Updated — today's items:
Stuart Taylor Jr., The Atlantic:
Innocents in Prison -- Many thousands of wrongly convicted people are rotting in prisons and jails around the country. -- A s recently as 20 years ago, it was extraordinarily rare for a convicted prisoner to establish his or her innocence conclusively enough to get public attention. That changed with breakthroughs in DNA science.
The 205th DNA exoneration since 1989 was recorded earlier this month by the Innocence Project, a group of crack defense lawyers who have made such cases their mission. The exonerated prisoners—including 15 who had been sentenced to death—have been found innocent by courts, prosecutors, or governors based on post-conviction DNA testing.
But America has been too slow to appreciate that the DNA exonerations, and other evidence, suggest that many thousands of other wrongly convicted people are rotting in prisons and jails around the country...
But well-off white men are not exempt from wrongful prosecution. This was spectacularly illustrated by the fabricated rape charges against three innocent Duke lacrosse players. Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong falsely demonized them as rapists, racists, and "hooligans," thereby gaining enough black votes to win what had been an uphill election battle. Nifong (who is white) also rigged a photo-identification process to frame the three for a nonexistent crime, hid DNA proof of innocence, and lied to the public and the court for many months before North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper took over the case and declared the defendants innocent.
Nifong has been disbarred and still faces a contempt-of-court charge. But his richly deserved fate is almost unheard-of. Most state bars and judges have given passes even to prosecutors who have hidden or falsified evidence to put innocent men and women on death row.
The DNA exonerations have spurred reforms by some states, but most still use shockingly unreliable police practices...
What happened to legislation requiring grand jury transcripts? -- The North Carolina General Assembly adjourned on August 2, 2007 without passing much needed reform of the current grand jury system, insuring NC will remain in the legal dark ages. By not requiring a record of grand jury proceedings, prosecutors are free to follow disbarred DA Mike Nifong's bad example and deny defendants a probable clause hearing where a lack of evidence and fraudulent affidavits, as in the Duke Hoax case, could be revealed early in the process. Instead, cynical prosecutors may continue pretending that an easily manipulated grand jury has the tools and ability to conduct a true hearing of available evidence, both inculpatory & exculpatory.
In the Duke Lacrosse Case the grand jury only heard from Durham PD Officers Gottlieb & Himan when it indicted the now declared innocent lacrosse players. Were the jurors informed that former DA Nifong, Gottlieb, and Himan learned on April 10, a week before seeking indictments, that DNASI had found DNA from multiple unknown men, none of whom were at the party? Were they told that no lacrosse player's DNA was ever found in the false accuser's swabs? We doubt it, but we will never know what that grand jury was told as no transcripts are allowed. We do, however, have the words of one grand juror who said anonymousy:
"Knowing what I know now and all that's been broadcast on the news and in media, I think I would have definitely … made a different decision," he said to ABC News. ...
"A Credit to Our Profession" -- Any effective whitewash requires a large amount of white paint—which the CALEA reaccreditation report for the Durham Police Department has provided in abundance.
A three-person team led by Chief Roy Liddicott, who oversees the force at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, produced a report that sometimes read as if written by the Durham Visitors’ Bureau. Portraying the DPD as an innocent victim of the lacrosse case, the accreditors concluded that the department “is a credit to our profession and a definite asset to the City of Durham.” ...
Duke extends Alleva's contract -- AD reappointed through 2013-14 -- The upcoming academic year will start on a good note for Duke athletics director Joe Alleva after the school reappointed him to his post on Tuesday.
That's unlike the sour notes that have played for the man in charge of athletics at Duke since March 2006, during the ugly days of the lacrosse scandal.
"I am excited and honored to be reappointed as the director of this outstanding athletic department," Alleva said in a statement. "We have made tremendous progress over the past nine years and there is much more to do."Alleva's reappointment includes a five-year contract extension. His contract now runs through 2013-14, Duke spokesman John Burness said.
Duke President Richard H. Brodhead, who approved the reappointment following a university review, called Alleva "unwaveringly loyal" to the school's mission and values...