Monday, 30 March 2009

Innocence Project Founders Neufeld and Scheck to Receive Jefferson Medal in Law

Posted March 19, 2009

Innocence Project Founders Neufeld and Scheck to Receive Jefferson Medal in Law
Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld

Contact: Mary Wood

Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld, founders of the Innocence Project, will be awarded the 2009 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law during the University's Founder's Day festivities in April.
"Nothing the legal system does is more important than adjudicating criminal guilt and innocence," said Dean Paul G. Mahoney. "Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld have worked tirelessly to identify and remedy mistaken convictions and by so doing have served the interests not merely of their clients, but of justice."

Created in 1992 as a nonprofit legal clinic affiliated with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, the Innocence Project advocates for post-conviction DNA testing to exonerate the wrongfully convicted and pushes for other reforms that might prevent future wrongful convictions.
Post-conviction DNA testing has helped free more than 200 innocent people, 17 of whom had been sentenced to death. The Innocence Project today includes a network of clinics across the country, including one launched by the Law School in 2008.

In addition to co-directing the Innocence Project, Neufeld and Scheck also have a civil rights litigation practice, Cochran Neufeld & Scheck, which has represented such high-profile clients as Abner Louima and Earl Washington.

The Thomas Jefferson Medal in Law and its counterparts in architecture and civic leadership are the highest external honors bestowed by the University, which grants no honorary degrees. The awards recognize the achievements of those who embrace endeavors that Jefferson — author of the Declaration of Independence, third U.S. president and founder of the University of Virginia — excelled in and held in high regard.

Sponsored jointly by the University and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates Monticello, the annual awards are conferred during the University's Founder's Day celebrations, held around Jefferson's April 13 birthday. In addition to receiving a medal struck for the occasion, recipients will attend ceremonies in the Rotunda and a dinner at Monticello.

Previous recipients of the medal include several U.S. Supreme Court justices, Sen. Sam Nunn, and former Secretary of State Warren Christopher.

Scheck, a professor of law at Cardozo, serves as commissioner on the New York State Commission on Forensic Science, which regulates the state's crime and forensic DNA laboratories. He is also the first vice president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and a board member of the National Institute of Justice's Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence.

Scheck previously served as a member of the National Institute of Justice Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence (1997-2000), as an advisor for the Attorney General's Initiative on DNA Laboratory Backlogs (AGID-LAB), on the advisory board for the Celera Genetic Project to Identify Dead at World Trade Center, and on the American Bar Association Special President’s Commission on High Profile Trials (1995-97).

Scheck has represented Hedda Nussbaum, Louie Simpson and O. J. Simpson. He received a J.D. and M.C.P. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1974 and a B.S. from Yale in 1971.
Neufeld also serves on the New York State Commission on Forensic Science. He is a member of the Board of Trustees for Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital and Academic Medical Center for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

This month Neufeld appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court in District Attorney’s v. Osborne, a case involving whether a criminal defendant has a post-conviction right to access DNA evidence, and whether the defendant can sue to vindicate that right. A former trial advocacy instructor at Fordham University Law School, Neufeld has taught and published extensively on the intersection of science and law, including the proper use of expert witnesses. Neufeld received his J.D. from New York University in 1975 and a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin in 1972.

Neufeld and Scheck met while working at the Legal Aid Society in the Bronx. They are co-authors with Jim Dwyer of “Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution and Other Dispatches from the Wrongly Convicted.” Both attorneys have received numerous awards for their efforts on behalf of defending civil liberties and for their impact on criminal justice.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Arrest in 2007 rape case leads to suit

Arrest in 2007 rape case leads to suit

By Jeremy Pawloski The Olympian • Published March 24, 2009

A man who lived in an underground shelter in Watershed Park in Olympia has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Olympia Police Department alleging false arrest and wrongful imprisonment after he was arrested for the 2007 rape of an 11-year-old girl.

Olympia police arrested David Lukas Lynch on Feb. 6, 2007, after an Olympia police officer found Lynch outside of a southeast Olympia church near where the attack occurred. According to court records, Lynch had a notebook that described his "need to get over his 'child hunting game.' "

Prosecutors dismissed charges against Lynch on Feb. 22, after DNA taken from the victim did not match Lynch's DNA.

