Sunday, June 20, 2010

No one could ever be convicted based on false eyewitness testimony in Lubbock, except for those who are

The Lubbock Police Department thinks cases like Timothy Cole's false identification that led to his wrongful conviction and death in prison don't imply the department needs to change their policies, reports the Lubbock Avalanche Journal ("Experts question LPD's new eyewitness process," June 20):
The department resisted what a spokesman called "knee-jerk reactions" to exonerations and new research that changed laws in three states and eyewitness procedures in at least five major departments including Dallas.

Capt. Greg Stevens said in a recent interview current procedures would make impossible a repeat of the series of errors that produced cases such as that of Tim Cole, Texas' first posthumous pardon recipient, who died innocent in prison serving a Lubbock sentence based heavily on the misidentification of a rape victim ...
"Not ever would that one piece of evidence be used to even, even substantiate a case against somebody," Stevens said. "It would have to be corroborated with more evidence, more information."

But a life sentence reversed by the Seventh Court of Appeals of Texas in 2008 - more than 20 years after the Cole investigation and several years after changes Stevens described - indicated eyewitness identification could make up the bulk of a case.
See the rest of the lengthy article by Elliot Blackburn for details of the overturned conviction. It's hard to find credible LPD's claims that eyewitness testimony would never be used by itself to convict. After all, the law doesn't require corroboration, regrettably, and neither did Lubbock police and prosecutors as recently as 2008. In reality, unless and until the law corroboration for eyewitnesses (at least, for those who previously didn't know the suspect), neither will law enforcement. And clearly departments like Lubbock won't change their policies until they're forced to do so, either. It's rather silly to expect anyone to believe otherwise. Until then, according to eyewitness ID expert Gary Wells:
"LPD's procedures are woefully out of date and do not at all look like those of a police department that has taken this problem seriously," Wells wrote in an e-mailed response to questions. "They have seemingly ignored the science on this as well as the recommendations of the Department of Justice and virtually every task force in the country that has delved into this issue."
Regular readers know that legislation to require updated eyewitness ID policies appeared to be on the fast track for passage in 2009 then died in the end-of-session meltdown over Voter ID. Since then, most Texas departments have failed to change policies on their own steam, so expect this subject to come up again in 2011 at the Lege, whether Lubbock PD is ready to change or not.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Lubbock PD has corruption and mismanagement, like most police agencies. They, so far, have hid it better.

Anonymous said...

The other part of this is the District Attorneys across the state. They need to uphold higher standards for prosecution instead of being hell bent for leather under the philosophy of "justice be damned, let's get a conviction - any conviction."

Anonymous said...

The Hub City don't need any outside agitators messin' with us up here. DeLoss Dodds gave us a good enough screwing last week.

Plato of the Plains

R. Shackleford said...

As Clayton Williams once said, "lie back and enjoy it", 'cause I reckon there's more to come.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Plato, I remember hearing the same thing from folks in Hub City (not to mention from Swisher County) when the Tulia debacle broke. People in the South Plains hold a high opinion of themselves given the results we see from you, and I'm not just talking about the Red Raider football team's miserable 15-43 record against the Longhorns.

Anonymous said...

And here we just thought the TYC comment threads got ugly and then you two go talking college football...

Anonymous said...

Some e-TYC'ers work for the Lubboxk PD. Tell ya anything?

john said...

Those in power work hard to keep their power, in spite of you. If only there could be some accountability, so those in power were abused the way they abuse those they're supposed to serve. It's not just Lubbock, and it's not just TX, but it wasn't supposed to happen, here.

Anonymous said...

The real rapist was not Cole but Jerry Wayne Johnson, another black man.

The story of Michele Mallin. At the age of 20, she was a victim of sexual assault.

It was Sunday night, March 24, 1985, and Texas Tech sophomore Michele Mallin had just returned to her dorm room after a weekend visiting her relatives. It was getting late when she remembered that she needed to move her car to a legal parking spot.

"I thought, well, I'll just run over there and do that real quick — it was almost 10 o'clock. Then I'll come back and get ready for bed," Mallin says.

As she finished moving her car, a black man appeared and told her he was having car problems. Did she have any jumper cables?

"Then all of a sudden, he just opened the door of my car and forced himself in and then he put a knife to my throat at the same time," says Mallin, who is white. "He pushed me over into the passenger seat and started to drive away and stared telling me,' Stop screaming,' because I was screaming my head off, 'or I'm going to kill you.'"

Mallin feared for her life as the man drove her out of Lubbock to a vacant lot. But she was strong, athletic, a virgin — and determined to stay that way.

"I just couldn't fight him," she says. "As much as I tried, I couldn't. He was just stronger than me physically."