Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bulletin: David Ranta: New York; The New York Times reports that "Man framed by New York detective to get $6.4 million without filing suit." The case involves controversial detective Louis Scarcella whose methods resulting in false confessions have come under increasing attack; (Must Read HL);

PUBLISHER'S VIEW: The dramatic increase in DNA exonerations  in recent years has drawn attention to the cause of the wrongful convictions - including faulty eyewitness identification, cellmate evidence,  and false confessions. This Blog has explored the all too many cases where a false confession has been obtained through psychological manipulation through police lies, ploys and manipulation. The Ranta case is a reminder of one of the white elephants  of the  criminal justice  process -a shamelessly falsified confession which has never been uttered by the accused. The $6.4 million dollar settlement without filing suit in this case  will hopefully make judges and jurors more skeptical about supposed confessions made in  dubious circumstances such as while being handcuffed to a bench at Central Booking. That might have saved David Ranta  23 years of his life.

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

STORY: "Man framed by New York detective to get $6.4 million without filing suit," by  reporter Frances Robles, published by the New York Times on February 20, 2014.

PHOTO CAPTION:  "David Ranta served 23 years in prison for a murder he did not commit."

GIST: "A man who was framed by a rogue detective and served 23 years in prison for a murder he did not commit will receive $6.4 million from the City of New York in a settlement that came before a civil rights lawsuit was even filed, lawyers involved in the case said on Thursday. A $150 million claim filed last year by the man, David Ranta, was settled by the city comptroller’s office without ever involving the city’s legal department – which the lawyers involved in the negotiations described as a “groundbreaking” decision that acknowledged the overwhelming evidence the city faced. The comptroller’s quick acceptance of liability in the high-profile conviction is also significant because the case is the first of what is expected to be a series of wrongful conviction claims by men who were sent to prison based on the flawed investigative work of the detective, Louis Scarcella, who has been accused of inventing confessions, coercing witnesses and recycling informers.........Mr. Ranta had always accused the detective of manufacturing his confession. Mr. Scarcella said Mr. Ranta confessed while handcuffed to a bench at Central Booking. Although the allegation about the confession was never proven, the mounting questions about Mr. Scarcella’s methods made it increasingly suspect.........General Eric T. Schneiderman proposed legislation on Wednesday that would make it easier for people like Mr. Ranta to make such claims; under current law, it is difficult for people who made false confessions to be compensated for wrongful convictions.........After Mr. Ranta’s release, an investigation by The New York Times found that Mr. Scarcella had used the same witness in several different murder cases and that at least six confessions had included similar phraseology: “You got it right. I was there.” Some confessions did not match the evidence in the case. One inmate, Sundhe Moses, who had been investigated by the detective, hired lawyers who tracked down a star witness, who said detectives had coached him to lie. The Parole Board released Mr. Moses in December after he served 16 years for the murder of a 4-year-old girl."
The entire story can be found at:

See also New York Times story on New York State legislation that would provide a remedy to those who falsely confess: "The New York State attorney general proposed legislation on Wednesday that would allow people who have confessed or pleaded guilty to a crime they did not commit to sue the state for damages. Under current law, only someone who has contested the accusation is permitted to sue for wrongful conviction. But the attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, said in a speech that a change was needed to eliminate what he described as “unnecessary and overly broad” barriers to seeking restitution. Of the 27 people in New York who have had their convictions overturned by DNA evidence since 1991, 10 had falsely confessed or pleaded guilty, Mr. Schneiderman, a Democrat, said in his remarks at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “It doubly victimizes people who acted out of fear, had a serious mental or psychological problem, or were simply too young to know what they were doing and as a result admitted doing something that they did not do,” he said. Under the legislation, people who falsely confess or plead guilty to a crime they did not commit will be eligible to sue the state even if they cannot prove that the confession was coerced, Mr. Schneiderman said. The new legislation would also extend the statute of limitations for wrongful conviction claims to three years, from two."


Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.

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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:

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Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.