EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Monday, September 21, 2020

Yale Law Journal Submission Deadline

The Yale Law Journal asked me to post the following:

Submissions for Vol. 130 will close on Sept. 23rd. We encourage authors with Articles and Essays to submit their pieces well before the close of submissions. We are no longer accepting submissions of Features, Book Reviews, and Forum.

Yale Law Journal, Submissions:

To submit, please use our online submissions system

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

The Journal’s Style Guide is available here.

The Journal’s Empirical Work Policy is available here.

ARTICLES AND ESSAYS

The division between these two forms of professional scholarship serves not merely to separate longer pieces from shorter ones, but also to encourage two distinct and complementary approaches to legal analysis.

  • Articles devote substantial space to situating themselves within existing research, and they often frame their arguments as comprehensive analyses of a given subject.
  • Essays are often narrower in scope than Articles, but the subject matter is of general scholarly interest. Essays may experiment with style, tone, and voice. The ultimate goal of an Essay is to start a new and interesting scholarly conversation.

The Articles & Essays Committee reviews submissions without knowledge of the identity of the authors. We do not review Articles or Essays written by current J.D. students at Yale Law School, or by authors who were J.D. students at Yale Law School at any time during Volume 130’s submissions window. hen to submit Articles and Essays to YLJ, please click here.

For our policy on exploding offers, please click here.

September 21, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 10, 2020

September 14th Deadline for the Pound Civil Justice Institute Civil Justice Scholarship Award

The Pound Civil Justice Institute is pleased to offer again this year our award designed to recognize current research and writing on civil justice issues, and to encourage such research in the future.  The Civil Justice Scholarship Award will be presented at Pound’s winter Fellows receptions.  The nomination deadline is Monday, September 14, 2020; the award will be presented on Sunday, February 7, 2021 in Palm Springs, California.

We will recognize two works annually (as possible) – one book and one article.  Law school deans may make one nomination for each category (book and article) for professors in their school.  Self-nominations are also permitted.  Attached is a flyer about the award for you to share/post to relevant list servs or websites.  Criteria and nominating form (and the flyer) can be found at http://www.poundinstitute.org/civil-justice-scholarship-award/.

Here is the announcement: Download 2021 CJSA Announcement

September 10, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 28, 2020

Undisclosed Mega-Update Thread 5

On August 27, 2020, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina entered an order vacating Ronnie Long's convictions for first-degree rape and burglary. This came on the heel of the en banc opinion by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit finding that the State committed a Brady violation by failing to disclose several pieces of material exculpatory evidence.

Given this terrific turn of events, I wanted to do another update on the status of all of the cases we've covered on Undisclosed.

Total cases covered: 22 cases.

Relief granted: 13 cases: 9 exonerations: (1) Shaurn Thomas; (2) Terrance Lewis; (3) Willie Veasy; (4) Chester Hollman III; (5) Charles Ray Finch; (6) Theophalis Wilson; (7) Jonathan Irons; (8) Dennis Perry; and (9) Ronnie Long. 2 stays of execution: (1) Marcellus Williams; and (2) William Montgomery. 1 commutation: Cyntoia Brown. 1 grant of parole: Cyrus Wilson.

Currently pending: 4 cases. (1) Joey Watkins's successor habeas petition recently authorized to move forward by the Supreme Court of Georgia; (2) Joseph Webster's CRU petition; (3) Pedro Reynoso's CIU petition; and (4) Fred Freeman/Temujin Kensu's CIU petition.

New appeals expected soon: 4 cases: (1) Adnan Syed; (2) Jamar Huggins; (3) Pam Lanier; and (4) Greg Lance.

Options being explored: 1 case: Rocky Myers

Continue reading

August 28, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 22, 2020

The Admissibility of Statements Made to Doctors Consulted For the Purpose of Enabling Him/Her to Testify

Federal Rule of Evidence 803(4) provides an exception the rule against hearsay for

A statement that:

(A) is made for — and is reasonably pertinent to — medical diagnosis or treatment; and

(B) describes medical history; past or present symptoms or sensations; their inception; or their general cause.

So, if Pam feels sick and goes to a doctor to be diagnosed and treated, clearly her statements would be admissible under Rule 803(4). And the same would apply to statements made to the doctor by Pam's family and friends so she can be diagnosed/treated. But what if Pam believes that she has been injured or made sick based on the wrongdoing of someone and consults with a doctor solely so that the doctor can testify at her trial. Are Pam's statements admissible?

