Monday, May 29, 2017

Staff Sergeant Brad Murray: Halton Region, Ontario: Alleged drug evidence tampering: Bulletin: The Halton Region Drug Squad Officer (16 years on the Halton force) faces charges of breach of trust, theft and obstruction of justice after a probe found more than 30 exhibits from a series of court cases had been tampered with........."A Star investigation previously revealed that an internal Halton police audit in November found at least 36 exhibits whose packaging had been compromised, throwing prosecutions into jeopardy. A summary of the findings indicated the contents of the exhibits may have been compromised as well. Tanner asked Toronto police to conduct an independent criminal probe into the tampered exhibits."..." As staff sergeant, Murray would have had a swipe card that allowed him access to the drug vault, Tanner told the Star. While it was preferred that two officers go into the vault together, this might not always have been the case, he said."..."Murray’s arrest also raises questions about a program he ran encouraging the public to drop off unwanted medications — including prescription painkillers — at local police stations and pharmacies." Reporters Jesse McLean, Rachel Mendleson and Jackie Hong; Toronto Star. 28 May, 2017.


"The former head of Halton Region’s police drug squad, who once boasted of major busts and encouraged residents to drop off their unused prescription painkillers so police could properly dispose of them, has been arrested and accused of using his position to steal drug exhibits stored in an evidence vault. Brad Murray, a staff sergeant with 16 years on the Halton force, was charged Sunday with obstruction of justice and two counts each of theft under $5,000 and breach of trust following a seven-month internal probe and external investigation by Toronto police. The probe revealed that more than 30 exhibits from a series of court cases had been tampered with. In all instances, the affected exhibits were prescription painkillers such as OxyContin. “In all likelihood, all of these cases will have to be stayed or withdrawn, which is a shame,” Halton police Chief Stephen Tanner said in an interview Sunday. “But that’s the cost of what this person did.”Murray has been suspended with pay. The allegations against him have not been proven in court. The veteran officer was already facing internal discipline for an incident in which he allegedly obtained prescription painkillers from an officer under his command, Tanner said. Murray has not responded to numerous requests for comment from the Star. A Star investigation previously revealed that an internal Halton police audit in November found at least 36 exhibits whose packaging had been compromised, throwing prosecutions into jeopardy. A summary of the findings indicated the contents of the exhibits may have been compromised as well. Tanner asked Toronto police to conduct an independent criminal probe into the tampered exhibits. “We recognize the impact such news brings to you, the people we serve, and to the reputation of our service,” Tanner said in a release on Sunday. “It violates public trust in the work we do and is an affront to the Canadian justice system as a whole. As such we are committed to dealing with this issue transparently and thoroughly.” Murray was a member and supervisor of Halton’s drug and morality unit from January 2013 to May 2016, “during which time the criminal offences are alleged to have occurred,” the release stated. As staff sergeant, Murray would have had a swipe card that allowed him access to the drug vault, Tanner told the Star. While it was preferred that two officers go into the vault together, this might not always have been the case, he said.........Murray’s arrest also raises questions about a program he ran encouraging the public to drop off unwanted medications — including prescription painkillers — at local police stations and pharmacies. In 2013, as a detective on the newly formed integrated drug, gun and gang unit, he was the force’s public face announcing the squad’s first arrests, in which officers seized three pounds of marijuana and some cocaine. “It won’t affect the supply and demand. What it will do is put the word out that we’re here,” he said. Murray later became the head of the drug and gang unit. He warned the public of the black market’s increasing thirst for opiate-based prescription painkillers, and championed a program encouraging the public to dispose of their unwanted and potentially harmful medications at local pharmacies or police stations. Each month, the program collected roughly 80 pounds of medicine — everything from narcotics to blood pressure pills to herbal remedies — preventing the drugs from being flushed down the toilet or ending up on the street. “Most harmful drugs are found at home. Essentially, the (inadvertent drug) trafficker is living at home,” Murray told the Burlington Post in 2015. Pharmacist Samir Patel worked with Murray in the program, collecting customers’ unwanted drugs at his pharmacies. “He would call me or text me, say, ‘Hey, how much do you have? Do you have a lot of stuff there?’ I’d say, ‘Yup, we have this much. If you want to come by it’s a good amount,’” Patel said in an interview......... The program with Halton police ended once Murray moved from the drug squad, said Patel, though the pharmacist continues to dispose of unwanted medications through another program. Tanner said there is no current evidence suggesting any of the pharmaceutical drugs collected by Murray or Halton police through the program have been misused or stolen. “In hindsight, I have concern that it is certainly possible,” he told the Star. In a press release, Halton police said it has implemented additional measures to preserve the integrity of all seized drug exhibits."
https://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2017/05/28/halton-police-staff-sergeant-charged-after-drug-evidence-tampering.html

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/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Kathleen Zelner: Clyde Ray Spenser: White Elephant Cases? Steven Avery's lawyer scores a $9 million victory for Spencer in lawsuit over his wrongful sexual abuse conviction in 1985. (His sentence was commuted in 2004, thanks to evidence found to be fabricated..."A former Vancouver, Washington, police officer, Spencer spent nearly 20 years in prison. His sentence was commuted in 2004, thanks to evidence found to be fabricated. There's a lot more to the story, of course, and the Columbian can fill you in. But it could be seen as another reason for Avery backers to feel good about Zellner being in the mix. Zellner, who vowed to prove Avery's innocence in the 2005 death of Teresa Halbach, sent out a tweet Thursday telling "fabricators of evidence" to "beware." As "Making a Murderer" viewers will recall, accusations of evidence-planting have, and were, a major part of the arguments from the pro-Avery camp."


Image result for "white elephant"

In the years since I started publishing this Blog I have become increasingly disturbed by the 'white elephant' in the room: Sheer, unadulterated, willful   misconduct in the criminal justice system - much  of it involving forensic evidence - committed by lab technicians,  pathologists, police officers, prosecutors and others.  Think Annie Dookhan; Think Sonia Farak; Think David Kofoed; Think Charles Smith; Think Ken Anderson; Think Gene Morrison. Think Michael West;   I have therefore decided to run this image of a white elephant at the top of every applicable post henceforth, to draw our reader's attention to   what I see as a major problem in all too many criminal justice system's - my own included.  Harold Levy; Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;
"Reformers have for years recommended that all forensic labs be independent from law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies' and this is a key reform promoted by The Justice Project (2008). But fixing these problems is only half the answer' because half of the wrongful convictions attributed to misleading forensic evidence involved deliberate forensic fraud' evidence tampering' and/or perjury.
From "The Elephant in the Crime Lab," by co-authored by Sheila Berry and Larry Ytuarte; Forensic Examiner; Spring, 2009;

-------------------------------------------

STORY: "Steven Avery lawyer Kathleen Zellner scores victory," by reporter Shane Nyman, published by The USA Today Network on May 19, 2017.

