Monday, October 19, 2009

Prosecutors seek to thwart post-conviction innocence claims

I'm glad to learn that US Attorney General Eric Holder is reviewing a Bush Administration policy of securing plea waivers from federal defendants of their right to post-conviction DNA testing that could prove their innocence. But it's too bad the scope of that review won't extend to Texas prosecutors who seek DNA destruction as part of plea deals. Reports the Washington Post:

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has ordered a review of a little-known Bush administration policy requiring some defendants to waive their right to DNA testing even though that right is guaranteed in a landmark federal law, officials said.

The practice of using DNA waivers began several years ago as a response to the Innocence Protection Act of 2004, which allowed federal inmates to seek post-conviction DNA tests to prove their innocence. More than 240 wrongly convicted people have been exonerated by such tests, including 17 on death row.

The waivers are filed only in guilty pleas and bar defendants from ever requesting DNA testing, even if new evidence emerges. Prosecutors who use them, including some of the nation's most prominent U.S. attorneys, say people who have admitted guilt should not be able to file frivolous petitions for testing. They say the wave of DNA exonerations has little impact in federal court because all those found to be innocent were state prisoners, and the waivers apply only to federal charges. DNA evidence is used far more frequently in state courts. ...

Interviews and documents show that language allowing for DNA waivers was inserted into the law at the behest of Republican senators and that the Bush Justice Department lobbied against the measure even with the waiver provision. Soon after the law passed with bipartisan support, the department sent a secret memo to the nation's 94 U.S. attorney's offices urging them to use the waivers, several federal officials familiar with the memo said.

Josh Marquis of the national District Attorneys Association told the Washington Post that "he's never heard of DNA waivers in state court and that the organization opposes the concept. 'I think it's important to always leave the door open for actual proof of innocence,' he said." However, this tactic reminds me of a method used by Texas prosecutors to prevent post-conviction DNA claims: Requiring as part of plea deals that DNA evidence be destroyed to prevent future testing.

Indeed, the newly appointed Texas Forensic Science Commission chairman John Bradley has openly argued that destruction of DNA is important as part of a plea deal because "innocence trumps everything" and so what appear to be solid cases might unravel after conviction if the evidence isn't destroyed.

Innocence cases tend to represent gross errors in the system, seldom outright malicious prosecution. But choosing to destroy or limit testing of evidence in order to avoid those errors from being discovered surely borders on malicious: Certainly it's unfair, unjust, and simply bad public policy.

It strikes me that Texas prosecutors appear to be far ahead of their brethren among the feds and in other states at concocting methods to avoid successful innocence claims. Walter Reaves has a good post up about another tactic by Mr. Bradley (who is the Williamson County DA) to thwart post-conviction innocence claims: Prosecuting for aggravated perjury when someone who pled guilty later claims innocence in a habeas corpus writ. Writes Reaves:

Even the most staunch defender of law order might sense some unfairness in this. Other than concerns about decency and fairness, there are also some practical problems with this approach. The first is that just because a defendant pleads guilty doesn't mean he agrees he is guilty.

Long ago the United States Supreme recognized that defendants might who don't believe they are guilty might not want to risk going to trial. Although this can be he subject of a separate post, its basically common sense. Would you rather be innocent and spend 10 years in prison or innocent and spend 50 years in prison. Prosecutors know this, and sometimes make offers to good to be true. So a defendant basically fibs, and admits guilt in return for a favorable outcome.

The Court of Criminal Appeals recognized this a few years ago in DNA cases. Some of the persons who have been exonerated actually plead guilty originally. The court recognized there could be a number of reasons for pleading guilty, and held that would not prevent you from claiming innocence and filing a motion for DNA testing.

The Catch-22 Mr. Bradley would impose on defendants is further evidence of how absurd it is to analyze plea agreements as though they're voluntary contracts.

I don't blame prosecutors for the occasional mistake, but I do blame them when they attempt to cover up errors after the fact or seek to prevent them from ever being discovered. Habeas writs are a safety valve that exists to correct such errors - for example, when science improves to allow better testing or new evidence is discovered after the fact. Just because the law gives prosecutors tools to close off that safety valve using these kind of aggressive tactics doesn't make it wise or moral to do so.


Anonymous said...

You really think people who have plead GUILTY, in other words people who have admitted they did it, should have an unfettered right to post-conviction scientific testing???? Aren't these defendants placed under oath at the time of their plea and asked by the judge if they're "pleading guilty because they are guilty and for no other reason?" Why isn't that perjury if they are lying?

