Saturday, May 31, 2014

Al Jazeera America Presents 8 Part Series “The System”, Examining the State of the Justice System in the United States

The System with Joe Berlinger 

Al Jazeera America Presents, a new original series from Academy Award nominated filmmaker Joe Berlinger exploring controversial cases within the criminal justice system. He’ll examine the underbelly and dark corners of the American justice system to investigate troubling cases embodying this all too human drama. Amidst the murky world where alleged miscarriages have taken place he’ll dig for the truth and ask the question, was justice served? Raising riveting questions about innocence and guilt, there will often be surprises: sometimes the person crying foul is himself lying; sometimes the disgruntled cop is discredited, but then vindicated; and sometimes the system has worked, and justice served. Focusing on any number of layers within the criminal justice system, each episode of the series will explore a controversial case – carried out by or impacting prosecutors, citizens, police officers, and businesses, among others. As we examine each story, we’ll see whether the vaunted system of US justice has triumphed or failed. 

Episode 1: False Confessions
Premieres Sunday May 18th at 9E/6P
Check the schedule for local times and repeat airings

Las Vegas detectives find a homeless man stabbed to death and a teenage girl confesses to the salacious crime. In NY, a high school girl is brutally raped and murdered and one of her classmates confesses. But what if both suspects are innocent? Who would confess to a crime that they didn’t commit? In this episode we’ll look at two cases where convictions were reached almost entirely on the suspect’s confession and explore whether the system got it right. 

Episode 2: Mandatory Sentencing
Premieres Sunday May 25th at 9E/6P
Check the schedule for local times and repeat airings

Confirmation at Last: The 2013 ‘Could’ to ‘Would’ Change to Virginia’s Writ of Actual Innocence Statute Makes Little Difference

Today the Richmond Times Dispatch had an article (see below) on the one word change in Virginia law that took effect last July 1st  for Writs of Actual Innocence. 

I’ve posted about Writs of Actual Innocence and Virginia’s 21 Day Rule a few times since starting this blog last July:
·       Recantations- ,
·       2013 VSCC Statement on Writs-
·       2014 General Assembly Brochure: Writs/21 Day Rule- 

At the 2013 Virginia General Assembly there were 7 “Writ” Bills : 
SB823 would have been the most effective “fix” to Virginia’s 21 Day Rule and I shared that with all the lawmakers back in 2013.

HB1355 came in second, HB1920 third and HB1432 would be the least effective, but it was Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s proposal that was patroned by Dave Albo (the Chairman of the House Courts of Justice Committee).

And so all other proposals “died” or were “killed” and HB1432 (“window dressing” per the below article) became law. Cuccinelli and Albo claimed it would fix the Writ problem but in reality it does NOTHING at all and the Virginia Court of Appeals has confirmed it. 

In today’s article, Delegate Albo’s response to his (and Cuccinelli’s) 2013 Virginia’s pathetic bill actually making NO difference is, “I don’t know what else can be done.” 

Well Delegate Albo, you could have passed 2013’s HB1355 or even HB1920, you knew the differences between them and the House Courts of Justice Committee picked the least effective one while claiming to “fix” the problem.