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Old 05-04-2008, 04:05 PM   #1 (permalink)
Living in a Warmer Insanity
 
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Guilty, now shut up and go away.

So I'm doing what I usually do on a Sunday, no not that! The other thing, watching too much TV. A couple beers and Fox's Sunday line up and I'm good. Tonight I caught 60 Minutes on CBS. It left me crying in my beer:

(CBS) There's been some bitter soul searching going on in Dallas County, as one man after another is being released from prison after being convicted, years ago, of crimes they did not commit. As correspondent Scott Pelley reports, it happened again just last week with the release of a man who had been proclaiming his innocence, behind bars, for 27 years.

So far, 17 men have been cleared in Dallas - that's more than most states. All were put on trial by prosecutors who worked for the legendary District Attorney Henry Wade. Wade was Dallas' top prosecutor for more than 30 years. He never lost a case he handled personally. But it turns out the record of Wade's office was too good to be true. And now, a new Dallas district attorney is focusing on the Wade legacy - it's a search for innocent men waiting to be exonerated.


James Woodard went away in 1981, convicted in the murder of his girlfriend who had been raped and strangled. He was prosecuted by the office of District Attorney Henry Wade. For nearly 30 years, he never gave up writing letters, and filing motions. But no one was willing to grant him a hearing-until now.

60 Minutes was there last year when Woodard gave the DNA sample that would determine his true guilt or innocence. Since 2001, there has been a series of men in Dallas County who have walked from prison into freedom.

The exonerated include Eugene Henton, James Waller, who did almost 11 years, Greg Wallis, who was in for nearly 19, and James Giles, who did 10 years; Billy Smith was convicted of aggravated sexual assault and served nearly 20 years for a crime he didn't commit.

James Waller rejected a plea bargain for a rape he didn't commit. "They offered me three years. I turned it down. And I said, 'We go to trial.' And I came out with 30 years," he tells Pelley.

Asked why he turned down the deal, Waller says, "I know one day that I was gonna have to die, and I didn't want to go before God saying I did something that I didn't do."


Watching this and I note that of the five men they interviewed who had been cleared- only one was white. Somehow I don't think statistically that's merely accidental.

Watching it also made me want to leave here and join the efforts to search through these files. Not much has me wanting to leave my little corner of paradise by the beach, this did.

Did anyone else catch this show?

Thoughts?

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/...n4065454.shtml
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Last edited by Tully Mars; 05-04-2008 at 04:10 PM.. Reason: Left out link, or I fucking felt like it- you pick
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Old 05-04-2008, 04:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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i saw a small piece of that program. where is henry wade? what does he have to say for himself? i would love to see 90-year-old mike wallace go after him...
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Old 05-04-2008, 04:10 PM   #3 (permalink)
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This is why I want to work for the public defender's office.
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Old 05-04-2008, 04:12 PM   #4 (permalink)
Living in a Warmer Insanity
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle phil
i saw a small piece of that program. where is henry wade? what does he have to say for himself? i would love to see 90-year-old mike wallace go after him...
He died in 2001. If he's answering to someone it isn't Mike Wallace.

Quote:
Originally Posted by willravel
This is why I want to work for the public defender's office.
I knew you were a stand up guy.

I worked on the other side of the fence for more years then I should have. Some shit makes me ill to this day.
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Last edited by Tully Mars; 05-04-2008 at 04:15 PM.. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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Old 05-04-2008, 04:20 PM   #5 (permalink)
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This was a great play and film... if you get a chance to catch it (I think it airs on Court TV) you should: http://www.theexonerated.com/
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Old 05-04-2008, 04:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlatan
This was a great play and film... if you get a chance to catch it (I think it airs on Court TV) you should: http://www.theexonerated.com/
Very interesting. Wonder if the rights to this can be applied for? The Merida English Library puts on a couple plays each winter. Last December I had a bit part in short comedy written by a guy from Thunderbay.
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Old 05-04-2008, 04:40 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willravel
This is why I want to work for the public defender's office.
It's not for the amazing pay?
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Old 05-04-2008, 04:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
... a sort of licensed troubleshooter.
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by filtherton
It's not for the amazing pay?
$45,000 a year is enough to live on. Besides, when you eventually go private you have a ton of experience with the DA and you make a lot more.
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Old 05-04-2008, 05:55 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willravel
This is why I want to work for the public defender's office.
You think you'll be popular if you start casting doubts on cases you think you might win, just because they may not be 'just'?
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Old 05-04-2008, 05:56 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tisonlyi
You think you'll be popular if you start casting doubts on cases you think you might win, just because they may not be 'just'?
Public defender != DA.