And just, pray tell, how much should the taxpayers have to pay for this post-conviction scientific testing for those who have plead guilty?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Nobody but you used the word "unfettered," 10:17, but given that quite a few DNA exonerees entered guilty pleas and were later proven "actually innocent," it hardly furthers the interests of justice to destroy evidence or prevent its testing when new science arrives that might be probative. In the case of DNA exonerees, getting them out of prison frequently also pinpointed the actual perpetrator - why would you want to avoid THAT outcome?

What you've described isn't so much perjury as a "perjury trap." As Reaves noted, SCOTUS has recognized that "defendants might [enter pleas] who don't believe they are guilty [but] might not want to risk going to trial." The idea that people plea guilty for "no other reason" than guilt is a legal fiction, not an expression of reality.

As for cost, typically defendants pay them. But anyway, the justice system is expensive and these costs are miniscule compared to the expense of policing, incarceration, etc.. If punishment is worth doing it's worth punishing the right person.

Red Leatherman said...

@ 10:17
If it isn't obvious why people have plead guilty for a crime they didn't actually commit. Maybe something more extreme could explain it. ever heard of torture devices used long ago? admit your a witch and instead of torturing you to death over several days we will just hang ya and get it over fast.
Okay, we aren't talking about torture but choosing between 1 year in jail for pleading guilty or facing up to 99 years if found guilty in a trial defended by a court appointed attorney that may not be as motivated to prove your innocence as you are might sway an innocent defendant. When I read the comments in the online version of the Dallas paper a vast majority of the comments are convinced that every crime reported is perpetrated by a African American or a illegal immigrant from Oak Cliff.
I'd hate to face a jury in Texas for anything in Texas if I was Hispanic or African American.

Anonymous said...

Wait a second. You constantly promote the argument that shoddy forensic evidence often results in the innocent being punished and the guilty going free. Doesn't a false confession or guilty plea often achieve the same result? If a defendant lies to the police or the court and effectively corrupts the system--regardless of their motive--why shouldn't that person be brought to task for perjury? Resources have been wasted on that defendant's case, and a real criminal might still be at large.

At the end of the day, I would suggest there is some societal interest in the finality of convictions. It's not like criminals are going to declare a moratorium on committing new crimes so we can go back and do DNA testing for all of those who have admitted their guilt under oath and now decided that they don't enjoy being in prison. What limitations would you impose? I never ceased to be amazed at the willingness of liberals to spend other peoples' money to support whatever "feel good" social experiment (see also, health care reform) they might be advocating.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

10:54, it sounds like you'd rather have "finality" in a false conviction than actually take the real perpetrator off the streets. Finality is important, but it's not that important.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Also, 10:54, the "lie" in a plea deal by an innocent defendant is a coerced statement. They're making it to avoid even harsher punishment. I don't consider culpability as great for a coerced lie as I do for the person who coerces one then seeks to preclude future truth telling.

Hook Em Horns said...

Defendants in Texas frequently take a plea deal because they are threatened with lengthy prison terms if they proceed to trial and lose. THIS IS A FACT. Plenty of people who are innocent plea out because in the Texas Justice Machine, honesty and integrity in the system DO NOT EXIST! You are guilty unless you can prove yourself innocent.

Texas judges, many who sit as the second arm of the DA, are part of the "conviction" machine so post conviction DNA testing makes sense.

Look at the numbers in Texas alone. 40 some exonerations of people FOUND GUILTY!!! Your theory is SHIT but then so is Texas justice.

doran said...

Anon 10:17---

I think it was something like 50 people (Grits can get us the correct number) who admitted/confessed to being the murderer in the Austin Yogurt Shop triple murder case. Do you think all of them should have been prosecuted? If one or more had, and had continued to be so feeble minded that they reached a plea bargain, why would you object to overturning his or their convictions if new evidence proved conclusively that he or they could not have done the deed?

As it turned out, one of the persons who was convicted was apparently wrongly convicted. I think he had a jury trial (again, Grits can help). Tell us if you think it is okay to overturn an erroneous jury verdict based on new evidence, but not an erroneous guilty plea based on new evidence.

Anonymous said...

10:17 I was faced with pleading guilty or going to trial in the court room of a corrupt judge with witnesses that were willing to commit perjurty to convict me. You haven't faced that type of situation. Yes, people who are innocent plead guilty.

In my case I was physically assaulted by an investigator in the Smith County DA's office. I was tackled from behind as I was walking out the door. I was told I was being arrested for disorderly conduct. The DA's office later concocted a story saying I had assaulted the investigator. This was total lie. Matt Bingham, the DA knew it was total lie. The investigator, Fabio Martinez, committed perjury by filing a false affidavit.

I was taken before Jack Skeen, who still thinks he's the DA, and has a long history of prosecutorial misconduct and he set a ridiculous bail. I was told by 2 different defense attorneys that members of the DAs office would not hesitate to commit perjury to convict me and that I would not get a fair trial in Skeen's court. Skeen didn't even try to hide his bias.

