Topic

wrongful conviction

35 petitions

Started 3 days ago

Petition to Greg Abbott, Joan Huffman, Joe Straus, Royce West, Lt Gov Dan Patrick

Support SB207: Texas Pay Joyce Ann Brown

Support: SB 207 - Relating to eligibility for compensation of persons wrongfully imprisoned. (Authored by: Senator Royce West (TX)  28 years later, the state of Texas has yet to compensate Joyce Ann Brown for her wrongful incarceration. Texas current law time-bars Joyce Ann Brown from seeking restitution.  #TexasPAYJoyceAnnBrown  I am Koquice Spencer the “only” daughter of Joyce Ann Brown. Because of my mothers’ proven earthly strength—I have faith that she wants me to continue her fight for restitution from the state of Texas.  Today, my mother is mourned by my brother, 12 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren and 15 loving siblings. My uncle John "Jig" Spencer Sr., passed seven months after my mother in January 2016, and her mother Ruby “MaDear” Kelley recently passed December 2016. I’m not asking the state of Texas to pay for my mother’s death but I am asking the state of Texas to reciprocate for her nine years, five months and 24 days of “wrongful incarceration.” There can be no doubt that my mother Joyce Ann Brown is worthy and should receive the same restitution consideration as those currently receiving relief. I’m asking Senator Joan Huffman, Chair, State of Affairs Committee, to grant a hearing and bring SB 207 to a vote! Background May 6, 1980, a robbery and murder was committed. Accused, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison for a murder she did not commit was the beginning of a nine-year nightmare for Joyce Ann Brown. Joyce began serving time in the Texas Department of Corrections. Joyce never gave up even with the tragic death of her son Lee Jr. With the help of Jim McCloskey and Centurion Ministries, continuing support of her court appointed attorney Kerry Fitzgerald of Dallas, and national media exposure from 60 Minutes (CBS); on Valentine’s Day, 1990, the charges were dropped and Joyce Ann Brown was freed! This judicial injustice belongs to yesterday's Texas lawmakers. In 1993, Ms. Brown founded Mothers (Fathers) for the Advancement of Social Systems Inc. (MASS, Inc.), a 501(C) (3) organization effectively providing community-based programs to those least likely to obtain help elsewhere. The vision to build an organization on the cornerstone of Justice and Equality began when Joyce Ann Brown was released from prison. Her initial goal was simply to nurture change in an inequitable judicial system by supporting the wrongfully convicted. However, her passion to support others who had lost their voice in the community soon led her to expand the mission of the organization to include: helping those being released from prison readjust to life without bars and become productive law-abiding citizens; providing support for children and families of adult offenders who are themselves at high risk of continuing the cycle of crime and poverty; improving economic opportunity by promoting educational achievement, job development and housing availability and public advocacy of the Innocence in Prison programs.  October 2009, Ms. Brown was recognized by the U.S. House of Representatives with a Congressional Record honoring her 20 years of Freedom and Fighting for Justice. August 2005, under the leadership of Ms. Brown, MASS began immediately helping Hurricane Katrina Evacuees, bypassing FEMA red tape and oftentimes senseless policy for how to distribute housing and funding allowances to those who had a felony. Moreover, MASS continues to monitor and serve 170 of 350 Katrina victims serviced in 2005. It is MASS policy to continue to be a resource for all MASS clients. Ms. Brown has testified before Congress addressing Katrina Victim issues. Ms. Brown was a longtime supporter of Centurion Ministries and worked closely with the Center on Wrongful Convictions Women’s Project, Bluhm Legal Clinic Northwestern Law. It is Ms. Brown's hope that today’s Texas legislature will support SB207. By supporting SB207, the state of Texas takes a legal step forward to correct its current law by acknowledging that an individual should not be time-barred and or denied the right to seek compensation when wrongfully imprisoned in the state of Texas.  I signed this petition to support SB207, and the efforts of the family of Joyce Ann Brown. We thank you for your consideration. 

