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Wednesday, June 03, 2015

NY STATE ADDRESSES FALSE CONFESSIONS AND BAD IDS

Criminal law is an imperfect field. We accept that any human endeavor comes with human frailties and imperfections. What is harder to accept is that in this day and age when almost every criminal conviction carries a state prison minimum mandatory sentence (because a twenty five year old prosecutor is more trustworthy and more able to decide someone's fate then a fifty or sixty year old judge, right?) that knowing the problems that lead to hundreds if not thousands of wrongful convictions a year, Florida chooses to do nothing about it. 

Like Global Warming, False Confessions and Mistaken Identifications are known problems.  They exist. The arctic is disappearing, and DNA evidence is scientifically exonerating thousands of people who were convicted with false confessions and by eyewitnesses whose identifications were knowingly or unknowingly tainted by sloppy police work. 

Like a presidential candidate at a Christian Values Society meeting in Iowa primary season ("I believe in the literal bible and will never accept humans evolved from monkeys!")  Florida continues to (mis) place its faith in a jury system that accepts flawed evidence and wrongfully convicts innocent people. And if you think abolishing the death penalty will solve matters, then go spend ten years of your life in prison for a crime you didn't commit and then let us know how you feel. 

New York however, has stepped up to the plate as reported in this NY Times Article. 

After years of debate and study, a rare coalition of the New York State Bar Association, the District Attorneys Association of New York and the Innocence Project proposed on Tuesday that the state adopt practices to reduce the chances that juries would be swayed by mistaken eyewitnesses or false confessions.

Witnesses would be shown photos of possible suspects by an investigator who was not handling the case, with the goal of eliminating even inadvertent hints or cues about the “right” answer from detectives who might have a suspect in mind.

Once an identification has been made, witnesses would be immediately asked how certain they were of their choice. Witnesses often become more confident over time, so a shaky choice at a police lineup hardens into concrete certainty at trial. A review of 161 wrongful convictions found that 57 percent of the eyewitnesses had not been certain during the initial identifications but had no hesitation when testifying much later during trials,
“Evidence indicates that an eyewitness’s level of confidence in their identification at the time of trial is not a reliable predictor of their accuracy,” the National Research Council found in a major study released in October.
Uncertain witnesses who are given positive feedback about the identifications — “You did great” or “He’s a bad guy, we thought it might be him” — also become more confident about their choices, even if they are wrong, according to a study by Gary L. Wells, a psychologist at Iowa State University.
Among the proposals made on Tuesday, the police would be required to videotape the interrogation of suspects in major felonies. For many years, video cameras were turned on only when a suspect was ready to confess, and there was no record of the hours of interrogation that might have preceded it. Some police departments have started to tape the questioning, but it is not practiced consistently across New York State or even within departments.
“Misidentification and questionable or unreliable statements or confessions are two of the leading causes of wrongful conviction,” said Frank A. Sedita III, the Erie County district attorney and the president of the state’s District Attorneys Association. “What the bill does is simultaneously promote the protection of the innocent and the just prosecution of the guilty. And when you can do both at once, that enhances the integrity of the criminal justice system.”

“For those doubters today, five years from now, we’ll all agree this was a smart thing to do and the right thing to do,” Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, said.





5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Both are great ideas, especially having an independent person show photos at a lineup. But have would they make sure that person doesn't speak to the lead detective and still doesn't do what they sometimes do?

Anonymous said...

Can someone tell me why Laura Stuzin is using pictures on her campaign website with Judges Don Cohn and Patty marino Pedraza in judicial robe??? This is COMPLETELY inappropriate........I recall comments about Jackie Schwartz doing this on her site on this blog with Ivonne Cuesta in her pictures and Cuesta was not even wearing a judicial robe in the picture.....just saying......maybe it should be looked into.....Don and Patty.....you should not allow this.

The Professor said...

It is inappropriate for a judicial candidate (including a sitting judge running for re-election) to use the images of a judge in any campaign forum or publication. Judges are not permitted to endorse or otherwise involve themselves in other judge's or judicial candidate's races. They are not permitted to share expenses, or as Bob Levy has done with "his candidates", run as a team effort, i.e. as Peter "Camacho" Adrian, Ada Pozo, Judge Judy (Rubinstein) and Will Thomas did several years ago.

However, I have looked at the pics Judge Stuzin is publishing, and they are of events in which she participated and other judges just happen to be part of the event. They are not a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

By the way, speaking of Peter (now my middle name is Sylvester again) Adrian, does anybody know what he is doing now? According to the Bar website he is still in Hialeah, but I have not seen hide nor hair of him for years.

Anonymous said...

The Professor is on track. If there's an event photo with a judge in the background is not a violation. But a posed photo of a a judicial candidate with a judge, that is used for campaign purposes, probably violates at least 7.A.1.b, 7.C.3 and 7.D of the CJC.

The Levy practice of running all his horses as a team has been well documented. There were pictures a few cycles ago of Levy minions leafleting with multiple candidate materials, working polls wearing one candidate's t-shirt and carrying another's sign, and so on. It's also widely known that Levy works package deals for endorsements.

The candidates who knowingly participate in these activities are exposing themselves to JQC action after taking the bench, or they WOULD be if anyone gave a damn.

Anonymous said...

Adrien has been trying to get himself appointed to the Southern District federal bench. The fact that he even considers that he should be a judge again proves what a deranged sociopath he is. His was without a doubt the worse term ever in the judicial history of Dade county, making him the favorite for worse judge worldwide.