I hired an attorney the DA's office was afraid of (this was confirmed by the prosecutor from the AG's office). They agreed to drop the charges to a misdemeanor. I had lost my 2 year old son just prior to this incdent and had been through hell. I wasn't up to going through a trial in which I knew people were willing to lie to convict me and in which the judge was biased. I plead guilty to something I didn't do. I committed perjury when I plead guilty. But, I ask you, what's worse? The fact that I committed perjury to stay out of prison for something I didn't do or the fact that the investigator commmitted perjury by filing a false affidavit at the direction of the DA?

Yes, people do plead guilty for things they didn't do. When you are faced with the choice of spending years in prison for something you didn't do or pleading to a lower level charge for a short time of probation, then you can come back here and talk about how you worry about taxpayers paying for post conviction testing. In Smith County the taxpayers keep electing a crooked DA and judge.

Anonymous said...

Just a question...

I was reading over the article posted by Grits about Sen. Dan Patrick's SB 727 expansion of the DNA database, and some of the civil liberty / privacy concerns.

If DNA evidence is collected in the course of an investigation, is the prosecutor required to disclose this?

And if the DNA samples are not used to build a case, are they destroyed?

Anonymous said...

U.S. to Expand Collection Of Crime Suspects' DNA; Policy Adds People Arrested but Not Convicted ( The Washington Post | April 17, 2008 )

Anonymous said...

What is needed are some amendments to the Texas Penal Code and Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, which would require that DNA samples in certain kinds of cases be taken of a victim and of a pleading-out defendant charged with a crime involving that victim. Going one step further, the amendments should provide that no plea can be accepted without the DNA samples being taken.

Testing of the DNA samples could also be required in certain kinds of cases, where a defendant is pleading-out.

I think that this kind of program could be put in place without enabling legislation, by the offices of district attorneys, and by the judges who hear criminal cases.

Just think of the time, money and judicial effort that could be saved with this approach. Some district attorneys will oppose it, because it could screw up the cases they and LE have made against an in-fact not guilty defendant.

Clearly, prosecutors who want to destroy DNA evidence as part of plea bargains have lost sight of why they are there. The goal of their efforts is required to be justice, not necessarily conviction.

Anonymous said...

Don't prosecutors typically give up something too in a plea bargain--for example a harsher sentence? In this sense, a plea of guilty by a defendant is certainly a contract. Either side has certain risks associated with going to trial. What benefit would there ever be to the prosecution if defendants are permitted to unilaterally bust pleas with post conviction testing? If there's no ability to rest on the finality of a guilty plea, what incentive would there ever be for prosecutors to plea bargain for lower sentences? It would be far simpler just to take the cases to trial and seek a maximum sentence.

Hook Em Horns said...

Anonymous said...

Don't prosecutors typically give up something too in a plea bargain--for example a harsher sentence? In this sense, a plea of guilty by a defendant is certainly a contract. Either side has certain risks associated with going to trial. What benefit would there ever be to the prosecution if defendants are permitted to unilaterally bust pleas with post conviction testing? If there's no ability to rest on the finality of a guilty plea, what incentive would there ever be for prosecutors to plea bargain for lower sentences? It would be far simpler just to take the cases to trial and seek a maximum sentence.

10/19/2009 07:05:00 PM

You really dont understand Texas justice at all. The defense in Texas ALWAYS has a lot more to lose...ALWAYS!

Hook Em Horns said...

What is the point of a guilty plea if the defendant is not guilty and DNA can prove it? Where is the justice in threatening people with the maximum sentence if they go to trial and lose? Where is the justice when judges routinely set huge bail knowing that the defendant would not dare appeal to the CCA? THERE IS NO JUSTICE IN TEXAS! Only a frontier law and order mentality that locks up ANYONE seemed suitable.

Anonymous said...

Boyness, dude, it must be miserable being you! One word: Counseling!

Anonymous said...

Trying to look at a plea deal as a contract doesn't work. The reason is that there is a huge disparity in the bargaining power and in what each side stands to lose. The prosecutor is in a much more powerful possition than the defendant. The prosecutor has little to lose, whreas the defendant may be facing spending a significant portion of their life in prison. The prosecutor has the resources of the police, forensic experts, labs, and other experts at their disposal. For the defendant to afford those same kinds of resources they would have to be pretty wealthy. Trying to look at a plea deal as a contract is kind of like trying to say you can negotiate a contract with the IRS as to whether you will pay your taxes or not. Maybe you can find a way to pay a little less but you are going to pay.

Anonymous said...

Didn't most of the Tulia people
plead guilty?

