Friday, October 2, 2015

Bulletin: Wrongful Conviction Day: It's here: A few of the events that have caught my eye - including some up-dates; Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: As Wrongful Conviction Day approaches, I am marveling at the  range of events that are being held around the world.  I am listing a few events that have caught my eye. (Go the the respective  websites for particulars);

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

0:  The University of Western Ontario Department of Sociology is featuring William-Mullins Johnson - an innocent  man sent to prison for life by the infamous former pathologist Charles Smith at a seminar headed:  Convicted of a crime that never occurred, Innocent... but labelled “murderer” and “sex offender” Imprisoned unjustly for 12 years by our justice system. What went wrong ?

0:  Innocence Ottawa: A screening of  the 2013 film "Devil's Knot"..."
“The savage murders of three young children sparks a controversial trial of three teenagers accused of killing kids as part of a satanic ritual.”

0: The Irish Innocence Project at Griffith College presents a documentary film:   'In doubt: The Mark Marku case."  The film tells the tragic story of Mark Marku, a young Albanian man married to an Irish woman Julie O’Reilly Marku who was sentenced to 18 years for a string of armed robberies in Crete and claims he is innocent. The Irish Innocence Project has found convincing evidence of his innocence including documentation that he was in Ireland at the time of many of these crimes. The film-in-progress was debuted at the first ever Irish Innocence Project International Wrongful Conviction Conference and Film Festival held on 26-27 June at Griffith College. In addition to screening the half-hour documentary, there will be an introduction of the film by David Langwallner, who has supervised the Irish Innocence Project’s involvement with the case, testified in Greece and assisted with its submissions before the Greek Supreme Court.

0: Ohio is heavily committed with the collaborative involvement of the Ohio Defender Wrongful Conviction Project, The Ohio Innocence Project, and The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  A panel will feature Erin Moriarity, CBS News, Joanna Feigenbaum of the Ohio  Public Defender Wrongful Conviction Project, and   Jennifer  Bergeron, Ohio Innocence Project. The panel will be moderated by Nikki Baszynski; Professor  Mark Godsey of the Wrongful Convictions Blog and the University of Cincinatti College of Law has helped coordinate the event. 

0:  The Innocence Project of Argentina is planning to do a social media campaign encouraging our followers to write a post in Twitter expressing their support  to the wrongfully convicted. Since the event is virtual, it will last the day of October 2nd(This is a huge 'first' for Wrongful Conviction Day):

The  California Innocence Project at the  California Western School of Law will be presenting a "body camera debate."..."Over the last year, we have seen a host of changes in the United States criminal justice system.  One such change, the implementation of body cameras on police officers in the field, has been in the media extensively.  The focus of this debate will be on the positives and negatives of body camera use."

0: The Arizona Justice Project will be addressed by two people who know all too well the pain of wrongful convictions; Kalil Rushdan  was granted relief on a claim of vindictive prosecution. Khalil was convicted March of 1997 in Pima
County for 1st degree felony murder. He was
sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of
parole after 25 years. The Federal District Court
overturned Khalil Rushdan’s conviction on evidence of
vindictive prosecution. 

Betty Smithey,
49 Years
Commuted Life Sentence Absolute Discharge
Betty Smithey was convicted of 1st degree murder in
1963. Evidence of her mental health was not
introduced at her trial and other problems plagued
her case. Professor Andy Silverman at the University
of Arizona and the Arizona Justice Project represented
Betty for 4 decades, seeking relief from her life
sentence. After multiple recommendations by the
Arizona Board of Executive Clemency for a
commutation of sentence, Governor Brewer
ultimately granted clemency to Betty in 2012. Betty
was released after serving 49 years in prison.

0: Wayne State University  is holding a discussion on Michigan's exoneree compensation bill featuring " State Senator  Steve Bieda, State Representative Stephanie Chang, and the people who it affects most."

