Monday, March 23, 2015

Prosecutorial Misconduct Costs a Life in Texas

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 Texas 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 Jackson’s efforts, all appeals were denied, and an innocent man was put to death.

            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.


Derek Gilna

113 McHenry #173

Buffalo Grove, IL  60089

Sunday, March 1, 2015


"'Justice' is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger."

by Derek Gilna

This quotation, attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, neatly sums up the challenge of those seeking "Justice" in the American judicial system. The "stronger" will not voluntarily, or willingly, give up their advantage without a fight, and a prolonged one at that. If you are not in it for the long haul, you are generally better off not starting the process. You need a friend, an advocate.
Understand that many appointed criminal defense attorneys and many public defenders, are not your friends in this process. They are at best indifferent to your circumstances, and not committed to your welfare. They don't read your documents, talk to your witnesses, or insist on full discovery Beaten down by the process, they often just go through the motions. You need someone to reexamine your case, get the facts, and see what can be done. There are options.
Then there is the system itself. If you are aged, infirm, or ill, a stretch in the BOP can easily become a death sentence. Once again, you need someone to advocate for your interests, to ensure you leave prison in better health than when you entered it. This is also not an easy process. You need someone who is familiar with the process.
Remember, the courts are not unsympathetic to prisoners and their plights, and are increasingly showing a willingness to enforce constitutional protections for prisoners and give them an honest hearing when the facts of the case so dictate. Federal judges have lifetime appointments and many go out of their way to show their independence of the federal government, and if necessary, put prosecutors in their place. You need your facts presented in a concise and persuasive manner, by someone familiar with the system, and who can marshal those facts and wield them so that the advantage lies with you.

Derek Gilna, 113 McHenry, #173, Buffalo Grove, Ill 60089.
(847) 878-0160