2014 was a record year for post-trial exonerations

Criminal justice is an oxymoron, but sometimes the legal system gets it right. Unfortunately, getting it right often does not happen until after the case is over.

In the better-late-than-never category, Mother Jones is reporting,

In 2014, 125 people across the United States who had been convicted of crimes were exonerated—the highest number ever recorded,according to a new report from the National Regestry of Exonerations at the University of Michigan Law School. The 2014 number included 48 who had been convicted of homicide, 6 of whom were on death row awaiting execution. Ricky Jackson of Ohio spent 39 years behind bars, the longest known prison term for an exoneree, according to the NRE. Jackson was sentenced to death in 1975 after false testimony implicated him in a robbery-murder he did not commit. Texas led the nation with 39 exonerations; it is followed by New York (17), Illinois (7), and Michigan (7). The federal government exonerated eight people.

Most of these post trial exonerations were obtained by so-called conviction integrity units (CIUs) created and staffed by prosecutors. There are 15 now in existence with more to come.

The Harris County CIU, which encompasses Houston, is responsible for 33 of last year’s exonerations. In early 2014, it reviewed drug cases it had prosecuted after learning that many people who had pled guilty to possession had not, in fact, possessed actual drugs. The Harris CIU’s findings reflected another trend: 58 exonerations this year, nearly half of the total, were so-called “no-crime exonerations,” which means, according to the NRE, “an accident or a suicide was mistaken for a crime, or…the exoneree was accused of a fabricated crime that never happened.”

Channel 5 News in Cleveland reports,

In Baltimore, the State’s Attorney’s office helped vacate the conviction of a man 46 years after he was convicted of murder. In Cleveland, three men convicted of a 1975 murder they didn’t commit were cleared, setting a new record of time behind bars for an exoneree: 39 years, 3 months 9 days. In Tulsa, DNA testing showed a mother hadn’t killed her 15-month-old baby, leading prosecutors to dismiss charges after nearly 20 years. And in Detroit, a man was released after police got a tip that the wrong person had been convicted in a 2006 murder.

Now we need to improve on getting it right the first time.

But if you’re black, you better not count on it because, if you call 911 seeking help, you are apt to get killed.

30 Responses to 2014 was a record year for post-trial exonerations

  1. so jaded says:

    Surprise, surprise, surprise, fogen’s ex girlfriend recants. Charges dropped! Did anyone see that coming?

    • Malisha says:

      So. This bimbo, Brittany Brunelle, says to the cops, “Why that man isn’t locked up is beyond me.”

      Well, perhaps EVERYTHING is “beyond you,” my dear. For instance, “why that man isn’t locked up” is that Veronica Zueza did not press charges, Shellie Zimmerman did not press charges, Samantha Schiebe did not press charges, and you, sniffle-nose, did not press charges.

      Does that clear it up for you any?

    • That was an easy call to make.

    • Two sides to a story says:

      Yes. No surprise here. It’s not as if the GF called the cops to report the incident – they stopped her and she told her tale to explain why she’d forgotten to turn her lights on or something to that effect, so she wasn’t invested in the charges, and so a case like that is fragile and depends upon the victim continuing to cooperate with prosecutors (in Florida).

      Hopefully Fogen will eventually do something he can’t get out of (and hopefully he doesn’t kill someone in the process). At least he has six mug shots and no credibility (except with the nutcases) by now.

      • Malisha says:

        He doesn’t need credibility. The cops, and the whole system, are heavily invested now in his protection, because they have done so much wrong on his behalf. It’s that way. Once they go way out on a limb for someone, they insulate him against prosecution forever.

      • Malisha says:

        Something else Brunelle said was interesting: “For the benefit of the neighborhood, watch this guy.”

        Apparently the police WERE “watching this guy” when they pulled her over as she left his exalted presence. They responded to a domestic violence scene without being called. THEY were not endangering the neighborhood, SHE WAS.

        Interestingly, I think the next person Fogen kills will not be an African American; I think it will be a woman. His rage the night he murdered Trayvon Martin was (we finally learned because the press finally had to admit) occasioned by Shellie walking out on him. Then she pretended to be his loyal wifey so she could share the money he was making as the famous white thug-killer. THEN she walked out. He hits on, and tries to hide assets (the painting) with, any woman he can reach, and then when they don’t become his perfect slave, he tries to discipline them into compliance. And what is the response of the feminists, the women in the Florida legislature, the domestic violence community in general? Huh? Hey guys, what is your response? WE CAN’T HEAR YOU!!

        He won’t try stalking and killing another unarmed African American; in fact, you can bet he scrupulously keeps away from them now and doesn’t even play his “beneficent white guy” games. Why? The African American community rose up as one and demanded action when he killed one of theirs. They wouldn’t stand for it. They were in the streets, in the legislature, in your face, in the courts, in the press, and they never stopped. The women are letting this slide — and they should not be.

