Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A stolen life: Latest DNA exoneree did 27 years for rape he didn't commit

Several readers emailed to inform me of yet another DNA exoneration out of Harris County. Reports the Houston Chronicle ("DNA clears man 27 years after rape conviction," July 28):
A Houston man prosecutors now say is innocent is expected to be freed this week after serving more than 27 years in prison — the longest time behind bars of any Texan who has been exonerated — for a rape he did not commit.

Michael Anthony Green, 45, is expected to be in court Thursday where his attorney, Bob Wicoff, will ask that he be freed on bail while the case moves forward.

If freed, Green would be the eighth local man let out of prison in recent years, and the second in a week, after serving time for a crime he did not convict.

"He is innocent," Wicoff said. "We've got the bad guys too. We've pegged the bad guys."

Green was sentenced to 75 years in prison for the 1983 rape of a Houston woman based on faulty eyewitness identification, Wicoff said.

Wicoff credited attorneys and investigators in the Post Conviction Review Section of the Harris County District Attorney's office, created by District Attorney Pat Lykos, with finding clothing stored in a warehouse that had been worn by the victim during the crime, then testing it for DNA evidence. The results excluded Green.
The Harris DA's "Post Conviction Review Section" sounds a lot like the Conviction Integrity Unit Craig Watkins set up in Dallas. Lykos clearly is taking the issue of false convictions much more seriously than her predecessor, who tended to fight such claims tooth and nail. Her first assistant made that point:
In a press release, Lykos' First Assistant Jim Leitner appeared to slam prior administrations for the length of time the case stalled.

"The evidence in this case had been sitting in the District Clerk's Office for 27 years, and no one had taken the initiative to do anything with it in the past," Leitner said. "The difference now is that you've got the Post Conviction Review Section looking into it — and that made all the difference in the case of Mr. Green."
Good for Pat Lykos. But even more to the point, good for Mr. Green! Imagine going to prison for a crime you didn't commit at 18 and being exonerated at 45! Unfathomable. I also feel terrible for the poor gal whose testimony put Green behind bars. First she was a crime victim, then her confused error inadvertently helped victimize someone else in a profound and dreadful way. Anybody would feel awful at learning of such a mistake.

Two quick takeaways from this story: 1) Police departments need to update their eyewitness ID procedures, pronto, to keep this from happening again, and 2) it doesn't make a DA weak to admit past mistakes, it enhances her credibility.

62 comments:

Hook Em Horns said...

The second Harris County exoneration in as many weeks. It would be interesting to know how the "eyewitness" evidence was obtained. That, always, seems to be left out of news accounts yet it seems to be the main piece of these types of convictions.

Anonymous said...

Every juror, DA, judge, LEO and witness ought to have to write him a check....and spend one night per year served in prison. It's not an innocent mistake or a victimless crime.

Anonymous said...

Does it indicate too much faith in science (or CSI) to consider that DNA provides absolute evidence of guilt or innocence? Except for OJ Simpson?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

It actually depends on the circumstance, 6:24. For example, say you do DNA testing on a rape kit and the results don't match the defendant, but witnesses say the suspect had an accomplice. Since the person could be the accomplice, the lack of a match would not automatically clear him. Conversely, if a crime occurs in my home, finding my DNA there doesn't necessarily indicate my guilt. DNA is particularly strong evidence, but it's only exonerating (or indicative of guilt) when viewed in context.

Anonymous said...

For example, say you do DNA testing on a rape kit and the results don't match the defendant, but witnesses say the suspect had an accomplice.

Or, even if the theory at trial was that he acted alone and the DNA exonerates him, but Judge Keller decides on appeal that he could have had an accomplice.


As for the instant exoneration, this guy is lucky his evidence wasn't part of the mass of DNA that Rosenthal destroyed after his first DNA exoneration.

Rage

Michael said...

Since we are all Bible thumpers down here, let us go by the Law, which states that if you bring false witness against someone, you shall pay the penalty you intended them to pay. Let the whore who accused this man and was "certain" serve her life in the joint.

NatalieR said...

Hook Em,

According to the appellate opinion, the victim was initially given an opportunity to view Green for 10-15 minutes just about an hour after the crime (the police had essentially rounded up a handful of African American males they found in the area and then drove the victim by them). The victim didn't say Green was her attacker at that time, but approx. 1 week later she picked him out of a photo and live lineup, both administered on the same day. Green was the only man present in both lineups. In addition, he appeared the same in the photo lineup as he did in the live lineup.

Given those facts, it's not surprising that she picked him. His image was seared into her memory when the cops attempted their 'show-up identification' on the night of the crime. By the time she reached the live lineup it was the third time she had seen Green. Add to that the fact that he was apparently the only one in the photo lineup who matched her rough description of the attacker's face, and you have a perfect combination of events that often lead to eyewitness misidentifications.

