Legislative Updates and Prosecutorial Integrity
By Derek Gilna
Most legislative relief activity in Congress in 2015 has been confined to the reintroduction of the bills that expired without being passed in the last session that ended in December. One of the new ones, known as the “Democracy Restoration Act,” would restore voting rights to prisoners returning to their communities after release, assisting in their reintegration. I will keep an eye on this and other legislation of interest.
In almost all of the cases that I review I find evidence of prosecutorial misconduct in one form or another. Other than the usual problems of over-charging, bullying of defendants to get them to testify against others (whether the testimony is truthful or not) in return for sentence reductions, threatening undeserved enhancements, or the like, there are other even more egregious instances. Attorney General Holder has issued what amounts to his own executive orders regarding some of the worst of these practices, but his pronouncements lack the force of law for those already convicted as a result of this type of behavior.
However, there are instances of prosecutorial misconduct that, if proven, can win an evidentiary hearing which can result in re-sentencing and less time in jail. The mainstream media has begun to cover this phenomenon, and this bodes well for getting the public to become aware of this problem and press for more change. However, the cases and laws on these items are already on the books. What is needed are more cases brought to highlight the problem, to force prosecutors to take a new look at their practices and reform themselves or face public censure.
One of these cases is that of a
man, Cameron Todd Willingham, executed after being convicted of murdering his
three children. It turns out that the
forensic evidence was completely bogus, The prosecutor in that case, John
Jackson, did everything he could to cover up the faulty evidence, obtain bogus
testimony against Willingham, and hide potentially exculpatory evidence. As a result of Texas ’s
efforts, all appeals were denied, and an innocent man was put to death. Jackson
Although the loss of even one innocent life is a travesty, what about the thousands of other lives of people in the federal prison system who are not guilty of the charges against them, or who were denied the right to properly use exculpatory evidence or who were wrongfully denied the ability to discredit the perjured or exaggerated testimony of informants used to convict them? They also deserve relief, and quality assistance. I’m here if you wish to move ahead on this or other issues that might win sentence relief.
113 McHenry #173