September 27, 2008
Joseph T. Thai
Thai has served as law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens and Justice Byron R. White of the Supreme Court of the United States, and Judge David M. Ebel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
Thai has practiced in the Office of the Attorney General of Massachusetts, where he handled criminal and civil appeals in state court, and habeas and Section 1983 litigation in federal court. Prior to joining the law faculty, Thai worked at Gable & Gotwals in Oklahoma City, where he litigated trial and appellate matters in state and federal courts and administrative agencies. He currently engages in pro bono litigation on constitutional matters, including those before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 2005, and again in 2008, Thai was named the outstanding faculty member of the College of Law by its students. In 2005, Thai was also named the university-wide outstanding faculty member by students across campus. In 2007, he received the President's Associates Presidential Professorship. [Mark Godsey]
Taser Use in Man’s Death Broke Rules, Police Say
The firing of a Taser stun gun that led an emotionally disturbed man to fall from a Brooklyn building ledge to his death on Wednesday appeared to have violated departmental guidelines, the police said on Thursday.
The guidelines tell officers that when possible, the Taser, which fires barbs that deliver thousands of volts of electrical current, should not be used in situations when a person could fall from an elevated surface.
A law enforcement official identified the lieutenant who gave the order to use the Taser as Michael Pigott, a 21-year veteran of the force. He was placed on modified assignment without his gun and badge, and the officer who fired the weapon was put on administrative duty amid an investigation by the Police Department and the Brooklyn district attorney. The police declined to identify the officer.
Officers at the scene of the confrontation had called by radio for an inflatable bag as the events unfolded, but it had not yet arrived when the man, Iman Morales, 35, was struck with the device and fell, according to a statement by the department’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne.
“None of the E.S.U. officers on the scene were positioned to break his fall, nor did they devise a plan in advance to do so,” the statement said, referring to the elite police Emergency Service Unit. [Mark Godsey]
Change of the Guard in Corrections Department
In her 19 years as a corrections officer on Rikers Island, Barbara Williams has been trapped in a mess hall with rioting inmates and thrown against an iron gate by a man twice her size who left her with a fractured shoulder. But nothing makes her wince like remembering the time an inmate commented on the way her hips swayed ever so slightly beneath her boxy blue uniform, back when she first came on the job.
“He said: ‘Damn! You remind me of a pantyhose commercial,’ ” recalled Ms. Williams, who is in her late 40s and has a compact build and a deep, raspy voice. “The feeling I had all that day was as if he had touched me or something.”
She spoke of the episode one recent afternoon at Horizon Academy, a high school for male inmates that is in the George Motchan Detention Center, one of eight jails on the island holding inmates awaiting trial. Ms. Williams cited the man’s comment as a crucial moment in her career.
“I saw right off that I have to change my demeanor: I have to be more forceful; I have to harden myself,” said Ms. Williams, a single mother of two grown daughters. That very night, she went back to her apartment in Jamaica, Queens, and practiced stiffening her walk in front of a mirror.
“It’s like I tell my daughters: In life, you have to know when to be a woman and when to be a lady,” she said. “I don’t feel that ladies belong in jail. So, that softer part of me, I try to leave outside. I walk in here, and I try to be 110 percent woman.”
Women have worked in the city’s Department of Correction for decades, but never in such large numbers as they do today. Women make up 45 percent of about 9,300 uniformed employees of the department, according to the agency. From guards to wardens to the four-star chief, Carolyn Thomas, they fill almost every rank. And in many respects, they are changing the culture of the city’s jails.
Walk down the corridors of any of the city’s 11 active jails, and it is clear that not only are there a high number of female officers, but a majority of those women — 75 percent — are black, said Stephen Morello, a department spokesman. They are former soldiers, beauticians and bank tellers. They are single mothers who took the job to support their children. They are grandmothers like Angela Crim (“Crime without the ‘E,’ ” she says sweetly), who carries handwritten Scripture in her purse and says she tries not to judge the men whom she guards.
Some of the women are natural caretakers who dispense wisdom to inmates along with bars of lye soap. Others are hard-nosed disciplinarians. But all the women have one thing in common: They are taking their place in a world traditionally dominated by men.
Nowhere is their sense of sorority more evident than in the women’s locker room, where pictures of Barack Obama and male models with rippling torsos provide a little relief after a long shift, and jars of hair products like Queen Helene Styling Gel clutter the sink counters.
