Miscarriage of justice


Film Synopsis: Rodney Reed was convicted of raping and killing 19 year-old Stacey Stites in May of 1998 and sentenced to death. Many observers felt Reed’s conviction was a miscarriage of justice, and that the evidence points to another killer — Stites’ fiancé and Giddings, TX police officer Jimmy Fennell Jr. This documentary explores the evidence involved in the case and the context of the trial that led to Reed’s death sentence.

This independently produced documentary premiered at the SXSW 2006 Film Festival in Austin, TX and has since played extensively throughout the U.S. at festivals and universities.

FACT UPDATE: In 2008, Officer Fennell pled guilty to kidnapping and improper sexual activity with a person in custody and sentenced to 10 years in Jail. In 2012, former Travis County Medical Examiner Roberto Bayardo made dramatic ‘clarifications’ of his original testimony, including proffering that there was no evidence that Reed’s semen found on the victim “was placed there in any other fashion other than consensually”. In Fall 2012, Reed’s Federal Appeal was denied. In November 2013, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, the final point of relief prior to setting an execution date, agreed to hear oral arguments from Reed’s defense. The hearing is set for Dec. 4, 2013.

Directors/Producers: Ryan Polomski and Frank Bustoz

Man walks free after serving two decades on wrongful conviction – Daniel Taylor

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) – Jul 23, 2013

A man is beginning his redemption Monday after serving two decades behind bars on a wrongful conviction.

Daniel Taylor endured 20 years of time in a prison cell knowing he didn’t commit the crime that got him there. He was a teenager when he went into the big house, but now, he’s a free 37-year-old who will move to a place he can really call home.

“Well, it feels like I’m finally getting established and stepping out on my own and finally getting a chance to get re-acclimated with society,” Taylor says. “It’s very bittersweet, but I’ll accept this over my alternative, which is an 8 by 2 cuz those are not 8 by 9 cells.”

Taylor spent just over 20 years in that 8-by-2 cell at the Menard Correctional Center. He was 17 years old when he was arrested and charged with double murder at a North Side apartment complex.

Taylor had an alibi when the murders were committed: he was already in jail for disorderly conduct and being held at another police station. That took a backseat in the investigation when Taylor confessed to the crime.

“I have never heard anyone who had the alibi that I had,” Taylor explains. “You have people who was at a football game—with their girlfriend making love but how many people have said I was actually in your custody and they went and got certain documents from their own police station. I was beaten and tricked.”

Taylor contacted the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwest University, shared his story and six years later, he had another court date.

“He was in custody at the time when the murders were committed. I had to take that case. He had no parents or lawyer with him when he was dealing with the police. people don’t realize that you can admit to something that you didn’t do.”

Now, Daniel and his brother are trying to do what’s right.

David was 16 years old when Chicago police arrested him in the middle of the night. It’s a night his brother David says he’ll never forget. He missed his big brother so much that he committed crimes to get arrested with hopes of getting assigned to the same jail cell as Daniel.

“By him being by my side and letting me know everything was going to be alright…and then, when that was taken away from me, it was like woah,” David says.

Both brothers want to keep at-risk kids out of trouble and out of jail.

“You need to really sit down and talk to your parents because when it’s all said and done, your parents are going to be the only ones you have if you end up in prison,” Daniel says.

While in prison, Daniel Taylor earned his GED and says he read the dictionary from cover to cover. He has now been free for six months, living in the two-bedroom apartment. Many people are rooting for him and a number of people are trying to help him find a job.

Death penalty Focus

Today, in the United States, we celebrate freedom. At DPF, we are celebrating the freedom of exonerees like Obie Anthony, who spent 17 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.We also remember that there are thousands of other wrongfully convicted people, still sitting behind bars, trying to prove their innocence. We will keep fighting for their freedom, and for a criminal justice system that is more fair and just.

We hope you have a great Fourth of July, and thank you for joining us in the fight for justice!

