Monday, June 18, 2018

Elizabeth Holmes: San Francisco; (Theranos): New York Times reports that she has been federally indicted on charges of defrauding investors our of hundreds of millions of dollars - as well as deceiving doctors and patients. (Reporter Reed Abelson)..."Ms. Holmes and Mr. Balwani were accused of misleading the public and their investors by promoting devices and tests that not only did not work but also endangered lives."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The indictments laid against Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes and her start-up company's former present make the extraordinarily serious allegation that that encouraged patients and doctors to use the company’s blood tests in spite of knowing they “were likely to contain inaccurate and unreliable results" - and that they  promoted devices and tests that not only did not work but also endangered lives. This development  brings to my mind the horrific Canadian    'Motherisk' scandal which centered on a laboratory at the iconic Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto which purported to have developed  a revolutionary "gold-standard"  DNA hair testing technology which could flawlessly detect the  presence of previous drug use. Sadly, the lab's technology was utterly flawed - in spite of the gold-standard claims - as flawed as Elizabeth Theranos's greatly touted blood testing devices. A public inquiry was called in Ontario because of the disturbing number of parents whose children were taken away - some permanently - by the Children's Aid authorities, as a result of Motherisk's terribly flawed technology.  Although civil suits have been commenced, it is noteworthy, that unlike  the USA, which has chosen to indict Holmes and the former president of the company for endangering the lives of patients, not a single criminal charge has been laid against Motherisk officials - or the Hospital for Sick Children which was responsible for the rogue lab. Welcome to Ontario - the same province which did not lay a single criminal charge against former doctor Charles Smith - responsible for so many wrongful convictions  and for children being seized from their parents and put up for adoption - and no charges against the hospital which employed Smith, which, by the way, just happens to be the iconic Hospital for Sick Children.  Something is terribly wrong in this picture.

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

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PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "Ms. Holmes appeared on the cover of Inc. magazine, next to the headline “The Next Steve Jobs.” But a series of articles in The Wall Street Journal exposed the company’s testing as deeply flawed, and her story is now the subject of a book by the articles’ author, John Carreyrou, called “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup,” and a forthcoming movie. Wealthy investors collectively lost hundreds of millions of dollars, including Walmart’s Walton family, the media mogul Rupert Murdoch, as well as Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education, and her relatives. In addition to misleading investors about the promise of the company, federal officials charged the two with encouraging patients and doctors to use the company’s blood tests in spite of knowing they “were likely to contain inaccurate and unreliable results.”

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STORY:  "Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes Indicted on Fraud Charges," by reporter Reed Abelson,  published by The New York Times on June 15, 2018. (Reed Abelson has been a reporter for The New York Times since 1995. She currently covers the business of health care, focusing on health insurance and how financial incentives affect the delivery of medical care.)

PHOTO CAPTION: "Elizabeth Holmes had become a darling of Silicon Valley, as she promoted what she claimed as a simple blood test that would revolutionize and personalize health care."

GIST: "Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder of Theranos, the lab testing company that promised to revolutionize health care, and its former president, Ramesh Balwani, were indicted on Friday on charges of defrauding investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars as well as deceiving hundreds of patients and doctors. The criminal charges were the culmination of a rarity in Silicon Valley — federal prosecution of a technology start-up. This one boasted a board stacked with prominent political figures and investors, and a startling valuation of $9 billion just a few years ago. In the fabled universe of overnight billionaires and unicorns, companies with billion-dollar valuations, Ms. Holmes had catapulted herself and her company into the buzz-filled world of “disrupters” by pledging to upend the health industry and give consumers control over their own care. Both Ms. Holmes and Mr. Balwani pleaded not guilty to charges of wire fraud. Lawyers for Ms. Holmes could not be reached for comment, but a lawyer for Mr. Balwani said in a statement that his client was “innocent and looks forward to clearing his name at trial.” The indictment was filed by the United States attorney’s office in San Francisco and came about three months after the Securities and Exchange Commission settled civil fraud charges against Ms. Holmes. On Friday, Theranos also announced that Ms. Holmes, who founded Theranos in 2003 as a 19-year-old Stanford University dropout, stepped down as chief executive. She will be replaced by David Taylor, the company’s general counsel, according to a statement from the company, which did not respond to requests for additional comment. In announcing the indictment, federal prosecutors highlighted the culture of Silicon Valley and the lure of exciting new ventures “Investors large and small from around the world are attracted to Silicon Valley by its track record, its talent, and its promise,” prosecutors said. “They are also attracted by the fact that behind the innovation and entrepreneurship are rules of law that require honesty, fair play, and transparency.” Ms. Holmes and Mr. Balwani were accused of misleading the public and their investors by promoting devices and tests that not only did not work but also endangered lives. Ms. Holmes had drafted a spellbinding sales pitch and relentlessly pursued anyone — including her own employees — who doubted her new blood-testing machines. “There is one cardinal rule in Silicon Valley that most people never realize,” said Paul Saffo, a longtime technology consultant, “and this is never ever breathe your own exhaust.” “This is someone who is so deeply self-deluded by her optimism and faith in herself,” he said. “And delusion is contagious.” The concept was irresistible: Theranos said it could take a few drops of blood from a simple finger prick to detect everything from H.I.V. to a diabetic’s A1C level. Relying on a proprietary technology to analyze the small quantities of blood, the private company offered a wide array of tests much more cheaply than existing blood tests. It even partnered with Walgreens, the giant drugstore chain, to open up centers in Arizona and California. Theranos reached a settlement with Walgreens last August.
At its peak, Theranos attracted prominent venture capitalists like Timothy Draper, Ms. Holmes’s former neighbor, and Don Lucas, an early investor in Oracle. Ms. Holmes, a charismatic executive who wore black turtlenecks and spoke passionately about her aim to remake health care, also assembled a star-studded board, including two former secretaries of state, George P. Shultz and Henry A. Kissinger, as well as two former United States senators. Gen. Jim Mattis, the current secretary of defense, also served on the board. He told Fortune magazine in 2014 that he joined the board because he was impressed by the strength of Theranos’s leadership. In October 2015, Ms. Holmes appeared on the cover of Inc. magazine, next to the headline “The Next Steve Jobs.” But a series of articles in The Wall Street Journal exposed the company’s testing as deeply flawed, and her story is now the subject of a book by the articles’ author, John Carreyrou, called “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup,” and a forthcoming movie. Wealthy investors collectively lost hundreds of millions of dollars, including Walmart’s Walton family, the media mogul Rupert Murdoch, as well as Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education, and her relatives. In addition to misleading investors about the promise of the company, federal officials charged the two with encouraging patients and doctors to use the company’s blood tests in spite of knowing they “were likely to contain inaccurate and unreliable results.” In 2016, federal regulators barred Ms. Holmes from owning and operating a laboratory for two years. Later that year, Theranos announced it was closing its lab and laying off about 340 employees, or more than 40 percent of its work force. Last March, the S.E.C. charged Ms. Holmes with widespread fraud, accusing her of exaggerating — even lying — about her technology while raising $700 million from investors. In announcing the charges, the S.E.C. said that Theranos and Ms. Holmes had agreed to a settlement, with Ms. Holmes agreeing to pay a $500,000 penalty. She and the company did not admit nor deny the allegations. Mr. Balwani did not settle, and planned to fight the allegations. Theranos’s collapse has given pause to venture capitalists, but Lakshman Ramamurthy, a former official with the Food and Drug Administration and now the global regulatory lead at Foundation Medicine, is not certain investors have learned their lesson. Companies like Theranos, which offered little hard evidence that its tests worked to its investors, “have their own rules,” he said. “That hasn’t changed.” “The Silicon Valley hubris remains,” Mr. Ramamurthy said."