The good news is that we could help eliminate these problems if we could adopt some simple reforms during the next legislative session. For example, mandate the use of sequential, double-blind identification procedures and prohibit the use of eyewitness IDs secured by other means from the courtroom.

DarthVelma said...

Michael, I really hope that was supposed to be a pathetic attempt at humor.

If not, and you're serious...you need to go crawl under a rock and die.

Jackie said...

"Stolen" is the correct word to use. And these "honorable" people in the justice system are nothing but thieves.

Anonymous said...

Let me "enlighten" you as to "how", 7/28 5:51 - the same way so many guilty pleas are obtained by those who claim to represent "justice". They manipulate people to get they to say what they want. They are allowed to lie to them to get what they want, threaten them, & make them sit in jail for years, denying them the right to a trial in which they may be found innocent. Those who claim to uphold the law, to obtain "justice" for "all", are only interested in their conviction rate. They have no conscience as to what pain they inflict, as long as they look good. When the police are allowed to lie, cheat, manipulate and deceive to gather their information, they make "truth, justice and the American way" a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

Darth, unfortunately Michael's comments above are all too typical of the attitude displayed on this blog by Grits and his supporters. They have no compassion whatsoever for victims and automatically assume the worst whenever the criminal justice system makes a mistake. And they tend to overreact whenever the "imperfections" in the system are manifested. Given the large volume of crime and cases in our society, there are always going to be mistakes. As long as there's a human element, there will be injustices in both directions. But there's no evidence in this case that the victim wasn't actually raped or that her identification of the defendant was anything other than an honest mistake. Nor is there any evidence that improved standards in lineups would have lead to a different outcome. Sometimes witnesses are just wrong. But that doesn't mean their motives are impure or that officers and prosecutors, operating under standards which existed at that time, were seeking to "railroad" anyone. But if you're trying to convince people like Grits and Michael of that fact; well, you'd probably have better luck trying to convince a fencepost.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone please answer this question: Exactly what evidence does the prosecution need to present to a jury in a rape case to get a conviction? Because it appears that the only evidence in Mr. Green's case was the testimony of the purported victim. Is that good enough? If it is then rape allegations can become WMDs.

Mark # 1 said...

"Large volume of crime" huh, JB wannabe? Try that crap somewhere where unthinking sheeple gather. Generally, the audience at this blog are well-aware that violent crime is at an historical low. But I guess fear-mongering and pandering to the prison-industrial complex are hard stripes to wash off.

Hook Em Horns said...

7/29/2010 07:52:00 AM
Thanks. I was not real clear on this but it shows a real problem in how these are conducted.

7/29/2010 08:48:00 AM
I am not sure how things are running under Pat Lykos but under Rosenthal, Harris County functioned as a conviction machine with some judges acting as a second D.A. A defendant is brought to court, the judge sets a high bond so the defendant must sit in jail, sometimes for a year, while the case works it way through the system. Of course, the public defender, appointed by the judge, is reluctant to appeal the bond to the CCA because this judge is the one who will pronounce sentence.

I should have prefaced this by saying the case is a weak dope-dealing charge, there is missing paperwork and an unsigned search warrant that magically shows up signed at the second pre-trial.

After the defendant sits in the Harris County Jail for a year, they are beaten down and ready to sign anything. In the case I reviewed for my class, the D.A. offered the defendant 7 years, he refused, the judge sentenced him to 5 years. Had this case gone to jury trial, in Harris County, even with the mess, he could have received a much stiffer sentence. A trial in front of the judge would likely just have pissed the judge off and possibly netted the defendant 10 years. This is one way convictions are extracted from defendants who actually have a legitimate case that will not be heard.

I am highly suspicious of, so called, paperwork errors and issues involving illegal searches and search warrants that are not scrutinized as they should be. This happens in a lot of Harris County cases. It could be sloppy police work, granted, but it could also be more sinister and with the burden of proof on the state, it is patently unfair.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

8:50 decries: "the attitude displayed on this blog by Grits and his supporters. They have no compassion whatsoever for victims"

And yet, quoting directly from the post, I wrote: "I also feel terrible for the poor gal whose testimony put Green behind bars. First she was a crime victim, then her confused error inadvertently helped victimize someone else in a profound and dreadful way. Anybody would feel awful at learning of such a mistake."

As usual, you're railing against some fictional stereotype you carry around in your head, not anything I've written. Such ignorant displays tell us much more about you than the targets of your criticism.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

9:45, uncorroborated victim testimony is sufficient, and if they're a child can even give taped testimony outside of court.

The only corroboration required in the law for witnesses are for three categories of informants: in drug stings, jailhouse snitches, and accomplices.

Anonymous said...

