Sunday, September 16, 2012

Recantation boosts possible innocence claims of four SA women

A victim recantation has cast new doubt on the case against four young women accused of child molestation in San Antonio, reported the Express-News, potentially corroborating allegations that forensics presented to jurors in the hot-button case were fundamentally flawed and victim testimony by the children at the time was highly inconsistent. "Very little stayed the same from their first statements to police through the last trial — and these accounts differed from the ones their father and grandmother recalled for authorities," the paper reported after an extensive review of the evidence.

In the interest of full disclosure, this possible innocence case is being handled by attorneys working with my employers at the Innocence Project of Texas, though I don't work on the legal side of the organization and have no knowledge of the cases beyond published reports. Reading the two Express-News articles linked above, though, if the four women really were innocent, it points yet again to how powerful victim testimony can be for jurors in court, frequently overcoming contradictions and evidentiary flaws that in hindsight seem clearly significant. One gets the same sense from DNA exoneration cases where convictions were obtained solely based on eyewitness ID, sometimes contradicting credible alibi testimony. Making the matter especially difficult to untangle, often in false ID cases, the witness themselves believe their testimony is accurate. Similarly, in cases where children have been coached and encouraged in their accusations, it's easy for jurors to believe "something happened" based solely on a child declaring in court, "she did it." Such testimony, though, while persuasive isn't always definitive. In this case, the evidence is mounting that jurors may have made a mistake. Read the extensive Express-News stories here and here and judge for yourself.


gutscheine zum ausdrucken said...

very good post

rodsmith said...

all the more reason to make it illegal for victims to be involved in any part of the criminal justice sytem.

keep emotion out of it. Just the facts that can be backed up by clear and overwhelming scientific EVIDENCE!

Which is probbly why the bible required TWO or more witnesses to ANYTHING.

DEWEY said...

Innocent people in Texas prisons ?? I'm SHOCKED !! (Insert sarcasm here.) And even though the women could be innocent, the stigma will remain.

Lee said...

As I have mentioned many times, we need a constitutional admendment to raise the burden of proof in criminal cases from "beyond a reasonable doubt" to "beyond complete doubt" to close off that possiblity of innocent defendants being punished.

Until we make this change, we are going to continue to have these routine meaningless martyrs and disposable casualties at the hands of the state prosecutors while we personally hope never to become the sucker screwed by careless inaction.

If police were doing their jobs correctly, the innocent defendants would not even be arrested. But that is in a perfect world where police do their jobs correctly, this is Earth.

ckikerintulia said...

Juries don't really pay any attention to "beyond reasonable doubt." Raising the bar to completely beyond doubt would mean, if taken seriously and literally, that no one could be convicted. An unreasonable burden of proof on the prosecution.

Lee said...

Beyond complete doubt can be proven. DNA, Fingerprints, Video Survalence Camera, Gunshot Residue, and other forensics easily achieve this mark.

Maybe the whole "beyond a reasonable doubt" was the best they could have done to maintain a civil society in the days of our founding fathers, but today we can do so much more as a result of our progressing technology. Just like in medicine (where we learned that leaches are not healthy), the legal profession can also be upgraded to a higher standard.

DW said...

Here are some more things to consider about the so-called "possible innocence" of these 4 Texas women: all four have passed polygraph tests, 2 administered by a very reputable polygrapher in Texas.(Eric Holden)2. all were offered plea bargains if they pled guilty, but they refused. 3. Three have been offered parole, conditional on completing the Sex Offender Treatment Program, which they have refused. Finally, both the IPoT and NCRJ have thoroughly vetted the case, and would not be backing the four women if there was any doubt about their innocence.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Grits, when you get a chance. If these 4 human's claims' were void of DNA related exculpatory evidence & requested assistance after discharging sentence(s) / parole(s) and being Closed / Inactive case(s)- do you believe that the IPoT would’ve taken the case(s)? (even if they exhausted all of their appeals).

Thinking positive and assuming that they are all exonerated and each one qualifies for compensation settlement packages’ (which are 100% taxpayer funded) and that they all signed contracts' prior to any work done on their behalf by: attorneys / lawyers & interns, is it correct that each one will receive an annual Invoice until a set amount is paid? Or is the Bill settled & P.I.F. with the very first check?

*Asking, due to this 20 plus year long F-Story & those cases' chosen to precede, all including ‘us’ the taxpayers’ at large picking up the tab(s) for the: arrest(s), investigation(s), defense team(s), trial(s), jury(s), housing, security, food, medical, dental, vision, education & post conviction settlement(s) with the Legal Invoice(s) possibly being the cherry on top. Thanks.