Wrongful Conviction

JUSTICE UNDER CONTINUED ATTACK: CORRUPT POLICE, LYING WITNESSES, COMPLICIT PROSECUTORS AND FABRICATED TEST RESULTS

Michael Cosme, Devon Ayers and Carlos Perez were freed from prison in the night hours of January 23, 2013. Eighteen years ago they had been sent to a New York state prison for a crime they did not commit. They were convicted of killing a cab driver and a FedEx executive. They would have died in prison had it not been for an NBC Dateline investigation that brought national media attention to their case and prompted prosecutors to find out that two gang members had confessed to committing the double murder.

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SUPREME COURT PUNTS ON “ACTUAL INNOCENCE” ISSUE, AGAIN

What does “actual innocence” actually mean? It means quite simply that an innocent person has been wrongfully convicted for a crime that he/she did not commit. It is a subject-matter we have devoted significant attention to in recent years, given that 302 persons have been exonerated through DNA evidence since 1989. This past year alone we posted three articles trying to tackle and pin down this issue which stalks our criminal justice system like an Ebola virus (here, here, and here). Why the continued interest?

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“ACTUAL INNOCENCE”

Determining Eligibility for Compensation for Wrongful Conviction and Incarceration

By: Houston Criminal Lawyer John Floyd and Paralegal Billy Sinclair

The Tim Cole Act (TCA) was named after Timothy Cole, a former Texas Tech student who was wrongfully convicted in 1986 of rape in Lubbock, Texas. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison, died in prison in 1999, posthumously exonerated in 2009, and granted the State’s first posthumous pardon by Gov. Rick Perry in 2010 (here). The TCA, formerly known as the Texas Wrongful Imprisonment Act, was enacted in 2009, some seven months after Cole’s exoneration. It is hoped to be one of the nation’s premier pieces of legislation compensating individuals wrongfully imprisoned. Under the act, a wrongfully imprisoned person is entitled to compensation if the person 1) has served in whole or in part a sentence in prison under the laws of Texas, and 2) has been granted habeas relief on a court determination that he is “actually innocent” of the crime for which he was imprisoned.

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THE TIMOTHY COLE LEGACY

Lessons of Exonerations Fade, Reforms Needed

By: Houston Criminal Lawyer John Floyd and Paralegal Billy Sinclair

Imagine, if you can, being falsely accused of a crime, particularly a heinous crime like an aggravated sexual assault of a child or murder. Comprehend, if you can, facing first a jury of your peers who wrongly find you guilty and then a judge who sentences you to a long term of imprisonment or to a life sentence without the benefit of parole, or, worse yet, to a death sentence. Realize, if you can, that a shoddy law enforcement investigation and “convict as any costs” prosecutor were responsible for your wrongful conviction. Shudder, if you can, about the thought of being shackled in handcuffs and leg irons transported to prison in a caged bus or van. 5A82NF5PQ5FT And, cry, if you can, at the thought of dying in prison knowing that all your pleas of innocence fell on deaf ears.

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EXONERATION: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Prosecutors Resist Claims of Innocence Despite Growing Number Exonerations

By: Houston Criminal Lawyer John Floyd and Paralegal Billy Sinclair

Being wrongfully charged with a crime has immediate and severe personal implications. It results in an arrest: an arrest creates disdain from friends (even family members); an arrest often creates an inability to provide for the family; an arrest, depending upon nature of offense, means either no bail or an inordinately high bail; an arrest creates a need to retain an skilled attorney, or learn how to deal with a lawyer whose eyes are focused on a “plea bargain;” and an arrest produces the terrible psychological and emotional toll of facing a jury of twelve people, most of whom have already assumed guilt.

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