Ask any woman in the city’s Correction Department why she wanted a job that brings with it such stress and potential danger, and she’ll tell you that it’s the security. Such a career, in which no college degree is required and the top yearly pay for an officer is $75,000, can mean the difference between a life of hardship and a ticket into the middle class.
“I don’t think anybody grows up saying, ‘I want to be in charge of inmates,’ ” said Chantay Forbes, a 30-year-old single mother from East New York, Brooklyn, who took the corrections officer’s exam about a decade ago when she was pregnant with her son. She recently bought a house upstate.
“All I saw was what it could do for my future,” added Ms. Forbes, a newly promoted captain. “If it wasn’t for this job, I might not be able to own a home right now.”
Several factors explain the rising number of women entering the city’s Correction Department. One is the 1977 United States Supreme Court decision in Dothard v. Rawlinson, a watershed sex discrimination case that helped opened doors for women in law enforcement.
Another is the fact that in the mid-’80s, the agency’s third female commissioner, Jacqueline McMickens, began assigning female guards to all-male jails that were once off limits to them. More recently, academic experts suggest, labor shortages and an overhaul of the welfare system have driven more women into the field.
But nothing beats word of mouth. Over the years, mothers and daughters, sisters and girlfriends have recruited one another. One recruit, Suzeth Orr, a hairdresser who used to work at a salon in Downtown Brooklyn, learned about the job from two clients who worked for the department. “They said it’s not a hard job,” she said. “It’s actually safe.”
Statistics bear that out. Last year was the safest on record for the city’s jails, according to the department, and many female corrections officers think that the decrease in violence is linked in part to their presence.
“The female touch is a little more gentle,” said Joandrea Davis, a warden who runs a jail for sentenced male inmates on Rikers and keeps her office stocked with bottles of Perrier and candy-apple-scented hand lotion. “You don’t have that machismo that comes into confrontational situations, and sometimes we’re able to quell things.”
But not all the time. “It is a jail,” she added. “We’re not dealing with choirboys here.”
It’s impossible to quantify the exact impact women have had on the city’s jails. But the system has seen changes.
Read full article here. [Brooks Holland]
N.Y. Law Treats Child Prostitutes as Crime Victims not Offenders
Ending years of debate and delay, Gov. David A. Paterson on Friday signed into law a bill shielding sexually exploited girls and boys from being charged with prostitution.
The law, known as the Safe Harbor for Exploited Youth Act, will divert children under the age of 18 who have been arrested for prostitution into counseling and treatment programs, provided they agree to aid in the prosecution of their pimps.
It has been the subject of intense debate in the State Legislature and beyond, and was opposed by some law enforcement officials and by the Bloomberg administration, which argued that the bill would make it harder to crack down on prostitution.
But the bill’s backers said it was wrong to treat under-age prostitutes — many forced into the sex trade and kept there with physical threats and abuse — as criminals rather than victims.
“For too long, these young people have been sexually exploited by pimps and predators, and then exploited again by state law, which treated them as criminals instead of victims,” said Assemblyman William Scarborough, a Queens Democrat who sponsored the bill.
The legislation passed the Democrat-controlled Assembly several times in recent years but died in the Republican-controlled State Senate, most recently because of disagreement over language addressing whether judges would have any discretion over diverting criminal charges.
But supporters agreed to add provisions this year that allow charges to be reinstated if the arrested child refuses counseling or declines to cooperate with court mandates, like testifying against sex traffickers. The new law will also prevent anyone who has already been through the program from avoiding prosecution for later prostitution offenses.
Read full article here. [Brooks Holland]
September 26, 2008
FBI did not analyze anthrax from biodefense lab
Researcher Bruce Ivins in 2002 confessed to cleaning up the office contamination without telling anyone during an Army investigation at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md. Ivins became a suspect in 2005 in the mailings that killed five and sickened 17.
FBI investigators have not yet analyzed the genetic fingerprints of 25 anthrax samples supplied from the lab contamination investigation, says Vahid Majidi of the FBI's Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate.
"They're still in my lab," says Paul Keim, a microbiologist at Northern Arizona University. Keim called the FBI's decision not to examine the contamination samples "weird" given the intensity of investigators' focus on biodefense researchers, which included polygraphs of Army institute researchers.
