Last June, Damien Crooks and Jamali Brockett were arrested for forcing a 13-year-old Jewish Orthodox girl into prostitution in 2003, and then raping, assaulting and sexually trafficking her for the next 8 years.
Two other men, Jawara Brockett and Darrell Dula, were also arrested and charged with raping the girl.
A day after accusing Jawara Brockett and Dula, however, the girl, then 22-years-old, went back to the police, and told detectives she was simply a prostitute for 5 years and made up the allegations against Brockett and Dula.
Defense attorneys for the men didn't receive the woman's recantation until April 2012, when prosecutor Rebecca Gingold, who replaced Assistant District Attorney Abbie Greenberger, discovered the documents and turned them over.
“The girl indicated the night of the alleged rape that she had made up the story,” Crooks’ lawyer, Elliot Kay, told The New York Post. “She indicated that she was in a consensual relationship, as opposed to being the victim of sex trafficking.”
The Brooklyn DA's office--who publicized the big bust last year--has yet to comment on the newly-discovered documents.
“How do they go on TV talking about this huge sex-trafficking bust when they had written documentation from police officers in which she admitted lying?” Kay asked.
Congressmen call to disbar Senator Stevens' prosecutors.
Washington - The prosecutors who concealed evidence to score a conviction against the late Sen. Ted Stevens should be disbarred, officials said at a congressional hearing Thursday.
"I don't believe that the people that took Ted Steven's life, how they should ever be able to practice law again," said Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, who added that he didn't personally like Stevens, but felt the prosecution was an injustice.
A federal jury convicted in the Alaska senator of felony corruption in 2008 for lying about home renovations and other gifts he had received from executives of VECO Corp., an oil field services company.
Stevens, who held his office for more than four decades, lost his re-election bid in 2009 in the wake of the scandal, but his name was cleared after the government admitted that it had held back exculpatory evidence about a key witness at least twice during the trial. He died in a plane crash the following year.
The House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security met Thursday to investigate the misconduct committed by the federal prosecutors in Stevens' case.
Henry Scheulke III, a partner of Janis, Scheulke and Wechsler, testified before the committee, detailing how prosecutors failed to disclose evidence that may have exonerated Stevens.
After being appointed by a federal judge to investigate the case, Scheulke found that "prosecutors never conducted or supervised a comprehensive and effective review for exculpatory information."
New Orleans attorney's want to hold prosecutors accountable.
A year ago, the Supreme Court overturned a $14 million jury verdict for a man named John Thompson. He won the money after being exonerated for a crime that put him in prison for 18 years, including 14 on death row. Thompson’s case is a totemic story of wrongful conviction: The state of Louisiana, where he was tried, had blood work that pointed to a different perpetrator. When the evidence came to light after 11 years of appeals and seven execution dates—thanks to a defense investigator’s last-ditch effort to go through old police records—a New Orleans prosecutor came forward to say that a colleague had hidden the blood analysis five years earlier. Thompson was eventually freed, and he sued the New Orleans district attorney, Harry Connick Sr., for failing to train his prosecutors about their obligations under the Brady rule. This is the 1963 Supreme Court holding that requires prosecutors to turn over exculpatory evidence: everything they know that suggests the defendant may be innocent.
That’s how Thompson won $14 million. Until Justice Clarence Thomas took it away from him, in a decision Dahlia Lithwick called “one of the meanest Supreme Court decisions ever.” In a 5-4 split, Thomas held that Connick couldn’t be responsible for one bad act by a single prosecutor. Thompson lost because, in the majority’s eyes, he hadn’t shown a pattern of office failure. To five justices, it somehow wasn’t enough, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out in dissent, that there was evidence that a handful of prosecutors were involved in dissembling about the evidence against Thompson (and not only about the blood work—there was also an eyewitness identification that didn’t match his description that wasn’t shared with the defense). Nor did it matter to the majority that the Louisiana courts had overturned four other convictions because of Brady violations under Connick’s watch. Or that the Supreme Court had overturned another New Orleans death sentence for the same reason and would soon reverse yet one more.
A group of Yale Law School students pointed out last fall in the Yale Law Journal, defendants can’t sue prosecutors personally, because they have immunity. It’s practically unheard of for prosecutors to be criminally prosecuted, even for blatant wrongdoing. And yet prosecutors abuse their power with some frequency: A 2003 study by the Center of Public Integrity, which the students cite, found more than 2,000 appeals since 1970 in which prosecutorial misconduct prompted dismissals, sentence reductions, or reversals.
If district attorneys can’t be sued personally, and if their offices now can’t be sued either, what do you do about the bad apples who hide evidence and otherwise railroad defendants? After all, these lawyers are a problem not just for their adversaries, but also for the majority of prosecutors who conscientiously go by the rules.
There’s one other route to accountability: filing a complaint with the state bar association against a prosecutor saying they’ve broken the rules of ethics for lawyers. The state bar can impose discipline like suspension or disbarment. Bar complaints are rarely brought against prosecutors, though. Of the 2,000-plus appeals tracked by the Center for Public Integrity, only 44 involved disciplinary action against prosecutors. One of the main reasons, the student authors of the Yale Law Journal article argue, is that “those who are in the best position to discover prosecutorial misconduct—judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys—routinely fail to report it.”
Prosecutor-judge relationship warrants one-year suspension, Bar report says.
A text-message entanglement with an ex-judge has taken the reputation of former homicide prosecutor Howard Scheinberg from sterling to sullied. The next blow may be a one-year suspension of his law license.
While trying a death-penalty case before Judge Ana Gardiner in 2007, Scheinberg exchanged 949 phone calls and 471 text messages with the judge. For failing to disclose the communications, a referee for the Florida Bar has found Scheinberg guilty of professional misconduct and recommended the suspension.