Holy SHIT! This guy was 15 years old when put in jail!?!?! How did he ever spend that kind of time in prison if he was a child when convicted?????

Not only do we see a clear negligence here, we also see a child who the system failed to the highest degree. Amazing... This only solidifies my stance on term limits for ALL public offices.

Anonymous said...

One caveat, Grits. Uncorroborated testimony by the victim is only sufficient if the jury believes it establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Since most rapes and attempted rapes don't happen in front of lots of witnesses, it's really not that uncommon for these cases to be "he said, she said." Depending upon how quickly the victim reported the offense (delays are not uncommon especially with children) you may very well not have any corroborating forensic evidence. So I'm curious: Are you and your liberal followers on this blog going to deny a victim her day in court just because the whole case rests on her testimony? These "one eyewitness" cases are not that common, but they certainly do happen. I'd love to hear your answer to this question.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

10:36, he was 18 when he went in.

10:39, I can't speak for my readers or anyone else, but I've argued on Grits repeatedly that eyewitness testimony should require corroboration only if the victim/witness did not previously know the defendant. "Stranger rapes" are a small minority of sexual assaults and the change wouldn't affect that many cases, but it would provide at least a minimum safeguard in the type of cases most likely to result in false convictions.

Anonymous said...

Can't we just pay this guy off and make this story go away? Jeeze, how the hell are we supposed to run a justice system when these annoying little twerps prove they didn't do anything wrong? It's making a mockery out of the that whole Uhmericun thing.

Hook Em Horns said...

7/29/2010 10:39:00 AM

My take is that it's not so much the eyewitness testimony of the victim as it is the way the evidence was obtained. A standardized system of line-ups, corroborating evidence, when appropriate, perhaps including an independent review of the line-up or ID process would go a long way toward preventing innocent people being locked up.

For the record, the story in question, about a man who spent 27 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, is about the eyewitness being WRONG. What's your take on that ANONYMOUS? Oh wait, since your hiding behind the Anonymous Shroud, we'll never know it's you!

Hook Em Horns said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Team said...

Hey Grits, we've had no luck in locating the names of the HPD arresting officers, the detectives, the ADA that prosecuted the case, the attorney for the defendant, or the presiding judge. *Also, in July of 83 was it Roesenthal or Holmes at the helm?

If anyone has that info. please post it somewhere, anywhere and please show where info. was located. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Like the Umerican reference.

This guy went in at 18 and is now getting turned lose at 45. During this age of the prison industrial revolution when so many young people have been railroaded into this booming industry with crazily fanatical sentencing.

What about all these prison babies who are about to get turned loose? These kids now older adults are coming into a world that has changed dramatically.

Sheldon

College Cop said...

From Grits "First she was a crime victim, then her confused error inadvertently helped victimize someone else in a profound and dreadful way."

It may not have been her fault in any way at all. Seee here the Navy Eyewitness study:

http://www.truthinjustice.org/navy-study.htm

Even people (like the navy and marine officers in the study trained to deal with traumatic events) get it wrong more often than not, EVEn when using the new sequential photo line up method.

51% of participants subjected to high stress picked the wrong person in a sequential line up. The averages were much worse when the onld style "spread" line up was used, but still eye witness accounts are simply unreliable period, no matter how you do it.

Said all that simply to say that the victim may have been acting in total and utter good faith when she made the identification. She may have had no doubt at all that the person she identified was the person who victimised her, not because she remembered wrong, but simply because that's how the human brain works.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

College Cop, I never meant to say anything else besides that she was "acting in total and utter good faith when she made the identification." I'm certain that's true. I'm not sure I've heard of a DNA exoneration where a false eyewitness ID was intentional.

Anonymous said...

District Judge Mike Wilkinson refused to release the innocent man today, because the man was upset and screaming? Anyone catch that?

Hook Em Horns said...

7/29/2010 04:07:00 PM

FROM HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Bob Wicoff, an attorney for Michael Anthony Green, said his client was angry and would need another day to compose himself before having a bond set while the Texas Court of Criminal Appeal rules on his actual innocence.
"He was upset," Wicoff said. "Hopefully he'll be fine tomorrow."

Anonymous said...

So Grits is going to require corroboration for informants, jail snitches, accomplices and....rape victims? I'm sure women will love being cast into that lot, Grits! "Ladies, we don't trust your word in court any more than snitches and criminals!" Wow!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

6:26, Your analogy is not just flawed but rather stupid. A snitch knows the people they're dealing with and the courts still require corroboration. I'm saying non-snitch witnesses should require corroboration ONLY if they don't previously know the person they're identifying. Big difference.

Anonymous said...