GIST: "Kathleen Zellner scored a win this week, just not the one Steven Avery supporters were hoping for. Zellner, the Chicago lawyer leading Avery's fight for freedom, helped a man named Clyde Ray Spencer catch a $9 million jury award for his wrongful sexual abuse conviction in 1985. A former Vancouver, Washington, police officer, Spencer spent nearly 20 years in prison. His sentence was commuted in 2004, thanks to evidence found to be fabricated. There's a lot more to the story, of course, and the Columbian can fill you in. But it could be seen as another reason for Avery backers to feel good about Zellner being in the mix. Zellner, who vowed to prove Avery's innocence in the 2005 death of Teresa Halbach, sent out a tweet Thursday telling "fabricators of evidence" to "beware." As "Making a Murderer" viewers will recall, accusations of evidence-planting have, and were, a major part of the arguments from the pro-Avery camp. For Zellner's 17 months as Avery's lawyer, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin investigative reporter John Ferak took a look last week at the bold claims she's made since jumping into the fray and what — at least from what we can see from the outside — has actually materialized."
http://www.postcrescent.com/story/news/local/steven-avery/2017/05/19/steven-avery-lawyer-kathleen-zellner-scores-victory/101870656/

The Columbian story can be found at the link below: "Clyde Ray Spencer was awarded $9 million Monday by a federal jury that unanimously agreed a detective from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office violated Spencer’s constitutional right to due process by fabricating the evidence that put him behind bars for two decades for sexually abusing his two children and a stepson. The $9 million award is the highest in Washington in a civil rights case, said Kathleen Zellner, Spencer’s attorney.  “Justice was served — even though it took 30 years,” Zellner said. “We were able to prove they framed him. We’ve proven the evidence was fabricated. And, after 30 years, that’s remarkable. Justice is alive and well in Washington.”.........Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik, who took office in January 2011, called the verdict “extremely troubling” on Monday.“We need to look specifically at the facts of this, and the findings that the jury made,” Golik said. He said prosecutors will be researching other cases investigated by Sharon Krause. If they find cases similar to Spencer’s, they have a duty to notify defendants’ attorneys of the Spencer verdict.Krause’s supervisor, Sgt. Mike Davidson, was also found liable by the jury. Krause and Davidson are both retired, but the county paid for their legal counsel.........The county could appeal the verdict or argue it shouldn’t have to pay the award because Krause, by fabricating evidence, was acting outside the scope of her duties, Wilsdon said. They’ll also discuss asking Spencer to consider a smaller settlement in exchange for not appealing the verdict.........The jury heard testimony from 25 witnesses over 13 days in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, including Spencer’s son and daughter, Matt Spencer and Katie Spencer Tetz.
They each spent a grueling day and a half on the witness stand refuting the graphic sexual abuse allegations that Krause fabricated as part of investigative reports that sent Spencer to prison.
They also endured Guy Bogdanovich and Jeffrey Freimund, attorneys for Krause and Davidson, respectively, trying to blame them for Spencer’s wrongful conviction. “That has to be the toughest part for me,” Tetz said. “To get up there on the witness stand and re-live it. To listen to (the defense) bash your family. And to have them keep putting the blame on me, trying to paint me as this sexualized, manipulative 5-year-old child,” the latter a result, Krause tried to suggest, of abuse by her father......... Jurors also heard from Matt Hansen, who maintains that he was abused by his stepfather, and jurors learned about evidence that went missing. That included medical exams that showed Spencer’s daughter and stepson had not been physically abused.
There also was a video of former deputy prosecutor James Peters interviewing Tetz that disappeared almost as soon as it was made. It turned up in Krause’s garage in 2009. She testified that she didn’t remember the video being taped, or how it ended up in her garage. That video would have hurt the state’s case, Spencer’s attorneys argued.On the witness stand, Krause was unable to explain why there were two separate evidence indexes created in the case — one that included the medical exams and one that didn’t. She testified that she didn’t recall preparing the indexes, but she didn’t dispute that it was her work. Jurors also heard that Davidson had an affair with Spencer’s wife, a relationship Davidson maintained didn’t begin until after Spencer went to prison and the couple divorced. Krause testified that she became interested in police work during her seven years as a hotel clerk after getting to know Portland police officers who came to the hotel bar. She worked as a records clerk and a dispatcher for the Vancouver Police Department before joining the Clark County Sheriff’s Department in 1975. After three years as a patrol deputy, she became a detective and was soon investigating child sex abuse — a job there was no training for at the time, she testified. Krause spent the duration of her career investigating sex abuse cases and retired in 1995. She lives in Arizona, while Davidson lives in central Oregon. The four-man, four-woman jury deliberated approximately 13 hours over three days before answering five questions. Question No. 1: “Was plaintiff’s Constitutional right to due process of law violated by being subjected to criminal charges on false evidence deliberately fabricated by defendant Krause when she knew or should have known plaintiff was innocent of the crimes he was ultimately charged with?” Answer: Yes. Other questions dealt with Davidson’s liability, whether or not Davidson and Krause conspired to deprive Spencer of his rights (that answer was “no”) and if Krause’s fabricated reports were the “moving force” behind Spencer going to prison. Because the answer to that question was “yes,” the final question was how much money Spencer should receive. Spencer’s attorney suggested last week during closing arguments that $1 million a year would be fair, but jurors, without explanation on the verdict form, settled on $9 million......... Spencer and his family will ask the state Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to pursue a criminal corruption investigation now that they have proven the evidence was fabricated. Going forward, Tetz hopes to start a foundation to support wrongfully convicted adults and their children.  “I think this happens far more often than people realize,” Tetz said. “It just destroys families.”
 http://www.columbian.com/news/2014/feb/03/jury-awards-9-million-spencer/

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/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog; 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session's war on science/forensics: (Part 19): Sessions in perspective..."Jeff Sessions has done more damage in his first 100 days than his boss."... Hanna Kozlowska...Quartz...."Sessions’ biggest actions, from undermining federal oversight of police departments to cracking down on undocumented immigrants, have worried a wide array of lawmakers, law-enforcement leaders, advocates and scientists. “Of all the cabinet members, maybe even the president, he has to this point had the most significant impact as to policy changes,” said Jesselyn McCurdy, the deputy director at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Washington Legislative Office told Quartz. Unlike his boss, Sessions is delivering on what he has promised—sometimes on causes he has championed for decades."; 19 May, 2017.


STORY: "Jeff Sessions has done more damage in his first 100 days than his boss,"  by reporter Hanna Kozlowska, published by Quartz on May 19, 2017. (From Quarz: Hanna  Kozlowska is a reporter at Quartz. She previously worked for the New York Times as a digital writer for NYT Opinion, and was a fellow at Foreign Policy magazine. Prior to FP, Hanna was a stringer for the New York Times in Poland. She graduated from Swarthmore College. Her obsessions include politics, Eastern Europe, human rights, and the American criminal justice system.........Quartz is a digitally native news outlet, born in 2012, for business people in the new global economy. We publish bracingly creative and intelligent journalism with a broad worldview, built primarily for the devices closest at hand: tablets and mobile phones. Like Wired in the 1990s and The Economist in the 1840s, Quartz embodies the era in which it is being created. The financial crisis that recently engulfed much of the world wasn’t just a cyclical decline or a correction or even a bubble bursting. It was a breaking point. And its shockwaves exposed a fundamentally changed economic order with new leaders and ways of doing business.)