Kimberly Jenkins-snodgrass
177 supporters
This petition won 6 days ago

Petition to Terry McAuliffe

Please Stop the April 25 Execution of Ivan Teleguz, an Innocent Man

The Commonwealth of Virginia plans to execute an innocent man, Ivan Teleguz, on April 25, 2017. We need to make sure Governor McAuliffe knows that there is too much evidence of Ivan’s innocence to allow this execution to go ahead. Please join the call for the Governor to intervene. The government’s case against Ivan was based on false evidence. Three men said that Ivan hired Stephanie’s killer. But two of those men have since admitted that they lied in court – and sworn under oath that Ivan was not involved. The third, Michael Hetrick, confessed to killing Stephanie. He was offered a deal that spared his own life in return for saying that Ivan hired him to commit the murder. The prosecutor coerced the witnesses. The witnesses have sworn under oath that they gave false testimony at trial because of threats from the prosecutor and promises she made to improve their sentences. The prosecution tried to influence the jury by saying Ivan was involved in a made-up murder. At trial, the prosecutor argued that Ivan should be sentenced to death because he was involved in another murder in Pennsylvania, and was highly dangerous. It was later revealed that the testimony about the murder and the prosecutor’s argument were completely made up—the murder never even happened. There is evidence that calls into question every part of the Commonwealth’s case against Ivan. There is too much doubt for Governor McAuliffe to allow this execution to go ahead. Please help make sure he knows that The Commonwealth is about to execute an innocent man. Please help save an innocent man. Join the call for Governor McAuliffe to intervene. Visit ivansprayerforjustice.org to learn more about Ivan's case. Visit Facebook and Twitter for case updates.

Ivan's Prayer for Justice
114,198 supporters
Update posted 2 weeks ago

Petition to Arkansas Governor, Asa Hutchinson

Exonerate Innocent Man from Wrongful Murder Conviction: Gary Williams of Arkansas

Note: Out of respect for others involved, one individual will initially be referred to as "Gary's Employee," and will then be referred to as simply "M" throughout the remainder of the text. On the evening of January 10, 2006, Gary Williams went to visit an employee at his home. Upon Gary's arrival, an extraordinarily violent and well known drug dealer was armed with a loaded weapon, and was forcing his way in to the owner's residence with intent to both rob and murder "M." A physical altercation ensued immediately between the intruder and "M." As the severity of the altercation escalated, "M" yelled out, "Gary, help! Get him off! He's going to kill me! Help, Gary!" At that point, Gary intervened and pulled the intruder off of "M." However, "M" retaliated, and went after the intruder with full force. It was then that Gary had to pull "M" off of the intruder, which took tremendous effort. Unfortunately, the intruder succumbed to the injuries inflicted upon him by "M." He was pronounced dead at the scene. Despite the fact that the intruder met his demise at the hands of "M," the ACTUAL murderer, both Gary and "M" were taken into custody and charged with Murder.  Several days later, "M" told a small group of people that Gary had "saved his life" and admitted to them that "Gary didn't kill that guy." Every person who was present when "M" made these statements reported immediately to the prosecutor, Angela Byrd, but she refused to listen, and even stated that she did not care. Several witnesses have verified Byrd's statements, as well as confirmed her blatant disregard for the truth in this case. "M" gave false testimony under oath; he repeatedly lied on the stand when he spoke of the events that unfolded that night. He accepted a plea deal in exchange for a less severe sentence. He was charged with Second Degree Murder, and received a 30 year prison sentence. Gary, however, refused to accept any plea deal as he has NEVER ONCE ceased to proclaim his innocence. He IS innocent. There is an abundance of evidence, and numerous witnesses supporting this claim. Shockingly, Gary was convicted of First Degree Murder, and sentenced to 40 years in prison. Gary and "M" were in the same facility for a short time following the trial and sentencing. It was in that time that "M" told numerous people, including a prison guard, that he LIED so he could get a better deal, and that he was angry with Gary for using a different lawyer than him. In fact, one of these people went on record giving a sworn statement relaying "M's" confession, and various other details he so willingly offered up.  With all of this evidence, WHY is Gary still in prison? WHY does "M's" confession, and the fact that he places such little value on human life carry no weight? Gary's conviction is entirely unjustified, and WE CAN DO BETTER! An innocent man should NOT have to live his life behind bars.  The turmoil that has emanated as a result of being ripped away from everyone Gary knows and loves has caused irreversible damage. When you consider the spectrum of traumatization to the psyche of someone who's wrongfully convicted — the infinite number of ways in which these afflictions infiltrate their being — these afflictions are permanent. It would be extremely difficult, if not entirely impossible, to undo the permanent damage that has been done to Gary over the past 13 years. With each passing day, the damage only grows worse. Every moment counts in this fight for justice. Every minute Gary spends as a prisoner is lost forever — missed weddings, missed births, missed graduations — these minutes, these moments, these memories, they can never be gotten back. Our criminal justice system is complex, and it can be overwhelming and confusing for anyone who doesn't understand how it works. I've seen our justice system do great things for some people, but it has FAILED Gary. Justice is in order here, and it is long overdue. We have constitutional protections that exist to ensure the rights of those accused and convicted are respected, but the constitutional violations that are present in this case are painfully obvious. A wrongful conviction stems from a fundamental breakdown in the legal process — what the uninitiated like to call a “technical error.” In Gary's case, this was abundant as prosecutors buried crucial evidence, witnesses lied, police coerced false confessions, and defense attorneys performed so poorly that they basically failed to advocate at all. These “technical errors" matter because they violate the constitution, which guarantees all criminal defendants the right to be free from police and prosecutorial abuses, to have access to favorable evidence in the state’s possession, and to have a defense attorney who will fight for their cause. There is a copious amount of evidence to support every statement made by Gary, as well as those made on his behalf. He should be able to present the evidence. We are asking that justice be served for him. No one should have to serve time for a crime that they didn't commit. Additionally, we ask that those who lied under oath, coached witnesses prior to trial, and threatened the lives of so many people who testified on behalf of Gary's innocence should all be re-examined, and held accountable accordingly. Gary is a loving father, a grandfather, a son, an uncle, a cousin, a friend to all, and a child of our Heavenly Father. We are not asking for a guilty man to walk freely, but for an innocent man to be given his life back as a wrongful conviction can be proven.  Pretending this issue doesn't exist doesn't make it cease to exist. Ignoring it doesn't make it any less real. Standby idly by because you believe you can't make a difference is inexcusable. It's time to speak up for those who can't speak for themselves. If we don't do our part to find a solution, then we're part of the problem.

