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(The Atlantic)   Spiffy: New law will let prisoners get an writ of Habeas Corpus to get a hearing to challenge convictions involving expert testimony they believe was based on "junk science". Strange: in Texas. Scary: It is the only law of its kind in the US   (theatlantic.com ) divider line
    More: Interesting, Texas, convictions, expert testimony, forensic pathologists, criminal procedure  
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2926 clicks; posted to Main » on 28 Feb 2014 at 1:32 PM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-02-28 04:47:20 PM  

Magorn: The Court in that case recognized that no prosecutor is going to bring charges on behalf of a criminal against the cops, nor is any jury likely to award them any sort of real redress based on their status as a criminal. Therefore to allow illegally seized evidence to be used at trial at any level, effectively rendered both the 4th AND 5th Amendments dead letters


Which is why in a Hamster run monarchy, the charges would be mandatory.
 
2014-02-28 05:11:04 PM  

The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves: Too bad they already executed that one guy because of it. But he wasn't white so it really doesn't count..


No, they executed a white guy, why else do you think they would pass such a law?
 
2014-02-28 05:15:23 PM  
an harmonica
 
2014-02-28 07:42:06 PM  
How careful was this law crafted?  Can you use real science to dispute a witness?  I'm pretty sure that Texas would never let you dispute confessions, but those two foundations of US justice are known scientifically to pretty much belong in witch hunts and not accurate decisions of life, liberty and death.

Sounds like a "expert vs. expert" battle patent suits are famous for.  Can sane states have this law with a panel of real scientists to examine the data?
 
2014-02-28 08:01:58 PM  

DogsInBathtub: This is stupid.  Their opportunity to challenge the junk science was at their trial either on cross examination of the junk scientist or through use of another expert that is a real scientist.



Junk science often isn't proven junk for a number of years.  This should be federal law.  There are a lot of people rotting in jail because of junk 'science', especially arson.
 
2014-02-28 08:09:47 PM  

TheWhoppah: dsmith42: Magorn: TX courts denied the "junk science" appeal and executed Willingham anyway, but even in TX that seemed a bit much for many people to stomach and Perry had to set up a blue-ribbon commission to look into (cover up wrongdoing) in the case

The blue ribbon commission actually found that there was no basis for an arson conviction. But Perry fired the head and 2 other members of the commission right before the election, so the report was delayed until after the election. The commission was going to discuss the report on 10/2/2009. Perry fired those members 2 days before that date.

Bullshiat.  Their report said that some flawed evidence was admitted at trial but it did not say that all the evidence was flawed and it did definitely did NOT say that the fire was not arson or that Willingham had been wrongly convicted.  There was more than enough evidence of guilt even if you ignore the flawed evidence.  Even if you taking Willingham's explanation for what happened at face value, he was napping in the back room with his 3 year old daughter Amber when she woke him up because the room filled with smoke and then he got up from the bed, ran down the hall past the room where his twin infants were sleeping and then exited the front of the house without even trying to save his three children.  Willingham never offered much explanation for the half-dozen empty bottles of charcoal lighter fluid found on the front porch.


Exhibit 7 (Beyler Report) of the Report of the Texas Forensic Science Commission (pg 107)

"The false convictions in the Willis and Willingham cases illustrate the danger of the current situation. These two individuals were convicted on nearly identical evidence. It is likely that the only reason Mr. Willis is still breathing is that he had better access to the effective assistance of counsel."

It also just came out that the prosecutor rewarded the jailhouse informant by pushing for Robbery 2 instead of the Robbery 1 he was initially charged with.

Report:
http://www.fsc.state.tx.us/documents/FINAL.pdf

News story about the DA lying about offering a deal to the informant:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/28/us/evidence-of-concealed-jailhouse -d eal-raises-questions-about-a-texas-execution.html?_r=0
 
2014-02-28 09:05:55 PM  

Magorn: Galloping Galoshes: lemonysprite: Is it really that strange? Most people here are anxious to write off several branches of science as junk and replace it with creationism. Even a dumb Texan will accidentally say something smart once in a while.

This has nothing to do with creationism.  This has already been implemented at the Federal level.

ShadowKamui: A lot of arson "science" that everyone swore by for years was actually complete garbage. The whole field was in on it, you couldn't find a real scientist

This is what it's aimed at.  The FBI used to claim it could identify which batch of bullets a particular bullet came from based.  Junk.  In fact, a lot of forensic "science" is junk, in that it's never been independently verified.  And that includes fingerprints.  It turns out that fingerprint matching is more an art than science.  Sorry to disappoint all you CSI junkies.

