Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Raymond Jennings: California; Prosecution expert who testified at trial has had a change of mind); A judge has thrown out his murder conviction after prosecutors announced there was new evidence that seemed to “undermine the entire prosecution case and point unerringly to innocence or reduced culpability.”..." The judge also noted that a prosecution expert who testified at trial about the sexual motive — “the cornerstone” of the case, the judge said — had since changed his stance. Without that testimony, Ryan ruled, the prosecution’s case would have been “decidedly different.” In a written statement Monday, Blake, the trial prosecutor, said he’s “aware of additional facts that were not available to me at the time I tried Raymond Lee Jennings.” “As a result,” he said, “I understand why my office has lost confidence in the conviction.” Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey said in a statement that the case shows her office is “dedicated to serving justice, even when it means reopening a closed case.” Asking a judge to throw out the conviction in Jennings’ case — one of more than 1,000 that prosecutors have been asked to look into — marked the first big move by the district attorney’s unit dedicated to overturning wrongful convictions."



Monday, January 30, 2017

Rodricus Crawford: Louisiana; Bulletin: Freed from death row by Louisiana's highest court, he must wait until February 22 to learn whether prosecutors will retry him, Nexstar reports..."Publicity surrounding the case, which was spotlighted in a lengthy article in the New Yorker magazine and a subsequent article in the New York Times, drew public scrutiny not only to Crawford’s case, but to the large amount of prisoners on death row from Caddo Parish, most of whom were African American." Reporter Nancy Cook. January 30, 2017;


"Rodricus Crawford, who was freed in November after spending almost three years on death row, was in Caddo District Court today to set a date for arguments and hearings regarding a new trial.
In November, was released on $50,000 bond, after the Louisiana Supreme Court overturned his first degree murder conviction and subsequent death penalty and remanded his case back to Caddo District Court for a new trial. Crawford, who was convicted by a Caddo Parish Jury in November 2013 for the February 2012 death of his 12-month-old baby, was sentenced to the death penalty in February 2014, and was sent to death row to await his execution. But in the high court’s November decision, the majority agreed with Crawford’s attorneys who claimed the prosecution in Crawford’s trial was racially biased in striking five African-American prospective jurors. The jury ultimately consisted of nine white jurors and three African-Americans.  Crawford and his attorneys will be back in court on Feb. 22 for arguments and hearings. He remains free on bond. "
http://www.arklatexhomepage.com/news/local-news/man-released-from-death-row-will-have-to-wait-for-day-in-court/647418827

See reporter Domonique Benn's KSLR report on the hearing at the link below.  "Crawford learned Monday that he will have to wait until a hearing Feb. 22 for prosecutors to decide whether to move forward with another first-degree murder trial or reduce or drop the charges against him. Crawford told KSLA News 12's Domonique Benn he hopes the case is dropped. He added that he has been all right and working since his release."
http://www.ksla.com/story/34379164/shreveport-man-once-on-death-row-headed-back-to-court?clienttype=generic&utm_content=bufferd12fb&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Rodricus Crawford: Louisiana: Bulletin: ; Once on death row, he is due in court today (Monday January 30) to find out if prosecutors are seeking a new trial..."Crawford was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2012 death of Roderius Lott and sentenced to death in November 2013, but the Louisiana Supreme Court vacated his sentence on Nov. 16 and ordered a new trial. Pathologist Dr. James Traylor's autopsy results concluded that the child died from smothering, but Crawford's team of post-conviction lawyers insist the child had been very sick and died from sepsis. Crawford's appeal claimed that then-Assistant District Attorney Dale Cox eliminated jurors based on their race and pointed to interviews with 9 other doctors suggesting the child died from natural causes." Domonique Benn reports; KSLA; (We are following developments. HL);


"A Shreveport man freed from death row after his conviction for killing his one-year-old son was overturned is due back in court on Monday for the first time since his release." It's been a long road to freedom for Rodricus Crawford, who was released on bond Tuesday evening after spending 3 years on death row for the murder of his toddler son. Crawford was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2012 death of 1-year-old Roderius Lott and sentenced to death in November 2013, but the Louisiana Supreme Court vacated his sentence on Nov. 16 and ordered a new trial. He was returned to Caddo Parish from Angola on Friday, where his bond was set at $50,000. Crawford was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2012 death of Roderius Lott and sentenced to death in November 2013, but the Louisiana Supreme Court vacated his sentence on Nov. 16 and ordered a new trial. Pathologist Dr. James Traylor's autopsy results concluded that the child died from smothering, but Crawford's team of post-conviction lawyers insist the child had been very sick and died from sepsis. Crawford's appeal claimed that then-Assistant District Attorney Dale Cox eliminated jurors based on their race and pointed to interviews with 9 other doctors suggesting the child died from natural causes. Back in court in Caddo Parish Monday morning for the first time since his conviction and sentence were overturned, Crawford told KSLA News 12's Domonique Benn he is hoping the case is dropped..........Domonique Benn is at the Caddo Parish Courthouse and will be there for the 1:30 p.m. hearing."
http://www.newswest9.com/story/34379164/shreveport-man-once-on-death-row-headed-back-to-court

See Dominique Benn's November 22 story which takes us behind the successful  appeal that lead to the hearing scheduled for today at the link below:

 http://www.watchfox29.com/story/33776078/ksla-news-12-investigates-behind-the-appeal-that-led-to-new-trial-for-shreveport-father

"Rodricus Crawford was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2012 death of 1-year-old Roderius Lott and sentenced to death in November 2013, but the Louisiana Supreme Court vacated his sentence on Nov. 16 and ordered a new trial. He was returned to Caddo Parish from Angola on Friday, where his bond was set at $50,000.  The 25-year-old Shreveport native, who also has a young daughter, posted that bond and was released from custody just a few hours later.  His freedom might only be temporary, as he faces a new trial on first-degree murder in his son's death.  It was an appeal from Crawford's defense team pointing out weaknesses in evidence during that first trial that led the Supreme Court to overturn Crawford's conviction and sentence. Among them, a lack of confession or evidence of abuse and the failure of the prosecution to establish a motive. The defense framed the case as weak and circumstantial at best.  Prosecutors said Crawford smothered his child, but defense attorneys argued it's a case that boils down to the baby's failing health.........Video entered into evidence during the trial shows Crawford distraught in the back of a police cruiser moments after his lifeless son was taken away in an ambulance. It would be another hour before he would learn his son was dead. That would not be the only shock for this grieving father and family. According to the autopsy conducted by the Caddo Parish Coroner's Office, Roderius Lott died of smothering. However, defense attorneys for the child's father say the Coroner's office ignored critical evidence that the child died of natural causes. "This was not a homicide, this child died of pneumonia and sepsis and Dr. Traylor was dead wrong," Kappel says. Dr. Traylor was the pathologist who ruled the baby's death a homicide. When asked to comment on the autopsy, Traylor would only point to his findings submitted to the court as evidence during the trial. In the autopsy report, Dr. Traylor cited a small cut under the baby's top lip as evidence of smothering. Defense attorneys say the injury came from a fall and was not evidence of a homicide.  They say Roderius fell down in the bathroom and cut his lip the day before he died and that the real cause of the child's death was his failing health. It's evidence they say is backed up by tissue and blood samples. "He missed the fact that this child had brain swelling, which indicated he did not die of smothering," says Kappel. "He didn't perform testing on the bruising on the child which could have pinpointed the moment those bruises occurred instead of assuming that Mr. Crawford inflicted those injuries."  Kappel adds that Dr. Traylor testified that the little boy had pneumonia, but that it was not serious enough to kill him. When questioned on the stand about the bacteria found during the autopsy, Kappel says Traylor testified that the results would have indicated sepsis if they were accurate but also said that his needle could have been contaminated.  "So based on his testimony either this child died of sepsis and this was not a murder or his autopsy was contaminated.  Either way, we can't have any confidence in this verdict," concludes Kappel. Nine other doctors around the country agreed that Roderius Lott died from sepsis. It was a game-changer for the defense, giving them the cause for appeal before the Louisiana Supreme Court. The Supreme Court had to consider the questions surrounding the evidence presented at trial to support the conviction that allowed Crawford to be sentenced to death.  In their appeal, defense attorneys argued the cards were stacked against their client from the beginning because of his race, the fact that he was unemployed, and still lived at home with this mother. "He is given a presumption that he is a criminal element based on his race and socioeconomic status," says Kappel. "I think the result would have been very different if he were white. I think the result would have been very different if he was middle-class African American. In this case, he was presumed to be a criminal." Crawford's defense team also argued that prosecuting attorney Dale Cox struck people from the jury based on race. The justices ultimately agreed, vacating Crawford's capital conviction and ordering a new trial."