Read – Amanda Hodge and Shaun Hodge

Amanda wrote this post on the blog, i  share with u : 

My name is Amanda Hodge My husband Shaun Hodge is currently incarcerated at Riverbend Maximum Security Inst. in Nashville Tennessee his lawyers have recently discovered new evidencane in his case..and have filed a writ of error coram novis petition in the case..my husband has been incarcerated 13 yrs. and is innocent and was wrongfully convicted anyone that would like to follow his case we’d love the support!Shaun Alexander Hodge

Bill Would Make Wrongful Conviction Awards Tax-Free

march, 29 sourcehttp://www.forbes.com

Congressmen Sam Johnson (R-TX) andJohn Larson (D-CT) have introduced legislation to prohibit the IRS from taxing compensation awarded to anyone wrongfully convicted of a crime and later exonerated. Is this bill necessary or a good idea? Yes on both counts.

More and more prisoners are being exonerated based on DNA or other evidence. Under statute, by lawsuit or even by legislative grant, exonerees may receive compensation for their years behind bars. See Ex-Inmate Struggles to Cash In on Texas Law That Pays for Years of Wrongful Imprisonment. In fact, are you ready for some shocking figures?

Since the first DNA exoneration in 1989, wrongfully convicted persons have served more than 3,809 years in prisons across 35 states before being exonerated. The nearly 300 DNA exonerees served an average of 13.5 years in prison, ranging from less than one year to 35 years. Whether you look at an individual case or at the averages, these are some astounding numbers. See Congressmen Sam Johnson and John Larson Press Release.

The tax issues have been surprisingly cloudy. In the 1950s and 1960s, the IRS ruled prisoners of war, civilian internees and holocaust survivors received tax-free money for their loss of liberty. In 2007, the IRS “obsoleted” these rulings suggesting the landscape had changed. The IRS now asks whether a wrongfully jailed person was physically injured/sick while unlawfully jailed. If so, the damages are tax free, just like more garden variety personal physical injury recoveries.  See IRS To Collect on Italian Cruise Ship Settlements.

What if an exoneree isn’t physically injured? In IRS Chief Counsel Advice 201045023, the IRS said a recovery was exempt, but the IRS sidestepped whether being unlawfully incarcerated is itself tax-free. The Tax Court (and Sixth Circuit) in Stadnyk suggest persons who aren’t physical injured may be taxed. See Why the Stadnyk Case on False Imprisonment Is a Lemon.

There are usually significant physical injuries and sickness but not always. Besides, what about the money just for being locked up?  What if an exoneree gets $50,000 for physical injuries and $450,000 for being unlawfully behind bars?

The loss of physical freedom should be tax-free in its own right. Many exonerated individuals experience severe hardship acclimating to society, finding jobs, housing and reconnecting with family. The Wrongful Convictions Tax Relief Act proposes to allow exonerees to keep their awards tax-free.

According to Congressman Larson, “Though we can never give the wrongfully convicted the time back that they’ve had taken from them, they certainly shouldn’t have to pay Uncle Sam a share of any compensation they’re awarded. This bill will make sure they don’t have to suffer that insult on top of their injury.”

The two Congressmen are right. It is bad social justice and bad tax policy to tax these recoveries.  It is also unfair to leave the tax law murky so some people are paying tax.

For more, see:

Freedom after nearly 25 years of wrongful imprisonment

Wrongful Imprisonment Tax Ruling Stirs Controversy

Tax On Wrongful Imprisonment Needs Reform

Tax-Free Wrongful Imprisonment Recoveries

Should False Imprisonment Damages Be Taxable?

Why False Imprisonment Recoveries Should Not Be Taxable

A ‘Get Out of Jail’ Card That’s Far From Free

Are False Imprisonment Recoveries Taxable?

Robert W. Wood practices law with Wood LLP, in San Francisco.  The author of more than 30 books, including Taxation of Damage Awards & Settlement Payments (4th Ed. 2009 with 2012 Supplement, Tax Institute), he can be reached at Wood@WoodLLP.com.  This discussion is not intended as legal advice, and cannot be relied upon for any purpose without the services of a qualified professional.

Amid tragedy, activists promote ‘Better Days Ahead’

march, 26, 2012  source : http://www.roosevelttorch.com

Last year, the execution of Troy Davis execution sparked outrage around the world. Davis, who was wrongfully convicted of killing a police officer in 1989, became a symbol of worldwide artistic and political movements against racial injustice and wrongful convictions.