Aaron Williams
210 supporters
Update posted 2 weeks ago

Petition to Mary Fallin, Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb, Oklahoma Former Governor Brad Henry, The Oklahoman, Tulsa World, KFOR-TV Channel 4, KOCO-TV Channel 5

Free Daniel Holtzclaw, an innocent man wrongfully convicted!

On Jan. 21, 2016, our son, brother, and friend Daniel Holtzclaw, an Oklahoma City police officer, was sentenced to 263 years in prison after a jury wrongfully convicted him of sexually assaulting seven women and one teenager, despite the fact that no physical evidence of crime was found, patrol car Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) data failed to match crucial accusations, numerous discrepancies occurred in the accusers' testimony, and detectives gathered almost all of the accusers (ten out of thirteen) by selectively seeking out and questioning only African American women with histories of prostitution or drug use with whom Daniel had interacted during his routine police duties. Daniel Holtzclaw is innocent and was wrongfully convicted of crimes he never committed. Daniel put his life on the line daily as a police officer for the justice he served and also deserved in his trial but was denied. Please sign our petition to urge Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb, former Governor Brad Henry, and Oklahoma news media to investigate the police misconduct and mishandling of Daniel's case that led to his convictions for multiple sexual assaults he did not commit, and to respectfully request that Governor Fallin grant clemency by exonerating Daniel because he is innocent.  You can learn more about who Daniel Holtzclaw is by visiting www.holtzclawtrial.com. The evidence supports Daniel's innocence. The only forensic finding linking Daniel to any accuser in the entire trial was skin cell DNA from a 17-year-old teenager who said the officer searched her purse, pat searched her, then raped her, yet the prosecution's own DNA analyst acknowledged the evidence was consistent with non-intimate, secondary transfer of skin cell DNA, such as from the purse to the officer's hands, then to his uniform pants while using the restroom. No DNA from any other accuser, and not even Daniel's DNA, was found on Daniel's uniform pants, which police detectives took on June 18, 2014, as their sole evidence from Daniel. This was just hours after Daniel's night shift during which detectives eventually claimed he sexually assaulted not just the teenager through the fly of the uniform pants, but also two other individuals including Jannie Ligons, whose unsubstantiated accusations sparked the investigation targeting Daniel. Only the fly area of Daniel's uniform pants was tested for DNA, and the uniform pants were NOT tested for saliva, semen, or vaginal fluid to determine the source of the DNA, even though “in legal proceedings, a proper and reliable determination of the source of isolated DNA is essential and an error in identification may result in grave legal consequences” (Jakubowska et al. (2011) Problems of Forensic Sciences, 87: 204-215).  Despite these facts, Prosecutor Gayland Gieger claimed incorrectly after the trial that "the skin cells were transferred through the body fluids of a 17-year-old girl after he raped her. That's what the evidence was. That's what the jury heard and certainly that's what they convicted him of. They [the defense] tried to explain DNA from a 17-year-old girl that ends up inside his pants at the areas where his privates are. Quite frankly, their explanation was not believable because you can't explain that" (Erielle Reshef, KOKO 5 News, "Prosecutors who helped convict Daniel Holtzclaw speak,” Feb. 5, 2016). In reality, article after article has shown that DNA can transfer secondarily and even further. If DNA on the fly of your pants were evidence of a crime, then every one of us could be convicted. As early as 2010, forensic researchers reported their discovery that DNA can transfer from a woman through non-intimate social contact to a man's hands, and then to his underpants and even genitals during urination, such that her DNA will be found on a penile swab (Hulme, J. (2010) Science and Justice, 50: 100-109). This research was recently corroborated by Jones et al. (2016) DNA transfer through nonintimate social contact, Science and Justice, 56: 90-95. Prosecutor Gieger not only misrepresented the DNA evidence from the 17-year-old girl, but also did not inform the jury about exculpatory evidence that challenged her credibility.  