Purvi Patel: Indiana; A symbol of the ever-increasing criminalization of American women by introducing junk reproduction science into the courtroom. Patel is the subject of actress Rose McGowan's film 'Woman's Womb' - a timely film (link to the short film provided) said to reflect McGowan's conviction that Donald Trumps election was a massive war on women that’s been sanctioned and approved by voters. Refinery 29;

POST: "You Need To Watch This Powerful Rose McGowan Film," by Erin Donnelly, published by Refinery 29 on January 17, 2017. 

GIST: This week ushers in a new presidential administration, and with it, a threat to Planned Parenthood, the Affordable Care Act, and the abortion rights granted by Roe v. Wade. Many famous folks are voicing their dismay on Twitter and in award show speeches. Rose McGowan, however, decided to make a film. The former Charmed star is working behind the camera these days. Beginning today, her latest piece, Woman's Womb, will join New York City's Untitled Space Gallery's latest group exhibit, Uprise / Angry Women, an artist reaction to Donald Trump and the current political climate. In a preview for Dazed, McGowan described Trump's election as a "massive war on women that’s been sanctioned and approved by voters." In response, she created Woman's Womb, a short film inspired by the story of Purvi Patel, an Indian woman living in Indiana who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for feticide after using abortion drugs to self-terminate her pregnancy. McGowan used her own menstrual blood to capture Patel's physical experience. "I actually used some of my own blood, put hydrogen peroxide in it, bubbled it up, filmed it, and then had a lovely Indian model in something that looks womb-like work her way out of it," she explained. "The black bars on the side of the frame represent how society squeezes women, squeezes their rights.""

 http://www.refinery29.com/2017/01/136405/rose-mcgowan-womans-womb-film-female-anger

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, January 29, 2017

Yet another book shedding light on forensic science: 'Forensic science reform: Protecting the innocent.' Edited by Wendy J. Koen and C. Michael Bowers. (Well, some say we get far more sleep than we need! Read on. HL); .



Big year for publication of books taking an honest,  up-to-date, critical approach to forensic science Caitlin Pakosh, 'The Lawyer's Guide to the Forensic Sciences'; John Chipman, 'Death in the Family,' (marked by the presence of former doctor Charles  Smith, the notorious namesake of this Blog);  Here is a note on what appears to be yet another important and timely goodie for the readers of this Blog.

Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

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POST: 'A new book on  forensic science and the law',  posted by Christopher Halkides on his Blog 'View From Willmington,  in January, 2017. (Christopher Halkides is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry in Wilmington, North Carolina. He is  biochemist who specializes in the chemical modification of proteins and the synthesis of potential enzyme inhibitors who is interested in the chemistry of phosphorus and sulfur as it can be applied to biochemical problems.)

GIST: I (Christopher Halkides) am pleased to announce the publication of 'Forensic Science Reform" Protecting the Innocent.'  Besides being one of the editors, Wendy J. Koen wrote the majority of the case studies which are part of each chapter.  Kimberly Lott and I  coauthored the chapter on presumptive and confirmatory blood testing, a recurring subject of this blog.  I am very grateful for the illuminating discussions here and elsewhere on this topic.  The Knox/Sollecito murder trial is the featured case in Chapter 7, and it is briefly discussed in Chapter 8.  The case of Lindy and Michael Chamberlain is highlighted in the latter chapter.  The Cameron Todd Willingham arson investigation is the featured case in Chapter 3.

PUBLICATION DETAILS:  Protecting the Innocent: Elsevier, 2017; ISBN: 978-0-12-802719-Edited by Wendy J. Koen and C. Michael Bowers. (Mike Bowers is well known to the readers of this Blog for the illuminating posts on his Blog 'CSIDDS: Forensics in Focus.' Many of the authors shown below have appeared on the pages of this Blog. HL);

CHAPTERS: 
1. Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis, Max M. Houck
2. Microscopic Hair Comparison, Max M. Houck
3. Arson, John Lentini and Rachel Dioso-Villa
4. Shaken Baby Syndrome, Waney Squier 
5. Bite Mark Evidence, C. Michael Bowers and Ray Krone
6. Firearms Identification, Sarah L. Cooper
7. DNA Evidence, Dan Krane and Simon Ford 
8.  Presumptive and Confirmatory Blood Testing, Christopher Halkides and Kim Lott
9.  Bloodstain Pattern Analysis, Barie Goetz 
10.  Crime Scene Reconstruction, Barie Goetz
11. Fingerprints, Kathleen L. Bright-Birnbaum; 

The post can  be found at the link below:

http://viewfromwilmington.blogspot.ca/2017/01/a-new-book-on-forensic-science-and-law.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;








Saturday, January 28, 2017

Mary Han: New Mexico; At last, there could be light at the end of the lengthy tunnel for the family of Mary Han, who have spent years fighting one of the most suspicious classifications of 'suicide' that I have ever seen. The Alburquerque Journal (bombshell) story by reporter Joline Gutierrez Krueger is headed: "Shocking testimony backs kin’s claims in Mary Han case."..."The first officers on the scene from both the Albuquerque Fire Department and the Albuquerque Police Department testified this week that they classified Han’s death as suspicious and a “possible crime scene,” but the APD officers say they were thwarted in their efforts to conduct a proper investigation when dozens of the highest-ranking APD and city officials descended on the house."..."Many things that occurred that day were in violation or simply not done. Former longtime chief medical investigator Dr. Ross Zumwalt testified that neither the state Office of the Medical Investigator nor APD had considered Han’s bank statements, credit card records, medical records, cellphone records, the other prescription medications in her system, such as Ambien, or the contents of her laptop to determine a manner of death. They hadn’t tested the air in the house, the clear liquid in the glass or the plastic bag in the car; nor had they questioned the positioning of her body in the car."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: "At last, there could be light at the end of the lengthy tunnel for the family of Mary Han who have spent years fighting one of the most suspicious classifications of suicide that I have ever seen. The late civil rights attorney Mary Han  has been described as tenacious and fearless. Her family has demonstrated the same qualities in their years long battle to finally unearth the  truth of her death - over the many roadblocks placed in their way by police and public officials. This progress in revealing the truth  - as scandalous and disturbing as it appears to be - is most welcome.