"The communication should have been revealed to opposing counsel and failing to make such a disclosure was also prejudicial to the administration of justice," Florida Bar Referee Sheree Davis Cunningham wrote in her 10-page report. "His disregard, inadvertent or otherwise, for the sanctity of the legal process must be addressed."
Scheinberg has 60 days from the date of the April 11 report to appeal. The Florida Supreme Court makes the final decision on attorney discipline.
Court Document: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/media/acrobat/2012-04/69564281-24093506.pdf
Prosecutorial Conduct Exposed in Arizona.
A coalition of innocence projects, legal experts and wrongly convicted defendants will announce today that a study of prosecutorial misconduct in Arizona from 2004 through 2008 found prosecutors committed error in 20 cases.
The coalition—which includes The Innocence Project of New York, along with Veritas Initiative, a policy and research arm of the Northern California Innocence Project, as well as Innocence Project New Orleans and Voices of Innocence—is convening in Arizona in the latest stop in a national tour aimed at exposing prosecutorial misconduct and initiating reform.
In 15 of the cases, the finding of error was deemed “harmless” and the convictions were upheld. In five of the cases, the errors were ruled to be “harmful” and the convictions were reversed.
During that same time period, three prosecutors were publicly disciplined by the State Bar of Arizona, but none of the prosecutors in the 20 cases found by Veritas were subject to any discipline.
One of those three prosecutors disciplined was Kenneth Peasley— once considered the most feared prosecutor in Pima County, Arizona, where he won conviction after conviction, some of which sent defendants to Death Row.
Peasley was disbarred in 2004 for knowingly allowing a detective to testify falsely in two capital murder trials—improper behavior that led to the release of a man from Death Row.
Free After 25 Years: A Tale Of Murder And Injustice.
The past few years in Texas have seen a parade of DNA exonerations: more than 40 men so far. The first exonerations were big news, but the type has grown smaller as Texans have watched a dismaying march of exonerees, their wasted years haunting the public conscience.
Yet a case in Williamson County, just north of Austin, is raising the ante. Michael Morton had been sentenced to life in prison for murdering his wife. He was released six months ago — 25 years after being convicted — when DNA testing proved he was not the killer.
Instead of merely seeking financial compensation, Morton is working to fix the system. His lawyers, including The Innocence Project, want to hold the man who put him behind bars accountable. They also want new laws to make sure Morton's story is never repeated.
Morton was wrong. Boutwell had already decided that Morton was his No. 1 one suspect. The previous day had been Morton's birthday, and the family had gone out for a nice dinner. After getting home and putting Eric to bed, Morton was hoping for a "happy ending" with his wife. That's not what happened, though, and Morton's feelings were hurt. He wrote her something the next morning before he left for work.
"Chris, I know you didn't mean to, but you made me feel really unwanted last night. After a good meal, we came home, you binged on the rest of the cookies, then you farted and fell asleep. I'm not mad. I just wanted you to know how I feel without us getting into a fight about sex. Just think how you'd feel if you were left hanging on your birthday. I love you."
This note, left on the couple's bathroom mirror, turned out to be Morton's doom.
Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson used it to weave a sensational tale of unspeakable violence. In Anderson's version of the crime, Morton used a wooden club to viciously bludgeon his wife's head because she wouldn't have sex with him. Then, in triumph over her body, he pleasured himself. The mild-mannered pharmacy manager was transformed into a sexually sick, murderous psychopath.
It was all a prosecutorial fantasy; none of it was true. Yet Anderson pounded his fists into his hands and wept to the jury as he described Morton's perversity. Compared with this vivid picture of the crime, Morton's defense didn't have a lot to offer.
"The defense was that [Morton] didn't do it, and we don't know who did it. But whoever did it snuck in and committed a really vicious, vicious murder," says Bill Anderson, now a criminal law professor at the University of Texas who was Morton's lawyer in 1986. "And that is very frightening. A jury, by convicting [Morton], makes themselves safe. They've solved the case and they can go on about their business."
What the jury and the defense lawyers didn't know about was the evidence that had been concealed by Williamson County law enforcement. Only the sheriff's office and the district attorney knew about it.
Prosecutors agree: Murder conviction of D.C. man should be overturned.
Federal prosecutors on Friday acknowledged errors in the scientific evidence that helped send a Washington man to prison for 28 years for murder and took the extraordinary step of agreeing to have his conviction overturned.
U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. cited DNA evidence in also agreeing to drop the murder charge against Santae A. Tribble and never try him again. But even as the prosecutor said the evidence that convicted Tribble was flawed, Machen stopped short of declaring him innocent.
In Tribble’s case, prosecutors and the FBI laboratory were incorrect in linking a hair found near the murder scene to Tribble, according to recent DNA test results.
As the U.S. attorney’s office filed court papers late Friday, three former senior FBI lab experts and a national civil liberties group joined calls for the bureau and the Justice Department to review testimony in all convictions nationwide that depended on FBI hair evidence before 1996. Such a review would determine whether the evidence should be retested using DNA.
The Post reported last week that the Justice Department never reviewed thousands of cases that relied on potentially flawed hair comparisons, resulting in men like Tribble staying in prison. In many of the cases that the agency did review and found to have problems, prosecutors never notified defendants or their lawyers of the issues uncovered.
Machen has agreed to review all District convictions obtained with hair evidence and will ask the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project to assess whether any old evidence should be retested with modern DNA techniques. Justice Department and FBI officials said they still were considering a similar review nationwide.
Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) this week urged the Justice Department to review its handling of about 250 questionable convictions identified by The Post, most of which relied on hair comparisons.
“It is hard to quantify the hardship that those who have been wrongfully convicted have suffered,” Wolf wrote to Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz on Thursday.