At the Wicker Park Arts Center Friday, Occupy Chicago Rebel Arts Collective (OCRAC) hosted a tribute event called “Better DaysAhead.” The event was to pay remembrance to Davis and his sister, Martina Correia. Correia, who passed six months after Davis, was an advocate on Davis’ behalf and fought against the death penalty.

“We’ve learned quite a bit of how the legal system fails in the last few decades,” said Paul Cates, Innocence Project communications director. He explained that 25 percent of wrongfully convicted cases are due to misidentification. False confessions account for another 25 percent and 50 percent is attributed to invalidated forensic science. In Davis’ case, there was no DNA evidence, according to Cates.

OCRAC, a project of Occupy Chicago’s Arts & Recreation, hosts events like the Davis tribute to connect local artists and to highlight the human effect of unchanging laws and wrongful convictions.

“OCRAC exists for the purpose of connecting with artists of all stripes…and mobilizing the power of art in the name of a more just and equal world,” according to the OCRAC website.

Artists and attendees reflected on the tragedies and celebrated Davis’ and Correia’s lives at the “Better Days Ahead” event. Speakers from various local anti-racism organizations like Amnesty International, Occupy 4 Prisoners, and Campaign to End the Death Penalty attended the tribute.

FM Supreme, ‘Two-time Louder than A Bomb’ city-wide high school poetry competition winners, performed at the event. The group wrote a song last year, dedicated to Davis and Correia.

“FM Supreme in particular was active in trying to save Troy,” Alex Billet said, an OCRAC artist and Rebel Frequencies founder, a journalism website focused on political activism through music. “Word is that Supreme had the chance to perform the song for her (Correia) before she passed away.”

An additional memorial was held for Trayvon Martin, in which a local artist set up a framed photo of Martin along with candles, and placed iced tea and Skittles, which Martin was carrying in his pockets at the time of the shooting.

Billet felt the impromptu memorial was important.

“Troy Davis and Trayvon Martin are both victims of the same sick, violent and virulently racist system,” Billet said in an email statement.

Ed Yohnka, director of communications and public policy at ACLU Illinois, believes tributes like “Better Days Ahead” help to spread awareness about injustices in the legal system and inspire people to right those injustices in various ways.

“I think stories like Davis’ have a powerful impact on how people relate to policy issues, and how it could affect them,” said Yohnka. “For example, President Obama’s statement in regards to relating to Trayvon Martin as a son. Comments like that connect people to issues. It’s very, very powerful.”

OCRAC hosts several events a month to promote activism through art. The next

OCRAC-sponsored event is Chicago Spring, at the Chicago Board of Trade on April 7 at noon.


Ray Krone – off death row, man shares experiences

A York County, Pa., man who was wrongly convicted of murder is now off death row and Monday night he talked about his experience with the students of Albright College.

Ray Krone spent a decade in prison and when he was released he said maybe it’s not about the 10 years he lost but what he does with the next 10 years.

“I’m just thankful they didn’t execute me before I had a chance and my family had a chance to bring me home again,” said Krone.

Ray Krone said prior to being convicted in 1992 for murdering a bar manager in Phoenix, Ariz., he didn’t have a criminal record and never questioned the criminal justice system.

Read more : wfmz.com 

FLORIDA – William Dillon – Governor approves $1.35 million for man wrongfully convicted

TALLAHASSEE — William Dillon didn’t believe the day would come when he would be compensated for sitting in a Florida prison nearly three decades for a crime he didn’t commit. But on Thursday lawmakers approved a $1.35 million payout that was immediately signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott.

Now 52, Dillon was cleared by DNA testing in the beating death of James Dvorak on a Brevard County beach in 1981. A jailhouse informant also has since recanted his testimony against Dillon and authorities reopened the murder investigation. Dillon was freed in November 2008.

The Senate voted 38-1 Thursday to compensate Dillon for spending 27 years in prison. The House passed it on a 107-5 vote last week.

Scott apologized to Dillon on behalf of the state for the wrongful conviction. “It’s a real honor to be the governor who is signing this bill,” said Scott, who shook Dillon’s hand and wished him well.

Dillon, now lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., where he writes and performs music. “It doesn’t give me back what was taken from me, but at the same time it’s such a joy to be here because my life was gone,” Dillon said. “I can’t do anything but look forward