Anonymous said...

I guess you can turn any thread into a Bradley attack thread. He's got more balls, more sense and more compassion than you'll ever have.

Once you get that elusive bachelor's degree, and then that law degree, and then practice law for roughly 25 yearss, then you earn the right to criticize a man who has spent his entire working life trying to make our state safer for you and your family.

I'm so glad he is prosecuting criminals, particularly violent ones, instead of promoting some hack website in an feeble attempt to appear smart.

An oath to God is a sacred pledge. What Bradley is doing is prosecuting false statements made by defendant's who violate that promise to God to tell the truth, then when they think better of their guilty plea (because they are guilty and don't like prison), they concoct their writs and plans that clog the system.

Here's a news flash: If you're not guilty, don't plead guilty.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Thanks for your input 9:15/Mrs. Bradley.

Red Leatherman said...

9:15 said "Here's a news flash: If you're not guilty, don't plead guilty"
Then why would a innocent person plead guilty?
Do we need to make the penalty for falsely pleading guilty to a crime carry a heaver sentence if it's found to be a lie?
We could make it a automatic death penalty for anyone found to have lied by pleading guilty to a crime they didn't commit. That might stop people from making plea deals unless they are truly guilty eh?

Anonymous said...

To anonymous 10:17 on 10/19/09 I know a man who plead guilty because two Sheriffs in Williamson county held chairs against both shoulders while they questioned and set a piece of paper in front of him. To stop the pain, he said he'd confess. His confession was dictated by one of the sheriffs. He thought he could have his guilty plea overturned because of the harrassment. He wasn't guilty. He was co-erced. After the family sold everything, they've tried twice to have his plea overturned but TX is hardnosed and put it back in Williamson county where the evil deed was originally done. The request denied.

Anonymous said...

Boyness- I just want to thank you for trying to help "anonymous" understand what happens and why people do plea guilty. Just like you said "anonymous" really doesn't udnerstand the TX way of un-"justice". ...Sandra

Anonymous said...

Take it to trial.

If the DNA hasn't been done, make it an issue. If the DNA proves guilt, don't plea the case.

This "I'm guilty, but now I'm not," depending on the defendant's advantage and opportunity doesn't serve society, justice or anyone.

Take it to trial, and let the juries decide. Take the DA out of the plea equation.

Let the defendant meet his fate.

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

Anonymous is always a coward hiding behind some mask. "Take it to trial" might work in any state EXCEPT TEXAS! Would you take your chance at trial in a state with 40+ DNA exonerations? Even anonymous doesnt buy this...ANY OF THEM!

Mark #1 said...

What the hell does "an oath to God" have to do with justice? Or are we hearing from one of those prosecutors who believes he's "picking God's orchard" by sending the "unworthy" to the pen? I've heard that kind of claptrap before straight from one of those wackos. One of these days, prosecutors will be forced to learn that it really is about "justice," not convictions. . .Sanctimony and hypocrisy don't really sell that well when measured against the growing tide of exonerations; but by all means, keep it up; we'll get a law passed yet reining your types in. Anybody who thinks there's anything acceptable about an innocent person being sent to prison does not have any business anywhere near the criminal justice system--innocence trumps "finality"--and it's ludicrous to even attempt to say so with a straight face. But I guess as long as somebody is fitted to the crime, it's close enough for government work, huh, orchard picker?

Karo said...

Most of the post-conviction writs clogging up the courts are baseless garbage filed by bored prisoners. These guys have a grudge against the justice system and nothing better to do so why not gum up the works. Not only do they waste everyone's time, the constant crying “Wolf!” drowns the meritorious claims of actual innocence and inure those officials responsible for evaluating such claims.

Dissuading bogus writs is a worthy goal but surely stacking perjury convictions is a heavy-handed approach that could have a chilling effect for the rare few that are actually innocent.

jackie buffalo said...

This is all a hoot. Really the whole system is so totally corrupt, come on, now, right. Like there's really anything to debate.
These prosecutors are seeking to thwart post-conviction innocence claims, of course! They have worked so diligently to wear most of these people out, and they are the masters of their game, to make innocents take that bogus plea. I have never in my entire life met a bigger bunch of liars and name-callers. And if you don't go along with their lies, right there in the courtroom, and under oath, they will make sure you pay for it.
And those constables that are under investigation for treating people like chicken snakes? They can send their constables after you under the guise of an investigation while they really play a little cat & mouse game with you and your family. Ask Judge Foster how difficult it is to get someone to investigate claims of wrong-doing on the part of constables.

Anonymous said...