A man who lived in the same neighborhood as the girl, Peter James Inouye, 26, was convicted of the girl's rape in November 2008. Inouye's DNA matched the DNA that was taken from the rape victim, according to court testimony. In January, Inouye was sentenced to more than 60 years in prison.

A defense attorney representing the city of Olympia, Donald Law, has filed a response to Lynch's civil lawsuit, stating that "the plaintiff's detention and arrest were lawful." Olympia Police Cmdr. Tor Bjornstad said late Monday that he has not seen the suit, and referred comment to the attorney representing the city.

According to the suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma:

The evening after the rape, Olympia Police Officer Mike Hovda saw a man sitting on the east side of a church off of McCormick Street. The man, Lynch, appeared to look at the officer, and Hovda drove up to him. Lynch was writing in his journal in a "well-lighted parking lot." Lynch did not initially respond when Hovda asked him what he was doing.

Lynch had "shoulder length brown hair and pale skin" and "did not match the description given by the victim."

The victim had described her attacker as having short hair, "black and flat," wearing glasses with circular lenses and white frames. She also described him as having a thin mustache.

Hovda called for backup, and three more Olympia officers arrived. Hovda asked Lynch his name, and Lynch provided it. Hovda asked Lynch if he could search him for weapons, and Lynch stood up and complied. Hovda "asked him if he felt bad about something he might have done, making reference to the rape that had occurred the night before. Hovda asked him specifically if he had entered a house last night and David replied, 'I did not break into any house last night. I did not hurt anyone.' "

The officers began questioning Lynch, and Sgt. Aaron Jelcick later told Lynch, "We know you did it, Mr. Lynch. Just tell us why."

"At no time during this conversation was Mr. Lynch advised of his rights," reads the suit. It also contends that because of "the officers' questioning" and "show of force" that he did not feel free to leave. The suit said Lynch immediately asked for an attorney.

When officers told Lynch he was going with them for questioning, he "believed he was under arrest at that time. He did not feel he had any choice but to go with the officers."
While at the church, Jelcick searched Lynch's backpack and started reading from his notebook. Jelcick told Lynch that "everybody had skeletons that they were ashamed of and it was those people who stood accountable for their actions that would ultimately gain the respect of others," reads the suit.

The next day, Olympia police issued a news release stating that Lynch "matched the description of the rapist," reads the suit.

According to the suit, probable cause for Lynch's arrest was not developed until after they brought him to the police station.

"A photographic montage was done with the victim, but she did not identify Mr. Lynch," reads the suit.

Lynch was subsequently arrested and charged with several felonies, including first-degree burglary, first-degree child rape and first-degree assault of a child.

"During Mr. Lynch's incarceration for crimes he did not commit, he suffered a psychological breakdown which included him attempting to chew his wrists to the point of bleeding to death," the suit reads. "He was subsequently sent to Western State Hospital" where he "developed a deep vein thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism which required further medical treatment at St. Claire Hospital in Lakewood."

The suit said Lynch continues to suffer physically and psychologically as a result of the arrest.
The suit alleges that "(P)rior to February 6, 2007, the City of Olympia developed and maintained policies and customs exhibiting deliberate indifference to the constitutional right(s) of persons in the City of Olympia," and that "it was a policy and/or custom of the city of Olympia to inadequately and improperly investigate citizen complaints of police misconduct and the acts of misconduct were instead tolerated by the City of Olympia, including but not limited to the following incidents."

DNA evidence points to another man in 1984 rape

DNA evidence points to another man in 1984 rape


Published: March 24, 2009

One of the Richmond area's most notorious rapists, Leon W. Davis, also known as the "Black Ninja," has been implicated in a 1984 rape for which another man was convicted.
According to court records, Davis' genetic profile was "consistent with" the DNA profile identified in semen from the scene of a Jan. 3, 1984, rape in Richmond. Thomas E. Haynesworth, a man Davis once described as a friend, was sent to prison for the crime.

Testing by the Virginia Department of Forensic Science did not find Haynesworth's DNA and Richmond authorities are now investigating. However, Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Michael N. Herring would not comment yesterday on Davis.

Henrico County Commonwealth's Attorney Wade Kizer said police there are still searching through files to see if there might be something to test in connection with a Jan. 30, 1984, rape in Henrico for which Haynesworth was also convicted.

