April 18, 2007
On second chances

Lisa Falkenberg is one half of a duo filling in for Rick Casey while he's off doing whatever it is that he's doing right now. Her first column in his stead is a beaut. It's a comparison of how Dallas County DA Craig Watkins and Harris County DA Chuck Rosenthal deal with claims of innocence. The ending sums it up nicely:

How can it be ethical to acknowledge the possible incarceration of innocent people and then do little to find and free them?

I admire Rosenthal's compassion for victims; he says he decided long ago that if alleged rape victims braved stigma to come forward, he would stand by them until evidence proved otherwise.

Why not the same compassion for victims of incompetent counsel and mistaken eyewitnesses?

Rosenthal should follow Watkins' example in Dallas: Throw open his doors to the innocence attorneys and allow them to test whatever evidence exists in disputed cases. He has nothing to lose, except his pride, but much to gain. For every innocent person in prison, there is a murderer or rapist who escaped justice.

Couldn't have said it better myself. Watkins has the benefit of a save everything policy that has aided the efforts of those who seek to overturn past convictions, but there's no reason Rosenthal can't institute a similar policy, if such a thing were to interest him. Needless to say, I wouldn't count on that happening.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 18, 2007 to Crime and Punishment

Wasn't is Chuck Rosenthal who, just a few days ago, was quoted as saying "the presumption of innocence doesn't make a person innocent"?

Actually, Chuck, it does.

Posted by: Dennis on April 18, 2007 8:35 AM

Thought you may be interested in this..A Great man to be noticed is Dennis Fritz The Other Innocent Man in John Grisham's The Innocent Man, who wrote a book called Journey Toward Justice Published by Seven Locks Press,Dennis Fritz writes his own story. Endorsed on Jacket by John Grisham and States on Jacket Compelling and Fascinating.
A Companion book to The Innocent Man, Journey Toward Justice by Dennis Fritz. True Crime, Murder and Injustice in a Small Town. Journey Toward Justice is a testimony to the Triumph of the human Spirit and is a Memoir. Dennis Fritz was wrongfully convicted of rape and murder after a swift trail.
The only thing that saved him from the Death Penalty was a lone vote from a juror. Dennis Fritz was the other Innocent man mentioned in John Grisham's Book. which mainly is about Ronnie Williamson, Dennis Fritz's co-defendant. Both were exonerated after spending 12 years in prison.
The real killer was one of the Prosecution's Key Witness. Read about why he went on a special diet of his while in prison, amazing and shocking. Dennis Fritz's Story of unwarranted prosecution and wrongful conviction needs to be
heard. Read about how he wrote hundreds of letters and appellate briefs in his own defense and immersed himself in an intense study of law. He was a school teacher and a ordinary man whose wife was brutally murdered in 1975 by a deranged 17 year old neighbor. On May 8th 1987, Five years after Debbie Sue Carter's rape and murder he was home with his young daughter and put under arrest, handcuffed and on his way to jail on charges of rape and murder.
After 10 years in prison he discovered The Innocence Project, a non-profit legal organization. With the aid of Barry Scheck and DNA evidence Dennis Fritz was exonerated on April 15,1999 Since then, it has been a long hard road filled with twist and turns and now on his Journey Toward Justice. He never blamed the Lord and solely relied on his faith in God to make it through. He waited for God's time and never gave up.

Please view my blog for more on Dennis Fritz and many issues in his book at http://barbarasblogspot.blogspot.com

Posted by: Barbara on April 18, 2007 5:49 PM