Sunday, December 17, 2017
Death investigations series (Part One): Radley Balko explains (most convincingly) why it's time to abolish the coroner..."The very act of electing someone to determine manner of death suggests that there’s room for political factors to guide or influence that determination. That shouldn’t be something we encourage. Put another way, we shouldn’t encourage the idea that there might be a Democratic or Republican way to determine whether someone died accidentally, committed suicide or was murdered. Instead, let’s let each group of professionals do what they’re trained to do. Let medical examiners determine the cause of death. In cases in which a forensic pathologist has determined a death to be a homicide, let the police then investigate. If there was indeed a crime, let officials look for a suspect. If a suspect is arrested, let prosecutors determine the appropriate charges."
COMMENTARY: "It's time to abolish the coroner," published by The Washington Post on his Blog 'The Watch' on Decembe...
Saturday, December 16, 2017
Crime lab corruption UK, USA and Australia; (Starting with) Randox Testing Service; U.K...As British drug lab misconduct calls 10,000 convictions and prosecutions Into question, US publication draws parallels with "multiple forensic lab issues" which have caused havoc in The U.S.A..."This is far more than problematic. It's devastating. It mirrors multiple forensic lab issues uncovered here in the United States. Obviously, law enforcement agencies don't have the manpower to handle testing in-house. So, these are turned over to third parties. This wouldn't be an issue if there were any direct oversight. But there doesn't appear to be anything like that in place. When misconduct is finally uncovered, it has taken place for years and tainted thousands of cases. If government agencies are sincere in their expressed concerns for public safety, these failures to head off problems before they affect 10,000-20,000 cases are inexplicable. It undermines legitimate convictions, putting criminals back on the street. It dead-ends investigations because lab results are no longer trustworthy. Worse, it has the potential to land innocent people in jail. Faked results and mishandled tests are used as evidence in criminal trials, "proving" guilt when none exists. This is a problem everywhere, but it seems authorities are more interested in post-debacle damage control than rigorous oversight that could prevent this from happening in the first place."
PASSAGE OF THE DAY: " The original estimate of 484 cases is now 10,000 and prosecutors have begun dropping prosecutions rather than ...
Friday, December 15, 2017
U.S. Coast Guardsman Jimmy Barlow Found Not Guilty of Child Endangerment In Connection to death of 3-year-old daughter..."Barlow’s defense team, however, argued a guilty verdict would set a dangerous precedent. “There’s nothing worse than losing a child, except for losing a child and being falsely accused for that death,” Vokey said. Vokey likened the case against his client to a tree that grew from a diseased seed. You can’t tell there’s anything wrong with it, but if you were to look inside, you would find it hollow and diseased, he said. The diseased seed was planted, Vokey said, when first responders and police quickly concluded Eden’s injuries were suspicious. Vokey said it was compounded when the medical staff at Children’s Hospital Oakland “made the leap” that child abuse factored into Eden’s condition because they found unusual bruising and brain trauma they could not explain. Although the Alameda County coroner’s report stated Eden’s cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head, several medical experts who testified for the defense disputed those findings."
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "There’s nothing worse than losing a child, except for losing a child and being falsely accused for that death."...
Thursday, December 14, 2017
False confessions: (Part three): Brendan Dassey.Wisconsin: Setback: Appeals court has ruled for the State that his confession was not coerced...(Link to ruling provided)... (But at least there is a dissenting opinion: 30 pages of the 70-page ruling.)..."In her dissent, Judge Ann Claire Williams writes in part, "No reasonable state court, knowing what we now know about coercive interrogation techniques and viewing Dassey's interrogation in light of his age, intellectual deficits, and manipulability, could possibly have concluded that Dassey's confession was voluntarily given.... His confession was not voluntary and his conviction should not stand, and yet an impaired teenager has been sentenced to life in prison. I view this as a profound miscarriage of justice."
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "No reasonable state court, knowing what we now know about coercive interrogation techniques and viewing Dassey'...