A public defender's job is (theoretically) to defend the innocent.
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Old 05-04-2008, 06:17 PM   #11 (permalink)
... a sort of licensed troubleshooter.
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tisonlyi
You think you'll be popular if you start casting doubts on cases you think you might win, just because they may not be 'just'?
Have you ever heard the miranda rights?
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
A public defender is the attorney that's appointed for the defendant who cannot afford an attorney. It's a part of the Sixth Amendment. The DA office prosecutes and I defend.
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Old 05-04-2008, 06:56 PM   #12 (permalink)
Living in a Warmer Insanity
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martian
A public defender's job is (theoretically) to defend the innocent.
No, I disagree. It's the public defenders job to ensure everyone receives proper legal counsel and a fair trial.
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Old 05-04-2008, 07:00 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Sorry, Tully, didn't mean to get this off track.

Had there been more capable public defenders, the prosecutors under Wade might have lost more often. The idea is to have capable attorneys on both side, and the hope is that justice will provide the attorney who's correct with a win.
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Old 05-04-2008, 07:00 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Can a manipulative DA be blamed for it all? Wouldn't the jury have a large part to play, meaning a shared apathy by all, even the judge and defense attorney.
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Old 05-04-2008, 07:10 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phamtc
Can a manipulative DA be blamed for it all? Wouldn't the jury have a large part to play, meaning a shared apathy by all, even the judge and defense attorney.

I think a dishonest DA has power that could sway a lot of cases. Of course if a PD is going to lie they too can manipulate things, just don't have as much power IMO.
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Old 05-05-2008, 04:40 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phamtc
Can a manipulative DA be blamed for it all? Wouldn't the jury have a large part to play, meaning a shared apathy by all, even the judge and defense attorney.
In this case, yes. The jury only heard what the DA wanted them to hear. They failed to give exculpatory evidence that the victim was seen with 3 other men the night she was murdered (and not the accused) to the defense. The DA is required BY LAW to disclose that. Mr. Ward also had an alibi, in that he had another girlfriend and spent the night with her at her aunt's house - while the aunt was home.

When you have the DA and the police lieing in a case just to get a conviction, things can go very badly. It's interesting that Dallas County has reviewed over 40 rape convictions in the past few years and exonerated 19 of them based on DNA evidence. Fortunately for these guys, the county kept DNA evidence. Unfortunately for a lot of other inmates, Dallas County is about the only one in Texas that did.
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Old 05-05-2008, 04:47 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willravel
$45,000 a year is enough to live on. Besides, when you eventually go private you have a ton of experience with the DA and you make a lot more.
45k is not enough to live on unless you and your family are never sick.
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Old 05-05-2008, 04:49 AM   #18 (permalink)
Living in a Warmer Insanity
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dksuddeth
45k is not enough to live on unless you and your family are never sick.
Or you're single and just starting out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Jazz
In this case, yes. The jury only heard what the DA wanted them to hear. They failed to give exculpatory evidence that the victim was seen with 3 other men the night she was murdered (and not the accused) to the defense. The DA is required BY LAW to disclose that. Mr. Ward also had an alibi, in that he had another girlfriend and spent the night with her at her aunt's house - while the aunt was home.

When you have the DA and the police lieing in a case just to get a conviction, things can go very badly. It's interesting that Dallas County has reviewed over 40 rape convictions in the past few years and exonerated 19 of them based on DNA evidence. Fortunately for these guys, the county kept DNA evidence. Unfortunately for a lot of other inmates, Dallas County is about the only one in Texas that did.
This is the same guy those office prosecuted the Randall Dale Adams case. A man who came within 3 days of execution for a crime he was later cleared. Errol Morris made a documentary film, The Thin Blue Line, about Adams and his case.

I have to think there's at least a serious possibility that not everyone on Texas's death row is guilty and several innocent guys may well have fried.
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Last edited by Tully Mars; 05-05-2008 at 04:58 AM.. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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Old 05-05-2008, 05:00 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Where the hell do you guys live where $45k isn't a good salary? A single person making $45k in NC is well above average. $45k for the whole household isn't a lot but 1 person bringing that in is respectable.
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Old 05-05-2008, 06:32 AM   #20 (permalink)
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In practical senses, it's the DA's job to protect the innocent. It is not the DA's job to prosecute every case and get a conviction.. sadly this thought has disappeared from many DA's minds.. ala Mike Nifong and Nancy Grace.

I'm sure that the fact that many of the 17 that have been released so far being black is mostly statistical, considering the number of black vs white inmates. Don't forget that this is also being spearheaded by Project Innocence. I'm sure they don't just go for black inmates over white inmates. NC has had two or three white inmates released in the past year.