Just months after the teenager accused Daniel of sexually assaulting her, this same young woman, A.G., was arrested for using a machete to attack a man in his home on June 10, 2015, after she claimed to police that the man had used the weapon to assault her but “police were not convinced she was telling the truth since she did not appear to have any injuries” (Dallas Franklin, KFOR.com, “Man allegedly attacked at home, 2 arrested,” June 11, 2015). A.G., who similarly accused Daniel of a heinous crime, was booked for assault with a deadly weapon, and on April 18, 2016, she pleaded guilty to two other violent crimes, including domestic assault and battery (Muskogee OK - Case CM-2015-00199 and Case CF-2016-00031). None of the accusations against Daniel Holtzclaw were supported by any solid evidence of crime. No evidence, for example, supported the first accusation targeting Daniel, which occurred on June 18, 2014, when Daniel performed an off-duty traffic stop of the swerving car with tinted windows that prevented him from seeing the occupants at 2 a.m. that morning. The driver, Jannie Ligons, lacked a valid license and car insurance and later admitted to police that, before driving, she had taken sleep-inducing PM medication and smoked marijuana, which can cause paranoia and hallucinations. She said she placed her hands on the hood of the patrol car while Daniel pat searched her, then she sat in the backseat of the patrol car. Here, she said, Daniel procured lewd exhibition and orally sodomized her through the fly of his pants, with his hands on the car's roof. She also said that Daniel touched her phone. The SANE exam of Jannie Ligons came back negative. No DNA, sperm, or seminal fluid from Daniel was found in or around Ms. Ligons' mouth. Ms. Ligons' DNA was not found on the fly of his uniform pants. No fingerprints or DNA from Ms. Ligons or Daniel were found on the patrol car's hood or roof to corroborate her claims. No DNA from Daniel was found on her phone, but the DNA from Ms. Ligons and some unknown individual was, showing that DNA does indeed transfer from people to things they touch. No pubic hair or DNA from Daniel was found inside the patrol car, and the surveillance video of the traffic stop showed no wrongdoing since the footage was too far away to display fine details. Although the police detectives were investigating a sexual assault, the only evidence they took from Daniel was his uniform pants. Detectives did not even take Daniel's underwear, and they never issued a search warrant for his home, personal car, or phone to obtain evidence which could have been used to help support Daniel's innocence. Daniel answered all the detectives' questions and asked them to analyze his DNA as quickly as possible so that he could clear his name. Daniel also agreed to take a polygraph test, an offer that the jury was never allowed to hear. Daniel Holtzclaw has maintained his innocence since the very beginning, June 18, 2014, when police detectives first questioned Daniel and claimed, untruthfully, that they had found pubic hairs in his patrol car and had incriminating surveillance video of the traffic stop Daniel performed that morning at the end of his shift. Despite the lack of evidence, and even though Ms. Ligons had no history of criminal convictions or warrants for her arrest and the traffic stop of her car with dark-tinted windows at night could not have resulted from any knowledge that the occupant was African American, police detectives concocted a theory that Daniel targeted African American women with histories of prostitution and drugs such that they would be too afraid to report alleged sexual crimes for fear of not being believed. Police detectives then searched for more accusers by selectively contacting over 50 African American females with histories of prostitution or drug arrests with whom Daniel had interacted during his routine police duties, which often involved intervening in cases of drug use and prostitution in the lower income neighborhood he patrolled.  Any black woman who had been stopped by Daniel because of her drug use or prostitution would have a chance to make allegations against the young police officer who had tried to halt her criminal activities.  ALMOST 98% OF THE INDIVIDUALS QUESTIONED BY DETECTIVES WERE AFRICAN AMERICAN FEMALES, showing that detectives, not Daniel, were the ones who targeted black females with criminal histories of prostitution or drug use. Detectives solicited testimony by telling these women that police had received a “tip” that the women “may have been sexually assaulted by a police officer,” which was blatant leading of potential witnesses. In one case, the police detective actually named Daniel Holtzclaw as the officer and called him a "very bad guy" with "lots of victims" before a woman identified him after she first denied five times that any officer had treated her inappropriately.  