Continue reading

August 22, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Pound Civil Justice Institute Civil Justice Scholarship Award

The Pound Civil Justice Institute is pleased to offer again this year our award designed to recognize current research and writing on civil justice issues, and to encourage such research in the future.  The Civil Justice Scholarship Award will be presented at Pound’s winter Fellows receptions.  The nomination deadline is Monday, September 14, 2020; the award will be presented on Sunday, February 7, 2021 in Palm Springs, California.

We will recognize two works annually (as possible) – one book and one article.  Law school deans may make one nomination for each category (book and article) for professors in their school.  Self-nominations are also permitted.  Attached is a flyer about the award for you to share/post to relevant list servs or websites.  Criteria and nominating form (and the flyer) can be found at http://www.poundinstitute.org/civil-justice-scholarship-award/.

Here is the announcement: Download 2021 CJSA Announcement

August 18, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Eighth Circuit Opinion Notes Limitations of Best Evidence Rule

Federal Rule of Evidence 1002, often called the Best Evidence Rule, states that

An original writing, recording, or photograph is required in order to prove its content unless these rules or a federal statute provides otherwise.

But, as was the case in United States v. Delorme, 964 F.3d 678 (8th Cir. 2020), the Best Evidence Rule often doesn't require the best evidence.

Continue reading

August 15, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Supreme Court of Idaho Addresses Time Lapse Allowed For Present Sense Impressions

Similar to its federal counterpart, Idaho Rule of Evidence 803(1) provides an exception to the rule against hearsay for

A statement describing or explaining an event or condition, made while or immediately after the declarant perceived it.

The first part of this "present sense impression" exception is easy enough. If I tell my friend, "My stomach hurts" while my stomach hurts, my statement is a present sense impression because I am describing/explaining a condition while I am perceiving it. Similarly, if I say to my friend, "Hey, that's Nancy" while I see Nancy crossing the street, my statement is a present sense impression because I am describing/explaining an event while I am perceiving it. But what if I told my friend, "My stomach hurt x minutes ago" or "I saw Nancy crossing the street x minutes ago." How many minutes can pass before my statement is no longer made immediately after I perceived the event or condition?

Continue reading

August 6, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 1, 2020

More Thoughts on the New Rules of Evidence for Title IX Hearings

In my last post, I described how the U.S. Department of Education has issued new regulations that will require colleges and universities across America to change how they investigate and resolve Title IX complaints. In this post, I will give some information about the new rules of evidence that higher education institutions must use at their hearings. All of the items in this post are presented in more detail in my article, "Hiring and Training Competent Title IX Hearing Officers," which is forthcoming in the Missouri Law Review and is available now online as a pre-publication draft. If you either (1) have responsibility for university hearings or (2) care about evidence law, then several features of the revised regulations should interest you:

First, the new regulations require that institutions ensure that their hearing officers are "trained on issues of relevance, including how to apply ... rape shield provisions" and legal privileges. (Note that institutions commonly use lay faculty and staff, with little-to-no legal training, to conduct hearings.)

Second, institutions of higher education "must permit each party's advisor to ask the other party and any witnesses all relevant questions and follow-up questions, including those challenging credibility." (The Department has swept away campus rules preventing the "advisor," who may or may not be a lawyer, from speaking at hearings. Gone are the days in which advisors whispered advice to their clients but otherwise could not participate.)

Third, "cross-examination ... must be conducted directly, orally, and in real time." (The Department has swept away campus rules requiring parties to submit proposed questions in writing to hearing officers, who then decide how and whether to ask the questions of witnesses.)

Fourth, the hearing officer must rule on questions of relevance in real time, deciding whether a witness should answer.

Fifth, the hearing officer must apply a "rape shield," the details of which are described in the revised regulations. The required shield has much in common with Rule 412 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, including having exceptions similar to those at FRE 412(b)(1), which apply in federal criminal cases. Accordingly, hearing officers must decide (1) whether evidence presented is the kind of evidence covered by the rape shield at all and (2) if so, whether an exception applies that allows admission.

Sixth, the hearing officer must exclude evidence protected by a legal privilege, unless the holder of the privilege waives. This includes state law privileges (e.g., doctor-patient, attorney-client) and the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.