Everyone has totally missed the boat on this. It's a matter of storage--because everything, and I mean every single piece of physical evidence in every single felony case could potentially contain DNA evidence/biological material and so it would all have to be stored somewhere and stored in a manner where the DNA would not be degregated. Rember the warehouse scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark? No one is trying to hide innocence or destroy exculpatory evidence. Dude, you got to chill.

Mandy said...

Anon. 9:15 - "What Bradley is doing is prosecuting false statements made by defendant's who violate that promise to God to tell the truth, then when they think better of their guilty plea (because they are guilty and don't like prison), they concoct their writs and plans that clog the system."

No, what Bradley is doing is intimidating people into not attempting to get a remedy they are entitled to under the law. He is a bully. And Williamson County is not posterchild for fair justice.

Anonymous said...

Have any of you "bleeding hearts" ever stopped to consider exactly what, if anything, there is to be gained by prosecuting an innocent person? Lord knows, there are more guilty ones out there than prosecutors can keep up with now. I've got a news flash for y'all: Crime really does happen in Texas! People get murdered, women get raped, children really do get molested, etc.. Prosecutors, or at least all the ones I know, want to see the real criminals get apprehended and punished. It serves no public purpose for the wrong people to be prosecuted. The problem is that 99.9% of the criminals in prison will tell you they're innocent. And they have nothing better to do than sit around concocting clever schemes to get out. Whatever meritorious claims of innocence exist, frequently get lost in the mountains of frivolous crap that writ writers put out. And I think most folks (with good sense, at least) are rightly skeptical when some convict who has pled guilty now claims he's innocent. Not to say that false guilty pleas don't happen, but if you can't take a guy's word for it (under oath) that he did it, what more do you have to have.

In the last few months since I've been reading this blog, the following types of evidence have all been criticized for one reason or another: DNA (see Houston P.D. Crime Lab), photo lineups, eyewitness identifications, fingerprint analysis, confessions, testimony of co-defendants, jailhouse snitches, arson forensics, ballistics, scent line-ups by dogs, testimony of undercover narcotics officers, consensual searches, testimony of child victims and now GUILTY PLEAS! Is there any type of proof or level of evidence out there that will convince any of you liberals that someone actually did commit a crime??? Because, believe you me, there really are real victims out there who deserve justice!!!

What is effectively being advocated on this forum is the crippling of our criminal justice system. Guess what? Our criminal justice system is not perfect and it's never going to be perfect. You can throw as much money at it as you like (money that could be going to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, educate our children or solve the health care crisis) but you're still going to have the human element in the system that is prone to error. For once, I'd like to see Grits step up to the plate and inform the readers exactly what standards he feels should be imposed before someone who's pled guilty should be allowed to open up a conviction? And more importantly, what's it going to cost the taxpayers? Where's the money going to come from? If you want to tax our country into socialism, I'd suggest that you look at China and see how fair things are in that country for individuals who are charged with crimes. If anarchy is what you're advocating, well,...maybe given the expansion of the concealed carry law in Texas that wouldn't be such a bad thing!

At any rate, for all the criticism that occurs on this board, the bottom line is, unfortunately, the bottom line. It's real easy to criticize. It's a far different thing to offer real solutions and pay for them.

At the end of the day, the people of this state have a fairly low tolerance for people who commit crimes. And they understand that there is a certain amount of inefficiency in the system (just like there is in health care, air travel, highway transit, etc.) and that inefficiency will sometimes hurt innocent people. Nonetheless, the public understands that the overall safety of society is the greater good-- some inefficiency notwithstanding.

Wake up, people. The system really does get it right way more often than not. 40 exhonerations is bad but that number is infinitesimal compared to the millions who have been rightly convicted in this state. The black helicopters really aren't coming to get you!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

3:24 writes: "For once, I'd like to see Grits step up to the plate and inform the readers exactly what standards he feels should be imposed before someone who's pled guilty should be allowed to open up a conviction? And more importantly, what's it going to cost the taxpayers?"

On the first question, there's no need for me to articulate standards. There are already plenty in place. All I've advocated in this post is not destroying evidence or requiring waivers of scientific testing, e.g., so those standards can actually be applied in the real world. There are elaborate rules in place about when defendants can get DNA testing, but if the evidence is destroyed they can't be applied.

As for cost, in most cases I'm aware of the defendant paid for testing. It usually doesn't come out of taxpayers' pockets.

Nobody said prosecutors WANT to convict innocent people, just that the state tolerates sloppy evidence and investigative techniques that make it likely innocent people will be convicted. Those problems can't be improved without identifying and discussing them openly. But for some people, like yourself, it appears see no evil hear no evil will always be good enough. IMO Texas deserves better.

Hook Em Horns said...

"Nonetheless, the public understands that the overall safety of society is the greater good-- some inefficiency notwithstanding.