        The time when the charges should have been brought regardless of the Florida law applying to the choices a DV complaining witness can make was the Samantha Schiebe case. There, Fogen resisted arrest; there, he obstructed justice; there, the refused to come out when the police ordered him to. That was the case where there were plenty of charges independent of the stupid collusive unfit mother whose main purpose in the whole action seems to have been to show off her breasts.

        Women flock to him.

        Blacks will have nothing to do with him, except perhaps stupid Joe Oliver (yeah, where is he now?) who was a stooge to stand there and say, “My good buddy is not racist; after all, his PR people thought I was so honorary-white that they let me get on camera!” (BTW, if the feds had been serious about finding out if there was a hate crime involved, they would have put the pressure on both Oliver and Osterpunk and they would have insisted that all these “African American friends and mentored kids” were identified and they would have interviewed all of THEM. The Feds, like Corey, were doing theater to prove to the country that it is post-racist.)

        And why wasn’t Schiebe prosecuted? Making a false police report is a crime in Florida. How can these people keep getting away with “recanting”? Are we to presume that the police are just actors in a series of one-act plays that Fogen and the bimbo-du-jour create, and nobody pays for the privilege?

        • Malisha says:

          I just gave myself an idea.

          Fogen should sue the police for false arrest in the Brunnelle case because neither he nor she CALLED THEM. He should sue the press for reporting him inaccurately too. A BIG DAMN LAWSUIT! Don West should represent him. Yeah!

          • Malisha says:

            Then it will have to come out not only that the police had probable cause to arrest, but that in all the prior arrests, HE was the aggressor and HE did what was originally alleged and the police KNEW IT. Including the murder of Trayvon Martin. Including the attack on the officer in the bar for which he should have served prison time.

          • gblock says:

            I kind of have doubts about that idea. Even with a lawsuit, there will only be incentive to revisit old evidence if it specifically pertains to the issues involved in the lawsuit.

            I think that the best bet for establishing the federal case would be to examine all of the cases of Fogen harassing and making false police reports about African Americans. Giving the lie to the “mentored kids” story and other fictions about Fogen supporting the African American community would help to support the case, but probably wouldn’t be enough in itself to establish a case. Its strongest use would be to give the lie, once and for all, to Fogen supporters who claim that he isn’t a racist, after all, he did all of these things in support of blacks. Unfortunately, many of them would simply deny it, but it might help some semi-reasonable people come to their senses.

        • a2nite says:

          @mallisha:

          I think someone may be figuring out a way to punish him extra-judicially. Doesn’t matter whom he avoids, he lives in the gunshine state. He’s got plenty of haters.

  2. Malisha says:

    This one is practically unbelievable. I have been photographed in the courthouse, over my objection, just like this (but no lawyer was present). I believe it also happened because I had a civil rights suit pending. The picture was used to alert LEOs all over the place to try to “get me” on other unrelated charges so they could create some kind of smokescreen. It didn’t work in terms of them coming up with any arrests because I lived in a different jurisdiction (where several cops admitted they had been asked to create stuff but they were not interested because it wasn’t their particular priority and they didn’t owe favors in this instance) but the civil rights suit was eviscerated by another method (judge-switching, phone-calling, and some more interesting and more labor intensive forms of corruption). Long ago.

  3. MDX says:

    The prison industrial complex in a manifestation of a free market reducing a human being to a commodity to be exploited to gain (steal) added value – the added value being determined by those who have title to capital.

    The con game is so clear.

    The paid boobs in the media tell people that brown people smoking weed detract from society and it would add value, if they were put in jail.

    So the PIC gets paid for adding value; with a pittance of what they are paid going to racists cops and prison guards who are not qualified to do much of anything else.

    One of the oddest arguments, often by Libertarians, I see is the premise that “the market” fairly compensates an individual for what they add to society. This cretin will often opine about how that single mother raising a child getting pitiful assistance is a “drain” on society for having a child she could not “afford”.

    How repugnant and wrong.

    A single women working a minimum wage job helps the stock holders of a fast food company make a very decent wage, thus following the axiom of Adam Smith:

    That which does not go to the laborer is kept by the master

    She then goes to a day care to pick up her child, thus contributing to the “added value” of the day care provider.

    Then she raises that child to be another laborer to be exploited to “add value” without getting any compensation.

    That is one hell of a contribution to our society, IMO.

    And then these butt heads whine about the “violent youth”.

    For that, I give you Peter Tosh’s view:

  4. Two sides to a story says:

    I often wonder about the hundreds of innocent people who are incarcerated for more minor crimes that have no DNA evidence and thus there’s little motivation to revisit cases. The exonerations we’re seeing are probably the very tiny tip of a big iceberg.