GIST: 'US attorney general Jeff Sessions may not be part of the biggest investigation in the Department of Justice, but as he reaches 100 days in office, there’s little doubt that he’s had an important impact on the American criminal-justice system—potentially for years to come. Despite the political turmoil of the Trump administration, Sessions has moved to reverse a tide of progressive reform and to fulfill his boss’s law-and-order agenda, a collection of concepts loosely articulated during the 2016 presidential campaign. Sessions’ biggest actions, from undermining federal oversight of police departments to cracking down on undocumented immigrants, have worried a wide array of lawmakers, law-enforcement leaders, advocates and scientists. “Of all the cabinet members, maybe even the president, he has to this point had the most significant impact as to policy changes,” said Jesselyn McCurdy, the deputy director at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Washington Legislative Office told Quartz. Unlike his boss, Sessions is delivering on what he has promised—sometimes on causes he has championed for decades. “There’s been a great bipartisan movement by organizations on the ground and members of Congress to reform the federal criminal-justice system, based on successes that have happened in the states, but the leader of opposition to that reform was Jeff Sessions, as a senator from Alabama,” McCurdy said. “These are all things that [Sessions], as a criminal justice reform opponent, had on his radar already. McCurdy said Sessions was “definitely” living up to the ACLU’s concerns, and in some areas, fulfilling the worst-case scenarios. Here’s a look at what Sessions has managed to do in just a few short months: (This list of criminal justice measures launched by sessions includes: 'Downplayed the importance of science in courtroom.'..."In yet another reversal from the previous administration, the DOJ under Sessions will not go out of its way to advance and promote reliable science in the courtroom, despite pleas from the country’s top criminologists and forensic scientists. Sessions did not renew the term of the National Commission on Forensic Science, a body formed in 2013 to study methods used to gather and assess evidence in US crime labs, some of which had been discredited as scientifically unsound. Instead, forensic science will now fall under the purview of an internal task force—a move experts warned against. The DOJ also suspended a review of testimony by FBI experts, who have been giving misleading accounts about evidence in court for years."



The entire story can be found at:
https://qz.com/987299/donald-trumps-attorney-general-jeff-sessions-has-done-more-damage-in-his-first-100-days-than-even-his-boss/

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/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Desmond Hicks: Michigan; Cleared of murder after 25 years behind bars; New tests on bullets supported his remarkable that police framed him with bogus evidence.......The bullets were in poor shape and didn't resemble the pristine bullets that were presented as evidence by Detroit police in 1992. Police at that time said a gun belonging to Ricks' mother was the murder weapon, but new tests now have ruled out any connection, Innocence Clinic director David Moran said. One of the bullets doesn't match the gun, and the other bullet was too mutilated for a thorough analysis, he said. "Ricks was a great advocate for his own cause," Moran said. "What he was saying seemed to be outlandish: The Detroit police crime lab would not only make mistakes but switch bullets. It wasn't outlandish — it was true. This outlandish conduct cost Desmond Ricks 25 years."




Image result for "white elephant"

In the years since I started publishing this Blog I have become increasingly disturbed by the 'white elephant' in the room: Sheer, unadulterated, willful   misconduct in the criminal justice system - much  of it involving forensic evidence - committed by lab technicians,  pathologists, police officers, prosecutors and others.  Think Annie Dookhan; Think Sonia Farak; Think David Kofoed; Think Charles Smith; Think Ken Anderson; Think Gene Morrison. Think Michael West;   I have therefore decided to run this image of a white elephant at the top of every applicable post henceforth, to draw our reader's attention to   what I see as a major problem in all too many criminal justice system's - my own included.  Harold Levy; Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;
"Reformers have for years recommended that all forensic labs be independent from law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies' and this is a key reform promoted by The Justice Project (2008). But fixing these problems is only half the answer' because half of the wrongful convictions attributed to misleading forensic evidence involved deliberate forensic fraud' evidence tampering' and/or perjury.
From "The Elephant in the Crime Lab," by co-authored by Sheila Berry and Larry Ytuarte; Forensic Examiner; Spring, 2009;

-------------------------------------------

STORY: "Bullet Tests Clear Detroit Man in Prison Since 1992," by reporter Ed white, Associated Press; May 26, 2017.

Townshend said they didn't resemble the actual bullets that were locked away in police storage and produced just two years ago. "Townshend's a hero," Moran said. "He was willing to put his reputation on the line."

The entire story can be found at:

 https://www.forensicmag.com/news/2017/05/bullet-tests-clear-detroit-man-prison-1992

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/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com.

Attorney General Jeff Session's war on science/forensics: (Part 18): Six scientists explain why "We Must Strengthen the "Science" in Forensic Science," in Scientific American..."The Justice Department is home to many dedicated public servants including scientists whose passion for justice is unquestioned. However, DOJ is not a scientific body, and it is difficult to see how forensic science can become a true science in that environment. Science flourishes when free and independent; only then can the tools and technology that it creates be truly reliable. Scientists and the justice department can do the necessary research to put forensic techniques on a scientifically sound footing, or they can retreat into the status quo in which untested forensic practices are admitted in court simply because they have been in the past. Proclaiming evidence to be scientific does make it so. Given this state of affairs, we are bewildered by the decision to end the NCFS. Questions about the validity of forensic science will not go away. Failure to address them will lead to further convictions of innocent people. For our society, the stakes don’t get much higher."


COMMENTARY: "We Must Strengthen the "Science" in Forensic Science," by By Sunita Sah, Arturo Casadevall, Suzanne Bell, S. James Gates Jr., Thomas D. Albright, M. Bonner Denton, published by  Scientific American on May 8, 2017."

SUB-HEADING: "A national commission created to improve the reliability of forensics has been dealt a possibly fatal blow."

