone from Olongapo City, about 80 miles north of Manila. In his testimony, Corporal Pemberton said that he pushed Ms. Laude, she slapped him, he punched her, then he choked her with an arm lock until she was no longer moving. He also testified that Ms. Laude was still breathing but appeared to be unconscious after being put into the arm lock. He said he then brought her to the bathroom to try to revive her and left her slumped over the toilet. He said he then took a taxi back to his ship, where he told a fellow Marine, “I left her unconscious.” “Pemberton did not kill Laude,” Corporal Pemberton’s lawyer, Rowena L. Garcia-Flores, wrote in an email on Monday. “He left Laude in the toilet alive.”"

http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2015/08/bulletin-joseph-scott-pemberton.html?m=1

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

William Barnhouse: Indiana: Exonerated after serving more than 25 years for a rape DNA testing proved he did not commit...Flawed hair-testing a factor in wrongful conviction: " In 2013, the FBI acknowledged that testimony asserting that a crime scene hair is a “match” to a particular defendant’s hair through microscopic hair comparison implies a level of certainty that exceeds the limits of science. A review by the FBI, the Department of Justice, the Innocence Project and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of FBI analyst testimony and reports has revealed that analysts provided erroneous testimony or reports in more than 90 percent of cases reviewed so far. The analyst who provided the erroneous testimony in Barnhouse’s case is not subject to that review because the review only includes FBI analysts, not the many analysts throughout the U.S. who were trained by the FBI or relied on the same techniques and testimony that the FBI used. “The only way for the state to know whether other people were wrongly convicted by erroneous hair testimony is for the state to conduct a thorough and independent review of all cases where microscopic hair analysis was conducted and contributed to a conviction,” said Watson. “I hope this heartbreaking case will spur the state to take immediate action.”


STORY: "Indiana Man Exonerated After Serving More Than 25 Years for a Rape DNA Testing Proves He Didn’t Commit," published by The Innocence Project on May 10, 2017.

SUB-HEADING:  "William Barnhouse Becomes 350th Person Exonerated Through DNA Evidence."

GIST: A judge today granted a motion by the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office to dismiss the 1992 rape charges against William Barnhouse based on new DNA evidence proving Barnhouse’s innocence of the crime. With Delaware County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey Arnold’s consent, the Innocence Project and the Wrongful Conviction Clinic at Indiana University McKinney persuaded a Delaware County court to reverse Barnhouse’s conviction on March 8, 2017 based on this new evidence. Further proceedings in the case were scheduled for May.  Arnold’s decision to dismiss the indictment against Barnhouse, who has dealt his entire life with serious mental health conditions, ends his 25 year struggle for justice.........In December 1992, Barnhouse was convicted of an April 21, 1992 rape that occurred behind a vacant building in Muncie, Indiana. Shortly after the incident, police picked up Barnhouse and made him stand next to three squad cars and several police officers in an identification procedure. With police shining flashlights in Barnhouse’s face, the victim identified him. On the basis of this identification, Barnhouse was arrested. Known as a one-on-one show-up, this has been described as the most suggestive identification procedure ever used by police. At trial, the prosecution relied on the show-up identification as well as the testimony of a forensic serologist from the Indiana State Police crime lab who provided testimony disproven by recent DNA testing that Barnhouse could not be excluded as a possible source of semen recovered from the victim’s vaginal/cervical swabs and semen in the inside crotch area of her jeans, which she put back on immediately after the assault. In addition, a microscopic hair analyst from the Indiana State Police crime lab testified that a hair recovered from the victim’s body “matched” Barnhouse’s hair standard. He testified that if he placed that one hair from the victim’s body in a pile of Barnhouse’s pubic hair standards he could not pick it out.  Significantly, in closing the prosecution argued that this hair was a “silent witness” that proved Barnhouse committed the crime. The prosecution also argued that the semen recovered from the victim’s body and jeans came from Barnhouse. Although Barnhouse maintained that he was mistakenly identified, he was convicted and sentenced to 80 years in prison.........Barnhouse eventually sought the help of the Innocence Project through a letter he wrote from prison. The Innocence Project, working with the Wrongful Conviction Clinic at Indiana University McKinney, sought DNA testing of the sperm deposited on the victim’s vaginal swabs and the sperm deposited on the victim’s jeans. The Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office consented to the DNA testing. The same male DNA profile was identified on the sperm of the vaginal swabs and the sperm on the jeans. Barnhouse was excluded as the source of the sperm. Based on these results, the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office agreed that Barnhouse had been wrongly convicted, and jointly moved, with the Innocence Project, to vacate his convictions. A Delaware County Judge reversed his convictions on March 8, 2017, and based on a joint motion for release, the court released Barnhouse immediately to a supportive housing program where he was accepted and where he could receive the mental health services he needs. The court adjourned the case until May for further proceedings. On May 9, the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office moved to officially dismiss the indictment pending against Barnhouse. Since his release in March, Barnhouse has received round-the-clock care and services and is doing very well. He has also been reunited with his family after 25 years in prison as an innocent man. The Innocence Project and Frances Lee Watson, director of the Wrongful Conviction Clinic at Indiana University McKinney, notified Barnhouse of the news today........ In 2013, the FBI acknowledged that testimony asserting that a crime scene hair is a “match” to a particular defendant’s hair through microscopic hair comparison implies a level of certainty that exceeds the limits of science. A review by the FBI, the Department of Justice, the Innocence Project and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of FBI analyst testimony and reports has revealed that analysts provided erroneous testimony or reports in more than 90 percent of cases reviewed so far. The analyst who provided the erroneous testimony in Barnhouse’s case is not subject to that review because the review only includes FBI analysts, not the many analysts throughout the U.S. who were trained by the FBI or relied on the same techniques and testimony that the FBI used. “The only way for the state to know whether other people were wrongly convicted by erroneous hair testimony is for the state to conduct a thorough and independent review of all cases where microscopic hair analysis was conducted and contributed to a conviction,” said Watson. “I hope this heartbreaking case will spur the state to take immediate action.”"

The entire post can be found at:
https://www.innocenceproject.org/indiana-man-exonerated-after-serving-more-than-25-years-for-a-rape-dna-testing-proves-he-didnt-commit/?utm_source=Main+IP+Email+List&utm_campaign=e3b87eb9e6-EMAIL_Barnhouse_2017_05_131&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_016cb74fd6-e3b87eb9e6-350264629

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;