Saturday, May 10, 2014

"The System with Joe Berlinger". Mark your calendars for Sunday May 18, at 9.00 P.M. ET, 6.00 PM PT - Part One (false confessions) of an original eight-part documentary series in which the renowned creator of 'Paradise Lost' about the West Memphis 3 takes on America's criminal justice system. (Including flawed forensics); The hard-hitting documentary is produced by Al Jazeera America and should be of great interest to the readers of this Blog. HL.

RELEASE: "Al Jazeera America presents "The system with Joe Berlinger," premiering Sunday May 18 at 9.00 P.M ET, 6.00 PM ET.

SUB-HEADING: "New 8-part documentary series from Academy award-nominated filmaker asks whether justice is being served in America."

GIST: “The System with Joe Berlinger,” an original documentary series premiering Sunday, May 18 at 9 PM ET/6 PT on Al Jazeera America, explores controversial cases across the farthest reaches of the American justice system, asking whether justice is being served. In this eight-part series, acclaimed filmmaker Joe Berlinger guides the audience through a hard look at some of the most pressing issues plaguing the system: flawed forensics, faulty eyewitness testimony, juvenile justice, mandatory minimum sentencing and more. Al Jazeera America’s documentary unit brings critically-acclaimed, long-form storytelling to audiences on Sunday evenings as part of the “Al Jazeera America Presents” strand.  Most recently, the channel aired “Borderland,” a four-part documentary series that follows ordinary Americans confronting the realities of illegal immigration. On Sunday, May 18th, “The System with Joe Berlinger” begins by looking at false confessions. There are a total of 1,304 exonerations listed in The National Registry of Exonerations; nearly half of the individuals exonerated had spent a minimum of 8 years in prison. Twenty-eight percent (28%) were cleared in part with the help of DNA evidence, and in almost two-thirds (62%) of the cases that are overturned by DNA evidence, the defendant gave a false statement. We meet Nevada’s Kirstin “Blaise” Lobato, who has twice been convicted for the brutal murder and sexual mutilation of a homeless man in Las Vegas…without any physical evidence tying her to the scene. And, she says she never confessed to the crime –instead, she admitted to stabbing a man in self-defense after he attempted to rape her. We follow Lobato’s legal defense team as they try to convince the Clark County DA to examine DNA evidence that was collected, but never tested. In New York, we meet Jeffrey Deskovic, who was arrested for the brutal rape and slaying of a high school classmate in Peekskill, NY. Police officers subjected the 16-year-old to seven hours of withering interrogation, and after confessing he eventually spent 16 years in prison begging prosecutors to test DNA evidence, during which time he contemplated suicide. When new Westchester County DA Janet DiFiore was elected, she decided to test a semen sample taken from the victim’s body and found it matched another inmate, Steven Cunningham. In 2006, Deskovic was released and now works to help the wrongfully convicted through the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice. (Read on for details of the remaining seven episodes. HL);

The series home page can be found at:


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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;