GIST:  "Keith Allen Harward served 33 years in jail after being convicted of rape and murder, largely on the strength of bite mark evidence. He was subsequently found to be innocent on the basis of DNA evidence and released. During his incarceration the actual criminal remained free and committed other crimes. This miscarriage of justice was the result of bad science. Bite mark evidence has been shown to lack any scientific credibility, yet it continues to be used in court. To a public accustomed to watching crimes being solved on television shows, where the results are always pristine and the guilty are always convicted, there is a perception that forensic science is flawless. The reality is that it is not, and we are in danger of halting and even reversing the considerable progress that has been made in improving it. In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences evaluated the state of forensic science and, shockingly, concluded that many of the techniques used in court actually have no scientific validity. This means that the science used to convict the accused is neither reliable, nor robust and cannot be trusted in a court of law. In response to this report, the government established the National Commission of Forensic Science (NCFS) in 2013, which was tasked to explore these issues and make recommendations for improvement (all of the authors of this piece have served on the NCFS). Administered jointly by the Department of Justice and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the commission has worked diligently over the past four years to identify problems and propose changes to strengthen forensic science. This progress is now in danger of being undone. On April 10, the Justice Department, under the leadership of Attorney General Sessions, refused to extend the term of the NCFS. The demise of the NCFS is a tremendous missed opportunity for the progress of forensic science and criminal justice. The NCFS brought together diverse stakeholders including forensic scientists, judges, lawyers, victims’ advocates, law enforcement, and practicing independent scientists. NCFS was the only formal link between mainstream science and the communities that support and consume the products of forensic science, most notably the criminal justice system. During the four years in which it operated, the NCFS made considerable progress in bridging the scientific and legal disciplines. For example, the NCFS found such language as “reasonable scientific certainty: to be meaningless and recommended that it not be used in court, since it gave the false impression of scientific validity. Even more importantly, the NCFS recommended that all forensic techniques should be independently validated before being used in criminal investigations. Some have been; but too many others have not. Bite mark evidence is one example; despite lacking any scientific foundation, it is incredibly is still being admitted into the courts. Last year the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology identified latent fingerprints, firearms identification and footwear analysis as also lacking scientific validity. Medical therapies, airplanes and electrical devices are tested by independent entities before they can be used routinely; the public demands it and takes for granted that this has occurred. The public has the right to expect the same of forensic techniques, given the substantial consequences of the ‘evidence’ produced in court. Independent and unbiased assessment is fundamentally essential to determining the efficacy of any technique claiming to be scientific. By stating this principle clearly, the NCFS established an important precedent that should have far reaching consequences on the future development of forensic science. Now the public should demand this validation. ......... The Justice Department now proposes to improve forensic science by moving its oversight and development to an office within the department. This is precisely the opposite of what was recommended by the National Academy of Sciences report and the NCFS. It is a step backwards, because it reinforces the conditions that contributed to the current problems, namely, placing this discipline within the control of law enforcement and prosecutors. The Justice Department is home to many dedicated public servants including scientists whose passion for justice is unquestioned. However, DOJ is not a scientific body, and it is difficult to see how forensic science can become a true science in that environment. Science flourishes when free and independent; only then can the tools and technology that it creates be truly reliable. Scientists and the justice department can do the necessary research to put forensic techniques on a scientifically sound footing, or they can retreat into the status quo in which untested forensic practices are admitted in court simply because they have been in the past. Proclaiming evidence to be scientific does make it so. Given this state of affairs, we are bewildered by the decision to end the NCFS. Questions about the validity of forensic science will not go away. Failure to address them will lead to further convictions of innocent people. For our society, the stakes don’t get much higher."


The entire commentary can be found at:
­
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/we-must-strengthen-the-science-in-forensic-science/

See related Radley Balko commentary (Washington Post) at the link below: "The notion that the Justice Department handles all of this internally (which, incidentally, was also the position of Sessions’s predecessor Loretta Lynch) is particularly problematic when you consider the fact that the FBI crime lab has been the source of some of the more wide-reaching forensic scandals of the past few decades, including advancing at least two fields (a method of hair fiber analysis and bullet composition analysis) that tainted thousands of cases and have no scientific support at all."

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2017/05/08/scientists-blast-sessions-decision-on-forensics/?utm_term=.72adde8330a4

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/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Friday, May 26, 2017

Eric Loomis: Wisconsin; Technology; (Indiana Risk Assessment System): Judgment by algorithm; (Whatever happened to King Solomon? HL)...Eric Loomis just wants to know how, exactly, an algorithm determined he posed a high risk to the community."..."Sentencing him to six years of incarceration and five years of extended supervision, the trial judge pointed to Loomis’ history of recidivism and failure to take responsibility. Also, the court noted the result of an actuarial assessment tool that labeled him likelier to reoffend. Loomis filed a motion for post-conviction relief, arguing, in part, that his due process rights were violated because the court relied on the computer-based assessment program COMPAS (Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions). A central question is whether the claims by COMPAS developer Northpointe Inc. — that the calculations were proprietary — prevented Loomis from challenging the scientific validity of the assessment. Now the Supreme Court of the United States is considering taking a closer look."


STORY: "Judgment by algorithm," by Marilyn Odendahl, published by  The Indiana Lawyer on May 17, 2017.

PHOTO CAPTION: "Eric Loomis just wants to know how, exactly, an algorithm determined he posed a high risk to the community."

GIST: "The Wisconsin man was charged in connection with a February 2013 drive-by shooting in La Crosse. He has continued to maintain he was home cooking dinner at the time of the incident, but he did plead guilty to two related offenses of trying to flee police and driving a motor vehicle without the owner’s permission. Sentencing him to six years of incarceration and five years of extended supervision, the trial judge pointed to Loomis’ history of recidivism and failure to take responsibility. Also, the court noted the result of an actuarial assessment tool that labeled him likelier to reoffend. Loomis filed a motion for post-conviction relief, arguing, in part, that his due process rights were violated because the court relied on the computer-based assessment program COMPAS (Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions). A central question is whether the claims by COMPAS developer Northpointe Inc. — that the calculations were proprietary — prevented Loomis from challenging the scientific validity of the assessment. Now the Supreme Court of the United States is considering taking a closer look. Loomis filed a petition for writ of certiorari in October 2016 after the Wisconsin Supreme Court denied his motion for resentencing. In March 2017, the court invited the acting solicitor general to file a brief on the case. Risk assessments and algorithms are not new. They have been used routinely by criminal justice systems in many states to predict how likely the defendant or offender is to commit another crime.  Indiana has a set of such tools to help determine conditions for pretrial release, community supervision, prison intake, and re-entry. The Indiana Risk Assessment System scores an individual’s responses to a series of questions that range from criminal history and substance abuse to employment and social support Like the Wisconsin tool, the IRAS scores are based on algorithms. Both the Indiana Public Defender Council and the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council expressed reservations about IRAS. The organizations note IRAS scores have not been validated as to their accuracy when applied to the Indiana offenders. Moreover, they worry judges will rely more on the numerical score than their own discretion. IRAS scores are actuarial and not individualized. The assessment tools put the defendants or offenders in certain groups based on shared characteristics. The IRAS-Pretrial Assessment Tool labels an individual as low-, medium- or high-risk, depending on the typical behavior of the group..........Noting risk assessment tools are not going anywhere, David Powell, executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, said they must provide a valid, accountable, objective analysis and the outcomes have to be measured.  Algorithms cannot replace personal judgment, he said, giving the example that IRAS does not consider the nature of the crime. A person charged with a heinous act might be deemed low-risk if it was the first crime he or she committed. Prosecutors who turn the decision-making over to the victims have been disciplined for transfer of discretion, and Powell sees the same possibility for running afoul of court rules when judges rely too much on IRAS. “Prosecutors are not big fans of IRAS, by and large,” he said. “The fear we have is the tool will be used in lieu of judicial discretion.”.........News reports, including a series done by ProPublica in 2016, have focused on the potential for bias against minorities built into these kinds of assessment tools. Landis described particular questions in the IRAS, which he said ask the age of the offender’s first arrest and whether the offender has any relatives in prison, as being racially biased."
The entire story can be found at:

