Friday, May 15, 2009

Chatman prosecutor: 'Let's get this system fixed'

James Fry, a former Dallas ADA and protoge' of District Attorney Henry Wade who prosecuted recent DNA-exoneree Charles Chatman's case nearly 30 years ago, reflects on his role in the false conviction and the implications of recent DNA exonerations for the justice system in an excellent Dallas Morning News op ed titled, "I put away an innocent man," which concludes:

Chatman's case was not a capital crime, but the problems that led to his wrongful conviction raise the question: How can we continue carrying out executions in Texas when we know the system is so prone to error?

For years, Texas has led the nation in the number of executions. Why don't we now strive to lead the nation in a new direction: reforming a justice system in urgent need of reform?

For years I supported capital punishment, but I have come to believe that our criminal justice system is incapable of adequately distinguishing between the innocent and guilty. It is reprehensible and immoral to gamble with life and death.

I am no bleeding heart. I have been a Republican for over 30 years. I started my career as a supporter of removing violent people from society for as long as possible, and I still believe that to be appropriate.

But I also believe that the government should be held to the strictest burden before it deprives a citizen of his freedom. It is not too much to ask that we not convict and execute innocent people in our quest to enforce the law. Let's get this system fixed.


Adam said...

WOW! The depth of what he is saying is not lost on me by any means. I happen to agree completely. Texas needs to be tough on crime without being dumb on crime. Putting away innocent people is stupid and he clearly points out the Texas system is broken and broken badly.

Jarrod said...

The entire piece begins "I was certain I had the right man". I would like to know how Mr. Fry was so certain? He had a single eyewitness. One. The victim. (We've heard this one before.) And yes the jury was convinced of the mans guilt because Mr. Fry CONVINCED THEM. I have no soft-spot for prancing, pompous lawyers.

There are some redeeming moments like worrying more about the truth than how things look politically. Overall Fry's piece while damning the system and calling for reform does not explain how he was able to convict this man on these very serious charges with ONE eyewitness.

Overall D+

sunray's wench said...

It's good that he has spoken up about it, but I dont see the word "sorry" in there anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Thaty might be because he is not personally sorry about anything. We as citizens have allowed our elected officials to put off the blame associated with poor decisions. So basically it is OUR fault this happens. as an example. If you allow a career theif access to your jewelery chest, is it a surprise that they steal you blind? No, it isn;t. Same goes here. you allow career criminals, err politicians, access to an all powerful system then you get what is expected.

Anonymous said...

A bit like closing the barn door after the horse has escaped. Better late than never I suppose, but I wonder if Fry is spreading his new religion with the same fervor as the previous. Oh wait, he could change his mind again...nevermind.

When the people of Texas learn how to be something other than murdering pieces of sh_t and stop electing garbage like Fry then and only then will anything change. Until then the rest of us should stay as far away from that hell hole as possible.

Enjoy your law and order assholes, hope you create a society of more assholes who die in a fu_king fire with you.

Anonymous said...

Theres somepun wrong in Texass

Anonymous said...

"with ONE eyewitness"

It's too bad most criminals don't drag in extra witnesses when they rape or assault you. If they did it would make it easier to have more than ONE eyewitness.

I guess that ONE eyewitness who was raped can't be believed if she was alone with the thug when it happened.

Jarrod said...

06:54 You make an excellent point since in this case SHE WAS WRONG! Law and order doesn't mean locking up the innocent but with idiotic posts like this, I see what's wrong in Texas. Damn some of you people are just DUMB!

Anonymous said...

"I guess that ONE eyewitness who was raped can't be believed if she was alone with the thug when it happened."

Ok, fair enough, but too bad too that in many cases (esp. when it is teen/teen 'rape') it is a total farce. How many young men have been convicted of rape by someone that 'got scared', was jilted, did it for a kick? I venture to think several thousands. This is the reason that the whole process needs to be re-thought. Currently, if a woman/teen states that she was raped, it is an open and shut case for the DA when actually the things that occurred are not as the young woman stated it was. This is not pointing at the molestation by fathers, nor being kidnapped and raped. I am pointing out the many thousands of young men that have sexual relations with a willing peer teen that then screams rape for kicks. These are the cases that will be looked at more heavily at trial and SHOULD have a second witness. Not every cry of rape is actually rape. Feminists will say that all sex is rape, but the courts should not share that ideal.

Anonymous said...

"More laws just means
more work for lawyers."

When a lawyer says "Your Honor," he means "My Brother."

Anonymous said...