Seventh, if a student invokes his Fifth Amendment right, a university decision-maker cannot hold that against him when deciding the outcome of the case. In other words, participants in university hearings will be treated like criminal defendants (who in theory cannot be punished for their failure to testify), not like civil parties (who indeed face adverse inferences if they invoke).

Eighth, unless a piece (or category) of evidence is explicitly excluded by the revised regulations (such as evidence covered by the rape shield, or privileged material), relevant evidence must be admitted, even if the same evidence might be excluded in a real court. The Department gave examples of relevant evidence that cannot be excluded at college hearings (despite often being inadmissible in court), such as evidence that "concerns a party's character or prior bad acts," hearsay, and "party statements made during mediation discussions." Nor can evidence be excluded because it "is cumulative, duplicative, or unduly prejudicial." All objections about this kind of evidence go to weight, not admissibility.

For more detail, please see my forthcoming article. Please speak up in the comments if you have any thoughts on the new rules.

  - Ben Trachtenberg

August 1, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, July 31, 2020

New Evidence Rules for University Title IX Hearings

Greetings from a long-absent contributor to this blog. My name is Ben Trachtenberg, and I teach Evidence at the University of Missouri. Because my recent scholarship has concerned education law, I have not posted here in some time.

Now, however, my interest in higher education law has brought me back to my evidence roots, and I have a new article that discusses the new rules of evidence that colleges and universities must use in Title IX hearings. These rules are included in revised regulations (effective August 2020) from the U.S. Department of Education. Under these rules, hearing officers at campus tribunals must rule on issues of relevance, application of the rape shield, and legal privileges. Institutions are required to ensure that their hearing officers are trained in this law.

In my new article, "Hiring and Training Competent Title IX Hearing Officers," I suggest how campus leaders can obey these new requirements. My main suggestion is that institutions should use external hearing officers, instead of asking faculty and staff with no legal training to become knowledgeable about complex evidence rules. In addition, I propose that institutions separate the role of hearing officer (i.e., judge) from that of the decision-makers (i.e., jurors) who determine the ultimate result. This would allow external experts to run the hearing while retaining internal authority over decisions.

I'd welcome any feedback on the article. The pre-publication draft is online now. The paper version will appear in the Missouri Law Review in winter 2020-2021.

In a subsequent post, I will dig into some of the new evidence rules that colleges and universities must use in their Title IX hearings.

July 31, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Undisclosed Mega-Update Thread 4

On July 17, 2020, Judge Stephen G. Scarlett, Sr. granted Dennis Perry a new trial, finding that newly discovered evidence -- mitochondrial DNA recovered from hairs found on glasses next to Harold and Thelma Swain -- linked alternate suspect Erik Sparre to the crime scene.

Given this terrific turn of events, I wanted to do another update on the status of all of the cases we've covered on Undisclosed.

Total cases covered: 22 cases.

Relief granted: 12 cases: 8 exonerations: (1) Shaurn Thomas; (2) Terrance Lewis; (3) Willie Veasy; (4) Chester Hollman III; (5) Charles Ray Finch; (6) Theophalis Wilson; (7) Jonathan Irons; and (8) Dennis Perry. 2 stays of execution: (1) Marcellus Williams; and (2) William Montgomery. 1 commutation: Cyntoia Brown. 1 grant of parole: Cyrus Wilson.

Currently pending: 5 cases. (1) Ronnie Long's en banc hearing in the Fourth Circuit; (2) Joey Watkins's successor habeas petition recently authorized to move forward by the Supreme Court of Georgia; (3) Joseph Webster's CRU petition; (4) Pedro Reynoso's CIU petition; and (5) Fred Freeman/Temujin Kensu's CIU petition.

New appeals expected soon: 4 cases: (1) Adnan Syed; (2) Jamar Huggins; (3) Pam Lanier; and (4) Greg Lance.

Options being explored: 1 case: Rocky Myers

Continue reading

July 18, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Undisclosed Mega-Update Thread

On June 30, 2020, the Supreme Court of Missouri refused to hear the State's appeal from Judge Daniel Green's opinion granting Jonathan Irons a new trial. On July 1st, Jonathan was released from prison. The following day, the prosecutor announced that he would not take Jonathan's case back to trial.