http://www.theindianalawyer.com/judgment-by-algorithm/PARAMS/article/43719

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/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Tyrone Noling; Ohio: Development: Bulletin: New rules the state’s high court adopted Monday (effective June 1) will enable inmates sentenced to death to appeal rejections of applications for additional DNA testing of evidence directly to the Ohio Supreme Court — a change prompted by a ruling late last year in this case...Reporter Marc Kovac...The Canton Repository. May 22, 2017..."He (Noling) twice was indicted for the crime and convicted about five years later, based on testimony of several young men who were involved with him in a string of robberies in Alliance, according to documents. Noling has maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings, arguing that there is evidence of other perpetrators. DNA evidence from the scene did not match Noling or the other men involved in the case and did not identify any alternative suspects, according to documents. State investigators also determined that shell casings and ring boxes from the crime scene have been contaminated and are not suitable for DNA testing, according to documents."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Just a few words to express my disgust and concern  over the alleged assault  last night by U.S. Republican candidate Greg Gianforte on journalist Ben Jacobs of The Guardian. In a statement, Gianforte, who has since been charged with a misdemeanor,  portrayed himself through a  spokesman  as the victim, of  'aggressive behaviour of a 'liberal journalist.'  The attack, which occurred to the backdrop of President Donald Trump's portrayal  of reporters as 'the enemy of the people'  was unwarranted and vicious.  Jacobs was just doing his important job. My job. The job of every reporter.  The assault, and Gianforte's response,  should be condemned by anyone who treasures freedom of speech regardless of their political stripe  - including Republicans. (Sadly, that's not likely  in the USA of today.)

Harold Levy:  Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog.

------------------------------------------------------------

"New rules the state’s high court adopted Monday will enable inmates sentenced to death to appeal rejections of applications for additional DNA testing of evidence directly to the Ohio Supreme Court — a change prompted by a ruling late last year in a Portage County murder case. Justices ruled in December that Tyrone Noling would be allowed to appeal a trial court’s earlier denial of further testing of evidence from the scene of the murder of an elderly couple more than 25 years ago. The rules change, which will take effect on June 1, outlines the process for inmates sentenced to death to appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court when common pleas courts reject applications for additional DNA testing. Noling, formerly of Alliance, was convicted for the April 1990 murder of the Bernhardt and Cora Hartig, who were found shot to death in the kitchen of their home in Atwater Township. He twice was indicted for the crime and convicted about five years later, based on testimony of several young men who were involved with him in a string of robberies in Alliance, according to documents. Noling has maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings, arguing that there is evidence of other perpetrators. DNA evidence from the scene did not match Noling or the other men involved in the case and did not identify any alternative suspects, according to documents. State investigators also determined that shell casings and ring boxes from the crime scene have been contaminated and are not suitable for DNA testing, according to documents.

http://www.cantonrep.com/news/20170522/appeals-involving-dna-testing-in-death-row-cases-to-go-directly-to-ohio-supreme-court



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/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Establishing Innocence: It's a lot more difficult after a guilty verdict; Greg Brown: Pennsylvania; Arson; Establishing innocence: Why it can be "enormously difficult" to establish innocence "even when the case hinged on bad science."..."On this week’s episode of 90.5 WESA’s Criminal Injustice podcast, University of Pittsburgh law professor and show host David Harris talked to Marissa Boyers Bluestine, legal director for the Pennsylvania Innocence Project."..." Greg Brown was convicted of setting a fire in his home on Valentine's Day in 1995. And yet we believe that this is a case where it was not arson, that it was actually an accidental fire. But in putting out the fire, three firefighters died and then lost their lives tragically. Greg was prosecuted for that. He was convicted of it, and in about 10 years afterwards, we find out that witnesses had an undisclosed promise from the federal government that they would receive up to $15,000 reward money for their testimony. When we exposed that, Greg has granted a new trial, and he is still awaiting trial in federal court in Pittsburgh...These cases take years just to get the evidence to be able to show that this person is innocent. And even once we're in court, then it can be used more of litigation. With Greg Brown's case, the case that we have out of Pittsburgh, we started the case in 2010. We won the new trial in 2014, and even today in 2017 he's still awaiting trial. These are very long, drawn out cases. We don't have a magic wand. It takes very intensive work over years and years."

 


GIST: "The exposure of wrongful convictions began in 1989, and it upended the idea that guilty verdicts were always trustworthy. When there’s a wrongful conviction, what has to happen to get a court to exonerate someone? On this week’s episode of 90.5 WESA’s Criminal Injustice podcast, University of Pittsburgh law professor and show host David Harris talked to Marissa Boyers Bluestine, legal director for the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. She says its enormously difficult to establish innocence – even when the case hinged on bad science or faulty evidence – after a court declares someone guilty.

DAVID HARRIS: What sorts of errors are you looking for in the convictions?
MARISSA BOYERS BLUESTINE: We have almost a laundry list of errors that can go wrong in the trial. Could the eyewitness have misidentified the defendant? Could the defendant have given the confession that was false? Was there forensic science error? Could some of the witnesses who testified have lied, either for benefit of because they wanted to? Was there error from the prosecution or from the police? So we know that the system has error all sprinkled throughout it. It's our job to try to figure out where it happened in a particular case.

HARRIS: And when you say the system has error throughout it, what we're talking about is a systems problem. It's not people who are doing bad things, it's the system occasionally not working.
BOYERS BLUESTINE: That's absolutely right. It's not that police and prosecutors want to get it wrong. They don't. They want to get it right, but because it's a system built upon humans and where humans power it, there's going to be flaws. What we have to do to fix this is to understand where those flaws come in and try to help train ourselves against them so they're not so prevalent.

HARRIS: You had a really complicated case in Pittsburgh, the case of Greg Brown. Tell me about him.
BOYERS BLUESTINE: Greg Brown was convicted of setting a fire in his home on Valentine's Day in 1995. And yet we believe that this is a case where it was not arson, that it was actually an accidental fire. But in putting out the fire, three firefighters died and then lost their lives tragically. Greg was prosecuted for that. He was convicted of it, and in about 10 years afterwards, we find out that witnesses had an undisclosed promise from the federal government that they would receive up to $15,000 reward money for their testimony. When we exposed that, Greg has granted a new trial, and he is still awaiting trial in federal court in Pittsburgh.

HARRIS: It sounds like what you have to do is basically totally reinvestigate the case from the beginning.
BOYERS BLUESTINE: We absolutely investigate from the beginning. We leave no witness unspoken to. We talk to every witness who would talk to us, police officers, prosecutors, informants. It doesn't matter – co-defendants. We'll talk to everybody. We don't avoid talking to a witness, because we don't like what they might say. We don't avoid asking particular questions. We want to know the facts.