The entire story can be found at:
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/15/health/theranos-elizabeth-holmes-fraud.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.

Kevin Cooper: (2) California; Application for post-conviction DNA testing: Blogger/extraordinaire Jeff Gamso's blunt, unequivocal, unforgettable message to the powers that be in California: "JUST TEST THE FUCKING DNA." (Oh yes, Gamso raises, as he does in many of his posts, an important philosophical question: This post is headed: "What is truth, said jesting Pilate.")..."So what's the harm? What, exactly, are they scared of? Don't we want the truth?"


PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "Though Kristoff doesn't say it this way, testing will lead to one of three conclusions: 1. Cooper's guilty, in which everyone can go home and rest assured. Cooper's an innocent guy we wanted to kill, in which case we can try and find the real killer and, by the way, do what we can to make sure we don't keep doing shit like this and also try to make some small amends to Cooper for his wrongful decades on death row. 3. Can't really tell shit. In which case, we'll at least have tried."

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PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Jeff Gamso is one of the toughest, brightest, principled, fearless commentators on America's criminal justice system. As readers of his Blog - Gamso for the defence - well know, Gamso does not mince words. That's evident his column on the Cooper case which will be immortalized by the following words:

"JUST TEST THE FUCKING DNA"

I will not attempt to summarize Gamso's column - that would without doubt  be an impeachable offence. (He's a former English prof: every word has design and meaning). So I recommend that our readers read every word, look out for the two asterisks, and watch the video Gamso calls 'Classic Movie Line #15) which will be found at the link below:

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

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POST: "What is truth, said jesting Pilate," by Jeff Gamso,  published on 'Gamso for the defence, on May 17, 2018.

GIST: Back in 2010, Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff had an op-ed about Kevin Cooper, a black man on death row in California for stabbing four people to death and leaving for dead a fifth who somehow survived and said the killing was done by 3 white guys. Kristoff's op-ed grew out of a dissenting opinion by 9th Circuit Judge William Fletcher in Cooper v. Brown, arguing that Cooper was likely factually innocent, had been framed by the cops, and that the courts and prosecutors and government authorities were at least passively complicit. As Fletcher's dissent was a jumping off point for Kristoff, so his op-ed was a jumping off point for a blog post I wrote.   Today, in the Times on-line and I think set for a print version in the Sunday paper, Kristoff has a lengthy follow-up, detailing his own investigation. It's powerful. Well worth reading for justice gone awry and for the active unwillingness​ of those sometime Democratic heroes Jerry Brown and Kamala Harris to just take the smallest of steps - allowing the DNA testing to go forward. The testing that might well show it wasn't Cooper - which seems pretty likely, but who knows. As I've regularly said here,

JUST TEST THE FUCKING DNA

But Jerry Brown (yeah, that Jerry Brown, the former Governor Moonbeam, the present Governor Old-Liberal-Icon) won't allow it. And Kamala Harris, once California Attorney General, now Senator Harris - she (like Jerry when he was California's AG) just wants the conviction affirmed and Cooper to stay in prison forever unless he's killed and damned with any DNA testing. It's worth noting how Kristoff explains his continuing passion for the case:
It’s obvious to you by now that this is not a usual column — I’m not sure The Times has ever published a column of this length — so why am I exploring the case with such passion? I became interested primarily because Fletcher and other respected federal appeals judges had said he was framed. That just doesn’t happen.
I’m also haunted by something else. In 2000, I proposed reporting a lengthy piece about doubts about the conviction of Cameron Willingham, who was then on death row in Texas for the arson murder of his three children. An editor talked me out of it, and I never did write about Willingham, who was executed in 2004. Since then, growing evidence has emerged that he was innocent, and perhaps it’s partly to atone for my earlier failure that I’ve taken up Cooper’s case.​Which does sort of make the point that Cooper's not the only one. That death row, and really all our prisons (and our jails, too, but that's a different story), have significant numbers of folks in them who are likely to be innocent.
Wholly, factually, innocent. Wrong guy.*  Or, even, crime didn't happen.**

All of that ​​is quite an extraordinary explanation from a Times columnist, I think.


And he follows it up with the plaint of everyone who recognizes that we're supposed to have a system of something like justice - whatever exactly that might be.
Maybe in the grand scheme of things, the fate of one man on death row doesn’t seem so important; innumerable people die tragically every day. Yet we aspire to be a nation where we are all equal before the law, and if we execute a man in so flawed a case without even bothering to test the evidence rigorously, then a piece of our justice system dies along with Kevin Cooper.
Governor Brown, if you’re reading this, I understand that you may believe that Cooper is guilty. But other smart people, including federal judges and law school deans, believe him innocent. So how can you possibly execute him without even allowing advanced DNA testing, at the defense’s expense, to resolve the doubt? What’s your argument for refusing to allow testing? ​
Though Kristoff doesn't say it this way, testing will lead to one of three conclusions:
  1. Cooper's guilty, in which everyone can go home and rest assured.
  2. Cooper's an innocent guy we wanted to kill, in which case we can try and find the real killer and, by the way, do what we can to make sure we don't keep doing shit like this and also try to make some small amends to Cooper for his wrongful decades on death row.
  3. Can't really tell shit. In which case, we'll at least have tried.
So what's the harm? What, exactly, are they scared of?  Don't we want the truth?

Oh, yeah, I forgot.

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*In which case, of course, the right guy is presumably still out there on the streets.
**The likelihood in Willingham's case.  The fire was probably not arson but an electrical fire from bad wiring.

The entire post  - with the two asterisks and the video - can be found at:
http://gamso-forthedefense.blogspot.com/2018/05/what-is-truth-said-jesting-pilate.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.

David Harold Eastman; Canberra; Australia; Prosecution opens up to jury: The jury also heard the scale of the investigation "was the biggest police investigation in the history of the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) and one of the biggest in the country" at the time..." Mr Thangaraj raised the suggestion that some believed there was mafia involvement in the killing, saying that was implausible, and that it was Mr Eastman who killed Mr Winchester. "The Crown says the mafia would not buy a gun from Queanbeyan that was advertised in the Canberra Times," he said. He told the jury the prosecution's case would also include Mr Eastman's own mutterings to himself, recorded on listening devices police planted in his home."