Harold Levy: Publisher of The Charles Smith Blog;

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STORY: "Shocking testimony backs kin’s claims in Mary Han case," by Joline Gutierrez Krueger, published by The Albuquerque Journal on February 27, 2017.

GIST: "Two attorneys and their client sat in a restaurant in Santa Fe over guacamole and chips and raised their glasses to the end of long days of testimony and six long years of fighting for answers, accountability, justice and perhaps even an apology for the way prominent civil rights attorney Mary Han was treated in death. They won’t get all that. For the most part, those are remedies no court can grant. But what happened this week in a Santa Fe courtroom was still satisfying, still vindicating, they said, because much of what they have alleged for years finally emerged with the often shocking and disturbing testimony of several key witnesses who, before now, had not been heard publicly. That’s not nothing. This week, state District Judge David Thomson of Santa Fe heard the petition filed on behalf of the Han family by attorneys Rosario Vega Lynn and Diane Garrity seeking an order – called a writ of mandamus – that would compel the state Office of the Medical Investigator to change the manner of Han’s death from suicide to undetermined. Thomson didn’t rule on the petition, giving the parties 45 days to file additional briefs. Han, you may recall, was an Albuquerque attorney you either loved or hated but certainly respected for her tenacity and fearlessness. She was 53, at the peak of health and about to start her own law firm after parting ways with longtime partner Paul Kennedy when she was found dead Nov. 18, 2010, in her car in the garage of her North Valley townhome of carbon monoxide poisoning. The first officers on the scene from both the Albuquerque Fire Department and the Albuquerque Police Department testified this week that they classified Han’s death as suspicious and a “possible crime scene,” but the APD officers say they were thwarted in their efforts to conduct a proper investigation when dozens of the highest-ranking APD and city officials descended on the house. APD officers Tim Lonz and Jacob Welch testified that they arrived at the Han home just after 12:30 p.m. Kennedy was outside and Han was dead in the garage, seated in the driver’s seat of her white BMW, the windows rolled down, her feet propped on the dashboard to the left of the steering wheel. She was dressed in gym clothes and wearing reading glasses. A clear plastic bag was under one leg. A blue gym bag, a laptop in another bag, a bathrobe and a glass of clear liquid were also in the car, they testified. Both noted an odor of car exhaust throughout the house strong enough to induce headaches. Welch testified that the odor was so pungent that the car must have only recently been shut off. But the engine, he said, was cold. That, he said, was enough to raise his suspicions. Later, he determined that the battery was dead but that the car still had a half-tank of gas. Lonz testified that in the home he saw a folder or notebook on a table with a copy of an email bearing the name of then-Deputy Chief Allen Banks. Lonz said he alerted Banks, a friend, by text. “It was none of my business and no one else’s business either,” Lonz said. Banks showed up along with other high-ranking APD and city officials – an estimated 30 to 50 people who walked through the house, shut the garage door and ordered Lonz and Welch outside. That was frustrating, Lonz testified, because he wanted to call a criminalistics team of investigators and detectives to the scene and he was concerned that the scene itself was being contaminated by so many people traipsing through the house. Welch also testified that before he was sent outside he saw Banks rifling through folders on a table. “He said he was looking for a suicide note,” Welch said. Later, Welch testified that before both he and Banks were scheduled to be deposed for a separate lawsuit in the Han case, Banks told him: “Your testimony better match mine.” “I took that as a threat,” Welch said.........The folder with Banks’ email was never found, according to testimony. Nor was the laptop in the car, which was given to Kennedy, along with Han’s cellphone, in violation of APD protocol. Many things that occurred that day were in violation or simply not done. Former longtime chief medical investigator Dr. Ross Zumwalt testified that neither the state Office of the Medical Investigator nor APD had considered Han’s bank statements, credit card records, medical records, cellphone records, the other prescription medications in her system, such as Ambien, or the contents of her laptop to determine a manner of death. They hadn’t tested the air in the house, the clear liquid in the glass or the plastic bag in the car; nor had they questioned the positioning of her body in the car. And during this week’s hearing, when Zumwalt was provided that additional information by forensic pathology experts and the Attorney General’s Office – after he was told APD had contaminated the death scene and not conducted a full investigation – he testified he was “even more convinced” Han died of suicide, placing his level of certainty at 95 percent. Zumwalt’s testimony was enough to drop jaws and shake heads and bring tears to the eyes of Han’s sister, Elizabeth Wallbro."

The entire story can be found at:

https://www.abqjournal.com/937870/shocking-testimony-in-han-case.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;

Annie Dookhan: Massachusetts; White Elephant case: Decision of the State's highest court: There was a dissent that has been largely ignored in news reports; Thanks to the Boston Globe for reporting the dissent which unequivocally orders prosecutors to withdraw all of the Dookhan cases...Associate Justice Geraldine S. Hines wrote the only dissent, arguing that the court should have thrown out all affected convictions. The court had also considered dismissing all the convictions and allowing prosecutors the option to retry those cases, but Hines rejected even that prospect. “The need to adopt a swift and sure remedy for the harm caused by [Dookhan’s] deceit presents itself with palpable urgency. The time has come to close the book on this scandal, once and for all, by adopting a global remedy,” Hines wrote.



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;

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


"The state’s highest court on Wednesday ordered prosecutors to drop a large portion of the more than 24,000 drug convictions affected by the misconduct of former state drug lab chemist Annie Dookhan, issuing an urgent call to resolve a scandal that has plagued the legal system since 2012. The Supreme Judicial Court declined to order a wholesale dismissal of the cases potentially tainted by Dookhan’s mishandling of drug evidence, as lawyers for the defendants had sought. But in the ruling, the justices acknowledged that the state’s handling of the cases so far has been inadequate. The court said district attorneys across the state must “exercise their prosecutorial discretion and reduce the number of relevant Dookhan defendants by moving to vacate and dismiss with prejudice all drug cases the district attorneys would not or could not reprosecute if a new trial were ordered.” The cases affected by the ruling include people who pleaded guilty, were convicted, or admitted that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict them. By vacating the cases, the convictions would effectively be erased. In the ruling, the court acknowledged the enormity of the task before prosecutors, giving them 90 days to decide which cases to throw out and which are supported by other evidence.........Associate Justice Geraldine S. Hines wrote the only dissent, arguing that the court should have thrown out all affected convictions. The court had also considered dismissing all the convictions and allowing prosecutors the option to retry those cases, but Hines rejected even that prospect. “The need to adopt a swift and sure remedy for the harm caused by [Dookhan’s] deceit presents itself with palpable urgency. The time has come to close the book on this scandal, once and for all, by adopting a global remedy,” Hines wrote."
https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/01/18/state-high-court-orders-prosecutors-drop-weak-dookhan-cases/SAvG09FT8lb6Mcv8cMMIKO/story.html?ct=t(DNA_Newsletter_144_28_2015)

Friday, January 27, 2017

Massachusetts breathalyser machine hearing: Bulletin: Crime lab official vouches for devices..."Initiated in 2015, the consolidated challenge against the Alcotest 9510 has now stalled several thousand drunken driving cases in Massachusetts. A team of lawyers representing the defendants argues the source code of the machines fails to meet accepted industry standards, potentially skewing the results of blood alcohol tests. Defense lawyers have also challenged the methods used by police to collect samples during OUI breath tests, presenting expert witnesses this week who testified that several variables can skew the results, such as fluctuations in how hard and how long suspected drunk drivers blow into the machines."...Reporter Jim Haddadin; MetroWest Daily News. 27 January, 2017.