HARRIS: You said that you go forward with a presumption of guilt actually, not a presumption of innocence. Can you explain why what that means?
BOYERS BLUESTINE: We want to make sure that the cases we take are people who are actually innocent. If we go in with a belief of innocence and trying to "prove innocence," then we probably will get what we're looking for. We want to know what the facts are. So we don't try to gin the outcome. We don't try to get a witness to say something we think would be helpful. We just want to know what they have to say, because everything we do is based on the facts – not about what we want the facts to be.

HARRIS: How long can the process take? Are we talking a few months? Several years?
BOYERS BLUESTINE: It can be anywhere in between. In between a few weeks, months or years, but most likely years. These cases take years just to get the evidence to be able to show that this person is innocent. And even once we're in court, then it can be used more of litigation. With Greg Brown's case, the case that we have out of Pittsburgh, we started the case in 2010. We won the new trial in 2014, and even today in 2017 he's still awaiting trial. These are very long, drawn out cases. We don't have a magic wand. It takes very intensive work over years and years.

HARRIS: So you've been doing this in Pennsylvania since 2009. In that time, there have been eight exonerations through your organization's work. When you're successful, what kind of life can the newly proven innocent person expect?
BOYERS BLUESTINE: Because we don't have a compensation statute, it really is up to the individual and their support system to be able to provide a new life for them. They don't even get an expungement. The arrest will still show up on their criminal record, so we have to work to expunge the petition. But beyond that – getting them a job and housing and health care and mental health counseling and family reunification counseling and all that – that falls on us, because we don't just open the door and let them go. They're part of our lives now. We're part of theirs. So we have to do everything we can to help people with a successful re-entry. And sometimes that works in a phenomenal way. Our client Jean, he and his wife just had their second child together. He's in middle management at a really terrific job. I have another client who has two pairs of pants and runs from couch to couch to be able to try to have a place to live. So it really can go the whole gamut."

The entire story can be found at:

http://wesa.fm/post/establishing-innocence-lot-more-difficult-after-guilty-verdict#stream/0
 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/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

David Harold Eastman: Australia; Bulletin: Second trial over murder of former Canberra Police Chief Colin Winchester pushed back more than six months...Reporter Megan Gorrey; Canberra Times. May 24, 2017..." Eastman, 71, was set to face a jury for the second time from July to fight allegations he gunned down Mr Winchester, in a fresh trial estimated at six months and with more than 300 witnesses. That trial has now been vacated and the case has been delayed until February next year. Eastman was charged with murdering Mr Winchester, who was AFP assistant commissioner at the time, in the driveway of his south Canberra home in 1989. He was convicted and sentenced to life behind bars in 1995 and has since launched a series of long-running legal battles in the ACT's courts. His conviction was eventually quashed in 2014 after a court found he did not get a fair trial and he was released from prison after serving more than 19 years in jail."


"David Eastman's planned mammoth retrial for the shooting death of former Canberra police chief Colin Winchester has been pushed back and will not start until 2018, more than six months after the case was expected to begin in the ACT Supreme Court. Eastman, 71, was set to face a jury for the second time from July to fight allegations he gunned down Mr Winchester, in a fresh trial estimated at six months and with more than 300 witnesses. That trial has now been vacated and the case has been delayed until February next year. Eastman was charged with murdering Mr Winchester, who was AFP assistant commissioner at the time, in the driveway of his south Canberra home in 1989. He was convicted and sentenced to life behind bars in 1995 and has since launched a series of long-running legal battles in the ACT's courts. His conviction was eventually quashed in 2014 after a court found he did not get a fair trial and he was released from prison after serving more than 19 years in jail. Prosecutors vowed to push ahead with a fresh trial, prompting Mr Eastman to launch an application for a permanent stay of proceedings. His lawyers argued a retrial would not be fair and extensive media coverage, as well as Eastman's age, mental health and time already served weighed against a second trial going ahead.........Acting Justice David Ashley last year threw out that application. Eastman strongly affirmed his innocence after the failed court bid and vowed he would continue to fight the allegations.........Eastman is on bail. The ACT government set aside more than $3.3 million for the DPP and court system, as well as $1.7 million for Legal Aid, for the Eastman case in the 2015-16 budget. "


Bryan Fish: New York; Police, false memory, perjury and arson: A toxic mix? Daily Gazette reporter Steven Cook reports on the aftermath of the Hulett Street fatal arson case..."Bryan Fish is facing trial next month on three counts of perjury related to the arson case. He allegedly told three separate lies about a driver in a now-discredited account about who started the May 2013 fire that killed three children and a father, as well as maimed then-5-year-old Safyre Terry. Fish faces up to 15 years in federal prison if convicted of all counts against him. Fish's attorney, Frederick Rench, is arguing that his client recanted false testimony within 11 days and that contradictory testimony offered by another figure in the case minimized the impact on the grand jury proceedings as a whole. Rench also gave notice that the defense may call an expert in the field of false memory to the stand. The expert, Deryn Strange, of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, would comment on the videotaped police interrogation of Fish. "She will testify as to the factors that can cause or contribute to false memory, the questions, comments, representations, misrepresentations and interrogation techniques used by law enforcement ... could impact the creation and maintenance of false memory in Bryan Fish," Rench wrote. Fish's false account helped lead to charges against Robert Butler, then 27, who was accused of setting the fatal fire."


STORY: "False memory expert could testify in arson perjury trial," by reporter Steven Cook, published by The Daily Gazette on May 18, 2017.

SUB-HEADING:  "Hulett Street fire killed 4 members of family."

GIST: "The last perjury defendant in the Hulett Street fatal arson case wants the charges against him either dropped or consolidated and may present an expert in false memories at his trial, according to recent court filings. Bryan Fish is facing trial next month on three counts of perjury related to the arson case. He allegedly told three separate lies about a driver in a now-discredited account about who started the May 2013 fire that killed three children and a father, as well as maimed then-5-year-old Safyre Terry. Fish faces up to 15 years in federal prison if convicted of all counts against him. Fish's attorney, Frederick Rench, is arguing that his client recanted false testimony within 11 days and that contradictory testimony offered by another figure in the case minimized the impact on the grand jury proceedings as a whole. Rench also gave notice that the defense may call an expert in the field of false memory to the stand. The expert, Deryn Strange, of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, would comment on the videotaped police interrogation of Fish. "She will testify as to the factors that can cause or contribute to false memory, the questions, comments, representations, misrepresentations and interrogation techniques used by law enforcement ... could impact the creation and maintenance of false memory in Bryan Fish," Rench wrote. Fish's false account helped lead to charges against Robert Butler, then 27, who was accused of setting the fatal fire. Butler spent nine months in custody before prosecutors dropped the charges and freed him as another suspect emerged."