David Eastman wanted to teach police lesson in alleged shooting of AFP officer, prosecution says - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
David Eastman wanted to teach police lesson in alleged shooting of AFP officer, prosecution says - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)PUBLISHER'S NOTE: This Blog has been following and commenting on  the Eastman case for years. As the retrial, now underway could last many months - unless, as I truly hope, the prosecution crashes and Eastman is finally freed of this enormous load, and exonerated. my approach will be to cover  any opening addresses - to get an overall picture of the case - and then dip in from time to time when forensic issues of interest to this Blog arise. (ABC News has been provided excellent coverae of the Eastman proceedings.)

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

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David Eastman wanted to teach police lesson in alleged shooting of AFP officer, prosecution says - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
STORY: "Eastman wanted to teach police lesson in alleged shooting of AFP officer, prosecution says," by reporters Elizabeth Byrne and Stephanie Dalzell, published by ABC News. (Elizabeth Byrne has been a reporter for ABC News since 1987. She has reported on a wide variety of issues spanning federal politics and international issues, and is currently the ABC's High Court reporter. Stephanie Dalzell is a TV, radio and digital reporter in the Canberra newsroom. She was previously a political reporter in Parliament House in Canberra, and a cross-media journalist in Sydney. She moved to Perth in 2011 to take up an ABC news cadetship, and was the ABC’s WA political reporter between 2013 and 2015.)


GIST:  "Prosecutors have told the ACT Supreme Court David Eastman wanted to deliver "a harsh lesson for police" when he allegedly killed senior Australian Federal Police officer Colin Winchester in 1989. Prosecutor Murugan Thangaraj told the jury the former assistant AFP commissioner pulled into the driveway next door to his Deakin house about 9:15pm on January 10, where he used to routinely leave his car because it made his elderly neighbour feel safer. Mr Thangaraj said Mr Winchester had just opened the door of his car when he was shot twice, by what is believed to have been a Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic. Mr Thangaraj told the jury Mr Eastman, now 73, was responsible. "The Crown points to Mr Eastman as the man who fired those shots," he said. The jury has already heard Mr Eastman was convicted of the crime but is facing a retrial because of flaws in the evidence. Mr Thangaraj said he would present a case showing Mr Eastman's frustrations over his efforts to rejoin the public service and a looming case against him over an alleged assault of a neighbour were driving his state of mind. The Crown then detailed the events leading up to the murder, saying Mr Eastman had left his job in Treasury in 1977 voluntarily, but was "desperate to get back in". He was later charged with assaulting his neighbour Andrew Russo, and the jury heard Mr Eastman was concerned a conviction of assault would put an end to his dreams of returning to the public sector. The jury heard Mr Eastman's bid to dismiss the case made it all the way to Mr Winchester — the assistant commissioner of the AFP. But the Crown prosecutor told the court that meeting "went very badly for Mr Eastman," as Mr Winchester refused to have the assault charges withdrawn. Mr Eastman later allegedly told his GP he had been "virtually thrown out" of the room, saying "he wanted to get up and push the assistant commissioner off his chair". He then allegedly said: "The police should be taught a lesson". "[That] was not a comment, it was a threat," Mr Thangaraj said. The jury heard Mr Eastman received a letter from the AFP advising him it would not intervene in the assault case on January 10 — the same day Mr Winchester was murdered. Mr Thangaraj told the jury Mr Eastman was motivated by revenge, allegedly telling his solicitor "I'll kill Winchester" and saying to someone else, "if it's the last thing I'll do, I'll get back at the police". "The police, as far as Mr Eastman was concerned, were a very serious problem," Mr Thangaraj said. Jury shown a gun bag allegedly containing Eastman's gun: The Crown also told the court Eastman had purchased a Ruger 10/22 — the same model as the gun used to kill Mr Winchester — a few months before the murder. The jury heard Mr Eastman stored the rifle beside the Old Federal Highway, allegedly placing bottles of medication by it so he could find it later. The court heard a passer-by found the rifle in a gun bag and handed it in to police, with five of the six bottles of medication nearby prescribed to Mr Eastman. The jury was on Monday shown and allowed to pass around the gun bag, which the Crown alleged Mr Eastman obtained to keep the rifle in a good condition. The Crown alleged that when he discovered his rifle had gone, Mr Eastman then purchased the same type of rifle from a man called Louis Klarenbeek in January 1989. Mr Klarenbeek provided police with a cartridge from the gun, and the court heard forensics determined the same weapon fired both that cartridge, and the cartridges found at the scene. However, the jury was told Mr Klarenbeek denied seeing Mr Eastman when he was shown photos of him. The Crown alleged Mr Klarenbeek may have lied out of fear, or loyalty. The gun used in the shooting has never been found. Deceased witnesses' statements to be read to court: The jury also heard the scale of the investigation "was the biggest police investigation in the history of the ACT and one of the biggest in the country" at the time. He said the focus quickly shifted to Mr Eastman, who had not been able to account for his whereabouts, and had recently met Mr Winchester. Mr Thangaraj raised the suggestion that some believed there was mafia involvement in the killing, saying that was implausible, and that it was Mr Eastman who killed Mr Winchester. "The Crown says the mafia would not buy a gun from Queanbeyan that was advertised in the Canberra Times," he said. He told the jury the prosecution's case would also include Mr Eastman's own mutterings to himself, recorded on listening devices police planted in his home. Mr Thangaraj is expected to take more than a day to outline the case."
The entire story can be read at:

  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-18/david-eastman-wanted-to-teach-police-a-lesson-prosecution-says/9880328

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, June 17, 2018

Kevin Cooper: (1): Death Row; California; Kim Kardashian adds her voice to calls for DNA-testing for Kevin Cooper - after she got Pres. Donald Trump to pardon Alice Johnson, The Daily News reports..." Alexander told DailyMail.com his client is 'innocent' and had been both 'wrongfully incarcerated for 33 years and wrongfully convicted'. He says he and Cooper would be 'happy to speak or meet with Ms Kardashian', and said 'of course' her efforts would make a difference. 'I think support from any people who are interested in justice is important,' he said. 'I don't know her from Adam, but I believe her speaking out and gathering other people in Hollywood to speak out, or anyone who is interested in criminal justice - speaking out and telling this Governor to have moral leadership - to have courage - to be better than his best excuses - [is a positive thing].' Kardashian made headlines earlier this month after meeting with President Donald Trump following months of campaigning for the release of Alice Johnson - a 63-year-old woman who was sentenced to life behind bars for her minor role in a drug trafficking syndicate. Johnson, who had been behind bars for 20 years, had her sentence commuted earlier this month - and Kardashian was widely credited for her release."


PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "(Cooper) was arrested in 1983 and convicted in 1985 for the gruesome murders of two children and two adults - but he has always maintained his innocence 'All we’re asking for is testing, [we're] not rushing to demand release,' Alexander told DailyMail.com on Saturday. He said he and Cooper's legal team had approached then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for help, and Alexander said he expressed concern about the evidence presented against Cooper, but referred it on to incoming Governor Jerry Brown. Brown is yet to act on requests for retesting of evidence in Cooper's case, labelling it a 'complicated' situation. 'It is inexplicable to everyone who is familiar with the case why Governor Brown will not order the retesting be done,' Alexander said. 'It is not a complicated case - it is a case with lots of instances of law enforcement misconduct. 'We've already proven the blood on the t-shirt was planted, then the person who did the testing withdrew the results, claiming contamination, and we could not get copies of the report.'"