A short list of "Junk forensic science" from my days doing criminal defense work:

"hair matching": Utter garbage.  You can MAYBE tell what race a hair came from but nothing more, and most tested experts couldn't distinguish a Caucasian pubic hair from the hair form the head of an African American male

"Fiber Matching" sorry CSI fans: no such database exists and it would be useless even if it did

Fingerprint matching:  again garbage.  The BASIS of it, that we all have a unique pattern on our fingers is pretty sound.  However in practice it is useless. Prints are almost never pristine when lifted from surfaces. they have been smudged warped, even faded  due to evaporation.  Therefore the CSI fantasy of having a computer overlay them and seeing an exact match from somebody's fingerprint card is nonsense.  All a fingerprint examiner can honestly say is that in his opinion the lifted print and the sample had enough points of comparison to be a match.  And what is the standard for how many points that need to be?  Why there is none,  it is COMPLETELY up to each examiner to make his own rules.

Han ...


Re: DNA testing.

It now costs less than $10000 to sequence a human genome.  For most cases, a $1000 run would be sufficient.

The problem is that most DNA samples found at a crime scene are degraded.  It isn't a perfect genome.  While we can sequence single strands of DNA in perfect lab conditions, we can't sequence an entire genome.
 
2014-02-28 09:09:34 PM  

Galloping Galoshes: namatad: how hard is this people?

1) do not talk to the police, other than to ask "Am I under arrest? Am I free to go?"
2) do not sign ANYTHING, ever

That's what all my police collegues say.  They can't understand why anyone would talk to a cop.  They also say more people have talked themselves into a conviction that ever have talked themselves out of one.


Too bad this particular case had nothing to do with talking to the police. But thanks for playing.
 
2014-02-28 09:11:05 PM  
Isn't all science "junk science" in Texas?
 
2014-02-28 10:38:33 PM  

dsmith42: TheWhoppah: dsmith42: Magorn: TX courts denied the "junk science" appeal and executed Willingham anyway, but even in TX that seemed a bit much for many people to stomach and Perry had to set up a blue-ribbon commission to look into (cover up wrongdoing) in the case

The blue ribbon commission actually found that there was no basis for an arson conviction. But Perry fired the head and 2 other members of the commission right before the election, so the report was delayed until after the election. The commission was going to discuss the report on 10/2/2009. Perry fired those members 2 days before that date.

Bullshiat.  Their report said that some flawed evidence was admitted at trial but it did not say that all the evidence was flawed and it did definitely did NOT say that the fire was not arson or that Willingham had been wrongly convicted.  There was more than enough evidence of guilt even if you ignore the flawed evidence.  Even if you taking Willingham's explanation for what happened at face value, he was napping in the back room with his 3 year old daughter Amber when she woke him up because the room filled with smoke and then he got up from the bed, ran down the hall past the room where his twin infants were sleeping and then exited the front of the house without even trying to save his three children.  Willingham never offered much explanation for the half-dozen empty bottles of charcoal lighter fluid found on the front porch.

Exhibit 7 (Beyler Report) of the Report of the Texas Forensic Science Commission (pg 107)

"The false convictions in the Willis and Willingham cases illustrate the danger of the current situation. These two individuals were convicted on nearly identical evidence. It is likely that the only reason Mr. Willis is still breathing is that he had better access to the effective assistance of counsel."

It also just came out that the prosecutor rewarded the jailhouse informant by pushing for Robbery 2 instead of the Robbery 1 he was initially ch ...



That quote is from an anti-death-penalty advocacy group, not the conclusions of the Texas Forensic Science Commission.   The FSC did NOT conclude that there was insufficient evidence to support the arson conviction.  The "report" includes a full list of the sources they consulted, including sources provided by The Innocence Project.  They were the anti-death penalty group that paid Mr. Beylor to study the fire. Then the Innocence Project twisted Beylor's words to claim that the men were innocent.  Beylor's report did not say that the Willingham fire was not arson.  Beylor said that after reviewing photographs of the burnt structure he had not seen enough to convince him of all of the "clues of arson" identified by the investigators that were actually on the scene sifting through the ashes.  Beylor is the type of expert known as a "whore of the court" that makes his living testifying for money.  He tailors his results to the party that pays his bills, in this case that was the Innocence Project.  Then the Innocence Project twisted his words even more.  Then "The New Yorker" magazine took the Innocence Project words and sensationalized them... finally it ended up on ABC's 20/20 that somehow managed to make it even more sensational than the yellow journalists over at The New Yorker...  The whole thing was like an urban legend that feeds on itself but if you dig all the way down you'll see that nobody with any reason to know says the fire wasn't arson.
 
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