The entire story can be found at:

https://dailygazette.com/article/2017/05/17/false-memory-expert-could-testify-in-arson-perjury-trial

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/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com.  Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Sith Blog;

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bulletin: René Bailey: New York; Bulletin: Freed in shaken-baby syndrome decision, Democrat and Chronicle reports she must stand trial again..."But in 2010 a volunteer lawyer, Adele Bernhard, agreed to look into Bailey's case. Bernhard later mounted a legal argument that the scientific underpinning of shaken-baby syndrome had changed. Bernhard said research had found that illness and accident, including falls, could cause injuries that previously had been ascribed to shaking. The research constituted new evidence in Bailey's case, she said. After a lengthy hearing in late 2014, state Supreme Court Justice James Piampiano reversed Bailey's conviction, saying there had been a "compelling and consequential shift" in the science surrounding shaken-baby syndrome. If today's scientific evidence had been available in 2001, he opined it was likely Bailey would not have been convicted. It was the first time a court had reversed a New York shaken-baby conviction on the basis of new science."... Reporters Steve Or and Gary Craig; May 23, 2017;



"A woman whose 2001 shaken-baby murder conviction was overturned in a landmark court decision must stand trial again, a judge ordered on Tuesday. State Supreme Court Justice Judith Sinclair denied a motion to dismiss the second-degree homicide indictment of Greece caregiver René Bailey and set a trial date of Sept. 5. Bailey was accused 16 years ago of violently shaking a toddler she was watching in her home day care, causing fatal brain injuries. Medical experts testified for the prosecution that Brittney Sheets' injuries could only have been caused by shaking or similar physical abuse. Jurors disregarded Bailey's assertion that Sheets had fallen from a chair and struck her head. But in 2010 a volunteer lawyer, Adele Bernhard, agreed to look into Bailey's case. Bernhard later mounted a legal argument that the scientific underpinning of shaken-baby syndrome had changed.
Bernhard said research had found that illness and accident, including falls, could cause injuries that previously had been ascribed to shaking. The research constituted new evidence in Bailey's case, she said. After a lengthy hearing in late 2014, state Supreme Court Justice James Piampiano reversed Bailey's conviction, saying there had been a "compelling and consequential shift" in the science surrounding shaken-baby syndrome. If today's scientific evidence had been available in 2001, he opined it was likely Bailey would not have been convicted. It was the first time a court had reversed a New York shaken-baby conviction on the basis of new science. In November 2016, a four-judge panel of the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court affirmed Piampiano's decision. That also was a first in New York. Bailey, now 57, would have been eligible for parole in January of this year had her conviction not been overturned. In February, Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley said she had decided to re-try Bailey. Bailey's lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, and argued the matter before Sinclair in April. The judge denied that motion Tuesday. Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Sara VanStrydonck, a prosecutor in the case, said she expects “a lot of medical testimony” at the September trial. “I don’t think they can parade a million quote-unquote experts in,” she said.
http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2017/05/23/greece-rene-bailey-shaken-baby-syndrome-retrial/340389001/

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/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com.

Hassan Diab: Canadian: Detained on extradition warrant in France: A powerful commentary by Mohamed Fahmy: "How a Canadian professor’s life became a horror show."..."At this point of the drama we get a view of the real bomber as he fills in the registration card at the Celtic Hotel in Paris and checks in under the alias of Alexander Panadriyu, a Cypriot citizen. Four handwriting experts have declared Diab’s handwriting does not match the writing of the bomber on the card. Several French experts insist his handwriting matches five words written by the suspect — a conclusion widely critiqued. The political thriller takes a new turn when the palm and fingerprints on the hotel registration card and in the car that transported the explosives do not match Diab’s prints taken by the RCMP. Case documents reveal the hotel receptionist and porter described the bomber as a man in his mid-40s. Diab was 26 at the time. Not a single hotel employee was able to identify Diab when the French police showed them his photo. Nevertheless, the unprecedented two-year extradition hearing ended in catastrophe."


COMMENTARY: "How a Canadian professor’s life became a horror show," by Mohamed Fahmy, published by The Toronto Star  on May 23, 2017. (Mohamed Fahmy is an award-winning journalist and war correspondent. He is the author of The Marriott Cell: An Epic Journey from Cairo’s Scorpion Prison to Freedom.)

SUB-HEADING: "French election results renew hope justice will finally come to Hassan Diab."


GIST: This story has been compared to a B-movie. Canadian-Lebanese professor Hassan Diab is left in awe when a French journalist approaches him in 2007 at the University of Ottawa to inform him he is under investigation in relation to a bombing that killed four people near the Copernic St. synagogue in Paris close to three decades ago. Thirteen months later the RCMP arrests Diab at the request of the French police, who consider him the suspect.  The suspenseful movie trailer begins with quick flashes of Diab’s life spiralling out of control as the extradition court battle intensifies on Canadian soil. Journalists film Diab and dozens of his supporters holding signs protesting his innocence. The flimsy case against Diab is built on German “secret unsourced intelligence” handed to the French. Authorities blamed the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine for the bombing. The militant group had claimed responsibility for a string of bombings, assassinations, and hijacking of airplanes in the late 1960s and 1970s. German intelligence reports submitted to court that I read indicate “five Palestinians” known to the investigators as members of the PFLP could have been behind the attack. Rania Tfaily, Diab’s wife confirmed to me that he was not born in Palestine and had no Palestinian origins. More shockingly, the intelligence names the suspect as “Hassan El Diab” not “Diab” — a big difference that could be translated into a case of mistaken identity. At this point of the drama we get a view of the real bomber as he fills in the registration card at the Celtic Hotel in Paris and checks in under the alias of Alexander Panadriyu, a Cypriot citizen. Four handwriting experts have declared Diab’s handwriting does not match the writing of the bomber on the card. Several French experts insist his handwriting matches five words written by the suspect — a conclusion widely critiqued. The political thriller takes a new turn when the palm and fingerprints on the hotel registration card and in the car that transported the explosives do not match Diab’s prints taken by the RCMP. Case documents reveal the hotel receptionist and porter described the bomber as a man in his mid-40s. Diab was 26 at the time. Not a single hotel employee was able to identify Diab when the French police showed them his photo. Nevertheless, the unprecedented two-year extradition hearing ended in catastrophe. Diab was committed to extradition in June 2011. He was flown to Paris in 2014 where he has been languishing in a tiny cell for 22-hours day after he lost his appeal to an embarrassing Canadian court order. To the naked eye this case would not have resulted in a conviction in a fair Canadian criminal court. Experts believe the 1999 Extradition Act is a black hole in the Canadian legal system that should be re-examined. Unfortunately, this is not a film we can stop or fast forward as we please. It’s a painful reality haunting Diab and his family every day......The good news is that French investigating judges ordered his release six times in the past year. One judge even confirmed there was “consistent evidence” Diab was a student in Lebanon during the time of the bombing in 1980."
The entire story can be found at:
https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/05/23/how-a-canadian-professors-life-became-a-horror-show-fahmy.html

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/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com.