"An official at the state police laboratory that oversees alcohol breath-testing equipment vouched Thursday for the accuracy of the devices, telling a judge that components undergo rigorous tests before they're sent into the field. Melissa O'Meara, technical leader of the state Office of Alcohol Testing, testified Thursday in a hearing focused on the scientific reliability of the state's breath-testing machines. O'Meara described the meticulous work done to ensure the devices function properly, outlining a two- to four-hour certification process conducted annually on each piece of equipment.
"Some of these steps are performed in triplicate," she said, "and all of these steps are reviewed technically by another chemist." County prosecutors continued to build their case Thursday that drunken driving evidence gathered by police around the state is reliable as a hearing focused on the breath-testing machines neared the close of its second week. Initiated in 2015, the consolidated challenge against the Alcotest 9510 has now stalled several thousand drunken driving cases in Massachusetts. A team of lawyers representing the defendants argues the source code of the machines fails to meet accepted industry standards, potentially skewing the results of blood alcohol tests. Defense lawyers have also challenged the methods used by police to collect samples during OUI breath tests, presenting expert witnesses this week who testified that several variables can skew the results, such as fluctuations in how hard and how long suspected drunk drivers blow into the machines. The hearing, which opened Jan. 17 in Concord District Court, has also included testimony from two officials from Draeger Safety Diagnostics, the German company that manufactures the breath- testing equipment used in Massachusetts, as well as a government consultant who personally certified the Alcotest 9510 for use around the country on behalf of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A team of prosecutors from Middlesex, Suffolk, Plymouth and Bristol counties is defending the reliability of the machines on behalf of the state.
Closing arguments in the hearing are expected Feb. 3.
http://www.telegram.com/news/20170127/dui-test-validity-trial-crime-lab-official-vouches-for-devices

Terry Edwards: Texas; RIP: Slate senior editor Jeremy Stahl says it well in one word directed to the State of Texas: 'Shame." Terry Edwards was executed last night - in spite of crucial questions hovering over his eligibility for the death penalty - and the shadow of racism hanging over his case"...What’s unclear in this case is whether or not “B” meant “black.” Court files had gone missing. Appellate attorneys needed more time to determine whether or not these jurors were struck because they were labeled as black, which would appear to be a violation of Edwards’ rights under the Equal Protection Clause. Considering the lack of clarity in this case and the further need to investigate basic questions, the Dallas Morning News called on the state to stay the execution, arguing “Texas cannot afford to execute Terry Edwards on Thursday.” But that’s just what Texas did after the justice system and the Supreme Court decided that these questions were not worth answering." 27 January, 2017.


"It’s unclear whether Terry Edwards, who was executed on Thursday night after the Supreme Court denied his last-minute appeal, fired the weapon that killed Tommy Walker and Mickell Goodwin at a Dallas area Subway in 2002. What’s clear are a number of facts. He was involved in a robbery with his cousin Kirk Edwards that led to the murders. The prosecutor in his case used a blatantly false piece of forensic evidence to help convince a jury that Terry was the triggerman and not his cousin as Terry claimed. That same prosecutor had used the exact same false argument to help convict a man for murder named Richard Miles who was later exonerated. What seems likely is that the state violated Terry Edwards’ constitutional rights when it struck every single black person in the pool of prospective jurors. What is clear is that appellate attorneys found a prosecutor list of the names of 32 jurors with the letter “B” written next to them. It’s also clear that the Supreme Court ruled in May that a Georgia scheme where prosecutors labeled black jurors with a “B” and then systematically struck them was ruled a blatant violation of the 14th Amendment. What’s unclear in this case is whether or not “B” meant “black.” Court files had gone missing. Appellate attorneys needed more time to determine whether or not these jurors were struck because they were labeled as black, which would appear to be a violation of Edwards’ rights under the Equal Protection Clause. Considering the lack of clarity in this case and the further need to investigate basic questions, the Dallas Morning News called on the state to stay the execution, arguing “Texas cannot afford to execute Terry Edwards on Thursday.” But that’s just what Texas did after the justice system and the Supreme Court decided that these questions were not worth answering."
http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/01/27/texas_executed_terry_edwards_thursday_night_shame.html

Kyle Weldon: Iowa; White Elephant Case: False guilty plea case. He was exonerated Monday after prosecutors said his drug conviction was based on evidence that had been planted by two former Des Moines police officers..."Weldon pleaded guilty last February and spent 32 days in jail. The judge dismissed the drug charge, saying that "the guilty plea and conviction were based on improperly obtained evidence and misconduct by law enforcement." “We feel your frustration,” Des Moines police Sgt. Ryan Doty said. “We do a lot within this community to foster trust.” Doty said the Des Moines Police Department is disgusted and that it handed over any case Judge and Teut ever touched to the Polk County Attorney's Office for investigation. “We are talking hundreds and hundreds of cases,” Doty said. Weldon's case is the first and only confirmed evidence-planting case right now. Doty said that Des Moines police hope it will be the last. “When something like this happens, that puts that trust in jeopardy,” Doty said."




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: "Evidence-planting leads to exoneration of Iowa man," by anchor/reporter Laura Terrell, published by KCCL News on January 25, 2017;

SUB-HEADING: "An Iowa man was exonerated Monday after prosecutors said his drug conviction was based on evidence that had been planted by two former Des Moines police officers.

GIST:  "Polk County Attorney John Sarcone confirmed to KCCI that a Polk County judge overturned Kyle Weldon’s drug conviction, which is now erased from his record. Des Moines Police held a press conference in December to announce allegations that Officers Joshua Judge and Tyson Teut had planted drug evidence. “It's just flat-out wrong, and we're not going to condone anything like that,” Polk County Attorney John Sarcone said. Officers arrested Weldon in January 2015. Court records show he had a clear container in his pants pocket, and the container was filled with a rocklike substance that tested positive for meth. Sarcone told KCCI that Judge and Teut planted the drug evidence in Weldon’s case file. Weldon pleaded guilty last February and spent 32 days in jail. The judge dismissed the drug charge, saying that "the guilty plea and conviction were based on improperly obtained evidence and misconduct by law enforcement." “We feel your frustration,” Des Moines police Sgt. Ryan Doty said. “We do a lot within this community to foster trust.” Doty said the Des Moines Police Department is disgusted and that it handed over any case Judge and Teut ever touched to the Polk County Attorney's Office for investigation. “We are talking hundreds and hundreds of cases,” Doty said. Weldon's case is the first and only confirmed evidence-planting case right now. Doty said that Des Moines police hope it will be the last. “When something like this happens, that puts that trust in jeopardy,” Doty said. “And everybody in this building takes that seriously, and everybody in this building is offended by that, and it's our mission that it doesn't happen again.” It is unclear why Kyle Weldon pleaded guilty in the first place. KCCI reached out to Weldon and his attorney, but both declined an interview. Weldon’s attorney sent a statement saying, in part, “Along with our partners at the Innocence Project of Iowa and the Midwest Innocence Project, we stand ready to further investigate other cases involving these officers, if and when it becomes necessary." The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is also conducting an independent investigation. Judge and Teut could face criminal charges after that investigation is complete."