Reached last week by telephone at the Greensville Correctional Center, Haynesworth said of Davis, "I knew all along he was the man. I told my lawyer. I told [police]. He lived right down the street from me."

"I told them: 'This man fit the description.' But nobody ever listened to me," he complained. "Everybody said we looked alike. Only difference between me and him, he is taller and weighed more," said Haynesworth.

Davis, 45, is serving seven life terms for several sexual assaults in Richmond and Henrico, plus assault and robbery charges in two other cases.

Haynesworth, 43, was convicted of rape in Richmond and Henrico and an attempted abduction and robbery in Richmond. He is serving a total of 74 years. He was acquitted of charges that he sodomized a woman at knifepoint on Jan. 21, 1984.

The attacks for which Davis and Haynesworth were convicted occurred throughout 1984. It appears from news accounts at the time that all of the sexual assaults were committed by a man armed with a knife -- except the Jan. 30 rape in Henrico, one of the cases for which Haynesworth was convicted.

However, in that case, a trial transcript shows the victim testified that her attacker told her she was not his first victim and would not be his last. "He said he usually used a kitchen knife but he decided to use a gun this time," she testified.

In December 1984, after Haynesworth had been convicted of the Richmond and Henrico rapes, police warned area women that a man who sometimes called himself the "Black Ninja" was suspected of attacking 12 women in Richmond and Henrico starting that April. Haynesworth had been arrested that February.

According to Henrico Circuit Court records, when Davis was arrested on Dec. 19, 1984, and read his rights, Richmond police reported that he told them: "He discussed his old neighborhood and advised that Haynesworth was a friend of his."

Haynesworth was sentenced to a total of 64 years for his other crimes. Even if he is cleared of the Richmond rape, he must satisfy the terms of his other sentences, unless material is found to test in those cases and those tests also support innocence. He was convicted years before parole was abolished and has been eligible for discretionary parole since 1993.

The recent DNA testing was performed as part of the Virginia Department of Forensic Science's post-conviction project aimed at clearing people who may have been wrongly convicted from 1973 through 1988, before forensic DNA testing was widely available.

Kizer said it was his understanding that the department of forensic science had not been able to find any evidence to test from the Henrico rape.

However, Richmond authorities, in an effort to compel a DNA sample from Davis to verify the match in the state data bank, filed an affidavit Friday as part of a search warrant obtained in Buckingham County Circuit Court. Davis is an inmate at the Buckingham Correctional Center.
The affidavit notes that in DNA testing earlier this month, Haynesworth "was eliminated as a contributor of the DNA profiles that were found foreign to the victim" of the Richmond rape.
"The foreign DNA profiles were searched against the DNA data bank and were found to be consistent with . . . Leon W. Davis," wrote a Richmond detective in the affidavit.

Shawn Armbrust, with the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, which is representing Haynesworth, was pleased to learn of the DNA implicating Davis.

"It seems that this evidence clearly proves that Mr. Haynesworth is innocent of the Richmond rape, and we hope the commonwealth's attorney is going to be working with us as quickly as possible to rectify that conviction," said Armbrust.

Contact Frank Green at (804) 649-6340 or

Contact Reed Williams at (804) 649-6332 or

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Giving credit where credit is due

From the Blog : The Defense Rests :

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Giving credit where credit is due

Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos blasted the Houston Police Department and her predecessor for their roles in the wrongful conviction and imprionment of Ricardo Rachell, who was exonerated in a sexual assault after DNA was (finally) performed on samples taken back in 2002. Mr. Rachell spent more than five years in prison.

Ms. Lykos called for DNA testing in every case in which testing is available and relevant. In addition, Ms. Lykos repeated her call for the shuttering of the HPD Crime Lab and the creation of a regional crime lab, possibly under the auspices of the Harris County Medical Examiner's Office. The National Academy of Sciences called for the creation of regional crime labs in a recent report exposing problems in today's forensic sciences.

County Judge Ed Emmett, Houston Mayor Bill White and HPD Chief Harold Hurtt all expressed support for the proposal.

Mr. Rachell proclaimed his innocence before, during and after his trial, even going so far as to blame Andrew Wayne Hawthorne for the assaults. Mr. Hawthorne has since been charged with the assault. The DNA testing performed on the rape kit from 2002 excluded Mr. Rachell and pointed toward Mr. Hawthorne.