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PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Jeff Gamso is one of the toughest, brightest, principled, fearless commentators on America's criminal justice system. As readers of his Blog - Gamso for the defence - well know, Gamso does not mince words. That's evident in his column on the Cooper case which will be immortalized by the following words: (With which I entirely agree.HL)

"JUST TEST THE FUCKING DNA"

http://gamso-forthedefense.blogspot.com/search?q=%22kevin+cooper%22
Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog.

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STORY: "Kim Kardashian is now supporting a 'wrongly-convicted' death row inmate: Reality star urges California governor to test DNA of condemned prisoner who murdered four people, after she got Trump to pardon Alice Johnson," by reporter Hannah Moore published by The Daily Mail on June 17, 2018.
  • SUB-HEADINGS: "Kim Kardashian is lobbying for new DNA testing on a 1980s murder case 
  • She asked California Governor Jerry Brown to allow the retesting via Twitter
  • Kevin Cooper, who is believed to have been wrongfully convicted of the quadruple murder, has been requesting the retesting for years
  • Cooper has been sentenced to death for his alleged role in the murder 
  • Kardashian recently met with President Trump about inmate Alice Johnson 
  • Shortly after, her life sentence was commuted and she was released
  • David Alexander, who represents Cooper, says he'd happily meet Kardashian
  • He says the reality star can make a difference with her vast influence
    Kim Kardashian has asked California Governor Jerry Brown to retest DNA evidence in a quadruple murder case from the 1980s to help a man on death row who may have been wrongfully convicted."
GIST: "After successfully seeing 63-year-old grandmother Alice Johnson's sentence commuted, Kim Kardashian has turned her sights on helping another prisoner she believes may have been wrongfully convicted. The reality queen took to Twitter on Saturday to question the incarceration of Kevin Cooper, who has been on death row for 33 years and will face the lethal injection for the murders of four people, including two 10-year-old children.  (Cooper) was arrested in 1983 and convicted in 1985 for the gruesome murders of two children and two adults - but he has always maintained his innocence 'All we’re asking for is testing, [we're] not rushing to demand release,' Alexander told DailyMail.com on Saturday. He said he and Cooper's legal team had approached then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for help, and Alexander said he expressed concern about the evidence presented against Cooper, but referred it on to incoming Governor Jerry Brown. Brown is yet to act on requests for retesting of evidence in Cooper's case, labelling it a 'complicated' situation. 'It is inexplicable to everyone who is familiar with the case why Governor Brown will not order the retesting be done,' Alexander said. 'It is not a complicated case - it is a case with lots of instances of law enforcement misconduct. 'We've already proven the blood on the t-shirt was planted, then the person who did the testing withdrew the results, claiming contamination, and we could not get copies of the report.' Kevin Cooper was sentenced to death in 1985 for the brutal slaying of Douglas and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter Jessica, and 10-year-old Chris Hughes, who was staying at their house in the Los Angeles suburb of Chino Hills. Cooper and his legal team believe he was wrongly convicted and evidence was planted to incriminate him. In 2014, he was just three hours from facing the death penalty before Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger urged a review of his case Their eight-year-old son Josh was the only survivor, even though he had his throat slit, and his account of that night would be the key to the prosecution's case. Initially, police were looking for three white or Mexican men, based on Josh's recollection of the horrific killings and evidence which suggested there were multiple people involved in the crime.    Witnesses also said they had seen three white men driving a station wagon, believed to be the family car, away from the home - but police continued to focus on Cooper.  Cooper had recently escaped from a minimum security prison, and was hiding out at a home nearby, The New York Times reported. Prosecutors said a footprint of a prison issued shoe was at the home, as were cigarette butts with Cooper's DNA on them, and Josh eventually changed his story to say he saw a black man at the scene, not three white men. Cooper was sentenced to death in 1985, but during his appeal, retesting of evidence, including a t-shirt believed to have belonged to the killer, was found to have Cooper's blood - and test tube preservative on it.  Josh Ryen was the only survivor of the murder, and told police he had seen three white men at the home before his throat was slit. This indicated the blood on the shirt had been put there from inside a test tube of Cooper's blood, not splattered on during the quadruple murder.  The test tube containing Cooper's blood had DNA of at least two people inside, suggesting someone may have taken blood out of it and topped it up to cover up their actions. Evidence of another man being involved in the killing is overwhelming - Jessica, the 10-year-old girl who was murdered, died with a chunk of light hair in her hand, and the ex-wife of a convicted murderer who lived nearby said the man had come to her home covered in blood and there was a hatchet missing from her home.  Alexander told DailyMail.com his client is 'innocent' and had been both 'wrongfully incarcerated for 33 years and wrongfully convicted'. He says he and Cooper would be 'happy to speak or meet with Ms Kardashian', and said 'of course' her efforts would make a difference.  'I think support from any people who are interested in justice is important,' he said. 'I don't know her from Adam, but I believe her speaking out and gathering other people in Hollywood to speak out, or anyone who is interested in criminal justice - speaking out and telling this Governor to have moral leadership - to have courage - to be better than his best excuses - [is a positive thing].' Kardashian made headlines earlier this month after meeting with President Donald Trump following months of campaigning for the release of Alice Johnson - a 63-year-old woman who was sentenced to life behind bars for her minor role in a drug trafficking syndicate.  Johnson, who had been behind bars for 20 years, had her sentence commuted earlier this month - and Kardashian was widely credited for her release. DailyMail.com have contacted Kim Kardashian for comment, but did not receive a response before publication.
David Alexander, a representative for Cooper (pictured during his sentencing in 1985) says he would be happy to meet with Kardashian and says he believes she can make a difference."

The entire story can be read at:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5852437/Kim-Kardashian-pleads-new-DNA-testing-wrongly-convicted-man-death-row.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.

Brendan Dassey: Wisconsin: (False confession case): (Part 4): National Law Journal story on "'Watching ‘Making a Murderer’ at the US Supreme Court' by Tony Mauro... "It is rare for a cert petition to include discs that will allow the justices to watch the video of a controversial criminal confession to police that is at the crux of the case before them. Rarer still is the fact that the confession has also been watched by millions of Netflix viewers in the 2015 “Making a Murderer” series. Thousands of viewers who found the confession to be coerced signed petitions to have the juvenile defendant set free. The high-profile case is Dassey v. Dittmann, and the justices were scheduled on Thursday to review the petition. (That review has been rescheduled.)


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: This Blog is interested in false confessions because of the disturbing number of exonerations in the USA, Canada and multiple other jurisdictions throughout the world, where, in the absence of incriminating forensic evidence the conviction is based on self-incrimination – and because of the growing body of  scientific research showing how vulnerable suspects   are to widely used interrogation methods  such as  the notorious ‘Reid Technique.’

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.


