Sunday, November 15, 2015

Flawed forensics: James Kluppelberg; Junk arson science. Reuven Fenton lists "bad forensic science" as on of the top reasons people are falsely imprisoned in America.

STORY: "Top reasons people are falsely imprisoned," by Reuven Fenton,  published by the New York Post on November 15, 2015. (Post reporter Reuven Fenton’s book, “Stolen Years: Stories of the Wrongly Imprisoned” (Tantor Media), is out now.)

GIST: "If you ever get arrested for a high-profile murder that you didn’t commit, here’s a tip: Take a decent mugshot. Blink away the bleariness in your eyes. Fix your unkempt hair. And for God’s sake, try not to look so guilty." Because maybe that will help sway a public that has, in its collective consciousness, already convicted you. It’s just human intuition: If you’re booked on a felony, you’ve committed the crime. Studies show that 2.3% to 5% of all those currently locked up in US prison are actually innocent. That could mean as many as 100,000 inmates are languishing behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit — each wondering, “How did I get here? That’s the question I explore in my new book, “Stolen Years: Stories of the Wrongfully Convicted,” in which I profile 10 extraordinary individuals who endured hell on earth — and lived to tell the tale.
Why are people put away for crimes they didn’t commit? The National Registry of Exonerations looked at 1,700 people who have been cleared since 1989 and discovered these main reasons:.........Bad forensic science:  22%" In case after case, inaccurate forensic tests have sent innocent men and women to prison. Much of what got Chicago handyman James Kluppelberg locked up for setting a fire that killed a mother and five of her kids was shoddy forensics conducted by Capt. Francis Burns of the Chicago Fire Department. Burns had taken no notes and made no reports, yet he testified with authority that the burn patterns he noticed at the fire scene bore the markings of arson. This was in spite of investigators concluding that the cause couldn’t be determined. A quarter-century later, Kluppelberg’s lawyers proved that Burns’ testimony had no scientific basis.
“He had testimony that I would characterize as junk science,” said one of his attorneys Gayle Horn, of the Chicago firm Loevy & Loevy and founding member of the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law School. “Certainly nobody’s standing behind it now. It’s been debunked by the current understanding of how arson works. But even at the time, that wasn’t really a valid analysis.”

The entire article can be found at:

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
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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:
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