And that inefficiency will be fine with YOU until they throw your stupid ass in WHITE for something you didn't do. This is EXACTLY whats wrong with Texas. The law and order morons will accept some "inefficiency" which is why we have 40+ DNA exonerations, not to mention the NON-DNA offenders released because of liars and cheats wearing robes and suits and even badges!!

Anonymous said...

Karo babbled :

"Most of the post-conviction writs clogging up the courts are baseless garbage filed by bored prisoners....blah, blah, blah...)

Are you smoking crack? There are more than 15,000 innocent people locked up in Texas, and more than 75,000 innocent people in Texas who are either locked up, on probation, or on parole.

Anonymous said...

Sure there are, 3:39, if you don't believe it just ask them!

David N Austin said...

Mr. or Mrs. Bradley?? Anonymous?? 9:15pm

sounds like you should be his next campaign chairman?

I guess you've really never had a loved one or close friend involved with our Texas system of justice? Until you do I doubt you will have the understanding or compassion you need to make it better. Bradley has no more balls than the next politician. He's in a POWER position where putting people away with coerced and forced plea deals and arm twisting scare tactics only moves him higher up on that political power ladder. Is that called "ego" or "megalomania"? Not sure, but the majority of politicians are infected with it.

Our Texas system is indeed f'd up! You'll never see it until you're on the other side of it - the accused - it's stacked against you from the start - overwhelmingly - especially in "hickish" backward counties like Williamson - GUILTY until proven innocent!

How do you reconcile the fact that Bradley only recommended 2 yrs State jail time and 10 yrs probation to an Williamson County cop, Jimmy Fennel, that used his uniform and his authority to kidnap and RAPE an innocent woman?? Hmmm? (since you say he's out their bashing the criminal element with his "nuts" - ouch!!) What would you feel like if that "sicko" cop had stopped you? Would you feel that Mr. Bradley had recommended appropriate justice if that had been you?

It's f'd up - he just put my dearest loved friend and roommate away for 15yrs in TDC on a low level substance abuse probation violation. Scaring and forcing him into a shitty plea deal cause his Public Defender didn't defend him; He seemed like he was Bradley's and Carne's best golfing buddy! My friend is totally non-violent, wouldn't steal a stick of gum from a store, a peaceful, quiet, artist with a mental illness; never hurt anyone nor ever would hurt anyone. He's been the first to jump to the aid of anyone needing help. He just chose to put something in his OWN body that made him feel good and help him deal with his illness. This so called "compassionate" DA showed no compassion whatsoever in treatment. No consideration that without access to mental health care MOST mental health defendants are most likely self medicating their illness. In other words, put those poor, small time drug abusers that can't afford a private atty to prison. Offer the bad cops a sweet deal. Kinda twisted if you ask most people. Luckily the Judge (Carnes) threw out the plea and sentenced him to a much stiffer length of time in prison (I'm no fan of Carnes). Get this Anonymous; my friend is in for 5 yrs longer than Fennel is. A violent, sick, sexually deviant rapist that needs to be off the street. How do you explain it? F'D UP FOR SURE!!

Anyway, back on subject here - destroying DNA evidence and using unethical tactics to force less fortunate defendants into bad plea deals is not JUSTICE!! Forcing them to "sign away" their DNA evidence rights is not JUSTICE!! Utterly destroying totally non violent and good people's lives to improve his conviction record is not JUSTICE!! Gimme a break!!

If he's so confident and interested in seeking true justice (as you state), of truly putting the right person away for the right crime (instead of putting the person away that fits the evidence), of keeping those really mean and violent criminals off your streets; it doesn't make sense he'd be against keeping DNA evidence.

Oh, why do you "conservatives" always have to bring your religion into everything?? MY GOD!!!!! Keep it to yourselves. It's about truth and justice for all, not just the powerful and well connected or the ones that are "Godly". The Legi needs to draft a law preventing the destruction of DNA evidence!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, guys, but it isn't just Texas. Up here in America's Hat, they call it 'black catting'. They handcuff you in the cruiser (handcuffs as safety belt) and take you for a drive until you agree to confess, braking for every black cat they see. Lots of black cats up here, and they really blend in with the snow ;)

NoMoreNoloContendere said...

Hey Scott, Great peice that deserves follow-up consideration.

It looks like you and a few others have already taken to task those in need.

To me; Destroying the DNA evidence used to obtain a plea bargained rape conviction, is the same as, seeking to destroy faked or planted exhibits, case files, police records, notes and photos used to obtain a plea bargained robbery conviction. Texas owns enough property to store evidence used to convict for at least 10 years after the date of being released from parole.