The entire story can be found at:

 http://www.kcci.com/article/drug-suspect-exonerated-in-des-moines-evidence-planting-case/8631279

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, January 26, 2017

Robert Jones; Louisiana: Publisher's Note: Technical difficulties have jumbled this important post: It is important to read this story to see the horrible consequences that follow when prosecutors withhold exculpatory evidence from the defence. So click on the link below to access the story directly. Can you imagine: Only after serving 23 years have his charges been dropped - and has his false guilty to manslaughter been vacated. A disturbing read. Harold Levy. Publisher. The Charles Smith Blog.

http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2017/01/robert_jones_freed_new_orleans.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; 

Terry Edwards: Texas: Bulletin: Execution delayed after his lawyers filed last-minute appeals to spare his life, saying he was not the trigger man and his case was tainted by prosecutorial misconduct."..." One of the main pieces of evidence was gunshot residue testing, which at trial was presented and used by prosecutors who said Terry Edwards fired the fatal shots. In court papers, lawyers for the death row inmate said the gunshot residue evidence was improperly interpreted and actually show that Edwards was not the shooter." Reporter John Herskovitz; Reuters; January 26, 2017


"The execution of a Texas death row inmate convicted of double murder was delayed on Thursday after lawyers filed last-minute appeals to spare his life, saying he was not the trigger man and his case was tainted by prosecutorial misconduct.Terry Edwards, 43, had been set to be put to death by lethal injection at the state's death chamber in Huntsville at 6 p.m. But the execution was put on hold after several motions citing what lawyers for Edwards said were faults in previous legal proceedings were filed at the U.S. Supreme Court. If the execution does go ahead, it would be the 540th in Texas since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, the most of any state. Edwards was convicted along with co-defendant Kirk Edwards, an older cousin, of the July 2002 murders of Dallas Subway sandwich shop employees Mickell Goodwin and Tommy Walker in a robbery. Kirk Edwards has a projected release date of July 2027, Texas Department of Criminal Justice online records showed. In an editorial posted online on Wednesday, the Dallas Morning News said the execution should be halted because there are too many unanswered questions in the case. "These questions do not paint Terry Edwards as innocent. But they do raise uncertainties as to whether the jury was misled when it determined he had pulled the trigger and deserved to die, it said. Lawyers for Texas have argued that new counsel for Edwards previously tried to halt the execution on similar grounds and his execution should go ahead as a result of a conviction and sentencing that were legal and proper. John Mills, an attorney for Edwards, said he has evidence indicating that Edwards was not the gunman. "Previous counsel has done virtually almost nothing to ensure that his case was investigated and that the powerful evidence undermining the reliability and the fairness of his conviction was brought to light," Mills said in an interview. One of the main pieces of evidence was gunshot residue testing, which at trial was presented and used by prosecutors who said Terry Edwards fired the fatal shots. In court papers, lawyers for the death row inmate said the gunshot residue evidence was improperly interpreted and actually show that Edwards was not the shooter."
 http://www.reuters.com/article/us-texas-execution-idUSKBN15A1AD

Motherisk;Yet another black eye for The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and its 'Motherisk' program: The Toronto Star: "Canadian family doctors have been told to reconsider Diclectin as the go-to drug treatment for morning sickness after new research raised concerns about whether the medication is any better than a commonly available vitamin. In a strongly worded commentary, the Canadian Family Physician medical journal said it no longer recommends the popular medication as the first-line treatment, citing the work of a Toronto doctor whose research has exposed flaws in the evidence supporting Diclectin’s efficacy. The commentary is a renouncement of the journal’s previous publication of clinical guidelines advocating the drug’s use, which the journal says were developed by Sick Kids’ embattled Motherisk program, which had financial ties to the drug company that makes Diclectin. The medical journal said it ended its longstanding relationship with Motherisk in part because of concerns about its independence from the drug company — yet another black eye for the once-prestigious program engulfed in scandal for faulty hair testing for drugs and alcohol in its now-shuttered lab."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The 'Motherisk'  fiasco gets worse and worse - and that's too bad because women could benefit from a  program which provides positive, accurate  health information to prospective mothers, free of influence by drug companies.  As The Star reports today:  "The Motherisk program came under fire in late 2014 after the Star exposed concerns about the reliability of its drug and alcohol hair tests, which were used in thousands of child protection cases and were often accepted without question as proof of parental substance abuse. Sick Kids shuttered the lab and issued a public apology in 2015 for “unacceptable” practices after completing an internal probe. But the hospital has continued to house Motherisk and support its other functions, which include popular helplines for expectant and lactating women and their doctors. The call centre responds to 30,000 calls per year, according to 2015 statistics on Motherisk’s website, which describes the advice it provides as “scientific” and “evidence-based.” Today's story challenges the Hospital's claim that the advice it gives is "scientific" and "evidenced-based." All we get from the hospital are "alternative" truths, meant to make us believe that all's fine, some changes have been made in the system, now let us get on with our fund-raising and important work. (Oooops.  I'm getting a tad cynical. HL). But I still can't get out of my mind the specter of innocent  parents who were betrayed by this hospital's supposed gold standard of drug tests, face criminal charges, and may lose their children forever. Where is the accountability. This hospital has a  board of directors supposedly at the helm. Too much has happened on their watch. If it was any other hospital - and not the 'world class' Sick Kids - the  Ontario government would have turfed out the Board, and taken control. That should have been the case. This is the Hospital that failed too learn the lessons from the Charles  Smith disaster that occurred on its watch as well. Today's Star story represents one more straw in the Hospital's troubled history. (Remember  Steven Yuz? Remember Susan Nelles? Remember Nancy Olivieri? Remember Lisa Shore" Remember Sanchia Bulgin). It does not deserve  the public trust.

Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog.

STORY: "Medical journal withdraws recommendation of morning sickness pill," by Jesse McLean, David Bruser, and Rachel Mendleson, published by The Toronto Star on January 26, 2017.

SUB-HEADING:  "Canadian Family Physician journal no longer recommends Diclectin as the go-to treatment, renouncing guidelines by embattled Motherisk."

PHOTO CAPTION: "Toronto Dr. Nav Persaud's research has exposed flaws in the evidence supporting the efficacy of the popular morning sickness drug Diclectin."

PHOTO CAPTION:  "Authors said the past guidelines’ recommendation of Diclectin as the go-to drug treatment “is not supported by the current best evidence.” "
 