Given this terrific turn of events, I wanted to do another update on the status of all of the cases we've covered on Undisclosed.

Total cases covered: 22 cases.

Relief granted: 11 cases: 7 exonerations: (1) Shaurn Thomas; (2) Terrance Lewis; (3) Willie Veasy; (4) Chester Hollman III; (5) Charles Ray Finch; (6) Theophalis Wilson; and (7) Jonathan Irons. 2 stays of execution: (1) Marcellus Williams; and (2) William Montgomery. 1 commutation: Cyntoia Brown. 1 grant of parole: Cyrus Wilson.

DNA/Alternate Suspect: 1 case: Dennis Perry

Currently pending: 5 cases. (1) Ronnie Long's en banc hearing in the Fourth Circuit; (2) Joey Watkins's successor habeas petition recently authorized to move forward by the Supreme Court of Georgia; (3) Joseph Webster's CRU petition; (4) Pedro Reynoso's CIU petition; and (5) Fred Freeman/Temujin Kensu's CIU petition.

New appeals expected soon: 4 cases: (1) Adnan Syed; (2) Jamar Huggins; (3) Pam Lanier; and (4) Greg Lance.

Options being explored: 1 case: Rocky Myers

Continue reading

July 5, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Call to Action in the Jonathan Irons Case

In our most recent series of Undisclosed, we covered the case of Jonathan Irons. Irons was 16 years-old when he was arrested for a burglary and shooting at the home of Stanley Stotler in O'Fallon, Missouri in 1997. Irons was eventually convicted of crimes connected to that burglary and sentenced to 50 years incarceration. Back in March, Judge Daniel Green granted him a new trial. Since then, despite this ruling and Irons's prison being a COVID-19 hotspot, the state Attorney General has continued appealing, keeping Irons behind bars. Today, the Supreme Court of Missouri will decide on whether to hear the State's final appeal. If, as we hope, the court rules against the State, St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar will have 10 days to decide whether to drop the charges against Irons or take the case to trial again.

[Update: Tim Lohmar has dropped the case against Jonathan Irons]

I am asking you to contact Tim Lohmar (636-949-7355/pa@sccmo.org) today to respectfully ask that he drop the case against Irons. Here is a script that you can use (feel free to modify) for a phone call and/or e-mail:

Dear Mr. Lohmar,

     I am writing/calling to respectfully ask that you drop the case against Jonathan Irons. I believe that Mr. Irons was wrongfully convicted of a crime he did not commit at the age of 16 and do not believe that he should have to suffer the physical, mental, and emotional anguish of remaining incarcerated during the COVID pandemic and facing another trial. I am troubled by several aspects of Jonathan's case. First, the State has admitted to altering and failing to turn over an original fingerprint report that would have shown that a fingerprint lifted from the storm door where the burglar almost certainly exited the victim's home did not belong to either Jonathan Irons or the homeowner. Second, the victim was shown a biased photo array in which Jonathan Irons's face was larger than the other faces, and yet he still could not initially make an identification, which should be taken as evidence of Jonathan Irons's innocence. Third, Jonathan Irons's trial attorney never contacted a witness who told police she saw Jonathan Irons during Bible study at a time that would have made it highly improbable if not impossible that he could have committed the crime. Fourth, it has been uncovered that the detective who claims Jonathan Irons confessed to him kept a blog in which he admitted to all sorts of police misconduct, including fabricating evidence. Fifth, at trial, the State was unfairly allowed to introduce a gun into evidence despite the fact that there was no evidence linking the gun to Jonathan Irons or the crime.

     These are not just my opinions. They are the conclusions of Judge Daniel Green, who reached them after hearing testimony from both witnesses for the State and the defense. Jonathan Irons has already spent 23 year behind bars for a crime he did not commit. I respectfully ask that you drop the case against him so that he can be reunited with his family and live his life as an innocent man for the first time since he was sixteen.

Sincerely,

Name

Irons4

Jonathan Irons with his godparents

For more details regarding the case, you can read below:

 

Irons was convicted primarily based upon five factors:

1. The State claimed at trial that the burglar had to use the front storm door to exit Stotler's house and introduced a fingerprint report and testimony indicating that the only latent fingerprints lifted from the storm door belonged to Stotler. The detective who booked Irons also testified that Irons asked him during booking whether they recovered his fingerprints from Stotler's house, which the prosecutor used to argue that Irons must have been mocking the detective because Irons had ostensibly worn gloves during the burglary and knew he hadn't left behind any fingerprints.