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Rodney Reed; Texas; Death Row; Appeal court sends case back to judge to weigh claims about prosecutors’ presentation of false testimony in his 1998 capital murder conviction...A twist: State’s key expert witness at the trial, then-Travis County Medical Examiner Dr. Roberto Bayardo, has since disavowed his testimony implicating Reed in the murder...."Reed’s attorney Bryce Benjet said in a statement Wednesday that the state convicted Reed based on medical expert testimony that his semen was found in Stites’ body, which the state claimed could have only come from a sexual assault at or near the time of her death. Reed has claimed he and Stites were carrying on a secret affair, and Benjet said Stites’ cousin and co-workers have confirmed that relationship. Benjet said the state’s key expert witness at the trial, then-Travis County Medical Examiner Dr. Roberto Bayardo, has since disavowed his testimony implicating Reed in the murder by saying that, in his professional opinion, the sperm he found in Stites’ body could have been deposited days before her death, and that based on the very few spermatozoa in Stites’ body, it likely was deposited more than 24 hours before her death. Bayardo has said that if prosecutors had advised him they intended to present testimony that spermatozoa cannot remain intact in the vaginal cavity for more than 26 hours and argued Stites died within 24 hours of the sperm being deposited, he would have advised them that neither the testimony nor the argument was medically or scientifically supported. Benjet said a new analysis of the medical and forensic evidence by forensic pathologists Dr. Michael Baden and Dr. Werner Spitz establishes that Stites was likely killed hours before she was supposed to have left for work and that her body was moved to the location it was found after her death."


STORY: "Rodney Reed case sent back to Bastrop to weigh false testimony claim," by reporter Andy Sevilla, published by reporter Andy Sevilla on May 17, 2017. (Andy Sevilla is the editor of the Bastrop Advertiser and Smithville Times)


SUB-HEADING: "State’s highest criminal court rejects claim that recently discovered evidence supported Reed’s innocence. But appeals court agrees prosecutors failed to disclose the evidence potentially supporting his innocence.

GIST: "The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday remanded death row inmate Rodney Reed’s case back to a Bastrop County court to weigh claims about prosecutors’ presentation of false testimony in his 1998 capital murder conviction. Reed was convicted of the 1996 murder of Stacy Stites, a 19-year-old Giddings resident whose body was found along a rural road in Bastrop County. Prosecutors argued Reed abducted, raped and strangled Stites while she was on her way to work. At one point in 2015, Reed was within 10 days of execution. Reed’s defense team, however, has maintained the Bastrop man is innocent and that recently discovered evidence will prove he didn’t kill Stites. In the ruling issued Wednesday by the state’s highest criminal court, the court rejected a 2015 claim by Reed’s lawyers that newly discovered evidence supported his innocence. But the court agreed with Reed’s other claim that prosecutors failed to disclose the newly discovered evidence and that the evidence “shows that the State presented false and misleading testimony, which violated his right to due process.” Reed’s attorney Bryce Benjet said in a statement Wednesday that the state convicted Reed based on medical expert testimony that his semen was found in Stites’ body, which the state claimed could have only come from a sexual assault at or near the time of her death. Reed has claimed he and Stites were carrying on a secret affair, and Benjet said Stites’ cousin and co-workers have confirmed that relationship. Benjet said the state’s key expert witness at the trial, then-Travis County Medical Examiner Dr. Roberto Bayardo, has since disavowed his testimony implicating Reed in the murder by saying that, in his professional opinion, the sperm he found in Stites’ body could have been deposited days before her death, and that based on the very few spermatozoa in Stites’ body, it likely was deposited more than 24 hours before her death. Bayardo has said that if prosecutors had advised him they intended to present testimony that spermatozoa cannot remain intact in the vaginal cavity for more than 26 hours and argued Stites died within 24 hours of the sperm being deposited, he would have advised them that neither the testimony nor the argument was medically or scientifically supported. Benjet said a new analysis of the medical and forensic evidence by forensic pathologists Dr. Michael Baden and Dr. Werner Spitz establishes that Stites was likely killed hours before she was supposed to have left for work and that her body was moved to the location it was found after her death. Stites’ fiancé, Jimmy Fennell, testified during the trial he was at home with Stites the entire evening before she left to work. Benjet said that testimony has been contradicted by close friend Curtis Davis, a Bastrop County sheriff’s investigator, during an on-camera interview with CNN in 2016, which hasn’t yet aired. Fennell confided to Davis he had been out drinking the night before Stites was killed and went home late. Benjet said that information that was never disclosed to the defense. He said new forensic evidence shows Stites was killed sometime before midnight April 22, 1996, and that her body was moved to the remote location where it was found, whereas prosecutors claimed Stites was strangled during the early morning hours of April 23 on her way to work.........Defense lawyers have argued that Stites was most likely killed by Fennell after he learned of her affair with Reed. Fennell is in prison serving a 10-year sentence for the kidnapping and sexual assault of a woman in his custody when he was a Georgetown police officer in 2007.' The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals said it found that although Reed “has failed to make a prima facie showing of actual innocence,” his lawyers’ claims about the failures to disclose evidence and the false testimony deserved to be heard in trial court, and it ordered the claims to be resolved within two months."


The entire story can be found at:

http://www.mystatesman.com/news/crime--law/rodney-reed-case-sent-back-bastrop-weigh-false-testimony-claim/XVKFPCF5fw77jKT3W3OknM/

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/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Susan Neill-Fraser; Tasmania; Bulletin; (News 9): Last-ditch appeal to Tasmanian Supreme Court set for tomorrow: (Tuesday 23 May, 2017)..."Susan Neill-Fraser is serving a 23-year sentence for the 2009 murder of her partner Bob Chappell, 65, whose body has never been found after he went missing from the couple's yacht. Neill-Fraser has always maintained her innocence and has failed in previous appeals, which have reached the High Court of Australia."


"A Hobart woman convicted of killing her husband is due to make a last-ditch appeal to the Tasmanian Supreme Court. Susan Neill-Fraser is serving a 23-year sentence for the 2009 murder of her partner Bob Chappell, 65, whose body has never been found after he went missing from the couple's yacht. Neill-Fraser has always maintained her innocence and has failed in previous appeals, which have reached the High Court of Australia. Her lawyers have won the right to an appeal hearing, due to start on Tuesday, claiming they have new evidence to prove their client's innocence.
http://www.9news.com.au/national/2017/05/23/03/32/convicted-killer-tries-again-to-clear-name

See earlier post of this Blog (February 9, 2016) at the link below:' Bulletin: Susan Neill-Fraser; Tasmania; She argues that there is "fresh and compelling evidence" which should open the door for a final right of appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal. She identifies three people who could have killed her partner Bob Chappell - and, "A fresh analysis by forensic science consultant and former top West Australian homicide investigator Mark Reynolds had debunked the Crown’s case the DNA was a secondary transfer, but was rather bodily fluids deposited by direct contact, according to the app­lication. It also claims fresh analysis of forensic evidence cast doubt on police methods. “In certain areas of forensic investigation, the application of accepted forensic techniques ... had not been undertaken with proper attention to detail or had not been undertaken correctly.” It goes on to say Neill-­Fraser could not have dumped Mr Chappell’s body overboard in the way police claimed. The analysis claims it would have been “mechanically imp­ossible for the applicant to have winched the deceased in the manner described by police." The Mercury."
 http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2016/02/bulletin-susan-neill-fraser-tasmania.html

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/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;