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PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "brief on behalf of law enforcement instructors may have said it all: Interrogation specialists are using the Dassey confession tapes “to highlight unreliable practices to be avoided and to show ‘what not to do’ in interrogations involving juveniles and individuals with intellectual impairments.”

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STORY: "Watching ‘Making a Murderer’ at the US Supreme Court," by Tony Mauro, published by The National Law Journal on June 13, 2018. ( Tony Mauro, based in Washington, covers the U.S. Supreme Court. A lead writer for ALM's Supreme Court Brief, Tony focuses on the court's history and traditions, appellate advocacy and the SCOTUS cases that matter most to business litigators.)

SUB-HEADING:  "This is an unbelievably important case,” says Wilmer Hale's Seth Waxman, who wrote the petition on Brendan Dassey’s behalf. The petition had been on the justices' Thursday conference list but was later rescheduled.

GIST: "It is rare for a cert petition to include discs that will allow the justices to watch the video of a controversial criminal confession to police that is at the crux of the case before them. Rarer still is the fact that the confession has also been watched by millions of Netflix viewers in the 2015 “Making a Murderer” series. Thousands of viewers who found the confession to be coerced signed petitions to have the juvenile defendant set free. The high-profile case is Dassey v. Dittmann, and the justices were scheduled on Thursday to review the petition. (That review has been rescheduled.) Brendan Dassey was convicted in 2005 in Wisconsin on rape and murder and sentenced to life, based on the taped confession and little or nothing else. He was 16 at the time, and borderline intellectually disabled. His lawyers sought to suppress the confession. (His better-known uncle Steven Avery was also convicted on murder and other charges.) Wisconsin courts ruled that Dassey’s confession was voluntary, but on habeas review, a federal district court judge found the confession was “clearly involuntary.” A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit also sided with Dassey, but on review, an en banc panel disagreed, ruling that state courts deserved “leeway” to declare the confession voluntary.    Former U.S. Solicitor General Seth Waxman, now partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, wrote the petition on Dassey’s behalf, seeking review of the Seventh Circuit ruling. Waxman declined to talk about the substance of the case, but he did describe how his representation came about. “I received a call out of the blue” from Dassey’s lawyers, he said, adding that he was unfamiliar with the case and with the Netflix series at the time. But he said he would look at the state court decisions. “I read them and realized this is an unbelievably important case,” Waxman said. The petition has extra heft because of an array of cert-stage amicus briefs filed in its wake. The brief in opposition by Wisconsin Solicitor General Misha Tseytlin calls the case “a splitless request for error correction.” Here are some of the data points from the briefs that could compel the court to grant cert before the current term is over:
➤➤ brief on behalf of law enforcement instructors may have said it all: Interrogation specialists are using the Dassey confession tapes “to highlight unreliable practices to be avoided and to show ‘what not to do’ in interrogations involving juveniles and individuals with intellectual impairments.”
➤➤ A series of Supreme Court precedents established that the “greatest care must be taken” to ensure juvenile confessions are voluntary. But the court has not dealt with the issue in nearly 40 years, standards have slipped, and Waxman said in his petition that reaffirmance is “urgently needed.”
➤➤ Meantime, new social science research undercuts the notion that “innocent people do not confess.” The Innocence Project brief asserts that one in four of the 354 inmates who have been exonerated because of DNA evidence had confessed to the crimes they did not commit.
➤➤ For decades, the American Psychological Association had a policy against filing briefs at the cert stage. But it decided to do so in Dassey because, in the words of counsel of record Beth Brinkmann of Covington & Burling, of “the great need for Supreme Court review of the issues arising from the unique convergence of psychological research involving false confessions, juveniles, and those with intellectual disabilities.”
➤➤ Waxman’s petition makes no mention of the Netflix series, but an amicus brief on behalf of former and current prosecutors who side with Dassey cites the outrage viewers showed after seeing “Making a Murderer.” The case “stands on the record and warrants review even without the documentary,” said Arnold & Porter’s Anthony Franze, counsel of record on the brief. But in light of the widespread attention to the Dassey confession, Franze wrote in the brief, reviewing the case “will also help restore the public’s faith in our justice system.”"

The entire story can be found at:
https://www.law.com/nationallawjournal/2018/06/13/watching-making-a-murderer-at-the-u-s-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.

David Harold Eastman: Canberra. Australia; Bulletin; Jury sworn in. Retrial in murder of assistant police commissioner Colin Winchester... about to begin..."Prosecutors are expected to give their opening statements, followed by Mr Eastman's defence team, from June 18."


PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "At the end of the trial the jury will be asked to determine whether Mr Eastman caused the death of Mr Winchester, whether it was conscious, voluntary and deliberate, whether Mr Eastman intended to kill or cause really serious injury and whether murder was committed without lawful justification or excuse.Unless jurors are unanimous on all four points the verdict must be not guilty, Justice Kellam said.?"

STORY: "Jury sworn in for Eastman murder trial,"  by reporter Karen Sweeney, published by The Australian Associated Press on June 5, 2018.

GIST: "Jurors have been told "it would be a tragedy for all concerned" if they had any regard for a previous guilty verdict in the murder case against a Canberra man. David Harold Eastman, 72, was found guilty "some years ago" of the murder of Colin Winchester, the jury heard on Tuesday. But after lengthy hearings that guilty verdict was set aside and that decision should have no bearing on his new trial, acting ACT Supreme Court judge Murray Kellam told the jury of 16 men and women in Canberra. "Some evidence should not have been led and as a consequence the accused did not get a fair trial," Justice Kellam told the jury. Prosecutors are expected to give their opening statements, followed by Mr Eastman's defence team, from June 18. Jurors were sworn in on Tuesday but have been given time to get their lives in order ahead of what Justice Kellam expects to be a six-month trial. Media coverage in the past and during the upcoming trial should also bear no weight on their decisions, he said. "Pay no regard whatsoever to those reports," Justice Kellam warned. "You 16 people are the judges of the facts ... nothing outside should affect you." Outside information also extends to jurors not carrying out their own investigations or inquiries - an offence punishable by imprisonment. Given the length of the trial, Justice Kellam also expects jurors to face questions from friends and colleagues about what they're up to, discussions he said they should not engage in beyond saying they're serving on a jury. "You're going to have to resist that and perhaps the easiest way to do that is to blame me," he said. At the end of the trial the jury will be asked to determine whether Mr Eastman caused the death of Mr Winchester, whether it was conscious, voluntary and deliberate, whether Mr Eastman intended to kill or cause really serious injury and whether murder was committed without lawful justification or excuse.Unless jurors are unanimous on all four points the verdict must be not guilty, Justice Kellam said."

