Updated Thursdays

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

False Positives

There hasn’t been much in the news besides the Dallas shooting, but I did stumble across this NY Times story on the notoriously unreliable roadside drug tests used by police across the nation; apparently false positives are so common that the tests are not even admissible in court which, as Reason.com points out, isn’t a big deal for the justice system as over 90 percent of the cases plea out.

            Interestingly enough, the illustrative case in the article is a woman who was pulled over in Houston, Texas.

“Based in part on the information gathered by Marie Munier, the former prosecutor Anderson hired to examine the drug convictions, we determined that 301 of the 416 variants began as arrests by the Houston Police Department, with the rest coming from surrounding municipalities, and that 212 of those 301 arrests were based on evidence that lab analysis determined was not a controlled substance, or N.C.S.
            As has been posted many times before, no physical evidence was used to convict Carlos Coy; the case against him was put together completely on the (changing) testimony of his supposed victim and her mother by a police department, district attorney’s office and court system that has shown the most careless, cavalier attitude towards justice in the past decade and a half. It boggles the mind to think of how many innocents have served, or are currently serving, prison sentences because they were not lucky enough to have physical evidence fabricated against them.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Linda Carty

…aaaaaaand another one from Harris County. Lindy Carty was sentenced to death in 2002 for a murder and kidnapping; her post-conviction appeal, currently being heard, is based on yet more accusations of prosecutorial misconduct. From the article:

"…prosecutors Connie Spence and Craig Goodhart were accused of destroying case notes and emails, of hiding at least 18 recorded witness statements from Carty's original defense team, and of coercing testimony to ensure Carty got a death sentence. A retired DEA agent testified that he was threatened by Spence. A star prosecution witness claims the pair instructed him to lie in a series of private meetings.
Both prosecutors still work for the Harris County District Attorney's Office as supervisors."
It’s a long, very informative article that deals not just with Carty’s case, but also touches on the environment in the Harris County DA’s office in the early 2000s. I don’t know if Linda Carty is guilty or innocent, but if the prosecutors performed even half the shenanigans they are accused of then she should receive a new trial. Unfortunately, given what we’ve seen from the Harris County DA’s office during that era, the accusations are all too easy to believe.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

TCCA Judge says wut?

I found this very cool piece about Judge Elsa Alcala (Texas Court of Criminal Appeals) and her opinions on the death penalty; although it focuses primarily on capital murder cases, it is heartening to see that even a judge on the TCCA questions the accuracy of our justice system. From the article:
Aside from the court’s well-documented missteps, there are other signs of the system’s imperfections in the wave of exonerations of Texans, such as Michael Morton, who were wrongfully convicted and sent to prison for many years, while the true criminals went free. Oftentimes, the guilty go on to commit more crimes, which was true in the Morton case in which the person who murdered Morton’s wife, went on to kill another woman.
It’s worth noting that Texas led the nation in the number of people wrongly convicted of crimes, who were exonerated in 2015, according to figures compiled by the National Registry of Exonerations. In all, 54 people were exonerated for mostly homicide and drug cases going back to 2004. New York was second with 17. False identifications by witnesses, misconduct by police or prosecutors, errors by crime labs or defense attorneys, all are among the things that can and do go wrong.

It’s no wonder Alcala is uncomfortable remaining silent. Doing so perpetuates the fallacy that the state’s death penalty is carried out fairly and justly. That might be what many wish it to be, but it is not the reality.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sonia Cacy

I have to say, it’s a little weird that I never have to look very hard for a new story of a wrongful conviction in Texas. Today’s victim of the state is Sonia Cacey, a woman who served 6 years of a 99 year sentence for murder. Although she was paroled in 1998, she’s spent the last 18 years living with a murder conviction.

            The judge who performed the initial review declared her innocent, but the case must go through the Court of Criminal Appeals before she can be considered exonerated.  I believe she appealed under SB344, which allows a writ of Habeas Corpus based on faulty or discredited scientific evidence.

For those of you losing heart, just remember that it’s never too late for justice; it may take longer than we’d like, but eventually the truth will come out in Carlos Coy’s case. Take heart, keep spreading the word, and never, ever give up.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Kerry Max Cook

A slightly bizarre turn of events in the Kerry Max Cook case; he was released in 1999 after 3 botched murder trials and 20 years in prison. Although he signed a plea deal for his release, he’s been fighting to prove his actual innocence to this day.

He recently fired his Innocence Project lawyers, accusing them of bullying him into a plea deal that would remove any accountability from the prosecutors who imprisoned him. He plans to represent himself in the future.

I admire his fortitude, and hope that he finally receives justice. I wonder sometimes what would have happened if Carlos Coy had taken the plea deal that prosecutors offered him but I think that, ultimately, the truth is what matters and it’s what you have to fight for.