GIST: "Canadian family doctors have been told to reconsider Diclectin as the go-to drug treatment for morning sickness after new research raised concerns about whether the medication is any better than a commonly available vitamin. In a strongly worded commentary, the Canadian Family Physician medical journal said it no longer recommends the popular medication as the first-line treatment, citing the work of a Toronto doctor whose research has exposed flaws in the evidence supporting Diclectin’s efficacy. The commentary is a renouncement of the journal’s previous publication of clinical guidelines advocating the drug’s use, which the journal says were developed by Sick Kids’ embattled Motherisk program, which had financial ties to the drug company that makes Diclectin. The medical journal said it ended its longstanding relationship with Motherisk in part because of concerns about its independence from the drug company — yet another black eye for the once-prestigious program engulfed in scandal for faulty hair testing for drugs and alcohol in its now-shuttered lab. “Evidence is not static; re-evaluation of accepted truths should not be seen as a weakness as new information comes forward,” the authors, who include the journal’s scientific editor and the chair of the editorial advisory board, wrote in the January edition. The authors said the past guidelines’ recommendation of Diclectin as the go-to drug treatment “is not supported by the current best evidence.” The commentary also said Toronto doctor Nav Persaud’s recent “systematic re-evaluation of the evidence” revealed that the combination of doxylamine and vitamin B6 is “not superior in efficacy” to vitamin B6 alone. The commentary is part mea culpa as the authors said the journal did not subject Motherisk articles to “a full double-blind peer-review process. This was based on assumptions about the quality of the work and the integrity of the organization.” Going forward, the authors said the journal will only work with institutions or organizations that “do not have any ties to industry or other entities that would create, or even appear to create, information or guidelines that have a purpose other than clear and science-based benefit to patients.”.........The journal’s new stance credits the work of Persaud, who recently co-authored a research article that found “questionable data integrity, high dropout rate, and other methodological concerns” with a 1975 clinical trial that regulators have cited as proof of the drug’s efficacy. Persaud’s research also found a 1997 study affiliated with Motherisk — a “meta-analysis” of 24 individual studies — inaccurately suggested the antihistamine in Diclectin could actually reduce the chance of birth defects. “Pregnant women might be disappointed to learn that a study underlying the previous recommendation for this medication was flawed and inaccurate. This has now been confirmed by the journal that published the original guidelines,” Persaud said.........A Sick Kids spokesperson said the hospital implemented a new conflict-of-interest policy after questions were raised about Duchesnay’s funding for Motherisk programs and research. The new policy ensures the hospital “takes into consideration health sector best practices as they relate to disclosure and management of conflicts of interest,” Gwen Burrows said. Sick Kids no longer receives funding from Duchesnay, she said. The Motherisk program came under fire in late 2014 after the Star exposed concerns about the reliability of its drug and alcohol hair tests, which were used in thousands of child protection cases and were often accepted without question as proof of parental substance abuse. Sick Kids shuttered the lab and issued a public apology in 2015 for “unacceptable” practices after completing an internal probe. But the hospital has continued to house Motherisk and support its other functions, which include popular helplines for expectant and lactating women and their doctors. The call centre responds to 30,000 calls per year, according to 2015 statistics on Motherisk’s website, which describes the advice it provides as “scientific” and “evidence-based.”"

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/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; 

Terry Edwards: Bulletin: To be executed Thursday 26 January; 6.00 PM...Unless... Dallas News:... "Texas cannot afford to execute Terry Edwards on Thursday; too many unanswered questions remain."..." Attorneys for Edwards have uncovered serious grounds on which to question the integrity of the conviction and, especially, the death sentence that followed. Edwards' lawyers have raised questions about forensic evidence said to have connected the gun to Edwards. In addition, some 30 or more prospective jurors who were minorities were removed from the pool that made up Edwards' jury, leaving him with an all-white panel. Finally, their investigation has found reason to believe that the prosecutor withheld potentially exculpatory evidence from both the jury and the defense team. At trial, prosecutor Thomas D'Amore, who ended up being fired in 2006, told the jury that Edwards had been the mastermind behind the robbery and had shot the two clerks. But what was not shared with the jury, nor apparently the defense team, was a report from an eyewitness who claimed to have seen a man running from the store with a gun in his hand and then jumping into a getaway car. This man was not Edwards, who was caught by police on foot as he fled the store with a bag full of money; police officers also said Terry Edwards had been carrying a handgun until just before he was apprehended. The description of, according to Edwards' lawyers, closely matched that of Edwards' cousin, Kirk Edwards. Terry Edwards had claimed all along to have not been the shooter, that his cousin had been. But at trial, D'Amore told jurors not to let that stop them from convicting Terry Edwards. "Someday, when this trial is over, Kirk will have his day in court, rest assured," he told jurors. And yet he never did."


UPDATED at 5:04 p.m. to reflect news from Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and District Judge Tammy Kemp.  Convicted murderer Terry Edwards is scheduled to be executed Thursday night after 6 p.m., after more than 13 years on death row. The Supreme Court should issue a last-minute stay, now that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and District Judge Tammy Kemp of Dallas County have refused to do so in a late-afternoon rulings on Wednesday.  These emergency interventions would be extraordinary. But they are necessary in this case. The Edwards case also provides new Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson an opportunity to live up to her commitment to send a message that only prosecutorial efforts that withstand rigorous tests of integrity will be permitted in her office.
There is no dispute that Edwards, already a twice-convicted felon, was involved in a morning robbery of a Balch Springs Subway sandwich shop in July 2002, where he'd been fired weeks earlier. Two workers — Tommy Walker, 34, and Mickell Goodwin, 26 — were killed, and Edwards was convicted of their murders and sentenced to death in 2003.  What's less clear today is that Edwards was the one to pull the trigger or that he got a fair trial. Attorneys for Edwards have uncovered serious grounds on which to question the integrity of the conviction and, especially, the death sentence that followed. Edwards' lawyers have raised questions about forensic evidence said to have connected the gun  to Edwards. In addition, some 30 or more prospective jurors who were minorities were removed from the pool that made up Edwards' jury, leaving him with an all-white panel. Finally, their investigation has found reason to believe that the prosecutor withheld potentially exculpatory evidence from both the jury and the defense team. At trial, prosecutor Thomas D'Amore, who ended up being fired in 2006, told the jury that Edwards had been the mastermind behind the robbery and had shot the two clerks. But what was not shared with the jury, nor apparently the defense team, was a report from an eyewitness who claimed to have seen a man running from the store with a gun in his hand and then jumping into a getaway car. This man was not Edwards, who was caught by police on foot as he fled the store with a bag full of money; police officers also said Terry Edwards had been carrying a handgun until just before he was apprehended. The description of,  according to Edwards' lawyers, closely matched that of Edwards' cousin, Kirk Edwards. Terry Edwards had claimed all along to have not been the shooter, that his cousin had been. But at trial, D'Amore told jurors not to let that stop them from convicting Terry Edwards. "Someday, when this trial is over, Kirk will have his day in court, rest assured," he told jurors. And yet he never did. Prosecutors later allowed Kirk Edwards, who also had multiple felony convictions, to plead guilty to aggravated robbery. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison, where he remains and could be paroled. These questions do not paint Terry Edwards as innocent. But they do raise uncertainties as to whether the jury was misled when it determined he had pulled the trigger and deserved to die.  The integrity of our justice system demands answers, and in this case lawyers need more time to find them. Texas cannot afford to put someone to death without the certainty this irrevocable punishment requires. 
http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/2017/01/25/texas-afford-execute-terry-edwards-thursday-many-unanswered-questions-remain


Nguyen Son Tran: Ontario; Bulletin; White Elephant Case: Corrupt drug investigations and false confessions: A potent mix: "A Toronto police officer connected to a high-profile case of alleged perjury by a group of his fellow officers has pleaded guilty to professional misconduct for failing to report his partner’s “fabrications” in court — testimony that secured a guilty plea that sent a man to jail."..."Four Toronto police officers stand accused of 22 perjury and obstruction of justice charges in connection to drug busts involving Tran. The officers are alleged to have unlawfully searched Tran’s car, located hidden heroin, relocated it to the dashboard — creating a justification to search the car — then provided false testimony in court. The charges haven’t been tested in court. Davy is not facing criminal charges in connection to the Tran incident, but admits he stood by silently as his partner, Toronto police Const. Benjamin Elliot, provided false information about Tran’s January, 2013 arrest. According to the tribunal documents — which outline the charge to which Davy pleaded guilty — Elliot “fabricated evidence” at Tran’s trial in March, 2014. Elliot’s testimony “persuaded” Tran to plead guilty to drug possession for the purpose of trafficking. He was sentenced to 30 months in jail. “Const. Davy was aware of the Const. Elliot’s fabrication. Const. Davy neglected to report the misconduct of Const. Elliot,” reads the tribunal documents summarizing Davy’s misconduct charge." Reporter Wendy Gillis; Toronto Star: January 24, 2017.



