Friday, July 11, 2014

Summer reading: 'Getting Life,' 'The Wrong Carlos'

Two important books about Texas innocence cases were published this week.

Texas Monthly's Pam Colloff has published some excerpts from Michael Morton's new autobiography titled "Getting Life," which came out Tuesday. The passages Colloff shared seemed well-written, e.g.:
prison is, more than anything else, a bureaucracy—a state-run operation where everything takes longer than it should, requires several tries before getting it right, and keeps the people who rely on it frustrated and angry. Imagine living every day at a state driver’s license office, with long lines, misfiled forms, and—too often—in­competence. Now, imagine that same scene with all the state workers carrying cans of Mace, radios, handcuffs, and—for those employees ringing the perimeter—shotguns and rifles.
Also out this week: "The Wrong Carlos"; from the Amazon description: "In 1989, Texas executed Carlos DeLuna, a poor Hispanic man with childlike intelligence, for the murder of Wanda Lopez, a convenience store clerk. His execution passed unnoticed for years until a team of Columbia Law School faculty and students almost accidentally chose to investigate his case and found that DeLuna almost certainly was innocent. ... Everything that could go wrong in a criminal case did. This book documents DeLuna's conviction, which was based on a single, nighttime, cross-ethnic eyewitness identification with no corroborating forensic evidence. At his trial, DeLuna's defense, that another man named Carlos had committed the crime, was not taken seriously."

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

In the TM story, it was mentioned that Morton wrote several books while in jail on a plastic typewriter. His excerpts do seem well written. I am very curious about the novels. How great would it be if he turns out to be an excellent fiction writer?!

Colleen McCool said...

The innocent are locked up while the guilty roam free!! Check out the Innocence Project. http://www.innocenceproject.org/

In a CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria 'former Canadian media baron, Conrad Black commented on our justice system, "It is in a terrible condition. 99.5% of your prosecutions are successful, compared to about 60% in Canada, and 50% in Britain. It's not because your prosecutors are better, it's because the system is too one-sided. You've got 5% of the worlds population, 25% of its incarcerated people, and nearly 50% of its qualified lawyers. It's a terrible problem."

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile in Houston this week, 33 year old Ronald Lee Haskell murdered 6 members of the Stay family (including 4 children) execution style. But for the heroic efforts of their lone surviving 15 year old daughter, he would have continued his killing spree. Mr. Haskell, formerly of California (and with an extensive record of family violence), just became the new poster child for why we have the death penalty in Texas and why we actually use it. I wonder if TM and Ms. Colloff and TM will cover this tragedy, Grits?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

9:51, that story's already being extensively covered in the MSM. I won't lose any sleep if Haskell receives the death penalty, but this is not a crime blotter. Try to stay on topic.

Anonymous said...

http://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/2011/jul/15/sl_false_arrest_071611_145918/?counties

Can relate to "The Wrong Carlos"... This article details a close call in Victoria a few years ago that was rectified early in the process by an aggressive defense team. Wonder how often this really happens? Scary!

Anonymous said...

3:28 PM you so funny you always make me wanna laugh and laugh with your quips saved for the ending.

Anonymous said...

Grits, thanks for trying to keep the conversation on the GFB posting at hand.

Just another reminder folks, it's about Mr. Morton & Mr. DeLuna (and of course it's about those that played roles in their demises). Now, play ball.

Anyone care to inform the readers as to the names of the ADA of Record, the CDL of Record, the Presiding Judge, the arresting officer(s), the Detectives & Governor. Why, because a pattern can only be detected if you look for one.

Knowing these names will provide the opportunity to recognize if they played roles in (your very own) others false arrests & wrongful convictions and / or avoidable executions. Note: the bad actors will sometimes drop full names and go by shorter versions or middle names to hide from their past. The ADA James of 1989 might be Jim or Jerry today and now a CDL himself. Good luck hunting for these bad guys.

Anonymous said...

the death penalty should be outlawed for one reason - the justice system is one big giant conflict of interest. in most cases a gov't paid judge oversees a gov't paid prosecutor and gov't paid defense lawyer. when the defendant is surrounded by the gov't on all three sides - its a conflict of interest. all the lawyers judges know exactly where their bread is buttered from. until this major serious conflict of interest is abolished, so should the death penalty. ps - after arrest cases are then handed off to the lawyers - and thats when everything gets fu.k up. its the lawyers/judges stupid - bilking the taxpayer first and formost; justice not even an afterthought.

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