Keim, until June, retained duplicates of the FBI's repository of 1,070 anthrax samples collected from researchers worldwide after the mailbox attacks. Genetic fingerprints of those repository samples eliminated suspects other than Ivins by 2007, says FBI lab director Chris Hassell. [Mark Godsey]
North Charleston police take step into the future
The day when police can swipe a suspect's finger through a device and check him instantly against a nationwide criminal database, all while standing on a city street, may not be far off.
North Charleston Police Chief Jon Zumalt said a new handheld device his department acquired this week is a step in the right direction. The gadget looks like a BlackBerry wireless device and allows an officer to check a national database for warrants and vehicle information. Until now, police had to call dispatchers, costing valuable minutes.
"This is just the beginning," Zumalt said on Wednesday, as the device manufacturer trained his officers on the new equipment. "This is innovation. We're the first in the state to have this."
The gadget is made by an Atlanta-based company, the American Law Enforcement Network, or ALEN for short. The department purchased 10 handheld devices at just under $400 each. The city will have to pay about $30 in monthly subscription fees per unit.
Francine Karp, an ALEN operations manager, visited North Charleston for the training. A former police officer in Connecticut, Karp said she often pulled over vehicles without having a chance to learn the driver's criminal history until it was too late.
She said it's crucial to know that a car is associated with a violent felon, or has been reported stolen, before approaching the driver.
"It's literally walking into a very dangerous situation blindly," Karp said.
The device, developed about 2 1/2 years ago, is in use by about 500 departments in five states, she said. The North Charleston Police Department is the first South Carolina agency to get one.
Beyond wanted people and stolen vehicles, the device also lets officers look up hazardous materials on commercial trucks, and a range of other information.
Deputy Police Chief Reggie Burgess said he spent about two years working to bring the technology to North Charleston. For it to work, the State Law Enforcement Division had to allow the department to access the National Crime Information Center, U.S. law enforcement's central data depository. [Mark Godsey]
Mo. prison program fosters family ties behind bars
The handful of inmates gathered for the monthly program at the Women's Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center include some of the state's most notorious female convicted murderers.
But their crimes don't prevent the women's loved ones from calling them Mommy and Grandma, or from needing a hug or words of encouragement. And while the inmates do time, their children and grandchildren often struggle with feelings of anger, resentment and betrayal.
University of Missouri outreach workers started the family support program in 1999 at the state's maximum security prison in Potosi. Known as the Living Interactive Family Education program, or 4-H LIFE, is now offered in Potosi, Vandalia and the Algoa Correctional Center in Jefferson City.
"There are many education programs for incarcerated parents," said program director Tammy Gillespie. "But not a whole lot that work with the entire family." [Mark Godsey]
September 24, 2008
Rape reports jump 40% in S.F., police say
Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 7, there have been 130 reported rapes in the city, compared with 94 over the same period last year, according to statistics presented at City Hall this week.
Police officials said they did not know what exactly is driving the numbers, but believe it is an increase in reports of acquaintance rapes, such as date rape.
"We're trying to determine what the issue is," Acting Deputy Chief John Goldberg told a Board of Supervisors committee. He said rape is significantly underreported, and he thinks outreach by the department with advocacy groups may have spurred the increase in reports.
"This is not an increase ... in forced sexual assaults," Goldberg said.
He promised a "more thorough and complete analysis" for the supervisors at the next Public Safety Committee meeting.
Janelle White, executive director of San Francisco Women Against Rape, said she has not seen a dramatic increase in the number of people contacting her organization. She said she would need more specific information about the rape reports before she could speak to what is driving the increase.[Mark Godsey]
In the New Term, High Stakes for the High Court
Following a blockbuster term involving guns, Guantanamo Bay and the death penalty, the U.S. Supreme Court opens its doors to a new term with less drama, more cases initially and many challenges having potentially major implications for business, the environment, injured consumers, job bias victims and law enforcement.
If the docket thus far appears to lack possible landmark cases, the term's drama level could change quickly after the justices hold their summer conference meeting on Sept. 29 in which they generally add cases from more than a thousand filed during the summer months. They also continue to add cases to the term's argument docket until about mid-January.
One case likely to raise the stakes considerably, if granted review, is perhaps the most significant voting rights case in decades -- Northwest Austin Municipal District Number One v. Mukasey, No. 08-322. The case challenges Congress' recent reauthorization of Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, the heart of the landmark law that changed the voting landscape in America.