0: At an event in Toronto sponsored by AIDWYC Professor Kent Roach  will present a lecture titled "Wrongful Convictions: Who is at Risk and Why?" Professor Kent Roach offered the following explanation as to the importance of this particular topic, “Wrongful convictions raise important and often disturbing questions of professional responsibility for all actors in the criminal justice system.” At a reception, former Canadian League Football (CFL) linebacker Orlando Bowen, who was a victim of police brutality and drug planting, will address the audience at the Second Annual International Wrongful Conviction Day Reception. Mr. Bowen knows only too well the devastation and horrifying consequences of a false accusation. Mr. Bowen explains: “I felt it imperative to be part of Wrongful Conviction Day, because I have a message to impart. I want to put my voice with others to ensure that no other person has to suffer as I and my family did because of a false accusation. A false accusation which could have all too easily lead to a wrongful conviction and even more devastating consequences to me and my family. I believe it is crucial that every member of the public and especially those involved in the criminal justice system should do everything they can to prevent innocent persons from being convicted of crimes they have not committed. I am glad to take part in such an important and necessary day. It is vital for the public to realize how frail our criminal justice system is and to insist that all involved in the process do their jobs properly, honestly and openly to avoid future wrongful convictions. Let my story be a testament that wrongful convictions can happen to anyone!” Also present at the Reception and available for media interviews are individuals who have suffered the terrible pain of wrongful convictions and who represent Canada, Australia and the United States." 

0: A panel to be held at Mount Royal University in Calgary,   hosted by CTV anchor Jocelyn Laidlaw features:  David Milgaard, Exoneree and Advocate for the Wrongly Convicted, Hersh Wolch, Criminal Lawyer, QC., was involved in several wrongly convicted cases including David Milgaard, Steven Truscott & Kyle Unger. Dr. Janne Holmgren, Associate Professor of Justice Studies  in the  Department of Economics, Justice and Policy Studies  at Mount Royal University.  Expert and consultant on criminal DNA evidence, Michelle Christopher, Calgary lawyer and mediator,  Executive  Director of Student Legal Assistance (SLA) and  Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Law at the University of Calgary, runs clinical  courses in poverty law at SLA and (new) wrongful convictions. 

0: I would love to attend the University of Guelph Humber event  which features John Artis a innocent man who shared the ordeal  of a wrongful conviction in New Jersey  with the late  Rubin Hurricane Carter, and has become one of the most articulate lecturers on wrongful convictions. John has been dedicating his life to keeping young people out of  prison.

UP-DATE: Major development: On September 24 2015, the State of Michigan
commemorated October 2, 2015 as 'Wrongful Conviction Day' in  recognition of "the personal, social and legal costs that are associated with wrongful convictions." Michigan becomes the first American state to commemorate Wrongful Convictions Day.

UP-DATE: The Midwest Innocence Project (MIP): To commemorate the day, the MIP also announces new partnerships that expand its services to Iowa and Nebraska in addition to Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas, as well as a new hair microscopy testing project. “Anyone who donates money to the microscopic hair review project will directly support the review of Midwest cases that involved potentially flawed hair microscopy results and could end up freeing an innocent person from prison.”

UP-DATE:  Another first:   The Taiwan Association for Innocence, is participating in Wrongful Conviction Day.  The Association is using the occasion to draw attention to Jin-Kai Lu, who  they believe was wrongfully convicted by flawed DNA Test. According to their press release: "Lu, now 56 years old, was accused of rape and murder in 1993. The HLA-DQαDNA test showed that Lu’s DNA matched the physical evidence secured at the crime scene. Although Lu maintained his innocence, he was convicted of rape and sentenced for 20 years. However, in the following trial of Lu’s co-defendant, the court ordered a STR-DNA test, which showed that Lu was excluded, only the DNA of the co-defendant was found. Based on the new STR result, Lu has been petitioned for retrial since 2007, but has not been granted one till today.  Lu had served 19 years for a crime he did not commit. He is now on parole, and still fights for his innocence. TAI has joined Innocence Network in 2015, an affiliation of organizations around the world dedicated to individuals seeking to prove innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted. Wrongful convictions are identified in criminal justice systems worldwide. Wrongful Conviction Day is to raise the awareness about the miscarriage of justice. TAI will continue to fight for Lu’s exoneration. We will keep on knocking the door of the Court for Lu’s retrial."