How innocent men get convicted

Discussion in 'Law & Justice' started by kazenatsu, Mar 15, 2020.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I was listening to the radio and heard this story.

    A man was fatally shot, and died in the hospital. His wife told investigators she didn't get a good look at the suspect. Police found a suspect, a local drug dealer who was a Black man. The police put together a lineup, and the woman identified the suspect as the shooter.

    However, lawyers would later complain that the way the lineup was conducted was flawed. For example, the suspect was placed in the middle of lineup, where it has been proven that people picking a face out of a lineup are more likely to pick. With the type of people they picked for the lineup, that particular suspect physically appeared the most suspicious.

    There was also some weak circumstantial evidence suggesting that the wife herself may have been the one who had shot her husband. If this was the case, then she would have a clear incentive to pick someone out of the lineup so they would have someone to pin the blame on.

    The sister and another of the family members of the murdered man afterwards made the claim that the suspect confessed to them while he was in prison that he was the one who did it.
    They both would later recant their testimony after the man had been convicted.

    I've read up on a numerous cases of wrongful convictions, and this is not uncommon. The family members think the person who committed the murder has been found, and they want to make sure the murderer goes to prison, so they give false testimony that the accused confessed to them.
    Of course when they later "recant" their testimony, they don't flat out admit they lied, they simply backtrack and say they were actually not "sure" after all. Pretty much everyone know they lied, but you cannot really prove it. But at least they finally came forward to backtrack on their testimony.

    The black man is in prison, for a murder he probably did not commit.
    A judge has ruled that the first trial was flawed, but the man is still sitting in prison because the prosecutor is appealing the ruling.
    Well of course they would be appealing it. They don't want to admit they sent an innocent man to prison. And there is a small possibility the man might be guilty. It's just now that chance of guilt is looking much lower than it was before, and the jury most likely would not have voted to convict if they were presented with the latest information.

    So here is a man sitting in prison who should not be in prison. But since he has already had a trial and been convicted, he is not entitled to the same due process that someone else would be, so he remains in prison. The process of justice is slow.

    I have to apologize that I didn't get all the details of the story and don't have a link to share.

    However, I posted about another very similar story here:
    Why Prisoner Proven Innocent Can't Be Released
     
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  2. Imnotreallyhere

    Imnotreallyhere Well-Known Member

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    I doubt that the man was convicted solely on the wife's testimony. That would not meet the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Having no knowledge of the other evidence presented, I must refrain from comment as to whether it was compelling or not. However, I doubt that the prosecutor set out to frame the guy.Keeping him in prison would be their default option, barring massive exonerating evidence. I certainly would not want my local prosecutor to give up every time a case was appealled.
     
  3. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    He was convicted because two of the husband's family members believed the wife, and falsely testified that the suspect made a confession to them.
    They wanted to make sure the suspect would go to prison, because at the time they believed he was the one who committed the murder.

    When the family members later "retracted" the testimony, they did so in a way without admitting they had lied, but plainly giving the implication that was what happened.

    Apparently the family members were no longer so sure that the suspect was the one who did it, and begin suspecting it could have been the wife, presumably after evidence was presented to them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020
  4. Diablo

    Diablo Well-Known Member

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    I'd like to see a link to the case and the full details, otherwise it's just hearsay.
     
  5. Imnotreallyhere

    Imnotreallyhere Well-Known Member

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    Even so, convictions are rarely returned on solely on witness testimony. It makes sense to me to hold the convicted guy (whom you admit was a dope dealer) while the situation is sorted out.

    P.S. I wish you had a case with better documentation. I could very easily be talking out my a&* without knowledge of the facts. Could you find a similar case that supports your conclusions so we could debate that one?
     
  6. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Well, I did post that link to the other similar story, in the opening post.
    Did you see that story, or was the story not similar enough to this story for you?
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020
  7. Imnotreallyhere

    Imnotreallyhere Well-Known Member

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    The link was to a story about a man denied a second appeal because he failed to produce new evidence. When a retrial is given to a previously convicted person, the onus is on the convict to prove his innocence rather than the state to prove his guilt.

    Your OP was about a man who was not immediately released pending his appeal, or so it seems to me. The state has an interest in enforcing the law.. If this guy can prove his innocence, he should be freed, I'm with you that far. But I think he needs to prove that prior to his release.
     
  8. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    They did have new evidence, or at least it was a different way of looking at the already established evidence.
    In addition to that, two of the witnesses backed down on their testimony on the witness stand, that third time.
    It wasn't any totally breaking new evidence, but given how that evidentiary hearing went, it would have been unlikely that the jury would have chosen to convict.
    And with all the pieces finally put together for us (which happened after the second trial), I think we can all agree that the man likely did not commit the crime.

