Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Interesting story this morning in the New York Times on criminal prosecution and defense after Katrina, including the effect of damage to the evidence room on such prosecutions. It is "In New Orleans, Rust in the Wheels of Justice," reported by Christopher Drew. As many as 500 defendants have been freed due to lost evidence and lost witnesses (even including arresting officers), while many others languish in jail awaiting their speedy trial.
The story quotes Tulane colleagues Pam Metzger (left) and Katherine Mattes (rt.) from the defense angle, from experience in the school's clinical representations. People assume this is a gift to defendants. Not if exonerating evidence and alibi witnesses go AWOL. “What people say when you describe all the evidence problems is how terrible it will be if we have people who committed crimes and can’t be prosecuted,” [Mattes] said. “But it also can work the other way.” [Alan Childress; HT to Jeanne Carriere]