Collecting and introducing (any and all) evidence in a criminal matter resulting in an arrest and indictment and listed as a State's Exhibit, shouldn't be admissible without an investigation showing testing and or confirmation that the evidence shows guilt beyond any and all doubts.

If there's enough so-called evidence, then plea bargaining shouldn't be allowed in the room. What the hell are friggin juries for? We all know who pays the $80K per year everytime DNA and or hidden police reports finally excludes someone. Just think if it was to exclude them before the trial. Na-too easy. Allowing prosecutors to go after the very ones they framed with plea bargains won't be tolerated.

PROJECT: Not Guilty

Anonymous said...

Suppose the DA has a mountain of evidence of guilt in a brutal capital offense but it would take 3 weeks to put on all that evidence in a death penalty trial. Plus another week for future dangerousness and mitigation during the punishment phase. Now suppose the defendant wants to accept a plea bargain for Life Without Parole. Finally suppose the DA knows the judge isn't willing to sit through a 3 week plea just to hear testimony of how guilty this guy is but at the same time the DA needs to get this mountain of evidence into the court's record so it is available to defend the conviction against inevitable future fraudulent writs proclaiming innocence.

Option A: Plea agreement includes waiver of appeal, destruction of evidence, etc.
Option B: DA refuses to waive jury trial and defendant is sentenced to death.

If we remove the possibility of Option A we'll just get more of Option

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous at 10/19/2009 09:15:00 PM:

You gotta be f'ing kidding us.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, guys, but it isn't just Texas. Up here in America's Hat, they call it 'black catting'. They handcuff you in the cruiser (handcuffs as safety belt) and take you for a drive until you agree to confess, braking for every black cat they see. Lots of black cats up here, and they really blend in with the snow ;)

Well isn't that ironic, down here we exclude "Canadians" from our juries.

NoMoreNoloContendere said...

To the Assitant District Attorney, AKA: "Anonymous" that's pissing all over the place. You might not know it but you have two personalities. You anons. all look alike but it's clear one of you is on the clock.(exempt status or retired?)

One is logical by saying stuff like, let the juries do their jobs and if you are not guilty don't plead. Then you go way left and sound like a tard. We all know by now where you work (just not sure which floor) yet?

Please consider keeping up the logical rant. Let us all know how you feel about it being mandatory (once voir dire is completed) that all cases must proceed to jury. Thus, once a jury is seated, it's on, no one gets to tap out. Please refrain from throwing a friggin wrench in the mix.

NoMoreNoloContendere said...

To 10:17:00 AM
NO, in real life, defendants are not placed under any friggin oath. In the "Information" there is fine print that the judge doesn't allow the defendant to read, the word Not Guilty is crossed out, and "No Contest" is wrote in black ink.

The problem is that 95% of the time the attorney pusses out and plays along with his boyfriend the ADA.

100% of the time the attorney declines to inform the defendant that when he goes in to the judge's chamber's (AKA: Open Court) to sign plea papers, he's really pleading Guilty and bargained away rights to appeal.

Now the boyfriend wants to destroy evidence of a relationship and file charges against anyone that dares to grow a pair.

FYI, you can burn books til you puke, but the stinch will remain on your clothes while we print more. Bradley will go away when Perry is booted.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 3:30pm wrote:

" are more than 15,000 innocent people locked up in Texas, and more than 75,000 innocent people in Texas who are either locked up, on probation, or on parole."

Huh? Grits article doesn't say that...oops, nevermind, I see it in the comments after the article.

Anonymous said...

Report: UK police categorize political activists as ‘domestic extremists’

AWC said...

Perjury is allowed in Harris county court! Two women were allowed by prosecutors to tell over 150 inconsistent statements to wrongfully convict a innocent man.

Anonymous said...

I was forced to except a plea bargain back in 2002 only because the prosecutors for el paso county were allowed to use charges that they know i didn't commit as a means of stacking to secure a convictions. No one wanted to listen to my pleas for harrassment from the texas rangers and the investigators at fort bliss. Even though I had in my possession an arson investigation report that was clearly flawed. my attorney advised me to take the plea or the harrassment would continue. I look at this report all the time and I wonder how many other innocent individuals are forced to take plea bargains because they don't have the money to properly fight a case or hire an attorney who won't sell their souls to the prosecuting attorney as a favor

Anonymous said...

