Wednesday, June 22, 2011

JUAN SMITH; ECHOES OF "JOHN THOMPSON;" SUPREME COURT AGREES TO TAKE ON ANOTHER DISTURBING ORLEANS PARRISH CASE; EYEWITNESS NEWS;


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Juan Smith case is fascinating as it is another death penalty case arising from the Orlean's Parish District Attorney's office - and as it follows the Supreme Court's disturbing decision striking the award in the John Thompson case (Connick V. Thompson) which involved a $14 million jury award in favor of a former inmate who was freed after prosecutorial misconduct came to light. The former inmate, John Thompson, sued officials in the district attorney's office in New Orleans, saying they had not trained prosecutors to turn over exculpatory evidence. A prosecutor there failed to give Mr. Thompson's lawyers a report showing that blood at a crime scene was not his. Mr. Thompson spent 18 years in prison, 14 in solitary confinement. He once came within weeks of being executed. The Supreme Court glossed over a clear pattern of misconduct in Connick's office to overturn the award. Maybe, but not likely, the Juan Smith case will cause the Court to have some second thoughts.

HAROLD LEVY; PUBLISHER. THE CHARLES SMITH BLOG;

MARK CALENDER NOW: IMPORTANT JOINT NPR, FRONTLINE, PROPUBLICA INVESTIGATION OF CHILD DEATH CASES INVOLVING ABUSE, ASSAULT AND "SHAKEN-BABY SYNDROME." ASKS IF DEATH INVESTIGATORS ARE BEING PROPERLY TRAINED FOR CHILD CASES; FIRST OF THREE SEGMENTS ON "THE CHILD CASES" AIRS ON JUNE 28 AT 9.00 PM:

When a child dies under suspicious circumstances, abuse is often suspected. That's what happened in the case of six-month-old Isis Vas, whose death was deemed "a clear-cut and classic" case of child abuse, sending a man named Ernie Lopez to prison for 60 years. But now a Texas judge has moved to overturn Lopez's conviction, and new questions are being asked about the quality of expert testimony in this and many other similar cases. In this joint investigation with ProPublica and NPR, FRONTLINE correspondent A.C. Thompson unearths more than 20 child death cases in which people were jailed on medical evidence -- involving abuse, assault and "shaken-baby syndrome" -- that was later found unreliable or flat-out wrong. Are death investigators being properly trained for child cases? The Child Cases is the first of three magazine segments airing June 28 at 9 p.m. (check local listings);

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/the-child-cases/

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"NEW ORLEANS - The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to look at yet another case in which the Orleans Parish District Attorney's office is accused of withholding key evidence from a defendant,"
the Eyewitness News story by reporter Mike Perlstein published on June 14, 2011 begins, under the heading, "Supreme Court to look at case where Orleans DA office accused of withholding evidence."

"Juan Smith has been on Louisiana death row since 1996 after convictions in a quintuple murder and separate triple murder. Smith’s attorneys said prosecutors withheld information – and presented false evidence in its place – to land a conviction in the quintuple killings, an infamous 1995 case known as the Roman Street massacre," the story continues.

"The Roman Street convictions were then used against Smith at his next trial, a triple murder in which the ex-wife and three-year-old child of Saints defense back Bennie Thompson were fatally shot along with the ex-wife’s fiancée. The former Saints player, Bennie Thompson, was publicly named as a prime suspect before evidence turned toward Smith.

The appeal granted by the Supreme Court agreed to hear deals only with the Roman Street slayings.

“We were very excited when we found out,” said Gary Clements of Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana, the organization representing Smith. “The odds of getting a writ granted by the Supreme Court is more than one in a hundred. The chance of them granting hearings to two cases like this from the same city is astronomical.”

The rarely granted appeal comes just weeks after the high court ruled against another New Orleans defendant with a similar claim. In that case, the court threw out a $14-million-dollar judgment awarded to John Thompson, a death row inmate who was exonerated when he proved that prosecutors withheld evidence pointing to his innocence.

Smith’s petition noted that since 1981, four death row inmates from New Orleans have been exonerated after defense attorneys uncovered evidence withheld by prosecutors. The Supreme Court issued a key ruling in one of those old cases, reversing the murder conviction of Curtis Kyles.

“Rather than heed this Court’s directive in Kyles,” Smith’s attorneys wrote, “the Orleans Parish DA’s office continued its pattern of deceit by concealing material…from the defense.”

The Supreme Court is requesting supplement briefs by the end of July, Clements said, while oral arguments probably will be scheduled in the fall."


The story can be found at:

http://www.wwltv.com/news/crime/Supreme-Court-to-look-at-case-where-Orleans-DA-office-accused-of-withholding-evidence-123868419.html

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 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

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog; hlevy15@gmail.com;