The justices will return in the new term to several areas of apparent strong, ongoing interest:
• Business is seeking federal pre-emption of state personal injury suits in the pharmaceutical drug and tobacco arenas.
• Employees and employers square off in two job bias cases, one involving retaliation and the other pregnancy leave and retirement credit.
• Sexual harassment in schools draws the justices into the interplay of two major discrimination statutes.
• And an unusually large number of environmental cases -- four -- will be argued, ranging from Navy sonar and its effect on marine mammals to the use of cost-benefit analysis in setting environmental standards. [Mark Godsey]
FBI Opens Probe of Finance Giants
The FBI is investigating whether fraud played a role in the troubles at Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and American International Group, bringing to 26 the number of bureau investigations of institutions tied to the mortgage debacle, according to two sources familiar with the developments.
At the same time, the Securities and Exchange Commission has opened more than 50 investigations into disclosure and valuation of housing-related investments at banks, insurers and credit-rating agencies, Chairman Christopher Cox told the Senate Banking Committee yesterday.
The wide-ranging probes are operating at different stages of development and no charges are imminent, according to sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue.
A half-dozen current and former government lawyers cautioned that mortgage-related cases presented significant challenges for investigators because of their complexity, which they said surpassed even the five-year-long probe into wrongdoing at Enron.
"The reason is they involve securities . . . that are all but incomprehensible even to sophisticated investors," said Timothy J. Coleman, a former Justice Department official who oversaw the government's corporate fraud task force. "The other problem is that there is no obvious crime that was committed here. It may be that people who invested in these mortgage securities misunderstood the risks. But it's not at all clear they were the result of a misrepresentation." [Mark Godsey]
Bernard Kerik Claims Selective Prosecution
Kerik's lawyers cited one-time U.S. attorney general nominee Zoe Baird and former New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman as high-profile tax deadbeats in a 94-page document that seeks to quash perjury, tax fraud and illegal payoff charges.
"It is a matter of public record that prospective appointees to high political office are rarely if ever charged criminally for such issues," Kerik lawyer Barry Berke wrote.
Kerik is set to go on trial next year in White Plains Federal Court. Aside from Baird and Whitman, Berke cited former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and deputy attorney general candidate Charles Ruff as others who've sidestepped criminal charges for domestic tax lapses.
Berke accused federal prosecutors of "overreaching" by bringing federal charges that echo those he pleaded guilty to in 2006 after a probe in the Bronx.
Kerik has admitted lying on city disclosure forms about renovations to his Bronx apartment done by a mob-linked contractor seeking city work.
"This is an extraordinary prosecution," Berke charged.
Berke also said it's unfair to charge Kerik for lying to White House officials vetting his background for several high-ranking administration positions from 2002 to 2004 because their questions were too vague.
Kerik was forced to withdraw his nomination for homeland security czar.
Read full article here. [Brooks Holland]
September 23, 2008
U.S. Supreme Court delays execution of Ga.
Family and advocates of 39-year-old Troy Davis have long urged he deserves a new trial as seven of the nine witnesses who helped put him on death row have recanted their testimony. His supporters erupted into cheers and tears when the stay was announced at about 5:20 p.m. ET.
"This is not over yet," said Davis, who sounded upbeat and optimistic speaking to the crowd by phone. "This is the beginning of my blessing."
Also on Tuesday, Florida executed a man convicted of shooting and killing two young sisters after he raped and shot their mother.
In Georgia, protesters had arrived by the busload to protest the execution, waving signs and wearing blue shirts that proclaimed "I am Troy Davis." The Rev. Al Sharpton, who accompanied the Davis family to the protest, led the crowd in a Gospel hymn after the news was announced. [Mark Godsey]
Innocent Until Reported Guilty
As guards led Ellen Reasonover to the van that would transport her to prison, she could not comprehend that a St. Louis County, Mo., jury had just found her guilty of a cold-blooded murder. A 24-year-old single mother of a baby daughter, Reasonover had no history of violence, yet she stood convicted of killing a 19-year-old gas station attendant in the neighborhood where she lived.
