innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Friday, May 13, 2005

Boston slow to pay up to wrongfully accused

Nine men are suing the commonwealth of Boston for almost $4.5 million after being wrongfully convicted and serving up to a decade in prison on unrelated charges, reports the Boston Herald. Under a new law those wrongfully convicted are entitled to up to $500,000 each, but the men say that because of Attorney General Tom Reilly they have not seen a dime.

New Castle on Kirkwood

The comments keep coming on the New Castle News Web site, which posted the Justin Kirkwood story and allows people to put reaction online.

Shirley Klamer, one of two craft store clerks whose identification of Kirkwood lead to his conviction, defended herself on the site: "We will both tell you that there was never any doubt that we had picked the right man from day one. Roberta Bishop and I each picked the same photo at different visits to the police station. Out of several mug-shot books, we picked the same guy!"

Another person responded: "Hey Shirley can I ask you something if you and your co-worker are so sure that it was justin kirkwood who did these things why did you say that he had brown eyes and his eyes are really blue?"

In related news, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran an editorial calling for the state to tighten rules on eyewitness identifications: "It's an issue that Gov. Ed Rendell and Attorney General Tom Corbett need to take action on, rather than allowing the knee-jerk obstinacy and machismo of some local police to condemn innocent people to jail."

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Sight unseen


Justin Kirkwood's parents Posted by Hello

The Innocence Institute's three-day series on false eyewitness identifications appeared this week in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Longer versions of the stories are posted on the Innocence Institute's Web site.

The Associated Press picked up one of the stories, which appeared on broadcast and print outlets throughout the state. The New Castle News published the Justin Kirkwood story in its entirety (registration required).

The site has a section for comments, which included this one: "When I read this article I will have to say that I have serious doubts in the innocent till proven guilty cliche. I have know Justin Kirkwood and his family for a number of years and they are wonderful loving people. But that should not even come in to play in the whole scheme of things. What should matter is all the facts. You have a man who said that he called the house and talked to Justin at the time the robbery was taking place!!!"

Monday, May 09, 2005

Virginia crime lab forced to review 150 DNA cases

A Virginia crime lab is forced to review 150 cases involving forensic evidence because of botched DNA testing in the case of a death row rapist Earl Washington Jr., which resulted in a pardon, reports the New York Times.

The American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors found that the lab workers felt political pressure from former governor, Jim Gilmore, to produce quick and conclusive results.

Virginia will also be forced to re-examine DNA evidence in nearly two dozen of its other death row cases. Virginia currently has the second highest number of inmates on death row at 94, lagging just behind Texas.

Harvard starts Innocence Project

Harvard Law School has launched The Harvard Project for Wrongful Convictions during this year’s spring semester. The project will work closely with the New England Innocence Project giving law school students the opportunity to investigate cases in which people claim they were wrongfully convicted.