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;

-------------------------------------------
 "A Toronto police officer connected to a high-profile case of alleged perjury by a group of his fellow officers has pleaded guilty to professional misconduct for failing to report his partner’s “fabrications” in court — testimony that secured a guilty plea that sent a man to jail. Toronto police Const. Brian Davy has been convicted of insubordination under the province’s Police Services Act for his role in the arrest and conviction of Toronto man Nguyen Son Tran.At a tribunal hearing Monday, police prosecutor Acting Insp. Shane Branton and Davy’s lawyer, David Butt, gave a joint sentencing submission suggesting a 15-day penalty. Both said the sentence was significant enough to deter other officers from engaging in similar “serious misconduct” and assure the public that Davy’s insubordination would not be tolerated. But it would also acknowledge the positive contributions Davy had made within the police — he is described by superiors as hard-working and motivated — and the fact that he pleaded guilty early in the tribunal process. “The guilty plea demonstrates both remorse and acceptance of responsibility,” said Branton. “Davy has demonstrated he is willing to face the consequences.” Davy was not present at the tribunal Monday due to what Butt called a “significant medical issue.” He is currently suspended with pay. The officer, who joined Toronto police in 2011, was convicted of two counts of deceit last year in connection to a January 15, 2014 incident where he falsified paperwork concerning a confidential informant. He was sentenced to a one-year demotion from first- to second-class constable. Elliot, his partner, faces criminal charges in connection to the January, 2013 arrest of Tran — in which Davy was involved — as well as second arrest of Tran one year later, on January 15, 2014 (Tran was still awaiting trial on the January, 2013 drug charge at the time). A spokesperson for Toronto police said Monday that Davy’s January, 2014 deceit was not connected to Tran’s arrests in 2013 or 2014. The criminal charges against Elliot and his three officers came four months after an Ontario judge ruled police had “fabricated” a story that involved “planting” heroin in a car to justify their January, 2014 search of Tran’s vehicle.
Announcing the charges against his officers in a news conference last year, Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders said there would be a review of the four officers’ prior cases conducted by the force’s professional standards unit “to see if there is any other cause of concern.” Six months later, Toronto police announced new charges against Elliot related to Tran’s 2013 arrest. Kim Schofield, Tran’s lawyer, is hoping to appeal Tran’s 2013 conviction on the fresh evidence of officer misconduct. There may be civil action, she said. In Tran’s 2013 case, Schofield had unsuccessfully attempted to challenge the credibility of police testimony, and urged the judge, Justice Leslie Chapin, to find police were lying in part of their evidence. “My client was sentenced to almost three years in jail as a result of something they now know did not happen in the way that this cop testified that it happened,” she told the Star last July, when the new charges against Elliot were announced. While she is glad the issues with officer conduct in the 2013 case are being raised, she notes that it took the second, problematic arrest of Tran in 2014 in order for that to happen. “Hopefully it’s a cautionary tale to judges to really take this kind of thing seriously,” she said Monday."
https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/01/23/toronto-cop-guilty-of-insubordination-for-role-in-drug-arrest.html

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Terry Edwards; Death Row. Texas; Slate; (Dubious ballistics evidence causing death? (let's hope not. HL) and a bigoted jury selection process." His execution is set for Thursday: Jeremy Stahl writes in 'Slate' that..."It will be up to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to decide whether new evidence ought to be considered at the federal level, while the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is also considering whether to stay the execution. The appeal makes for damning reading, dismantling key portions of the case against Terry Edwards. The principal evidentiary problem with Edwards’ case surrounds the use of forensic testimony about gunshot residue. Despite the shooting having occurred at point-blank range, Edwards had no blood on his body, no gunshot residue on his hands, and none of the victim’s DNA on his person when he was picked up by police immediately after the crime occurred. He was tested for gunshot residue within an hour of his arrest, according to the appeal. A state forensic analyst named Vicki Hall tested Edwards’ hands for gunshot residue and found it wasn’t there. Given that negative result, the defense called Hall to testify at Edwards’ trial; she was the defense’s only witness during the guilt-innocence phase. On cross-examination, though, Hall explained away her test results, testifying that Edwards might have either sweated away or wiped off “some of that residue.” Hall had also indicated in her forensics report that one of the three elements that would have been found in the gunshot residue was present on Edwards. In closing arguments, prosecutor Thomas D’Amore used Hall’s testimony to argue that the presence of that one element—the relatively commonplace barium—proved that gunshot residue had been present, and that Edwards had somehow wiped off the other two chemicals. In Edwards’ appeal, a former FBI agent writes that this wipe theory is “scientifically unsupportable." Is Texas About to Execute an Innocent Man? 334 144 198 Terry Edwards’ murder conviction is irrevocably flawed.


UPDATE: DEVELOPMENT: The Dallas News reports that  the Texas high court has denied a stay of execution - but Edward's appeals continue, at the link below: "Texas' highest criminal court late Tuesday refused to stop the scheduled execution of Terry Edwards, convicted of killing two in a Balch Springs Subway robbery. Edwards' lawyers contend that he was not the shooter and that his cousin, who was with him during the crime, pulled the trigger. They say they will continue their requests before the Dallas County trial court to delay the execution, which is scheduled for Thursday. Appeals for Edwards are also pending in federal court. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals decision came on the same day Edwards' lawyers asked the trial court to allow Dallas County's Conviction Integrity Unit to investigate whether prosecutorial misconduct led a jury to convict the wrong man in his case. Edwards' lawyers say they had been in touch with the unit, whose work has led to several overturned sentences. Then, last week, without warning and just days before the scheduled execution, the district attorney's office told Edwards' lawyers he would be prohibited from accessing the department created to investigate cases in which questions about wrongful sentences arise. The lawyers asked the court to delay his execution and allow the county to assign the integrity unit, citing "grave concerns" about the validity of the conviction and the prosecution's last-minute decision to prohibit access to the department.  "The abrupt change of course to exclude CIU's vital role is astounding and suspicious," said Jennifer Merrigan, one of Edwards' attorneys. The Dallas County district attorney's office, however, said the integrity unit was never assigned to work on Edwards' case. "The allegation that communication with the Conviction Integrity Unit was abruptly discontinued is false," DA spokeswoman Brittany Dunn said in a prepared statement. "At no time was Mr. Edwards' case ever assigned to, or handled by the Conviction Integrity Unit." Edwards was sentenced to die in 2003 for the shooting deaths of Tommy Walker, 34, and Mickell Goodwin, 26. Edwards had been fired from the Subway restaurant where they worked weeks earlier, and prosecutors said he killed the two before fleeing. Witnesses said Edwards later was seen dumping a .38-caliber handgun in a trash can across the street from the store. He was arrested the same day and found with $3,000 from the store. But Edwards' lawyers say he wasn't the triggerman in the deadly robbery. They allege that Thomas D'Amore, the lead prosecutor, elicited false testimony from a forensic expert and unconstitutionally cherry-picked jurors so that the black defendant faced an all-white jury. They say Edwards' cousin, who committed the robbery with him and is eligible for parole, was the gunman. D'Amore has said that he didn't engage in misconduct and that the jury's verdict was justified. Lawyers appointed for Edwards said in court documents that they began discussing his case with attorneys in the Conviction Integrity Unit last year.
https://www.google.com/search?as_q="terry+edwards"&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&as_nlo=&as_nhi=&lr=&cr=&as_qdr=d&as_sitesearch=&as_occt=any&safe=images&as_filetype=&as_rights=

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PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "Whether or not Terry Edwards is guilty or innocent, it would be criminal to deny his attorneys the time to investigate his case further."
 