She had come to the attention of police only after she answered a television broadcast requesting potential witnesses to offer information. Motivated by good citizenship, Reasonover showed up at the local police precinct because she had visited the service station the night of the murder, seeking change for the washing machine and dryer at a local Laundromat. She told police she had not seen any criminal activity; she had walked away after nobody responded to her knock on the service station window.
Somehow, though, police saw in Reasonover — an African-American woman who exhibited nervousness — the profile of a suspect. Now it appeared Reasonover might spend the remainder of her life in prison, spared from death row only because one of the 12 jurors held out against execution. [Mark Godsey]
Scavenging - and theft of recyclables - on rise
Less than five minutes into Lisa Poston's shift, the San Diego code-enforcement officer spotted a scraggly man on a bicycle that had been modified to carry garbage cans.
Poston pulled her unmarked car next to him and politely explained that he was breaking the law by taking items from curbside recycling bins. The man, who refused to give his name, wheeled away as Poston warned that she would issue him a ticket the next time.Less than five minutes into Lisa Poston's shift, the San Diego code-enforcement officer spotted a scraggly man on a bicycle that had been modified to carry garbage cans.
Poston pulled her unmarked car next to him and politely explained that he was breaking the law by taking items from curbside recycling bins. The man, who refused to give his name, wheeled away as Poston warned that she would issue him a ticket the next time.
“It's getting worse throughout the city,” Poston said.
Actually, scavenging seems to be worsening across the county and nation. Complaints from residents and reports from officials in the waste industry suggest the practice is on the rise.
The trend is difficult to quantify, because most stolen recyclables are brought to scrap yards and recycling businesses that pay cash and don't ask for personal identification.
Recycling experts said a weak economy and sky-high prices for scrap metal have turned curbside containers into gold mines for everyone from the homeless to quasi-professional thieves, who sweep through neighborhoods with crews and large vehicles. [Mark Godsey]
Searches of old criminal records end school jobs
The impact has been especially evident among nonteaching employees who, until this year, did not have to undergo the kind of comprehensive background checks done for teachers.
Now, staffers such as custodians, secretaries and cafeteria workers may face dismissal for newly unearthed offenses committed years ago.
John Reccord, a night supervisor for the Orange school district, has worked there for nearly two decades. But he stands to lose his job for an offense to which he pleaded guilty 35 years ago and was sentenced to probation.
"I have been at the school for 19 years without any problems," Reccord said. "This is going to affect people who did something when they were young. Why should they lose their jobs now?"
He is one of a handful of Orange school employees facing an uncertain future as a result of the background checks.
Statewide, it's unclear how many school employees are in a similar predicament. The Ohio Department of Education doesn't keep track of nonlicensed employees, and a union representing such nonteaching staff also had no tallies available.
Shaker Heights is among the area school districts grappling with the issue.
"We absolutely need to protect children by checking the background of school employees. The problem we're struggling with is that schools are being forced to let some exemplary employees go," said Robert P. Kreiner, business administrator for the Shaker Heights school district. [Mark Godsey]
Public defender wants alternatives to juvenile detention
Dawn Deaner, a 12-year veteran of the office, was appointed by Metro Council Tuesday night to lead the office until 2010. She'll be completing the term of Ross Alderman, who was killed last month in a motorcycle accident.
I can't say enough about how proud I am to be a part of this office," Deaner said. "And how lucky Nashville is to have had the great public defenders we have had."
Deaner sat down with The Tennessean last week and talked about her respect for the history of the public defender's office and her vision for the future.
Ross Alderman was well respected in your office and in the community. Tell me about some of the qualities he possessed that you admired in him.
He cared deeply about our clients. He was doing this job because he cared, and saw humanity in each client we dealt with. Whether they were a homeless person charged with panhandling, or somebody who had committed a very serious offense, he saw their humanity. I think that's one of the most admirable qualities about him. [Mark Godsey]
'CLUELESS' CRIME LABS
A federal panel of experts looking into the reliability of CSI tests has heard damning evidence against some of the most common techniques used to convict killers, rapists and other criminals, The Post has learned.
The analysis of fingerprints, tire tracks and bite marks isn't nearly as reliable as researchers once believed, crime-scene specialists told the panel. Some even called it junk science.
Many said major changes would be necessary if crime labs want to continue using the evidence.
The National Academy of Sciences report isn't due out until December, but forensic expert Barry Scheck predicted the study could have blockbuster implications.