The entire story can be found at:
https://au.news.yahoo.com/jury-sworn-eastman-murder-trial-040029644--spt.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, June 16, 2018

Brendan Dassey: (Wisconsin ( Part 3): (False confession case); Tyler Edmonds case; Steven Hayne; Radley Balko makes a cogent argument as to why the U.S. Supreme Court should agree to take on the Dassey‘ case in a post headed: "Making a Murderer,’ false confessions and bad expert testimony‘."..."The U.S. Supreme Court could simply decide not to hear the case, in which case Dassey’s conviction would stand. They could also uphold the conviction on the grounds that the 7th Circuit did, finding that his claims aren’t compelling enough to get him past the 1996 law (commonly known as AEDPA) that limits when federal courts can review state court rulings. In other words, the court may not delve much into the issue of false confessions among juveniles, and find instead that this is an issue that, under that 1996 law, should be left to state courts to decide. In our new book, my co-author and I look at a case that I think provides a pretty vivid illustration of why this shouldn’t be an issue left to the state courts."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: This Blog is interested in false confessions because of the disturbing number of exonerations in the USA, Canada and multiple other jurisdictions throughout the world, where, in the absence of incriminating forensic evidence the conviction is based on self-incrimination – and because of the growing body of  scientific research showing how vulnerable suspects   are to widely used interrogation methods  such as  the notorious ‘Reid Technique.’

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.


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STORY: "‘Making a Murderer,’ false confessions and bad expert testimony,‘ by Radley Balko, published in his Blog 'The Watch' (Washington Post, on June 13, 2018. (Radley Balko writes and edits The Watch, a reported blog covering civil liberties and the criminal-justice system. Previously, he was an investigative reporter for the Huffington Post and a writer and editor for Reason magazine. His most recent book is "The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South.") 
 
GIST:  Over at the New York Times, Adam Liptak writes about the possibility of the U.S. Supreme Court taking up the case of Brendan Dassey, the 16-year-old whose interrogation and confession were included in the Netflix series “Making a Murderer.” Dassey’s attorneys argue that his confession should have been suppressed, citing the way both Dassey and his mother were manipulated and basically bullied by interrogators, as well as emerging evidence that juveniles are especially prone to false confessions, especially under harsh questioning. The Wisconsin Supreme Court disagreed and upheld Dassey’s conviction. But a federal district court judge and a panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit found that the confession should have been suppressed. The full 7th Circuit then reversed again. That’s where the case stands today.  The U.S. Supreme Court could simply decide not to hear the case, in which case Dassey’s conviction would stand. They could also uphold the conviction on the grounds that the 7th Circuit did, finding that his claims aren’t compelling enough to get him past the 1996 law (commonly known as AEDPA) that limits when federal courts can review state court rulings. In other words, the court may not delve much into the issue of false confessions among juveniles, and find instead that this is an issue that, under that 1996 law, should be left to state courts to decide. In our new book, my co-author and I look at a case that I think provides a pretty vivid illustration of why this shouldn’t be an issue left to the state courts. Tyler Edmonds was just 13 when he was accused of killing his sister’s husband. According to prosecutors, Edmonds and his sister waited until the victim was asleep, then the two both held a gun and simultaneously pulled the trigger, killing the man. Edmonds would later say that his sister confessed to him, but urged him to take the blame, and claim that he accidentally fired the gun while playing with it. Since he was a juvenile, she said, they’d go easy on him. If she was convicted, she told him they’d send her to the electric chair. During his initial questioning, Edmonds denied any role in the murder. But he was later separated from his mother. At one point, he was put in a room with his sister, who slipped him a note again urging him to confess, or she’d be given the death penalty. After that, Edmonds confessed. But his confession wasn’t consistent with the crime scene, or with other facts known to police. And he confessed in a way that didn’t completely take full responsibility for the crime — it was Edmonds who first laid out the two-people-holding-the-gun theory. Three days later, after talking to his mother and other relatives, Edmonds retracted the entire confession, explaining that he thought if he took partial responsibility, he’d save his sister from execution. As it turns out, Edmonds’s confession raised a number of red flags. He wasn’t just a minor; he was just 13. He was questioned outside the presence of a parent. He was emotionally and psychologically immature for his age. He also adored his sister, making him more susceptible to her manipulation. Edmonds also confessed in a way that minimized his role in the crime. His confession wasn’t consistent with the facts of the case. And he quickly and completely retracted. All of these are common indicators in a false confession. The defense was prepared to call an expert witness to testify to all of this. But prosecutors objected, and asked for a hearing (known as a Daubert hearing) on the scientific validity of expert testimony about false confessions. The trial judge granted a daylong hearing on the question before ultimately deciding that the research in support of the idea that juveniles can be pressured into false confessions wasn’t scientifically reliable. Edmonds’s expert would not be permitted to testify. The judge first did what judges often do in these situations. He looked at what other judges had done. He found that about half the courts that ruled on the matter had ruled against allowing such testimony in. Thus, he concluded, the notion of false confessions had yet to be accepted in the scientific community. But how judges have ruled on a challenge to expert testimony is quite a bit different than what science says about the matter. And in fact, more than a decade before Edmonds’s trial, a review of peer-reviewed research on the matter found more than 800 published reports in support of the idea that false confessions do indeed occur. And as former Mississippi Supreme Court justice Oliver Diaz would later point out in a concurring opinion, while the trial judge claimed that only six people were researching the issue at the time, in fact more than 60 authors had published on the topic. In support of his opinion to exclude the testimony, the judge cited just three experts. One of them had never published a peer-reviewed study on the topic. Another was former federal judge Paul Cassell, who is not a psychiatrist or psychiatric researcher, but a partisan legal pundit and longtime victims’ rights advocate. If that all wasn’t bad enough, the state also put on its own scientifically dubious evidence. As the prosecutor told jurors in her opening statement, “You’re going to hear how Kristi stood behind him and held him and you’re going to hear how they both put their finger on the trigger and you’re going to hear how they both shot and killed Joey Fulgham.” That’s an extraordinary claim that would be nearly impossible to prove. Yet the state tried, with the controversial, longtime Mississippi medical examiner Steven Hayne. When asked whether the wounds in Fulgham’s body were consistent with Edmonds’s confession (as opposed to his retraction), Hayne replied, “Within a reasonable medical certainty, it’s consistent with the scenario provided to me.” That, of course, would be the scenario in which two people fired the gun. Asked later to clarify — was he really claiming that the bullet holes suggested there were two people holding the gun that fired the bullets? — Hayne replied, “I would favor that a second party be involved in that positioning of the weapon.” This, of course, is nonsense. There’s simply no way a medical examiner can look at bullet holes and know how many people were holding the gun that fired those bullets. Edmonds’s attorneys rightly objected and requested a Daubert hearing of their own. Incredibly, the trial judge — the same judge that granted a daylong hearing after which he ultimately refused to allow in expert testimony about false confessions — wouldn’t even grant a hearing on the scientific validity of the two-people-holding-the-gun theory. So that’s what the jury heard. And it convicted Edmonds. Edmonds appealed and lost at the Mississippi Court of Appeals. He then appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court. He lost there too, at least at first. The justices initially voted to uphold his conviction. But after Diaz wrote a blistering dissent excoriating his fellow justices, they voted again and came down 6-3 in favor of overturning the conviction because of Hayne’s testimony. That in itself was noteworthy — it was the first time in two decades of cases that they had tossed out the testimony of the now-discredited medical examiner. But the majority also ruled that the trial judge was right to exclude the false confession testimony, finding that it “couldn’t be empirically tested.” (Never mind that courts routinely allow all sorts of expert testimony that can’t be “empirically tested,” including most fields of forensics.) Edmonds was tried again. Without the dubious forensic testimony, he was quickly acquitted. Remarkably, the state later accepted his false confession argument in an attempt to prevent Edmonds from being compensated for his wrongful conviction. The state argued that because his confession was “manufactured evidence,” he had aided in his own conviction. Under state law, he was therefore ineligible for compensation. According to the defense attorneys I’ve talked to in Mississippi, the portion of the Mississippi Supreme Court’s Edmonds decision dealing with false confessions is the most recent such decision from that court. This means that any defendant who wants to introduce expert testimony on false confessions would face an uphill battle, given the court’s line about about empirical testing. AEDPA was a bad law for a lot of reasons. But its limitations on federal review of state court decisions might be the biggest one."


