QUOTE OF THE DAY: "In Schaffer’s Fort Bend case earlier this month, Schaffer called for perjury charges to be filed against the prosecutor who lied about three deals she made with jailhouse snitches, then admitted to knowing some parts of one witness’s story were false. In reality, though, Schaffer said he doesn’t think anything will happen to her. “They’re allowed to keep doing it, when case after case after case, it’s determined the witness testified falsely,” he said. “I’ve been slack at going after prosecutors. I’ve been willing to settle with my client getting a new trial. But I’m done doing that now.”"
Defence Attorney Randy Schaffer;
STORY: "The Problem With Jailhouse Snitches," by reporter Meagan Flynn, published by The Houston Press on November 28, 2016. November 28; ( Meagan Flynn covers criminal justice for The Houston Press.)
GIST: Houston defense attorney Randy Schaffer says the only solid evidence Harris County prosecutors had against his client in his 2002 capital murder trial was that he admitted to being present when his drug dealer was killed. But then a jailhouse witness named Karl Jones took the stand, and he told the jury that, yes, actually, David Holford had confessed to committing the murder while they were sitting in the privacy of a holdover cell. Holford was convicted. Jailhouse snitches are always a red flag to Schaffer, who says that in his 40-plus years of experience he has never once encountered jailhouse witness testimony used ethically in a capital case. There’s a certain irony about these jailhouse snitches: They are the most inherently unreliable witnesses, yet they are often testifying in the most high-stakes trials. Their testimony is generally only necessary when most other evidence against defendants is weak — yet those are also the cases in which a wrongful conviction is most likely. And so when Schaffer encounters them in a capital case like Holford’s, he digs. To start, Schaffer found Jones had only agreed to testify against Holford if prosecutors could offer him something in return. In this case, prosecutors told him they could write a nice letter to the parole board if he cooperated — the hallmark of a jailhouse informant case, Schaffer says. Next, Schaffer was able to dig up the prosecutors’ written summary of their first conversation with Jones — and it turns out Jones had told them a different story than the one he told in court. Schaffer says he originally told prosecutors Holford confessed while they were linked on a chain of prisoners, chaperoned by deputies as they walked through the underground tunnel leading from the courthouse to the jail. Schaffer now alleges that prosecutors coached Jones into changing his story so it would be more believable to a jury, then buried any documentation of the first conversation and kept it from Holford’s defense counsel. When Schaffer asked for the recording of the initial conversation with Jones, Schaffer said he was told the recording didn’t exist because Jones wouldn’t let prosecutors record it. “Since when is the DA's office allowing a prison inmate to tell them what to do?” he said. Schaffer is set to go to court Monday to ask a judge to force prosecutors to turn over all of their notes on Jones. It is the second time this month Schaffer has gone after Harris County prosectors for allegedly eliciting false testimony from a jailhouse snitch, then rewarding them with favors in return — a problem Schaffer described as an “epidemic” in the state of Texas and one requiring sweeping reform in the Legislature this session. (Harris County District Attorney's Office spokesman Jeff McShan said prosecutors were not comfortable commenting until after January 1, which is when new DA Kim Ogg takes office.) Just a couple of weeks ago, a Fort Bend County judge found that a Harris County prosecutor had lied to the jury and defense team about backroom deals she had made with three jailhouse witnesses, and had knowingly elicited false testimony from them that contributed to a capital murder conviction. Schaffer had described the prosecutor’s actions as “shameful.” But added that this was just one example of a common tool used — and abused — by prosecutors.
The entire story can be found at:
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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: http://www.thestar.com/topic/