"The testimony before them was very compelling," the former O.J. Simpson "Dream Team" lawyer said.
"There were some serious questions raised about the reliability of certain disciplines - bite impressions, tire tracks and automatic fingerprint identification.
"I'm assuming they're going to make some big recommendations about how standards are set. A lot of people are anticipating a fairly far-reaching examination of forensic science."
Peter Neufeld, Scheck's partner at the Innocence Project, which works to clear the wrongfully convicted by using DNA evidence, was among dozens of experts who spoke before the panel, a blue-ribbon gathering of 17 evaluators who began their work in 2006.
The $1 million effort to assess forensic work is not final; the academy's report is undergoing a peer review now.
But it's already being viewed as a major potential challenge to the fundamentals of crime-scene investigation.
"If the rules change, it could open a Pandora's box for defense lawyers to challenge what would be considered junk science," said New York attorney Jeffrey Lichtman, who helped John "Junior" Gotti beat murder charges. [Mark Godsey]
September 21, 2008
At Sentencing, Youth Bares Soul, and Judge Bares His Pain
How much misery was appropriate to inflict on a promising 19-year-old, who himself had inflicted misery on society by dealing drugs, the judge asked himself out loud.
“It’s almost an impossible calculus,” said Justice Farber, who sits in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
The young man, Yiskar Caceres, had been arrested four times in roughly 15 months for selling or possessing cocaine, and Justice Farber already had given him an opportunity to wipe his slate clean before his most recent arrest, in April.
Now, Justice Farber said, he had no choice but to sentence Mr. Caceres to state prison. But even in doing so, the judge showed some compassion: he gave Mr. Caceres four and a half years in prison, half the maximum sentence that prosecutors had sought. Because Mr. Caceres has already served 11 months and will be eligible for a drug-treatment program, he could be out in as little as two years.
“I have not given up hope in you,” Justice Farber said, adding that he hoped Mr. Caceres would see how drugs had destroyed some of the inmates’ lives, “see the connection between what you do and what they become.” [Mark Godsey]
Anxiety-detecting machines could spot terrorists
Signs of a terrorist? Or simply a passenger nervous about a cross-country flight?
It may seem Orwellian, but on Thursday, the Homeland Security Department showed off an early version of physiological screeners that could spot terrorists. The department's research division is years from using the machines in an airport or an office building — if they even work at all. But officials believe the idea could transform security by doing a bio scan to spot dangerous people.
Critics doubt such a system can work. The idea, they say, subjects innocent travelers to the intrusion of a medical exam.
The futuristic machinery works on the same theory as a polygraph, looking for sharp swings in body temperature, pulse and breathing that signal the kind of anxiety exuded by a would-be terrorist or criminal. Unlike a lie-detector test that wires subjects to sensors as they answer questions, the "Future Attribute Screening Technology" (FAST) scans people as they walk by a set of cameras. [Mark Godsey]
Police tactics in '75 murder case debated
Three weeks out of a mental hospital, Curtis Jasper Moore spent the night of Jan. 8, 1975, at the Emporia police station asking for his mother.
He sang "The Ballad of Paladin," the theme song of an old television Western, and his focus wandered. According to a transcript of the interrogation, Greensville County Sheriff Earl D. Sasser kept telling him, "Look at me. Look at me."
Losing his patience, Sasser said: "You're not half as damn nuts as you act like you are, you know that? You know what happened last week, don't you? Huh?"
Moore implicated himself and was convicted of one of the worst crimes in Emporia history: the rape and murder of Eva King Jones, an 88-year-old pillar of the community.
Thirty-three years later -- two years after Moore's death -- the case was reopened, and police charged an Emporia sex offender with the slaying. If Moore is cleared, it will not be the first time DNA has proved that a mentally impaired person made a false confession in a Virginia murder investigation.
Guilt or innocence aside, "it seems the police broke every rule in the book" during Moore's interrogation, said Steven A. Drizin, a professor at Northwestern University Law School and an expert on false confessions.
H. Benjamin Vincent, the former commonwealth's attorney who prosecuted Moore, defended the questioning. "Those police officers, I knew them well, and they didn't rubber-hose him. That just didn't happen," he said.
Drizin said the problem was that police were interrogating a mentally ill suspect. Found guilty in 1978, Moore's convictions were thrown out five years later, after federal courts ruled his rights had been violated. [Mark Godsey]