My analogy is neither flawed nor stupid, Grits. Under current Texas law there are only 3 types of witnesses whose testimony is deemed legally suspect to the point that corroborating evidence must be presented in order for a conviction to be obtained. As YOU correctly noted, those are drug informants, jailhouse snitches and accomplices. Assuming they don't know their rapist, you are wanting to place rape victims in this same category where the jury must be instructed that they can't find the defendant guilty based on the victim's testimony alone; but only if there's corroborating evidence. Crawfish if you like, but that sounds like a pretty offensive and sexist proposal to me.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Assuming they don't know the rapist, they're not analogous to snitches. Informants require corroboration because they're untrustworthy and lie. That's not why eyewitnesses make errors.

Hook Em Horns said...

7/29/2010 07:12:00 PM
------------------------------------
Obviously, Texas law needs to be changed. Instead of telling Grits why he's wrong, how about offering your suggestion for how to keep this from happening? Or is this just a by-product of the system that we should expect and an acceptable casualty of being tough on crime.

Corroborating evidence is warranted in cases where the victim has no previous knowledge of the alleged attacker. Don't think so? Hang out at the police station sometime and let me put you in the line-up!

Gianpaolo Macerola said...

I wholeheartedly approve of this exoneration. However, it is this type of praise that allows miscarriages of justice to continue. Grits is correct when you say that creating this type of appellate review section enhances a DA's credibility. The problem is there is no down-side, no negative, no cost, no risk. You gain credibility while bringing down your predecessors. This allows you to right past wrongs but does nothing to stop new ones. Talk to practitioners in the trenches. Appellate lawyers may be having an easier time in Harris County but for trial lawyers, it's the same #^$&*, different day.

Hook Em Horns said...

More proof of the Harris County Conviction machine...read this!!

FROM HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Green was visited by his defense attorney from 1983, Bill Harmon.

Harmon said Green was offered a five-year prison sentence for the 1983 aggravated rape of a woman who was abducted by four men in the Greenspoint area.

He was convicted on faulty eyewitness identification by the victim and sentenced to 75 years in prison.

Attorneys have blamed Green's conviction on shoddy police work, saying the then-18-year-old was identified by the victim in a photo array and a lineup after seeing him in the back of a police car and initially saying he was not involved.

Anonymous said...

Grits: "Ladies, we don't care how good of a look you got at your rapist or how damned certain you are that you've picked the right guy. We just don't believe you're trustworthy enough to let you have your day in court without additional evidence to satisfy us that you're not lying." Pretty much sums up your proposal, huh, Grits?

Hookem', you're never going to have a perfect system. There will inevitably be mistakes--some of them tragic. All you can do is continue to strive for improvements. And the criminal justice system has been continuing to strive for improvement for decades. Don't believe me: just look at the advances in DNA forensics which have lead to many of these exonerations. But just because mistakes are made or tragedies occur doesn't mean the system is inherently bad or that we need to close the courthouse doors to wholesale categories of victims. We don't ban commercial air travel just because a passenger plane crashes and lots of people get killed, do we? The improvements in eyewitness identification procedures are likely warranted and may lead to greater confidence levels, but they will never completely prevent mistakes. There's a system already in place whereby a "one eyewitness" identification can be put to the test. It's called the "jury trial." And while juries aren't perfect either, this adversarial process reaches the correct result way more often than it doesn't.

I can't wait until rape victims and women's rights groups get wind of Grit's condescending, sexist proposal, though. "We'll let a guilty rapist go free before we're willing to give you your day in court, Ladies." Let me know when you plan on giving that testimony before a legislative committee, Grits. I'd really love to be there for that one!

DarthVelma said...

Before we string Grits up, I do think he isn't just refering to rape here. It sounds like he thinks eye-witnesses who do not know the perp should have to have corroboration for any crime committed against them. So if a complete stranger came up and mugged you, it would take more than your eye-witness testimony to convict them.

Hook Em Horns said...

Anonymous...TELL US HOW YOU WOULD FIX IT THEN? Not yelling, just emphasizing my question...

Hook Em Horns said...

GRITS...Anonymous is probably an LEO. I say that because, so far, he lacks the imagination to offer any suggestions on how to repair a broken system and can only repeat his shallow and ignorant views.

There is a story running this morning on CNN from Colorado. Thought you might like it. It's not Texas but it is a DNA case.

FROM CNN:

Tim Masters spent nearly a decade in prison for a murder DNA later proved he didn't commit. Lt. Jim Broderick, the Colorado police officer who built the case against him, is now charged with perjury and faces prison time.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

8:13, you're REALLY stretching to try to make an argument that's BS on its face and contradicted by what I've written.

Nobody but you has claimed rape victims aren't "trustworthy enough" and honestly you should stop smearing them - you're the only one repeating it.