The entire post can be found at:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2018/06/13/making-a-murderer-false-confessions-and-bad-expert-testimony/?utm_term=.4052dea943c4
 
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.

Joe Bryan; Texas; Dispatch (3): Author Pamela Colloff privides more insights into her superb ProPublica/New York Times investigation of the Joe Bryan case - 'Blood will tell' - by asking, from the outset of this dispatch: "Hi everyone, So how much actual science is there behind forensic science?"..."Both expert witnesses were equally certain of their conclusions. Both cited the exact same evidence: the bloodstains that were found at the crime scene. How was this possible, I wondered? How could two experts—each trained in the same forensic discipline—come to diametrically opposite conclusions? With a man’s liberty hanging in the balance, who should jurors believe?"




PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "As I began investigating Joe’s case, I wanted to understand if he had also been convicted, in part, on the strength of bad forensic science. Even bigger questions animated a Texas Forensic Science Commission meeting that I attended last fall, at which scientists and attorneys discussed bloodstain pattern analysis. “Is it science or not?” one participant asked. “Is there a scientific foundation for blood spatter?” asked another. These were startling questions to hear, considering that bloodstain pattern analysis is readily admitted into criminal proceedings around the country. No one seemed sure of the answers. It was this type of forensic science that helped prosecutors win a conviction in Joe Bryan’s case, and that has kept him in prison for more than 30 years. Next week, I’ll tell you much more about going to Oklahoma to take a 40-hour course in bloodstain pattern analysis. Let’s just say that I never expected to find myself swinging an axe covered in human blood...Until then, thanks for reading. Pamela."

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DISPATCH (3): "Hi everyone, So how much actual science is there behind forensic science? That’s what I found myself wondering as I sat in a Texas courtroom in the spring of 2016, watching a murder trial unfold. Testifying for the prosecution was Tom Bevel, a world-renowned expert in bloodstain pattern analysis, who told the jury that the defendant in the case had murdered his stepson. Testifying for the defense was one of Bevel’s former students, a local crime scene investigator, who insisted that the stepson had, in fact, committed suicide. Both expert witnesses were equally certain of their conclusions. Both cited the exact same evidence: the bloodstains that were found at the crime scene. How was this possible, I wondered? How could two experts—each trained in the same forensic discipline—come to diametrically opposite conclusions? With a man’s liberty hanging in the balance, who should jurors believe? (The defendant was, in the end, sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.) I didn’t end up writing about that trial, but I never forgot the certainty with which each expert addressed the jury. Yet one of them had to be wrong. After the trial, I bought the textbook that Bevel, a former Oklahoma City police investigator, co-wrote with ex-criminal investigator Ross Gardner. The book—full of gory crime scene photos—is called “Bloodstain Pattern Analysis with an Introduction to Crime Scene Reconstruction,” and it is considered to be the “bible” of bloodstain pattern analysis. As I read the book, I could see that some of the information in it would be helpful to a crime scene investigator. Recognizing that a particular series of droplets on the ground might be a “drip trail,” for example, could help an investigator understand that the perpetrator may have been injured in the commission of the crime and perhaps left the scene bleeding—potentially important details when trying to identify a suspect. But the idea that a police officer could also reverse-engineer and reconstruct a crime from the bloodstains left behind—and then go on to testify with certainty about the choreography of that crime—seemed hard to believe. Did this kind of forensic science hold up to scrutiny, I wondered? Bevel’s book stated that bloodstain pattern analysis has “no known error rate.” (In other words, there is no clear-cut way to verify whether an analyst’s assessment of a crime scene is correct or incorrect.) How many people had been convicted on the strength of this kind of testimony? Last year, I learned that the Texas Forensic Science Commission had decided to look into two cases involving bloodstain pattern analysis. The commission investigates complaints about the misuse of forensic testimony and evidence, and its decision to examine bloodstain interpretation seemed significant. I started attending its meetings, and read up on the two cases. One of them was the case of Norma Clark, which you read about in Part II. The other was Joe Bryan’s. The more I looked into the circumstances that led to Joe’s conviction, the more fascinated I became. One detail that caught my attention was that Joe was represented by Waco attorney Walter Reaves. I knew Reaves had worked on many cases in Texas involving junk science—including the notorious case of Cameron Todd Willingham, an East Texas man who was sentenced to death in 1992 for killing his three children in a house fire. Willingham’s conviction had largely rested on the forensic analysis of two arson investigators, who had testified that tell-tale burn patterns inside the Willingham home revealed the use of an accelerant, proving that the fire had been deliberately set. The Willingham case showed the corrosive power of bad forensic science. Four days before Willingham’s scheduled execution in 2004, Reaves submitted a report to then-Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. In it, an acclaimed fire scientist named Gerald Hurst enumerated the ways in which investigators had grossly misinterpreted the crime scene, and concluded that there was no clear-cut evidence of arson. The report went unheeded, and Willingham was put to death by lethal injection. A slew of scientists later backed Hurst’s findings, and the case led to both a statewide review of other arson cases, and a wholesale reevaluation of fire investigation itself. The New Yorker’s David Grann wrote a devastating piece about the case that is well worth your time to read, as is this equally incredible series by Steve Mills (now of ProPublica Illinois) and Maurice Possley for the Chicago Tribune. As I began investigating Joe’s case, I wanted to understand if he had also been convicted, in part, on the strength of bad forensic science. Even bigger questions animated a Texas Forensic Science Commission meeting that I attended last fall, at which scientists and attorneys discussed bloodstain pattern analysis. “Is it science or not?” one participant asked. “Is there a scientific foundation for blood spatter?” asked another. These were startling questions to hear, considering that bloodstain pattern analysis is readily admitted into criminal proceedings around the country. No one seemed sure of the answers. It was this type of forensic science that helped prosecutors win a conviction in Joe Bryan’s case, and that has kept him in prison for more than 30 years. Next week, I’ll tell you much more about going to Oklahoma to take a 40-hour course in bloodstain pattern analysis. Let’s just say that I never expected to find myself swinging an axe covered in human blood...Until then, thanks for reading. Pamela; P.S. Have you told your friends about my newsletter yet?'