Ms. Lykos deserves credit for acknowledging that there are innocent people serving time in prison. She likewise deserves credit for her proposal to take the crime lab out of HPD's jurisdiction and put it under a department with no stake in the outcome of a criminal case.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Joseph Fears Exonerated in Ohio

Joseph Fears Exonerated in Ohio

Posted: March 12, 2009 2:52 pm

On Tuesday, Joseph Fears, Jr., walked out of an Ohio courthouse a free man for the first time in more than a quarter-century. DNA testing proved that he was wrongfully convicted of a sexual assault in 1984 and a judge officially cleared Fears. He joined family members for a celebratory first meal in freedom and will now begin the arduous process of building a new life in a changed world.

Fears’ case was reviewed as part of a joint project between the Ohio Innocence Project and the Columbus Dispatch newspaper, but the investigation was stalled when prosecutors said they couldn’t find his evidence.

Fears’ luck changed, however, when Ohio Innocence Project client Robert McClendon was exonerated in Fears’ county in 2008. Franklin County prosecutor Ron O'Brien said the McClendon case left an impact on him, and he ordered a thorough review of all stored evidence. The review turned up evidence from Fears’ conviction, and O’Brien immediately ordered testing.

Read more about his case from the Ohio Innocence Project and the Columbus Dispatch.Fears is the 234th person exonerated by DNA testing nationwide, and the eighth in Ohio. Learn more about exonerations in your state here.

On the heels of the exonerations of McClendon and Fears, Ohio lawmakers are considering wide-ranging reforms to prevent injustice in the state. State Sen. David Goodman introduced a bill yesterday seeking improved access to DNA testing, a requirement to record all interrogations and reforms to eyewitness identification procedures.

Five to Go

From the Blog of The Innocence Project :

Five to Go

Posted: March 12, 2009 4:44 pm

Yesterday, South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds signed a new law making his state the 45th in the country to explicitly grant access to post-conviction DNA testing to prisoners claiming innocence. Like many post-conviction DNA access laws around the country, however, South Dakota’s new law includes procedural hurdles that could make it difficult for some prisoners to get DNA testing.

The remaining states with no DNA access law are Alaska, Alabama, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Mississippi.

Monday, 2 March 2009



in his first public address since release in November 2008

Brevard resident William Dillon, who served over 27 years for a crime he did not commit, will make his first address to the public since his exoneration in November 2008, joining the Innocence Project of Florida (IPF) on stage at the Gleason Center, Florida Tech campus, 6:00pm, Saturday, March 7, 2009 at the 5th Annual Progressive Celebration hosted by the Space Coast Progressive Alliance and co-sponsored by WFIT 89.5FM.

Dillon will join IPF Assistant Director Toni Shrewsbury during an award ceremony recognizing the work that IPF has done since their inception in 2003, resulting in the release of ten wrongfully incarcerated Floridians who, through DNA testing, were proven factually innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted. In addition to obtaining the freedom of these individuals, IPF's work has resulted in widespread recognition of the need to reform the state criminal justice system, where fundamental problems have been identified in the areas of eyewitness identification, false confessions, evidence preservation, crime lab oversight, access to DNA testing, and exoneree compensation. IPF has received over 2000 inquiries/requests for assistance in proving the innocence of individuals currently incarcerated.

Dillon's 27 years in jail represent the longest time served by any of the 232 individuals exonerated nationwide as a result of DNA test results. Dillon was exonerated when his innocence of a 1981 murder was proved by DNA evidence that came as a result of a 2007 motion filed by IPF and attorney Mike Pirolo. Dillon was subsequently released November 18, 2008.

The state's case against Dillon was based largely on the testimony of an admitted perjurer who had a sexual liaison with the case's lead investigator during the investigation, a fraudulent dog scent expert, a partially blind eyewitness and an individual whose own charges in a rape case were dropped in exchange for his testimony, which included numerous details at odds with known facts in the case.