This isn't about trustworthiness or personal integrity of the witness. That's the issue about snitching but not eyewitnesses, even if (because you're disingenuous or a simpleton) would like to conflate them. You can be completely trustworthy and make a mistake (as evidence by the many DNA exonerations where witnesses ID'd someone in good faith), and when witnesses didn't previously know the person they're identifying, there's strong evidence they're frequently wrong. It has nothing to do with being "trustworthy" or not. These are questions of biology, not witness ethics.

You write that "The improvements in eyewitness identification procedures are likely warranted and may lead to greater confidence levels, but they will never completely prevent mistakes." And yet, ironically, you don't care about those mistakes and in fact argue vehemently against any reform that might correct them. So much for convictions "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Finally, I've given exactly that testimony in the past at the Lege and almost certainly will in the future. What's more, there are legislators from both parties who basically agree. As it turns out, when you're dealing with responsible adults who are personally accountable and put their name on their opinions, arguments based on facts hold more sway than misleading red herrings from obfuscating anonymous trolls.

Finally, Velma's right. IMO corroboration should be required for ALL eyewitnesses who didn't previously know the person they're identifying. The DNA cases are mostly from people falsely convicted of rape, but the same rickety evidence is used in many other venues.

Anonymous said...

Darth, if a complete stranger comes up and mugs me and I get a good look at him and I'm capable of identifying him, then I want my day in court. And I suspect honest, law abiding people would feel the same way. If the defense attorney wants to challenge my credibility, my confidence level, or my ability to perceive the event then let him/her do so. And then let the jury decide if my testimony, in and of itself, is sufficient to convince them beyond a reasonable doubt of the defendant's guilt. Keep in mind that the defendant still would have the option of testifying, presenting an alibi, etc., in his own defense.

I'm not yelling at anyone, Hookem, I'm as sincere here as the day is long. I think improvements to eyewitness identification procedures are certainly worth considering. But, unlike Grits, I am absolutely opposed to creating some type of legal presumption that "one eyewitness" victims require corroboration before a conviction may be had on their testimony. In other words, I don't think a few anecdotal tragedies (and they are certainly tragedies) require a wholesale reform of the system. I agree that snitches, informants, etc., are inherently untrustworthy and should require corroboration. I don't think the same rule should apply to honest, law abiding citizens.

Grits, if you want to arm defense attorney's with the research regarding the potential for eyewitness errors, that's fine. Allow juries to consider that possibility as well in "one eyewitness" cases. But to tell a victim that their testimony is legally insufficient to support a conviction--regardless of the facts or circumstances of the event, and regardless of their level of confidence, is just as much of an injustice as any wrongful conviction in my opinion.

Hook Em Horns said...

Grits...

The DNA exoneration case out of Colorado could raise some questions here in Texas. For example, the "fault" behind the majority of DNA exonerations here in the Lone Star is "faulty eyewitness" identification. While I can accept that, there is something missing and that is the content and other evidence presented that led to a conviction.

In the over 40 cases in Texas, did the cops lie on the stand? Did the D.A. or A.D.A. know the cops weren't telling the truth?

Texas, it seems, was quick to offer up payments to those wrongly locked up but less interested in the facts of how they got there. This, I guess, is the crux of the problem. A system based on speedy arrests and convictions and opposed to arresting those who actually committed the crime and the willingness of those entrusted to serve and protect to lie and deceive to get those results.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

9:23, a witness' "level of confidence" empirically has ZILCH to do with the likelihood of them being accurate. (See here for an explanation why.)

Also you keep insisting on misstating my position and throwing out phony red herrings. You say I want to "tell a victim that their testimony is legally insufficient to support a conviction--regardless of the facts or circumstances of the event," but that's not true at all. In the vast majority of sexual assault cases the victim knows the defendant, and even when they don't, many times there is corroborating evidence to be had. Under such "facts or circumstances" - i.e., most circumstances - I've repeatedly said eyewitness testimony should be allowed. I'm talking about a small handful of very weak cases where there's no other evidence and the likelihood of false convictions is too high.

Courts previously treated eyewitness evidence as infallible. Now we know thanks to years of scientific research it's far from solid evidence. When the witness had never before seen the defendant, there's as good a chance they're wrong as that they're right, and jurors have no basis on which to evaluate such testimony.

Anonymous said...

Grits, I understand completely what your position is on cases where the eyewitness is acquainted with the defedant. I'm not in the least confused about that. I wish you'd get one of your defense attorney friends to better explain to you to concepts of "legal sufficiency of the evidence" vis a vis the law requiring corroborating evidence for drug informants, jailhouse snitches and accomplices. Apparently I'm not doing a good job of articulating my point. As a practical matter, I think the only way you're going to accomplish what you're proposing in "one eyewitness" cases--be they rapes, robberies, thefts, etc.--is to require a jury instruction similar to that given in those other instances where corroboration is required. While admittedly, that circumstance doesn't happen that often, it certainly does happen. And I think you're running a real risk here of offending a lot of honest victims.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

10:12: You seem to think it's okay to tolerate false convictions so "women's rights groups" won't be offended. For my part, I'm offended at convicting innocent people based evidence we know is unreliable just to pander to this or that political faction.