The police department and news media at this time were also broadcasting information about Daniel as a suspect, including showing his face, such that the people in the neighborhood he had patrolled knew he was under suspicion.  In this wrongful manner that encouraged false allegations, the police thus found 10 individuals, including the 17-year-old A.G., who made accusations that were used to charge Daniel with sexual assault.  This gave a total of 13 accusers including the three black women who reported a crime on their own:  the initial female driver (Jannie Ligons, whose allegations were never substantiated), another woman who came forward to claim the officer had sexually assaulted her in the hospital room after she overdosed on PCP (Daniel was found not guilty of her accusations), and a third woman who reported that she had been sexually assaulted but could not positively identify the officer (Daniel was also found not guilty of her accusations).  Seven other individuals, including one man, claimed the officer had sexually assaulted them, but their allegations were deemed too absurd or simply impossible (such as not matching Daniel's work schedule) to result in charges, and they recanted when confronted with evidence that they were lying. One of those individuals, Shaneice Barksdale, admitted in a videotaped police interview that she had made up her allegations to try to help the case and was convicted of falsely reporting a crime (State of Oklahoma v. Shaneice Barksdale, Case No. CM-2015-1413). Research by acclaimed eyewitness expert, Dr. Gary L. Wells, has shown that eyewitnesses' memories of events can be altered by suggestion and positive feedback, often leading to wrongful convictions. The validity of accusers' testimony in Daniel's trial should not have been accepted as fact, not only because of the leading, suggestive manner in which police detectives found accusers until they had a total of thirteen, but also because at least five of the accusers knew each other, and many of the women were using hallucinogenic drugs (cocaine, crack, PCP, marijuana) at the time they alleged Daniel assaulted them, which could cause them to accuse an innocent man of actions he did not commit. Major inconsistencies existed in the accusers' testimony that ruled Daniel out as a suspect. For example, one woman, S.E., stated that her assailant was a short, black man who stopped his patrol car in an abandoned school yard, and then raped her for 5-10 minutes. Yet Daniel Holtzclaw is a tall, light-skinned, Japanese-American man, and, significantly, the AVL/GPS evidence from Daniel's patrol car shows that while transporting S.E. he never drove slower than 2 knots and only took 4 minutes to pass from one side of the school yard to the other, simply not enough time to do as was alleged. Nevertheless, Daniel was found guilty of her accusations. Another woman, R.G., with six felony convictions, said that the officer orally sodomized her on a day when she was getting high off of crack cocaine, and she said she wiped Daniel's alleged secretions from the oral sodomy onto her chair, yet Daniel's DNA was not found on the woman's chair, while the DNA from two other men was. Despite this lack of evidence, Daniel was found guilty of forcible oral sodomy.  We believe the legal system has failed Daniel miserably and a travesty of justice has occurred. You can learn more about the injustices in Daniel's trial by visiting www.HoltzclawTrial.com, a website created by former defense private investigator, Brian Bates, who is now posting online the facts presented in open court that the media did not report. Daniel's sister, Jenny Holtzclaw, has also created a webpage www.justicefordanielholtzclaw.com where donations for Daniel's appeal are gratefully being accepted as well as at www.FreeDanielHoltzclaw.com Please sign our petition urging Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, former Gov. Brad Henry, and Oklahoma news media to investigate the police misconduct and mishandling of Daniel's case that led to his convictions for multiple sexual assaults he did not commit, and respectfully requesting that Governor Fallin grant clemency by exonerating Daniel because he is innocent. Daniel belongs with his family, not in prison for crimes he never committed. Please help right this wrong by signing our petition to free Daniel Holtzclaw. Sincerely and with our deepest gratitude, Daniel's family and friends

Family and Friends of Daniel Holtzclaw
4,017 supporters