Both Dillon and Shrewsbury will be joining Progressive Celebration attendees at a pre-event reception greeting Bob Edgar, President and CEO of Common Cause, a 400,000 member nonprofit, nonpartisan citizen lobby for reforms that make government at all levels more open, honest, and accountable, and re-engages citizens with civic responsibility. Edgar will then keynote the celebration with a talk addressing the challenges facing the Obama administration in meeting its promises for education, health care and energy policy. Edgar will specifically address key reforms that have taken hold in other states and how such reforms can be pursued in Florida. Celebration attendees will have the opportunity to question Edgar about Fair Districting, public campaign financing, and other fundamental reforms directed toward government accountability and the campaign/election process. Edgar's talk will follow a live music performance by Evan Greer, RiotFolk musician, performing original songs of citizen empowerment, sustainability and social justice. Concerned citizens of all ages are invited and urged to attend.

Doors open at 6pm to the event, which benefits both WFIT 89.5FM, a public radio station serving South Brevard and Indian River County, and the Space Coast Progressive Alliance, a local grassroots citizen lobby for progressive public policies.

Tickets are available from WFIT 89.5FM (321-674-8950 or



5th Annual Progressive Celebration
an evening of inspiration and information
hosted by Space Coast Progressive Alliance
co-sponsored by WFIT 89.5 FM
Saturday, March 7, 2009 on campus, Florida Institute of Technology,150 W University Blvd, Melbourne FL 32901

5-6:30pm - Pre-event Party, Meet & Greet Reception in Hartley Room, Student Union Building. Limited attendance, tickets required.

6:00pm - Doors open at Gleason Performing Arts Center for Progressive Celebration

6:15pm - Live Music with Evan Greer, RiotFolk Music Collective

7:00pm - Welcome and Award Presentation to Innocence Project of Florida, followed by keynote speech by Bob Edgar, President & CEO of Common Cause

Presentation title: "The Audacity of Hope vs. Pay-to-Play Politics: Obama's Challenge
8:45pm - Edgar book signing, progressive information tabling, music resumes

Tickets available from WFIT (online at or call 321-674-8950)

$20 advance / $25 at the door, if available
$10 students
$60 tickets

MEDIA welcome with press credentials/identity.


Innocence Project of Florida Assistant Director Toni Shrewsbury: 850-561-6767 or

Common Cause: Mary Boyle, VP Communications, via Mike Surrusco 202-736-5788 or, or John Briscoe, VP Development, 202-841-4507 or

Common Cause Florida: Alex Chavez, 941-706-1877 or 941-737-1447,

Evan Greer, RiotFolk Musician: or or 978-852-6457

Local event co-chair: Cammie Donaldson, 321-917-1960 or

Local event co-chair & pre-event reception chair: Susan Martin, 321-773-1276 or
Space Coast Progressive Alliance (SCPA) is a Florida nonprofit corporation supported by membership dues, donations, and event ticket sales. Nonpartisan by strongly progressive and politically active, SCPA encourages citizen engagement in the political process and seeks to advance progressive public policy at the local, state and national level.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Prosecutors, Crime Victims and Exonerees File in Innocence Project Supreme Court Case

From the Blog of The Innocence Project :

Prosecutors, Crime Victims and Exonerees File in Innocence Project Supreme Court Case

Posted: February 5, 2009 6:45 pm

Diverse voices from across the criminal justice system filed friend-of-the-court briefs this week urging the U.S. Supreme Court to recognize that the federal Constitution allows prisoners access to DNA testing that could prove their innocence. The Innocence Project represents an Alaska man who is seeking DNA testing that could prove his innocence; the Supreme Court will hear the case next month.
Among the individuals and groups filing on behalf of William Osborne were current and former prosecutors, who argue that the majority of prosecutors are willing to review cases where DNA testing could change a verdict – but that relying solely on the unfettered discretion of prosecutors can sanction injustice. A group of crime victims also filed a brief, including a woman who was raped by a man who remained at large while an innocent person was in prison for his previous crimes.
“These briefs reflect the growing consensus that everyone – prosecutors, defendants, crime victims, the government and society – has an interest in making sure people have access to DNA testing that can prove innocence,” said Peter Neufeld, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law. Neufeld will argue the case at the Supreme Court on March 2. “In the vast majority of cases, prisoners are granted DNA testing under state law or because prosecutors consent to testing without a court order. Alaska is the exception. It is the only state in the nation with no known case of a prisoner receiving DNA testing, either through court order or a prosecutor’s consent. This case involves a very important constitutional protection – one that is the only option for William Osborne.
Oral arguments in William Osborne’s case will be heard March 2.