Updated Thursdays

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Understatement

            The FBI has “admitted flaws in hair analysis”, according to the headline of an article in the Washington Post last weekend in what may be the most fantastical understatement ever; in plainer language, almost every examiner in their ‘elite’ unit gave testimony that was A. favorable to prosecutors and B. exaggerated wildly.

            While it doesn’t mean that every case they testified in resulted in a wrongful conviction, it does mean that the justice system willingly allowed false testimony about an infinitely disprovable forensic science. If they are willing to fake hard, physical evidence on such a massive scale, how can anyone not doubt the myriad cases decided on nothing more than words?

            Hair matching, bite analysis, DNA exclusion, these are pillars of the justice system, and yet each has been revealed to be far, far less accurate than anyone could have imagined. Doubts about some of these disciplines have existed for years and yet prosecutors continue to use them to win cases. How could one even begin to study whether or not an expert witness was overstating their feelings, their experience, or their capabilities? It would be impossible.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Gag Order

So, this happened:

4. Offenders are prohibited from maintaining active social media accounts for the purposes of soliciting, updating, or engaging others, through a third party or otherwise.”

TDCJ has made it a punishable offense for anyone to maintain a social media account in the name of an inmate; Although they cannot punish the individual maintaining the account, they are more than happy to take it out on the prisoner.

I’m not sure how this will affect the blog, if at all. It is definitely not being run in Carlos Coy’s name, although I suppose some might argue that it’s being done on his behalf. I’m going to look into this a bit more, and I encourage you to do the same. If you have friends or family currently incarcerated, be careful. The updated Offender Handbook is available for download in English and Spanish here: http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/info_families.html



Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Satanic Panic

Dan and Fran Keller are a couple convicted in the 90's of sexually assaulting multiple children in their care; I've mentioned them here before, but the details of the testimony against them are mind-boggling. Their convictions were vacated and they were released from prison in 2013, but the state of Texas has yet to declare them 'actually innocent'.

They are still working on compensation from the state. The Intercept has a really good synopsis of the case, along with an overview of Conviction Integrity Units across the country; check it out here: https://theintercept.com/2016/04/08/convicted-of-a-crime-that-never-happened-why-wont-texas-exonerate-fran-and-dan-keller/

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Repercussions

This will not come as a surprise to most of you, but the Houston Chronicle seems flabbergasted that prosecutors are rarely held accountable for convicting the innocent; they are quick to point out that Ken Anderson received a whopping 10 day sentence for his role in sending Michael Morton to prison for over 20 years, and that Charles Sebesta was disbarred for his actions that resulted in Anthony Graves’ 18 years of wrongful incarceration.

            In fact, hardly any time at all is spent on the report, or the many, many overturned cases here in Texas that have not resulted in any repercussions for prosecutors. Mo mention of medical ‘experts’ who have used faulty evidence to convict and yet continue their careers as witnesses but still, it’s a good thing to see a study like this getting attention from a major newspaper.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wharton County

Hmmm…

“In a hearing earlier this month, Assistant District Attorney Nathan Wood told a judge that his boss, District Attorney Ross Kurtz, told him to keep black residents off  juries in criminal trials in order to improve the prosecution's chances of winning the case.

"I was not 'instructed' to strike black jurors so much as I was advised or encouraged to do so as a matter of trial strategy," Wood recently told a judge. "Whatever the true intentions behind the statements made in our office, they made me feel uncomfortable."”


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Parallels

I’ve been reading a lot of studies on the suggestibility and memories of children this week; probably because of the San Antonio 4 case. I see so many parelells between the cases; the age of the supposed victims, the possibility of vindictive lovers, the media frenzy surrounding the cases…It’s crazy how much they have in common.

Anyway, I found an interesting piece that gathers several studies together and examines what we knew and what we didn’t know about children’s testimony around that time period. Suggestibility, interview methods, and their effects on memory are all addressed; it's long, but very interesting.


   http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1240&context=lcp