    • Malisha says:

      When your economic/social structure and your self-perpetuating prison industrial system both demand a constant flow of material, and your courts are corrupt and your law enforcement element is comprised of at least half thuggery, of course you have a prison population that is, in the final analysis, just an exploitable resource, not a true “criminal element.” If our criminal law were used properly according to its own terms, more of the law enforcement/court personnel/guards and corporate structures than inmates would be the convicts.

  5. Malisha says:

    You can have post-trial exonerations of innocent people who were railroaded and spent 20, 30, 40 years in prison while whole crews of people donated, worked, interviewed, fought, and finally sprung them if they lived that long. And on the other side of the rotten coin you have pre-trial exonerations of murderers who don’t make it to trial because rigged grand juries free them from exposure to real law.

    A disgrace. A shame. A crime. The destruction of a civil society.

  6. Diamonique says:

    Oh my.. look at all those who were on death row. How many are still on death row who are innocent? This is the main reason the death penalty should be abolished. Humans aren’t perfect, and it’s humans who are deciding guilt or innocence. Our corrupt system — or even honest mistakes – can lead to execution of innocent people.

    On another note, I know the guy from Detroit who was released last year. He’s a good friend of my son’s. His friends held many fundraisers over the years to pay for legal help, and they had a great backyard bbq for him when he got out. He is reconnecting with his son and enjoying life. He doesn’t seem bitter at all.

  7. Malisha says:

    Re: Exonerations

    Just once, the whole corrupt crew that put an innocent person on death row needs to be charged, prosecuted, imprisoned and made an example for the entire country. Just once.

    Of course it will never happen. That is why getting justice will continue to be a fluke.

  8. MDX says:

    I am fast coming to the conclusion that it is now reasonable to assume that a cop is a liar.

    • Malisha says:

      I’d say it even goes deeper than that. White people who deny racism are liars. White people who exercise any kind of power and do not admit that such power is often abused are liars. Cops are just a subdivision of the larger group that has lived on lies, cultivated lies, enshrined lies, enforced lies, and ultimately institutionalized lies to make them into a social structure. That’s us.

      • MDX says:

        The job of being a cop, if Panteleo or Wilson are to be examples of average competence, is clearly a bastion of white privilege wherein a mediocre person can get a well paying job with great benefits based on being racist and white.

        I bet Wilson and Panteleo watch the NFL and gripe about those lazy “gifted” blacks getting paid big money.

        After almost 30 years of exposure to college or near-pro level ex football players of all races coming to gyms, I can say there is nothing “lazy” about football.

        I would love to see that slob Wilson load up a sled with about ten full plates and push it – it will make you see stars real quick.

        Panteleo, OTH, would never make it out of the locker room due to his “fascination” with men’s junk 🙂

      • Two sides to a story says:

        You always say it so well, Malisha.

    • bettykath says:

      I attended a community-cop confab a couple of weeks ago. The detective who was there made a couple of points, one in the meeting and the other afterward, to me. I’m in Albuquerque (until the north leaves the deep freeze).

      In the meeting the detective said that the new chief is tough on cops who cross the line of excessive force. Interesting because it’s this chief who offered up the excuses for the cops who killed the mentally disturbed homeless man. He seems to have missed the fact that the original cops on the scene had talked the man into surrendering peacefully, that the man had his back to them when he was shot, that the man was quite some distance from them and, he ignored the audio of the shooter claiming that he would kill the man.

      After the meeting he claimed that Garner was NOT in a choke hold. What he described as the hold was that the cop had one arm under Garner’s. The problem with that is if you look at the picture, both of the cop’s arms are above Garner’s shoulders.

      Fxcking liar.

  9. MDX says:

    Here is Cynthia in action:

  10. MDX says:

    This is a publicly expressed view of Cynthia Whitlatch, the police officer who wrongly arrested a 72 year old black man for swinging a golf club at her:

    ‘Facebook user Cynthia Whitlatch accuses Davis of being a “black racist” and writes, “If you believe that blacks are NOT accusing white America for their problems then you are missing the point of the riots in Ferguson and the chronic black racism that far exceeds any white racism in this country. I am tired of black peoples paranoia that white people are out to get them. I am tired of hearing a black racist tell me the only reason they are being contacted is because they are black solely because I am NOT black.”…’

    http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2015/01/28/what-facebook-user-cynthia-whitlatch-wrote-about-chronic-black-racism

  11. racerrodig says:

    I still say every one who shoots anyone should be arrested 1st. If there is justification, then the investigation will show that. Kind of like instant replay in the NFL. The original call is the key. If it can be overturned because of the evidence, so be it. This pertains to cops as well.

    The threat of being arrested might be a deterrent. It is getting far to common reading about a cop or a Fogen, shooting someone then pulling that bs line that they were scared.

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