If a breathalyzer had an error rate of plus or minus .1, measuring to get at .08, there's no way the evidence would be allowed. But you want evidence that's just as unreliable to be accepted in court out of fear someone will take offense. That's a moment when cowardice trumps ethics and an example how false convictions occur.

In cases where an eyewitness is the only evidence and they'd never before seen the perpetrator, it's literally impossible to prove guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt" because it's reasonable to believe under such circumstances that eyewitnesses are frequently wrong. The law should reflect that reality instead of willfully ignoring it, as you'd prefer.

Also, I understand completely the question of "legal sufficiency of evidence." Historic court precedents held eyewitnesses were "gold standard" evidence but we now know that's simply wrong. Eyewitness testimony when the witness didn't know the defendant is objectively insufficient to justify convicting "beyond a reasonable doubt," and IMO that fact should be codified into law.

Finally, I'm willing to risk offending "honest victims" to avoid creating more "honest victims" through false convictions. Perhaps such witnesses could be somewhat placated by introducing them to some of these gals who falsely accused someone then had to live with the guilt for the rest of their lives.

Hook Em Horns said...

Anonymous said...

And I think you're running a real risk here of offending a lot of honest victims.

7/30/2010 10:12:00 AM
-----------------------------------
I would hope, that in light of the number of exonerations we are talking about here, that honest victims would take a greater interest in making sure the right person was arrested and convicted of the crime for which they are accused.

Anonymous said...

In that case, Grits, why stop with just "one eyewitness" stranger cases? How about statutory rape cases where the victim knows the defendant--the classic "he said-she said" circumstance where the victim says they had sex, but the defendant denies it. In many of those cases there is no corroborating evidence. And there's at least a significant possibility that the victim is lying. How could there ever not be a "reasonable doubt" in those cases where one side says it's "x" and the other says it's "y?" Do you propose we require corroboration in those cases as well? Or what about intra-family domestic violence cases where there's no physical evidence but just the word of the victim? It would seem to me that the system you're proposing will tolerate a wrongful conviction based upon perjury but not one made upon an honest mistake. Personally, I'm willing to trust juries to figure out the truth as best they can through an adversarial process. If the defense wants to educate the jury about the possibilty of false identification, then that's evidence the jury should consider. I'm not so naive as to believe that there will ever be a perfect system. But at the same time, I do think in your quest to procedurally find "Utopia" you run the risk of precluding many victims from ever hoping to achieve justice for the harm they've sustained. But then again, your blog is not really about helping victims, is it?

Whitney said...

All these false cries of sexism are likely just "tuff on crime" BS in sheep's clothing. These types have been using the "how dare you insult the victims" schtick for a long time to avoid making reforms. While some of you are willing to accept that "the system will never be perfect" as an excuse to not change anything, keep in mind that in Green's case, the four men who did decide to abduct and gang rape a woman were able to walk around freely all these years and will continue to do so. And in many cases, rapists like these were able to commit more rapes and create more rape victims. But, hey - according to you guys, you gotta crack a few eggs, right?! Ask any of the victims who have later found out they identified the wrong guy (through no fault of their own, as Grits has repeatedly pointed out) if they'd be against laws that increased the chances they picked the right guy. I've met some of these women and believe me - no one wants to make that kind of mistake. And to suggest that passing better laws to increase the chances that we put the actual rapist behind bars is somehow "sexist" or offensive to rape victims is not only illogical, it's insulting. And don't try the "if we make these changes, rapists will go free!" argument, because we already do that, as evidenced by the 40+ exonerations and counting.

Anonymous said...

"Grits: "Ladies, we don't care how good of a look you got at your rapist or how damned certain you are that you've picked the right guy. We just don't believe you're trustworthy enough to let you have your day in court ..."

You aren't too bright are you? How many men have been freed from jail to faulty witness testimony in the last decade? Here is the flaw in your argument. Grits is saying better that a guilty should walk, than to allow an innocent to be imprisoned.

I take it that this is NOT your mantra? Lock them all up, they have to be guilty because they are in front of the judge? is that closer to what you believe?

it has come to light in the last 10 years that women WILL lie about rape claims/false rapes. I am not saying the young woman in question here did, but it has happened. What is your litmus test here?

How is justice served by putting an innocent man in jail? If it makes the victim feel safe then go for it? that my friend is a flawed argument.