STORY: "Is Texas About to Execute an Innocent Man?, by Slate Senior Editor  Jeremy Stahl, published by Slate on January 23, 2017. (Thanks to the Marshall Project for bringing this case to our attention. HL);

SUB-HEADING:  "Terry Edwards’ murder conviction is irrevocably flawed."


GIST: "Unless the courts or Gov. Greg Abbott step in to stop it, Texas will execute Terry Edwards on Thursday. This would be a reprehensible miscarriage of justice. Edwards’ conviction for capital murder was won at least in part due to a faulty forensic argument pushed by the prosecution and what appears to be a racially biased and likely unconstitutional jury-selection process. If this execution proceeds as planned, it would be an irrevocable stain on a state justice system that leads the nation in wrongful convictions. Terry Edwards is not a saint. He and his cousin Kirk Edwards were responsible for the 2002 homicides of Tommy Walker and Mickell Goodwin. But while Terry Edwards took part in the burglary that led to the murder of two of his former co-workers at a Subway restaurant in the Dallas suburbs, it’s less clear that he was the triggerman. In a series of filings earlier this month, Edwards’ attorneys requested that his execution be stayed and a new writ of habeas corpus be considered. It will be up to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to decide whether new evidence ought to be considered at the federal level, while the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is also considering whether to stay the execution. The appeal makes for damning reading, dismantling key portions of the case against Terry Edwards. The principal evidentiary problem with Edwards’ case surrounds the use of forensic testimony about gunshot residue. Despite the shooting having occurred at point-blank range, Edwards had no blood on his body, no gunshot residue on his hands, and none of the victim’s DNA on his person when he was picked up by police immediately after the crime occurred. He was tested for gunshot residue within an hour of his arrest, according to the appeal. A state forensic analyst named Vicki Hall tested Edwards’ hands for gunshot residue and found it wasn’t there. Given that negative result, the defense called Hall to testify at Edwards’ trial; she was the defense’s only witness during the guilt-innocence phase. On cross-examination, though, Hall explained away her test results, testifying that Edwards might have either sweated away or wiped off “some of that residue.” Hall had also indicated in her forensics report that one of the three elements that would have been found in the gunshot residue was present on Edwards. In closing arguments, prosecutor Thomas D’Amore used Hall’s testimony to argue that the presence of that one element—the relatively commonplace barium—proved that gunshot residue had been present, and that Edwards had somehow wiped off the other two chemicals. In Edwards’ appeal, a former FBI agent writes that this wipe theory is “scientifically unsupportable”: The three chemicals, barium, antimony, and lead, exist in the same particle, or in particles that contain two of the three. If you remove any of the components they would be removed linearly. It does not occur that just one of the components is removed; the components all increase or decrease together. It is not possible that a defendant who had gunshot residue on his hands could simply wipe two of the three components off of his hands and not the third. Or, as one of Edwards’ current attorneys John Mills put it to me, “It is scientifically impossible to remove trace elements of two chemicals and not one.” According to Mills, there is reason to believe gunshot residue would have been present on the shooter in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Hall, the forensic analyst, ran a trace analysis of the victim Mickell Goodwin and found all three elements on her right hand near a defensive wound. That result is “important for two reasons,” Mills told me. “It does demonstrate that the gun that was used does emit a relatively high volume of gunshot residue when fired, and it heightens the significance of the absence of gunshot residue on Mr. Edwards.” Hall and the state, however, failed to disclose this test to Edwards’ lawyers in advance of the trial, and his new legal team didn’t uncover this fact until very recently. At trial, though, Hall did testify about the negative results from tests conducted on the hands of the other victim, Tommy Walker. D’Amore, meanwhile, has had three previous convictions overturned. In one of those cases, Hall testified that the presence of two of three chemicals on the hands of defendant Richard Miles indicated that he had “fir[ed] a weapon or handl[ed] a very dirty weapon.” Miles was convicted, but the disclosure that Hall’s trace-evidence testimony was faulty—a fact she later admitted herself—helped exonerate him years later. Edwards’ attorneys argue in his appeal that “Hall’s testimony and the direct examination by D’Amore in the Miles case were dishonest in a manner that reflects not only collusion and fraud, but also bears substantial similarities to the erroneous forensic testimony that the two presented at Mr. Edwards’s trial.” (Mills pointed out to me that in D’Amore’s closing argument about the hand-wiping in Edwards’ case, he said specifically, “We’ve dealt with this situation before.”) Whether or not Terry Edwards is guilty or innocent, it would be criminal to deny his attorneys the time to investigate his case further.........The most damning portion of the appeal, though, has to do with jury selection. Back in May, the Supreme Court ruled 7-1 in the case Foster v. Chatman that Georgia prosecutors had used a blatantly unconstitutional practice to pick the jury in a murder trial. Prosecutors in that case had written a B next to the name of every black juror, then used peremptory challenges—which attorneys can use to strike jurors without explaining why—to remove some of those black men and women from the pool and select an all-white jury, which ultimately convicted a black defendant of murder. The court found that these actions violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Nearly all of the jury information in the Terry Edwards case—including the vast majority of jury questionnaires—has gone missing. But Edwards’ defense team did find a “strike list apparently maintained” by prosecutors that includes “a handwritten, encircled ‘B’ ” next to 32 of the jurors’ names. “When we saw it, Foster vs. Chatman had just come down and we couldn’t believe the similarity,” Mills told me. According to the limited information the appellate team has in its possession, at least 30 black people were struck from the jury, which was ultimately all white with a single Hispanic alternate. Two of these potential black jurors were struck for cause, while the other 28 were removed thanks to an agreement made by the defense team and prosecution as part of a jury-strike bartering system used in Texas at the time. In this case, it seems possible that this trade allowed the prosecution to get rid of all of the black jurors without having to use peremptory challenges. (What the defense attorneys got out of this exchange is anyone’s guess.) If it can be proved that the “B” in the marking means black, the courts would likely have to clarify whether this scheme was as unconstitutional as the peremptory-challenge one. “Foster v. Chatman could greatly bolster the defendant’s [unconstitutional jury selection] claim, provided there is some indication that ‘B’ signifies ‘black,’ ” Daniel S. Medwed, a professor at Northeastern University School of Law who focuses on wrongful convictions, told me.".........Edwards’ attorneys believe that if the latest stay request is granted, they might be able to find those missing questionnaires or track down the jurors to determine whether or not “B” meant black. Whether or not Terry Edwards is guilty or innocent of pulling the trigger in those 2002 homicides, it would be criminal to deny Edwards’ attorneys the time to investigate this basic constitutional question. If Edwards doesn’t get that stay, he’ll be executed by the state of Texas on Thursday. There would be no rectifying that injustice.""

The entire post can be found at:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2017/01/texas_is_set_to_execute_terry_edwards_that_would_be_an_irrevocable_miscarriage.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;