I caught part of the show and I'm all for getting the innocent out of jail, however, I wonder if too much time is being spent on the DA's office on this aspect rather than getting the crime rate down in his city which is one of the highest in the nation. Perhaps he should set up a seperate division to handle this and let PI run it and he can just do a review when it's deemed necessary.
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Old 05-05-2008, 06:45 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guccilvr
I caught part of the show and I'm all for getting the innocent out of jail, however, I wonder if too much time is being spent on the DA's office on this aspect rather than getting the crime rate down in his city which is one of the highest in the nation. Perhaps he should set up a seperate division to handle this and let PI run it and he can just do a review when it's deemed necessary.
There's an argument that this is addressing the crime rate. When innocent people are convicted of things they didn't do, the guilty go unpunished. Perhaps they fall into the system through another crime, but there's no guarantee for that. And if YOUR family member was in jail for something they didn't do, wouldn't you want a DA to admit that someone made a mistake?

The DA investigated the original crime. They made the errors (willful or not) and the fact that this new DA is willing to correct those errors is quite refreshing in my book. Especially in a state who puts more people to death than any other two states combined.
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Old 05-05-2008, 06:52 AM   #22 (permalink)
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It makes me happy to see DNA put to good use.

The fact that most who have been exonerated are African American - we still see a lot of racial profiling. It makes me sad to see a demographic treated in this way. I'm glad that justice is being met.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dksuddeth
45k is not enough to live on unless you and your family are never sick.
Government job = awesome health insurance.
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Old 05-05-2008, 06:52 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guccilvr
In practical senses, it's the DA's job to protect the innocent. It is not the DA's job to prosecute every case and get a conviction.. sadly this thought has disappeared from many DA's minds.. ala Mike Nifong and Nancy Grace.

I'm sure that the fact that many of the 17 that have been released so far being black is mostly statistical, considering the number of black vs white inmates. Don't forget that this is also being spearheaded by Project Innocence. I'm sure they don't just go for black inmates over white inmates. NC has had two or three white inmates released in the past year.

I caught part of the show and I'm all for getting the innocent out of jail, however, I wonder if too much time is being spent on the DA's office on this aspect rather than getting the crime rate down in his city which is one of the highest in the nation. Perhaps he should set up a seperate division to handle this and let PI run it and he can just do a review when it's deemed necessary.
In most areas in the US the DA is elected. This means that they usually tout their conviction rates. Most DAs pass on cases that more than likely will result in an aquittal because of this. So when the DA takes a case, he wants to win for sure.
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Old 05-05-2008, 07:43 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Jazz
There's an argument that this is addressing the crime rate. When innocent people are convicted of things they didn't do, the guilty go unpunished. Perhaps they fall into the system through another crime, but there's no guarantee for that. And if YOUR family member was in jail for something they didn't do, wouldn't you want a DA to admit that someone made a mistake?

The DA investigated the original crime. They made the errors (willful or not) and the fact that this new DA is willing to correct those errors is quite refreshing in my book. Especially in a state who puts more people to death than any other two states combined.
I agree that it is addressing the crime rate in one sense. I'm not saying he's doing the wrong thing or wasting time necessarily; I'm just saying that perhaps this should be set up as a completely different department that is handled by Project Innocence volunteers and the DA would only have to review their findings and could also divert some of his time to the crime on the street.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cynthetiq
In most areas in the US the DA is elected. This means that they usually tout their conviction rates. Most DAs pass on cases that more than likely will result in an aquittal because of this. So when the DA takes a case, he wants to win for sure.
I'm well aware of this fact and there's no problem with giving conviction rates as a measure of electability, but in my mind, most DA's just go for the conviction rather than the truth only to make themselves look better and this puts undue stress on an already weak judicial system and individuals alike. People often want to blame defense attorney's for people being acquited and so forth, when in fact, people should be looking at the DA's that are in office and clearly abuse the powers that are handed to them. They are often times reckless with their responsibility. There is no such thing as innocent until proven guilty in this country anymore.. but I suppose that is a discussion for another thread altogether.

If a DA is passed a case that looks like it is going to acquittal, why should he or she get a blood lust for a conviction? The DA needs to take a fresh look at the case and decide if the prior DA was wrong. Instead, the DA will either pursue it with the wrong attitude or simply push down a plea to get some conviction. I don't want to hear anything about "if a person is innocent, they won't take a plea" that's pure bullshit. If the cards are stacked high enough against a person, they will often times take a plea just to get things over with or simply because they can't win against the system. The system is broken with no clear resolution in sight.

I ramble.. sorry.
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Old 05-05-2008, 08:56 AM   #25 (permalink)
 
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Have you heard the story of Ron Williamson?
John Grisham wrote The Innocent Man (non-fiction) about his story.

I suggest it.

It is really amazing to see the lengths to which the prosecutor and police went to prove their theory. They just could not even fathom that the truth could have been anything else than what they were thinking.
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