I wonder if anyone has done a study of innocent people being exonerated BEFORE the law was changed, versus now where all someone has to do is point a finger? I've been on the planet for a while now, and I haven't seen this many exonerations my first 35 years as I have seen just in the last 5 or so.

When do the apologists for the broken justice system finally STFU and understand it isn't about coddling criminals, but about fixing a system that is terribly broken to the point that ANY person, you included, could one day be getting popped for something you had nothing to do with?

My mantra in all this. If you're not part of the solution, you are the root cause of the problem.

The Team said...

Grits, man you don't have to explain yourself but you did a fine job of it. And some of the comments by others are dead on as well. The last two paragraphs of the 'Original' Post says it all.

Via Hook Em 07:47 - (Harmon said Green was offered a five-year prison sentence for the 1983 aggravated rape of a woman) Thanks Hook Em.

Notice the lack of hostility from both (males and females) aimed towards the District Attorney's Office & the ADA for offering to plea bargain for a paltry 5 years with a rapist that was indicted due to being 'positively' identified? *But in order to offer him 5 years they had to obtain her approval. Right?

Hmm? For a victim to agree to a joke of a sentence - is it a case of second thoughts or pressure from the ADA? Or both?

Anonymous said...

Daaamn! 12:38 I love it when Anons. bring other Anons. back to the topic of the Post and the jist of the author.

Speaking of a 'stolen life' does anyone think that the jury needs to be given an opportunity to tell what went on during the deliberations? If his finger prints were not found in the stolen car, then how could he have been it and exited it to run from police? That's reasonable doubt by itself.

Hook Em Horns said...

The Team said...
7/30/2010 12:39:00
-------------------------------------
Having not been there, this is purely a guess, but understanding Harris County, it is likely close to the truth. For a D.A. to offer 5 years means there case at the minimum had "problems" and possibly was weaker then hell. In hindsight, we know it was.

I have a hell of a lot of questions that are, so far, unanswered as to how an innocent man got convicted and sentenced to 75 years in prison? Something is amiss here. I would love to review the case, read the arresting officers reports and so on. The court transcripts must be fascinating!

Anonymous said...

"Harmon said Green was offered a five-year prison sentence for the 1983 aggravated rape of a woman". If I understand it correctly, he was "offered" 5 years; he didn't take it. Why? Because he was innocent! Innocent people don't like to take plea bargains because they're agreeing to say they're "guilty" and then they can never challenged that conviction again in a court of law. So, he was convicted on a "false eyewitness testimonty" and was sentenced to 75 years.

Then the District Attorney picks up where the police and the investigators leave off; they try to force people to take plea bargains and if they don't, they make sure they get the maximum sentence for the crime the person has been accused of. And believe me, they tell you that if you don't take the plea, they will make sure you get the maximum.

Oh, you who actually believe in a "justice" system. You haven't lived yet. Wait until you're falsely accused and wind up in prison scratching your head, wondering how you go there, just because you wouldn't take a plea bargain based on the fact that you knew you were innocent.

The police, the investigators and the DA's all manipulate people and evidence to get what they want. "They" are allowed to lie to get what they want, threaten and actually carry out physical violence on the accused, deprive them of sleep, then make them sit in jail for months, even years, denying them the right to a trial in which they,the accused, may be found innocent. Those who claim to uphold the law, to obtain "justice" for "all", are only interested in their conviction rate. They have no conscience as to what pain they inflict, as long as they look good. As long as the police and investigators are allowed to lie, cheat, manipulate and deceive to gather their information, they make "truth, justice and the American way" a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

Rape and sexual abuse is a horrible crime. False accusations of rape and sexual abuse are also horrible crimes that happen to mostly boys and men, but also to women (the latest high profile case of a woman falsely accused being Tonya Craft). Teachers, medical professionals who perform direct patient care, and public servants are all particularly vulnerable to false accusations.

False rape allegations are the social nuclear weapons of our time, which due to VAWA and rape shield laws, allow an accuser (usually a woman or child) to make false accusations with virtual impunity, due to the moral panic and hysteria surrounding sexual issues in the English-speaking world. One can advocate for both valid, extant victims of rape and sexual abuse while at the same time advocate for those like Mr. Green, who has had his life stolen from him through the perversion of justice -- these issues are NOT mutually exclusive.

False Rape Society (FRS) is documenting literally thousands of false rape cases that appear in media worldwide. Read the articles and comments at FRS. Get the facts:

http://falserapesociety.blogspot.com/p/informative-sources.html

http://falserapesociety.blogspot.com/p/blogs-spreading-news-about-false-rape_28.html

http://falserapesociety.blogspot.com/p/about-this-blog.html

As to why these false accusation/conviction things happen in the first place, we need to Follow The Money and ask "Cui bono? (who benefits?)" and "what is the ultimate intent behind them?"

