Thursday, January 18, 2018

Two Big-D capital-murder cases overturned for prosecutor misconduct

Stanley Mozee and Dennis Allen, two Dallas men convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life prison for a 1999 robbery, have finally been cleared of capital-murder charges after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals approved habeas relief last week.  Their cases were championed by the national Innocence Project and my former employers at IPOT. The CCA set aside their convictions without confirming their innocence. (In cases lacking exonerating DNA or other forensic evidence, that's typically been the best the CCA has been willing to do.) There will be no new trial, however. The Dallas DA's office already agreed to their release in 2014 pending this decision, and has agreed the cases should be set aside.

Instead of straight-up innocence claims, the convictions were overturned based on withheld exculpatory evidence, the failure of prosecutors to disclose incentives for snitch testimony, and prosecutor Rick Jackson allegedly soliciting testimony he knew was false then failing to correct it. See good writeups from the national Innocence Project and from The Open File. Here's the order from the trial judge the CCA affirmed, and 2016 coverage of the case from the Dallas News.

RELATED: This seems like a good opportunity to link to attorney Jessica Brand's recent explainer article, "The Epidemic of Brady Violations Explained." The Michael Morton Act resolved some, but not all, of the discovery problems in Texas, it should be said. The disclosure requirements on Texas prosecutors today significantly exceed those under Brady, which exclusively governed criminal discovery at the time Mozee and Allen were tried.

CORRECTION: The date of the robbery and conviction were misstated in the original post and have been corrected.


Anonymous said...

Grits, could you finish the first paragraph? You left a cliffhanger.

Anonymous said...

He's pausing for you to get the full effect of that awesome shirt!

Steven Michael Seys said...

In the 1980's, Henry Wade's staff were willing to circumvent any and every rule to win a conviction, especially in murder cases. I would be surprised to find a case from the last years of Wade's tenure that didn't include copious amounts of prosecutorial misconduct, including violations of Brady, known use of perjury, leading and misleading comments to the jury, etc. The question I ask is not how many innocent people are still under the onus of a false conviction, but how many perpetrators Wade allowed to get away with their crimes by convicting a convenient innocent person.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Ha! Pausing for full effect, indeed!!

The DA's office agreed to their release in 2014, they support overturning the case and aren't going to re-prosecute.

Thanks pointing that out, what a brain fart!

Anonymous said...

@anyone who is familiar with the details of the case-

When was the DNA tested?
Who tested it?
And is there a known identification of the DNA profile?
Or, do we still have a perp at-large?

Anonymous said...


Am I missing something? Your blog describes this as a 1980 robbery. But all the links report it as a 1999 crime with a 2000 conviction.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@8:23, you're right. I apparently botched this post entirely. Was trying to throw something up before leaving the house and obviously didn't dot all my i's or cross my t's. Will correct.

Anonymous said...

Well, if blogging doesn't work out you can always get a job at the Austin Crime Lab

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Exactly, 11:44, or as a Cedar Park detective!