2. Stanley Stotler identified Jonathan Irons as his shooter at trial.

3. Although lead detective Michael Hanlen could not testify at trial due to an operation on his throat, the prosecution introduced Hanlen's suppression hearing testimony in which Hanlen claimed that Irons orally confessed to entering Stotler's house. There was nothing written to corroborate Hanlen's claim, which Hanlen explained by claiming that Irons refused to sign anything, including a Miranda waiver. Shortly thereafter, however, when another detective sought to interrogate Irons, he readily signed a Miranda waiver indicating that he refused to talk (and he also invoked his Miranda rights when a third officer tried to interrogate him).

4. Various residents of Stanley Stotler's neighborhood -- Osage Meadows -- placed Irons in the neighborhood on the night of the shooting, some of whom said that he had a gun.

5. At trial, the prosecution presented into evidence a gun that an unnamed informant gave to an officer, saying that he was afraid it had been stolen.

Now, however, all five of these factors favors release and dropping of the charges against Jonathan Irons:

1. The State itself has admitted that someone working for the State altered the original fingerprint report before it was turned over to the defense during discovery. That original fingerprint report shows that one of the fingerprints lifted from around the handle on the storm door did not belong to either Irons or Stotler (who lived alone). This fingerprint was very likely left by the burglar, which strongly supports Irons's claim of innocence.

Screen Shot 2020-06-29 at 7.54.36 PM

Excerpt from Judge Daniel Green's opinion

2. Weeks after the shooting, Stotler was shown a biased photo array in which Jonathan Irons's face was much larger than the other faces in the photo array. Even with the biased array, Stotler could not pick anyone as his shooter, which should be taken as a non-identification and evidence of innocence. A detective then made the unconventional decision to ask Stotler to make his best guess. Stotler then said that it could have been #3 (Irons) or #6 (someone else). Upon his request, Stotler was then given the photo array and police reports (identifying Irons as the suspect). Only after studying these documents for weeks did Stotler identify Irons.

Array

The photo array shown to Stotler, with Irons in position #3

3. Michael Hanlen maintained a blog recounting all sorts of police misconduct that he committed. Here is one example:

Screen Shot 2020-06-30 at 10.28.20 AM

4. On the night of the burglary, police spoke to Amber Boeckman, who said that Jonathan Irons stopped by her home during Bible study between 6:30 and 6:40pm. Boeckman lived 2+ blocks away from Stotler, who made a 911 call after the shooting at 6:42pm. Despite the fact that Boeckman would have provided a terrific alibi, she was never contacted by the defense.

Screen Shot 2020-06-29 at 7.55.53 PM

Excerpt from Judge Daniel Green's opinion

5. There was no evidence connecting the gun to Jonathan Irons or the crime, and its display to the jury would have been highly prejudicial:

Screen Shot 2020-06-30 at 10.33.47 AM

Excerpt from Judge Daniel Green's opinion

June 30, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Should a Spouse Ever be Allowed to Serve as a Juror in a Trial in Which His/Her Spouse is the Presiding Judge?

Should a spouse ever be allowed to serve as a juror in a trial in which his/her spouse is the presiding judge? That was the question of first impression addressed by the Supreme Court of Colorado in its recent opinion in Richardson v. People, 2020 WL 2829847 (Colo. 2020).

Continue reading

June 28, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Fourth Circuit Explores the "Complete the Story" Exception to Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b)

Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b)(1) states that

Evidence of a person’s character or character trait is not admissible to prove that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character or trait.

That said, courts have found that the prosecution can introduce evidence of other bad acts when they are "necessary to complete the story of the crime[s] on trial." So, what does that mean?

Continue reading

June 25, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, June 12, 2020

The Charges That Could be Brought Against the Police Officers Who Shot Breonna Taylor

Yesterday, the Louisville Metro Council unanimously voted to pass Breonna's Law, a categorical ban on no-knock warrants (i.e., warrants where officers do not need to knock and announce their presence before entering). The law is named after Breonna Taylor, an emergency room technician who was fatally shot by officers executing a no-knock warrant at her apartment. For the past several weeks, people across the country and the world have called for the officers who fatally shot Breonna Taylor to be arrested. In this post, I will lay out the theory for what charges could be brought against the officers.