The entire dispatch can be read at: 
https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?tab=wm#inbox/1640848656476c82

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, June 15, 2018

Melissa Calusinski; Illinois; Bulletin: Setback for former daycare center worker; Her motion for a new trial has been denied..."Calusinski was working at a Lincolnshire daycare center when 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan died in 2009. Investigators say Calusinski confessed to throwing him to the floor, hitting his head. Former Round Lake Police Officer Dominick Izzo said the confession was coerced. And the former Coroner says there was no evidence of a skull fracture. "When you look at somebody and you know the truth versus what's on paper, it makes you sick to your stomach. How can you not speak out," said Izzo. Appellate court judges disagree however, ruling all the evidence was available during the first trial."



STORY: "Melissa Calusinski denied motion for new trial," by reporter John Garcia, published by ABC  7 on June 11, 2018.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Calusinski's attorney Kathleen Zellner however, said in a statement, "Ms. Calusinski was deprived of a fair trial because the state withheld critical evidence that would have undermined confidence in the verdict against her."
 
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SUB-HEADING: "Melissa Calusinski remains in prison after the state appellate court denied her motion for a new trial."
 

GIST: "Melissa Calusinski remains in prison after the state appellate court denied her motion for a new trial. Despite what her attorney argued is scientific evidence that proves she is innocent. Monday, the father of Melissa Calusinski said they're ready to take the case to the Illinois Supreme Court. "As the evidence shows, they did the wrong thing. Justice was denied again," said Paul Calusinski, Melissa's father. Calusinski was working at a Lincolnshire daycare center when 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan died in 2009. Investigators say Calusinski confessed to throwing him to the floor, hitting his head. Former Round Lake Police Officer Dominick Izzo said the confession was coerced. And the former Coroner says there was no evidence of a skull fracture. "When you look at somebody and you know the truth versus what's on paper, it makes you sick to your stomach. How can you not speak out," said Izzo.  Appellate court judges disagree however, ruling all the evidence was available during the first trial. Calusinski's attorney Kathleen Zellner however, said in a statement, "Ms. Calusinski was deprived of a fair trial because the state withheld critical evidence that would have undermined confidence in the verdict against her." Paul Calusinski visited his daughter in prison over the weekend. "She's anxious to come home. She knows that she's innocent," he said. Zellner says she plans to file an appeal with the Illinois State Supreme Court early next month. She says if she loses there, she will file in federal court."

The entire story can be read at: 
http://abc7chicago.com/attorneys-for-melissa-calusinski-lose-appeal/3591252/

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.

Joe Bryan: Texas; Dispatch (2); 'Blood will tell' Author Pamela Colloff gives readers insights into the fascinating ProPublica/New York Times series..."In my last dispatch, I told you about the challenges of reporting on a 33-year-old murder case. Today, I want to walk you through how I re-examined the police investigation that resulted in Joe Bryan’s arrest. Law enforcement didn’t make it easy."


Blood clipart blood splat #1042

"Hi again. In my last dispatch, I told you about the challenges of reporting on a 33-year-old murder case. Today, I want to walk you through how I re-examined the police investigation that resulted in Joe Bryan’s arrest. Law enforcement didn’t make it easy. First, though, I wanted to share some important news. On June 4, Joe was denied parole. It’s unclear whether the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles read ProPublica’s coverage of this case—or the New York Times editorial board’s powerful call to set Joe free—before making its determination. Often the board deliberates well before its decisions are announced. Because its deliberations are kept secret, we will never know why its members made the decision they made—a decision that is all the more startling considering the fact that Joe has a pristine disciplinary record, has served more than 30 years in prison, and is suffering from congestive heart failure. Joe’s next best hope is the evidentiary hearing that will be taking place in August. (This is the legal proceeding at which his attorneys will be allowed to present new evidence and ask that he be granted a new trial.) The hearing is set to begin on Aug. 20 in Comanche, Texas. I plan on covering the hearing, so you will hear more from me about that later this summer. But for now, let’s return to the 1985 investigation into who killed Mickey Bryan. After I went to the courthouse in Comanche last summer and obtained the case file, I spent a lot of time reading and studying the documents. A few things immediately struck me. Law enforcement officers never searched Joe’s Mercury on the day Mickey’s body was found. Had they done so, we would know whether the flashlight, the most damning piece of evidence at trial, was in the trunk of his car then. (Instead, as you may remember, Charlie Blue, Mickey’s brother, said he found it there four days after the murder.) Searching the vehicle of the victim’s husband should have been a fairly routine thing to do. Had investigators done so, prosecutors would have had a much stronger case against Joe, or none at all. I was also struck by how quickly investigators abandoned their initial theory that Mickey’s murder had stemmed from a break-in. The Bryans were widely known to be very generous people, and both educators had helped a number of their students financially over the years. They kept cash in the house. And it was no secret that Joe was out of town at a conference in the days leading up to Mickey’s murder. The Bryans’ garage doors were open that night, so anyone could see that Joe’s car was gone (and might have assumed that Mickey was with him). I always wondered if the crime had begun as a break-in, and whether Mickey, hearing an intruder, grabbed the .357 that she and Joe kept in the bedroom, before having the weapon used against her. But the evidence that pointed to a break-in doesn’t appear to have been thoroughly examined. In reviewing documents, I learned that no effort was put into trying to determine the provenance of the mysterious cigarette butt that was found on the Bryans’ kitchen floor until days before Joe’s first trial began. (Neither of the Bryans smoked.) It was only then that justice of the peace Alvin James was asked to undergo serology testing. He would later testify that he had smoked cigarettes outside the Bryan home before entering the crime scene, and Texas Ranger Joe Wilie would testify that he tracked the cigarette butt into the house. But none of this was documented at the time of the crime. Perhaps most troubling was what I read in the Whitley case file. (As you may remember from Part I, Judy Whitley was the Clifton teenager who was killed four months before Mickey. And in Part II you learned that Clifton police determined, more than a decade later, that ex-Clifton police officer Dennis Dunlap killed her.) In the Whitley file, I found an affidavit written by a Clifton police officer after Dunlap’s suicide in 1996. That officer claimed he and another officer on the police force in 1985 had always suspected Dunlap of killing Whitley. Dunlap “knew details of the crime scene that he had not witnessed nor been told,” the officer wrote. “We wanted to arrest Dunlap, but were told that we had no case. We continued to work on the case but were unable to get any hard evidence, so Dunlap was never charged with the murder.” The same officer had also documented numerous instances in which Dunlap was caught “chasing females” and “bothering women.” Why, I wondered, had Dunlap not been more aggressively investigated in the Whitley killing? And why had he not been questioned about the Bryan murder? I would love to ask investigators these questions. But not a single person who investigated the Bryan case agreed to speak with me. So we are only left with unanswered questions. In the next newsletter, I’ll tell you about how I found Joe’s case and how I became interested in bloodstain pattern analysis in the first place. It has to do with another Texas murder trial—one that forever changed the way I saw expert testimony. Thanks again for reading and tell your friends to subscribe! Pamela."

The entire dispatch can be read at the link  below:
https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?tab=wm#all/163fb5a1fc423421?projector=1

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.