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Houston Chronicle editorial: Guilt and innocence

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Heidi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 05:22 AM
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Houston Chronicle editorial: Guilt and innocence
Sept. 16, 2009, 7:53PM

One of the most disturbing legal trends in recent memory is the contention of some conservative jurists that a person's actual innocence is not automatically grounds to overturn a conviction.

An echo of this pernicious doctrine popped up this week in the case of a former Houston nurse and baby sitter, Cynthia Cash, convicted of the 1998 shaking death of a 4-month-old baby.

<snip>

That autopsy has now been rewritten to label the cause of death undetermined, and notes no evidence of trauma to the victim, Abbey Clements. Cash's attorney has filed an innocence claim, asking the original trial judge, Mark Ellis, to free her or set a new hearing.

In response, the Harris County District Attorney's office opposed the appeal, citing a Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling that a conviction resulting from an error-free proceeding should not be overturned lightly based on new evidence, and that the burden on a defendant claiming innocence is exceedingly heavy. It also noted that other evidence in the case supported a conviction.

<snip>

Another adherent to that philosophy is the controversial chief justice of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Sharon Keller, who was recently tried for misconduct after she allegedly blocked a last-minute death-row appeal. In 1998, Keller wrote an opinion denying a new trial to Roy Criner, a man convicted of a rape-murder, even though DNA testing revealed the semen in the victim was not his. (Gov. George W. Bush later granted Criner clemency.)

We can't give new trials to everyone who establishes after conviction that they might be innocent, Keller told a PBS interviewer. According to the judge, such a situation would mean there would be no finality in a criminal justice system. And finality, she said, is important.

Finality is tidy, but it's no substitute for justice. If a faulty autopsy sent Cynthia Cash to a wrongful prison sentence, she deserves a new hearing.

Read more
Background: New results of autopsy spur plea
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fasttense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 05:33 AM
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1. I am dumb founded. I thought the whole point of the justice system was to ensure justice.
If someone did not do the crime why should they remain in jail?

If the only purpose of our legal system is to ensure finality, then why bother with a trial at all? Just kill the defendant and be done with it. That's pretty final.
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 05:47 AM
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2. We can't give new trials to everyone who establishes after conviction
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 05:48 AM by Joe Chi Minh
that they might be innocent, Keller told a PBS interviewer. Is it not the case that the DNA ASCERTAINED that the man was not guilty. Not MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN guilty.

'According to the judge, such a situation would mean there would be no finality in a criminal justice system. And finality, she said, is important.'

No, Keller. Justice is important. Not the true, fine justice of God, either; just the most elementary, human, legal justice. Yes, laws were originated to maintain a stable society for the benefit of its apex predators, but such a manifestly wicked lack of concern to rescind the punishment (in this case, "execution") of an innocent man could only have brought the law into disrepute.
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Solly Mack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 05:48 AM
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3. Finality? A sense of accomplishment? Want to feel good about the process
regardless of how corrupt? How much in error?

As long as someone goes to prison (or is executed), no matter how innocent, then all is good?

Just need to feel good about it..doesn't need to be actual justice. People just need to feel good about it...that finality.

That's some sicko thinking.



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kedrys Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 06:41 AM
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4. (In)Justice Alito thinks the same way
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

Paraphrasing here: just because new evidence shows that you're not guilty, doesn't mean you get to walk if you were convicted in a constitutionally correct, error-free trial. Even if you're on death row.

:scared: :scared: :scared:
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