False rape and sexual abuse allegations/convictions are a human and civil rights issue and ultimately a US Constitutional issue. We need to pursue justice for all -- not just for women and children or those that can afford it.

SgtMom said...

/Anon: "We just don't believe you're trustworthy enough to let you have your day in court without additional evidence to satisfy us that you're not lying." Pretty much sums up your proposal, huh, Grits?"

Just one quick question for ya, Anon.

Woman to woman, here.


How many WOMEN have been exonerated by DNA evidence so far?

How many WOMEN are in prison for 75 years because of the mistaken identity by a male witness?

How often do you hear men decrying 'the system' because they aren't beleeeeved when they make claims against women?

How do American males rank in the world's prison population (#1 - by a HUGE amount) as opposed to American females ( A virtuous 9th down in world rankings - middlin' numbers).

Apparently all American males are criminally inclined judging by incarceration rates, while American women are just all victims.

What you are defending is not our Justice System. It's our Just Us System.

And boy! Do we gals love our Just Us!

I guess it's pretty easy to only boo hoo for victims of crime since victims of injustice are pretty much only male.

Seriously - when was the last time you heard a story of a woman being released from 75 years of false inprisonment?

Do I dare suggest perhaps your vigilant concern for Victims might be somewhat altered should American women gain true equality by becoming the most incarcerated on the planet?

Would the REAL threat of your own imprisonment not alter your views on what's acceptable eyewitness evidence?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
So Grits is going to require corroboration for informants, jail snitches, accomplices and....rape victims? I'm sure women will love being cast into that lot, Grits! "Ladies, we don't trust your word in court any more than snitches and criminals!" Wow!

7/29/2010 06:26:00 PM

IMHO, those who cause any human being, YES, even men, to needlessly suffer; are responsible foe the innocent human being's suffering.

"True justice is never satisfied by the suffering, pain or, death of the truely innocent".

There is no acceptable excuse for this man's suffering. Those resposible are as murderers. He can never get his life back. They ruined/destroyed it.

Anonymous said...

"How about statutory rape cases where the victim knows the defendant--the classic "he said-she said" circumstance where the victim says they had sex, but the defendant denies it. In many of those cases there is no corroborating evidence. And there's at least a significant possibility that the victim is lying. How could there ever not be a "reasonable doubt" in those cases where one side says it's "x" and the other says it's "y?" Do you propose we require corroboration in those cases as well? Or what about intra-family domestic violence cases where there's no physical evidence but just the word of the victim?"

Yes, those cases should require corroborating evidence.

Anonymous said...

""Stranger rapes" are a small minority of sexual assaults and the change wouldn't affect that many cases, but it would provide at least a minimum safeguard in the type of cases most likely to result in false convictions."

Stranger rapes are the minority of accusations, but the majority of rapes that can be proven to have occurred.

Trey said...

@ 8:53 and 9:30, here's my suggestion. Why don't you two dregs go back to the ad hominem site where you're allowed to spout all the vulgarity you want. This blog is far classier than the FRS and certainly out of your league.

Anonymous said...

@ Trey

"@ 8:53 and 9:30, here's my suggestion. Why don't you two dregs go back to the ad hominem site where you're allowed to spout all the vulgarity you want. This blog is far classier than the FRS and certainly out of your league.

8/03/2010 04:50:00 PM"

It's very simple. We want to rid the world of ignorance, name calling, projection and denial. We can start with you. You've not refuted one assertion that we have made, furthered the discussion, and have yourself made a false accusation. So, tell me, sir(?): who has more class? Someone who wants justice for all? Or someone who cannot control their emotions long enough to actual be reasonable and accountable and debate or comment on these very important issues in a rational way?

And here's my suggestion to you:

Come back when you can show some maturity, gravity, and relevance. Until then, keep your philippics to yourself.

Anonymous said...

"@ 8:53 and 9:30, here's my suggestion. Why don't you two dregs go back to the ad hominem site where you're allowed to spout all the vulgarity you want. This blog is far classier than the FRS and certainly out of your league."

I don't see anything ad hominem or vulgar about the comments @ 8:53 & 9:30. Although I can't say that about calling people "dregs".

SgtMom said...

I see you are unwilling and/or unable to answer the hard questions I put to you.

I guess it IS pretty "unclassy" to ask a person criticizing the starving just how much THEY weigh - especially since they are inevitably a lard ass. No person who has felt genuine hunger is so oblivious.

So I don't mind being called "unclassy" - especially by a lard ass.

So I'll ask once again - what are YOUR chances of spending 27 years in prison because of a mistake in identity? How often have YOU been the victim of a false or wrongful accusation?

There are MANY blogs devoted to following the horrors of false accusations and wrongful convictions.

I follow every one of them.

Classy...or not.