I am one who pled not guilty. I watched lie after lie and defense presented no evidence, no witness. Despite over two hundred documents showing prior statements other acts of fraud, criminal accusations against family members the claims were turned down for prosecution and defense counsel la te da was to busy to review or present on pice of evidence. Despite police interview showing inconsistency, despite civil,divorce counsel showing twelve different renditions, three conflicting statements under oath,dispute no examination of medical evidence, despite pre existing condition of injury, despite two years of wearing a monitor, being accused of violating a protective order and time after time finding the gps said it was not true and most of all being arrested for a PO violation at the exact same time as I was standing in front of the magistrate then having the defense counsel realize he did not investigate, he had admitted on the record he did not interview witnesses and conducted no investigation, badgered, lied and coerced a plea at sentencing that served only him and not his client. After untold infliction of mental cruelty including convincing daughter to attempt police report claiming sexual assault that investigation found suspicious and without merit, and then withholding police report to get a protective order, despite the youngest daughter who happened to be eye witness and was under pending indictment for threatening mom and sisters with a handgun requiring police intervention to disarm her, despite factual innocence from a know prescription drug addict who, in evidence fold the er into giving more narcotics, despite the victim administering the narcotic to the alleged perp after surgery without his knowledge knowing he reacted badly to the drug as sworn on the victims statement the defense attorney convinced a completely discouraged worn out man to plea, against his protests to assault for ten years probation with the promise he could go back to his family in another state because he was in danger in texas after being assaulted three times by two men in the court parking garage on camera with multiple eye witnesses only to have the charges against them dropped in the interest of justice he took the plea after finding of guilt in bench trial to try and stop the insanity. Trade places and see if you want that kind of "cowboy justice" for you or a ,ember of your family who marries a sociopath. Crap, what are you thinking?

Anonymous said...

Ok anonymous try this on and see if it fits....Investigation :1st stage: Suspect asked to give a DNA sample to prove hes innocent of sexual assault to be compared to DNA that a rape kit recovered from victim.Accused gladly summits DNA was told 6-12 weeks results will be bac .If you dnt match.We will move on. STAGE 2: Accused gets arrested next day..sits in jail sits in jail sits in jail.while eagerly awaiting results to return to set him free ..Attemps to contact attorney( paid) to inquire about results.again and again.numerous failed attempts.FINALLY 8 months later (still in jail) Attorney visits with guess wat ? DNA results in hand.Accused thinking finally im getting out .Attorney says YOU R IN NO WAY A MATCH ,EXCLUDED OF THE POSSIBILITY.then boom but the D.A is not dismissing your almost guaranteed a life sentence if you fight this.and I need more money to defend u in a trial and ur family says they have no more so .D.A has a plea to offer?its ur only option.From a legal point of veiw in ur situation I strongly advise you to accept..NO JUDGE ,NO COURTROOM,NO OATH ,convicted lifetime sex offender signed his life away with all partys involved knowing he was innocent .Why? Idk. how? Idk..oh and now 10 years later,find out results returned to D.A which gave attorney a copy 5 months prior to The day life was signed away.NOW why would they let a person sit in jail even after his proof of innocence came bac? Why would the D.A even thinking about a plea deal? Why did he just not Dismiss the charges and let him free and try to find the real perp? Wat could be so valuable to persuade the officials to break their oath to protect and serve not only the false imprisoned but the victim as well and to fight for justice ,wat could be their motivation to throw their morals ,compassion,human dignity out the window and how do they sleep at night.i strongly doubt that laziness is preventing them from WORK nd catching the True perp, so could it be perhaps something to do with money ? :-) wats is ur solution to ,if dna has already been collected ,tested ,and ,excluded as a match ,BEFORE conviction ?and can u honestlly say u would NOT have plead ?

Anonymous said...

BULLSHIT .you are fooled .That is exactly what it is about .Thats exactly what they trying to do.What makes you think they care about where the hell their gona put it .That is so totally not the problem or job .There problem is that X amount of years ago they did a rush job on a case and juz grab the first person on the street passing by and with no evidence of guilt but was proof of innocence( they were fully aware of,)and,scared,coerced,treatened,bullyed,lied ,twisted,him into signing their agreement so they wouldnt be late for coctails with the boys at the remington..,after forgettting even the name of the person they ruined the life of , suddenly POPS bac up and is attempting to bring all u stashed away not remembering exactly what u done to the case what uve forged or stashed thinking at the time noone would ever see it,now no tellings who is going to have their hands eyes on ur rush job, digging up know you could get in trouble if u done this or didnt do that or y did u leave that in the file or y didnt I juz do my job and uphold the oath I gave and help the VICTIM by putting the actuall assalant away and work to find the truth the proper way.omg omg omg .YES OFCOURSE THEY R GOING TO HIDE THEIR RUSHED WORK .IT COULD LAND THEM IN THE PLACE THEYVE SENT THE INNOCENT EVEN THO ITS WHERE THEY BELONG BCUZ WE TRUST THEM .THEY R THE GUILTY.

Anonymous said...

I could not agree more .thank you david n austin..for seeing the way things r and recognizing the truth .I was beginning to think I was alone with these thoughts ..