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Jimmy Barlow: California: On-going trial; Coast guard petty officer maintains 3-year-old daughter's death was the result of injuries related to slow brain bleed triggered by a fall down the stairs outside his apartment more than a week before she collapsed. Prosecution is based on coronor's finding of homicide: Blunt force trauma to the head. Defence experts believe Barlow has been falsely accused: Case continues: "Dr. Shoukimas affirmed he believes Jimmy Barlow has been falsely accused and said if his own grandchild fell down stairs he would be afraid to take that child to the hospital, for fear of being accused of abuse. He said he has declined to testify in the majority of cases brought to him and added, “The only cases I get involved with are ones where there’s a reasonable way to exclude abuse.” The defense also called Dr. Kris Sperry to the stand as a board certified expert in forensic, clinical and anatomical pathology. He told military judge Matthew Fay this was the 743rd time he has testified live in a court trial. Dr. Sperry echoed the opinion of Dr. Shoukimas, that he saw “extremely severe swelling of the entire brain edema … but no evidence of other impact,” and that he also believed Eden had a seizure that caused her tongue to block her airway and deprive her brain of oxygen, which led it to swell."
PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "On Monday, defense attorney Colby Vokey wasted no time before trying to cast doubt on the Alameda County Corone...
False confessions (Part 2): Reid technique: Hamilton Ontario ceiminal lawyer Jeff Manishen on why "The Reid Technique is problematic," in The Law Times..."The Reid technique instructs investigators to engage in “behaviour symptom analysis,” relying on patterns of conduct that supposedly indicate whether or not the suspect is telling the truth. The interrogation begins with the investigator asserting his absolute certainty of the suspect’s guilt. The suspect is relentlessly pushed to accept culpability. Moral justifications may be proffered (for example, that the suspect experienced abuse as a child, or that they inflicted the injuries unintentionally). The suspect may be confronted with exaggerated or fabricated evidence. They may be told that the proof of their guilt is incontrovertible, given that all other suspects had been cleared. The investigator may present two alternative versions of the suspect’s conduct, one of which is significantly worse than the other, and encourage the suspect to adopt the less serious model. A suspect who remains silent or continues to deny involvement may be faced with an investigator unwilling to accept that position, confronting him with the investigator’s theory of what “really” happened and endeavouring to overcome any reluctance to confess."..." One may wonder why some police services continue to use such questionable methods, given the risk of wrongful convictions, unsuccessful prosecutions and the attendant failure to investigate and apprehend the real perpetrators. It can’t be for a lack of alternatives." is problematic | Law Times
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Charles Smith Blog is interested in false confessions because of the disturbing number of exonerations in the US...
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
False confessions: (Part 1): The Englewood Four; Harold Richardson; Vincent Thames; Terrill Swift and Michael Saunders); Illinois; Chicago proposes $31 million wrongful conviction settlement..."Federal authorities opened a civil rights investigation into allegations of misconduct by police and prosecutors against the four men, but no charges resulted. The investigation has since been closed. That investigation produced an unusual document from March 2012 that summarized an interview an FBI special agent conducted with former Assistant State's Attorney Terence Johnson, one of two prosecutors in the felony review unit who worked with detectives to take statements and approve charges against the four men. Johnson, whose legal career ended in 2000 when he was convicted of felony sexual abuse of a minor, alleged a cozy relationship between police and prosecutors. If police felt prosecutors were slow to approve charges, they would complain to supervisors in the state's attorney's office, Johnson said in the interview. The city’s Law Department alleged in court filings that Johnson made other statements under oath — including during a deposition — that were inconsistent with his FBI interview. In his FBI interview, Johnson said that the investigation of the Glover homicide made him uncomfortable from the early stages. He told federal investigators that detectives "coached and fed" witnesses and pressured the defendants into confessing. Before statements were taken, Cassidy and Boudreau rehearsed with witnesses what they wanted them to say and corrected their responses if they weren't consistent with that version of events, according to the report."
PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "After he was released from prison in 2011, Swift sought to use forensic testing to clear himself in the killing ...