Thursday, January 7, 2010

Exculpatory Evidence

The Dallas Morning News has this article about Richard Miles, who was sent to prison for 40 years by a Dallas County court 14 years ago.  He was ordered released based on prosecutorial misconduct following the efforts of the Innocence Project uncovering "exculpatory evidence" in the possession of prosecution that was not given to Mr. Miles at the time of his conviction in 1995.  I'm quoting the report by Steve McGonigle and Jennifer Emily:

"The claim that Miles, 34, is innocent is still being investigated by the DA's office. 'We have serious questions as to whether he was convicted of a crime that was committed by someone else,' said Mike Ware, who oversees the DA's conviction integrity unit. Miles was convicted in the May 1994 shootings of Deandre Williams and Robert Ray Johnson Jr. near a gas station in the Bachman Lake area. Both men were shot multiple times while sitting in a car. Williams died. Johnson lived but was permanently disabled. If Miles is exonerated, he would be the second man District Attorney Craig Watkins has agreed was wrongly convicted in cases that did not involve DNA evidence.  Miles would be at least the sixth Dallas County inmate in the last two years to have his conviction voided because exculpatory evidence was not disclosed."

As I've said before, evidence is the testimony and documents allowed by the Judge to be heard by the jury or received by the Judge into consideration by himself if the case is tried without a jury.  Exculpatory evidence is that which tends to clear the accused from alleged fault or guilt. 

National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation, today, had an superb half hour-plus with Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project and others discussing plea bargains in American jurisprudence and the pitfalls for wrongful imprisonment of the innocent when prosecutors without integrity fail to disclose exculpatory evidence. 

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