Friday, September 19, 2008

Rape victim seeks court to clear the name of now-deceased man she misidentified

A Texas rape victim is working to clear the name of the man convicted of attacking her. Michele Mallin of Baytown is traveling to Fort Worth today to meet with the family of Timothy Cole, a Lubbock man convicted of raping her who was posthumously cleared by DNA. She told the Fort Worth Star Telegram ("A rape victim is working to clear the name of the dead man convicted of attacking her," Sept. 19):

"I felt total guilt. My words. My pointing the finger at him, were the reason he went to prison," Mallin said. "I felt just terrible. . . . I never wanted the wrong man to be convicted. I hope everyone knows that."

Back then a 20-year-old Texas Tech sophomore, Mallin was a woman on a mission, determined to send Cole — nicknamed the "Tech Rapist" — to prison. Now, at 43, she is equally determined to clear Coles’ name, making him the first posthumous exoneration by DNA in Texas.

She will meet with Cole’s mother and brothers today in Fort Worth and will work with their attorney in filing a petition next week seeking a court of inquiry to clear Coles’ name.

Ruby Session, Cole’s 71-year-old mother, is looking forward to meeting Mallin.

"I don’t blame her. We don’t blame her. We never did," Session said. "Because she is a victim, too. She was victimized. She and Tim were the victims." ...

"I thought this family probably hates me. He can’t, but they must," Mallin said. "I couldn’t believe that they wanted to talk to me or see me. They were very gracious and nice people. They said they didn’t blame me."

Mallin's participation with Cole's family emphasizes how doubly harmful it is when an innocent person is convicted, since that also means the guilty person won't be punished. I really admire her reaction to this terrible scenario and her willingness to work with Cole's family.

Just as there's no real process for courts to review post-conviction actual innocence claims in cases with no DNA, there's also not an established way for courts to clear the name of innocent people where the wrongfully convicted defendant has died. The Innocence Project of Texas (Disclosure: for whom I work as a policy consultant) has taken on Cole's case and is pursuing a legal strategy to posthumously exonerate him that will next take Cole's family and Mallin to Austin:

Jeff Blackburn, chief counsel for the Innocence Project of Texas, said he plans to go to Travis County to seek the court of inquiry after being rejected by a Lubbock County judge in early August.

"What they want, and Michele Mallin wants, is a judge in some court in this state to finally tell it like it is and set the record straight," Blackburn said. "Only that will clear his name and provide some closure for Michele."

11 comments:

rage said...

I wish more "conservatives" understood this point. The real rapist has been free all this time, but people like txblues will holler and scream "no error!" all day long.

Robert said...

If only a Judge or a DA who prosecuted and punished one of these innocent men had as much decency...

Well we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place would we?

Anonymous said...

Charles Kiker from Tulia says:

This simply underscores the need for comprehensive reform in the entire criminal justice system. Eyewitness accounts have been statistically demonstrated to be less than reliable. There still needs to be additional evidence to police testimony. I don't know how it can be done, but there must be a search for way(s) to make "innocent until proven guilty" real as opposed to hypothetical. In late summer 1999 I sat in a Sunday School class in Tulia, Texas. Alan Bean had just made, in his usual mild-mannered way, a comment that the local newspaper was maligning (by calling them scumbags) and prejudging the Tulia drug case defendants. One guy in the class got red in the face and vociferously declared, "They're all guilty and they're all scumbags." This guy turned up on one of the juries, as foreman no less. I told defense attorneys about this. Nothing was made of it. But there should have been a mistrial in that particular case. The defendant did not get the presumption of innocence. They rarely ever do.

allan said...

George Bush had Dna tools when he was Governor of Texas,yet he never spent more than 1/2 hour to review death penalty cases,as the last chain to execution-In your "kill em 1st-find truth later State" this shallow man leaves a legacy of innocent blood-the Tulia incidents are stains that should effect the conscious of every policy agenda driven ,God fearing Republican.I bet many,if not most don't give it a second thought, and continue with their elitist,race-fearing ,sociologically dangerous views.For those prosecutors that cared more about their careers and conviction rates(nationwide)your justice will be decided by your God-or your Karma, for choosing evil over truth. Black people in Texas and Louisiana have every reason to revolt.Kind of hard to pick yourself up by your bootstraps with this institutionalized,overt race-hating.And because your State Re-elects these traitors of Lady Justice ,your society is one built on hatred;not love ,and you cursed the nation with a defective President -truly sad for the nation

dudleysharp said...

rage,

I suspect all "liberals" and "conservatives" and all of those of different stripes know that there are errors within the criminal justice system. In fact, I have yet to find a person that doesn't acknowledge it. I don't know txblues.

No one wants actual innocents arrested, confined, tried or convicted.

This is a tremendously sad story.

Anonymous said...

dudleysharp says
"No one wants actual innocents tried convicted" etc. I would like to believe that, and maybe it's true. But there's a mountain of evidence that says some law enforcement and prosecutors and maybe judges are more interested in getting somebody convicted than in establishing "actual" guilt. You can almost never establish actual innocence--how do you prove a negative?--but the standard is supposed to be guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Anonymous said...

Charles Kiker says:
I have a thing about publishing anonymously, so I'm posting again to identify myself as anonymous 9/22 1:00 PM

dudleysharp said...

Mr. Kiker:

I used actual innocence to differentiate from legal innocence. or the presumtion of innocence.

There are some cases with solid evidence of actual innocence.

As you likely know, both the trial judge as well as the appelate courts can reverse a guilty verdict if they find it doesn't meet the standard of guilt beyond a reasoable doubt.

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Anonymous said...

I would hate her for the rest of my life. The family is more forgiving than I could ever be. We only get one life and she ruined his.