    During the man's first two trials, they didn't have an expert to testify that the witnesses wouldn't have been able to get a good look at him or make out details.
    And they didn't know that the jail house informant (who claimed the man had confessed to him) had suspiciously been given a very generous plea deal. (Suggesting he had been incentivized to give false testimony)

    Well, I guess the moral of the story is, if new evidence surfaces that might get you off the hook, don't immediately petition for a retrial. Stay in prison, even if it's for years, and make sure your defense has collected all the potential evidence that exists, because you likely may not get another chance.

    Anyway, the common theme between the two stories is falsely alleged confessions, and witnesses retracting their testimony, after the trial.
    (Witnesses who lie or greatly exaggerate because they think the suspect is guilty and are trying to get them sent to prison)
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020
  9. Imnotreallyhere

    Imnotreallyhere Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for making my point. The onus at the second trial was on the convict to prove beyond a reasonable doubt he didn't commit the crime, not n the state to prove he did. Likely didn't doesn't meet that standard.

    The evidence was there. It was not used.

    There was no new evidence.

    It is all well and good to point out problem areas. What would be your solution for this particular conundrum? Giving a new trial without new evidence is issuing an invitation to clog the court system.
     
  10. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Because the defense didn't realize it was there, at the time.

    It wasn't until after the man was convicted that a non-profit organization with lots of financial resources was able to come to the rescue.

    The judges should have overturned the conviction, or at least commuted the sentence. The guy had already been in prison over 20 years. That's long enough for a murder we are not entirely sure he committed, and for a murder the judges should realize he would most likely not be convicted of, if a third trial were held.

    So you're admitting it becomes more difficult to exonerate the man, after he is already convicted. Does the requisite burden of evidence change during a second trial?
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020
  11. Imnotreallyhere

    Imnotreallyhere Well-Known Member

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    The defense knew they had no expert to refute the eyewitness testimony. Don't say they didn't know it was there. They just didn't use it.


    On what basis? The law says that another trial was called for and granted. The burden of proof was on the defendant. He failed to meet that standard.

    The burden of proof always resides with the party making the claim; since the defendant has been convicted once, the prosecution is presumed to have met its burden. Therefore it remains for the defendant to prove his innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.
     
  12. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Of course you recognize how that can be inherently unfair.

    The prosecutor's case no longer met the burden of proof, when it was later shown that the proof was faulty.

    This thread just shows how people that we now know are probably innocent can be stuck in prison.

    You yourself admit that the burden is on them to prove that they are innocent.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2020
  13. Imnotreallyhere

    Imnotreallyhere Well-Known Member

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    No, actually I think that is inherently fair. The state has proved the man guilty, now he is presumed guilty 'til proved innocent.

    Sure it did. The retrial hadn't started yet. Therefore the only trial this guy had resulted in a conviction. Ergo the burden was met. The judge that voiced his opinion is entitled to his personal opinion, but it has no legal standing.

    We know no such thing. Acquittal at trial is not a finding of innocence. It is certainly not absolute proof of innocence any more than a guilty verdict is absolute proof of guilt.

    Certainly, after they have been found guilty. This is how most human systems of debate work. Once a claim is proved (in science, philosophy, math, etc.) anyone who asserts a counterclaim must disprove the original claim. If you are trying to claim that human systems are flawed, I'm with you, brother. Humanity is less than perfect.
     
  14. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I wasn't talking about the finding of 'guilt' or 'innocence' in a trial. I was talking about what we know from the evidence.

    There often is no absolute proof, whether the accused is found 'guilty' or 'innocent'.
    I'm just saying, with the evidence that now exists, and the way of looking at it that we now know, that man should not be in prison.
    I think any reasonable person could agree about that.
    (In other words, if the trial were held today, he should be found 'not guilty')

    Are you going to attempt to argue that with the evidence now available, that man should be found guilty?
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2020
  15. Imnotreallyhere

    Imnotreallyhere Well-Known Member

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    Given that I know of no evidence at all, other than the testimony given, and do not know precisely what was said, I'm gonna have to stand behind the courts and say that the man is legally guilty and should remain so unless and until he can prove different. I think it's foolish to look at a single aspect of an argument and judge the whole from that bit, regardless of what the minority opinion of the appellate court is.

    The man does not need to be found guilty, he is guilty de jure.
     
  16. FreshAir

    FreshAir Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    "How innocent men get convicted"

    trusting the cops, they tell you anything you say CAN and WILL be used against you.... that applies to both the guilty and the innocent.. get a lawyer before talking to the police
     
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