Bret

Breonna Taylor

Continue reading

June 12, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, May 25, 2020

United States District Court for the District of New Mexico Addresses the Scope of Rule 615

Federal Rule of Evidence 615 states that

At a party’s request, the court must order witnesses excluded so that they cannot hear other witnesses’ testimony. Or the court may do so on its own. But this rule does not authorize excluding:

(a) a party who is a natural person;

(b) an officer or employee of a party that is not a natural person, after being designated as the party’s representative by its attorney;

(c) a person whose presence a party shows to be essential to presenting the party’s claim or defense; or

(d) a person authorized by statute to be present.

But can a judge use Rule 615 to do more than sequester witnesses from the courtroom? The recent opinion of the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico in United States v. Baca, 2020 WL 1325118 (D.N.M. 2020), does a deep dive into Rule 615.

Continue reading

May 25, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Supreme Court of Delaware Finds Judge's Colloquy with 4 Year-Old Witness Sufficient to Establish Competency

Similar to its federal counterpart, Delaware Rule of Evidence 601 states that

Every person is competent to be a witness unless these rules provide otherwise.

Attorneys most commonly attempt to have child witnesses deemed incompetent under Rule 601, but they are usually unsuccessful, as was the case in Cathell v. State, 2020 WL 1157921 (Del. 2020).

Continue reading

May 24, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

New Jersey Court Finds Questions About Victim's Religion Violated Rule 610

Federal Rule of Evidence 610 states that

Evidence of a witness’s religious beliefs or opinions is not admissible to attack or support the witness’s credibility.

A good example of a line of questioning that violates Rule 610 can be found in the recent opinion of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division in Grewal v. Greda, 2020 WL 2464760 (2020).

Continue reading

May 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 18, 2020

Eleventh Circuit Finds Judges Can Take Judicial Notice of Dictionary Definitions

Federal Rule of Evidence 201  covers judicial notice, and subsections (a) and (b) state the following:

(a) Scope. This rule governs judicial notice of an adjudicative fact only, not a legislative fact.

(b) Kinds of Facts That May Be Judicially Noticed. The court may judicially notice a fact that is not subject to reasonable dispute because it:

(1) is generally known within the trial court’s territorial jurisdiction; or

(2) can be accurately and readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.

So, can a judge take judicial notice of dictionary definitions? That was the question addressed by the Eleventh Circuit in its recent opinion in Robinson v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, 2020 WL 2315763 (11th Cir. 2020).

Continue reading

May 18, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Undisclosed Mega-Update Thread

Today, it was reported that DNA testing was done on hairs recovered from glasses that were almost certainly worn by the man who killed Harold and Thelma Swain at the Rising Daughter Baptist Church. That testing revealed a match, and it was not a match for Dennis Perry, the man convicted of their murders. Instead, it was a match for Erick Sparre. We observed the following about Sparre in Episode 7 of our Undisclosed series on the Dennis Perry case: "If there had been a checklist of the known attributes of the killer at Rising Daughter, the description of Erik Sparre would seem to tick off just about every box." 

Given this terrific turn of events, I wanted to do another update on the status of all of the cases we've covered on Undisclosed.

Total cases covered: 20 cases.

Relief granted: 10 cases: 6 exonerations: (1) Shaurn Thomas; (2) Terrance Lewis; (3) Willie Veasy; (4) Chester Hollman III; (5) Charles Ray Finch; and (6) Theophalis Wilson. 2 stays of execution: (1) Marcellus Williams; and (2) William Montgomery. 1 commutation: Cyntoia Brown. 1 grant of parole: Cyrus Wilson.

DNA/Alternate Suspect: 1 case: Dennis Perry

Currently pending: 4 cases. (1) Ronnie Long's en banc hearing in the Fourth Circuit; (2) Joey Watkins's successor habeas petition recently authorized to move forward by the Supreme Court of Georgia; (3) Joseph Webster's CRU petition; and (4) Pedro Reynoso's CIU petition.

New appeals expected soon: 4 cases: (1) Adnan Syed; (2) Jamar Huggins; (3) Pam Lanier; and (4) Greg Lance.

Options being explored: 1 case: Rocky Myers

Continue reading

April 28, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)