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5/6/16

How Does Innocence Elude Our Justice System?


*Some information in this presentation comes from outside sources*

How does Innocence Elude Our Justice System?


Name: Monique Suarez
Mentor: Jennifer L. Bergman
Mentors Place of Business: Alabama Coushatta Reservation and
The Law Office of Jennifer L. Bergman
Mentors Profession: Attorney
Topic of Study: Criminal Law
Independent Study Mentorship
Spring Semester 2016
ISM Teacher: Mrs. Kristi Click

What is ISM?
ISM stands for Independent Study Mentorship
A course provided by Clear Springs High School for Juniors and
Seniors
You have to apply
Allows students to shadow a mentor in the profession that they
are interested in for one or two semesters
Requirements
Must complete 2 hours minimum of mentorship each week
Must complete 3 hours minimum of activity hours each week
Activity Log
Journal Post
Weebly Portfolio

Weebly Portfolio
Link: www.moniquesuarezism.weebly.com
(Screenshots of website)

My Mentor
My mentor: Jennifer L. Bergman
Mentee: Monique Suarez
Attended Trinity College
Got law license in 2008
Prosecutor for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribal Court
Owns her own law firm
Practices all over East Texas

(Pictures of mentorship site)

Link: www.moniquesuarezism.weebly.com
(Screenshots of website)
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My Mentor
My mentor: Jennifer L. Bergman
Mentee: Monique Suarez
Attended Trinity College
Got law license in 2008
Prosecutor for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribal Court
Owns her own law firm
Practices all over East Texas

(Pictures of mentorship site)

What do I mean How does Innocence Elude Our Justice


system?
Recently there have been many cases being brought forth about
wrongful convictions
My goal is to highlight the corruption of the Justice System and
how people are being wrongfully convicted
Why did I choose this topic?
It is important to know what is happening with the criminal
justice system especially because it is affecting the lives of the
citizens and lawyers
To hopefully find out how to help fix this injustice

Overview
The Innocence Projects
Small Examples of Wrongful Convictions
Dewey Bozella
Thomas Kennedy
Arthur Allan Thomas
Darryl Hunt
Junk Science
Tampered Evidence
If people are innocent why do they plead guilty?
Major Case Study of Michael Morton
Impact and lasting outcomes of Wrongful Convictions
Suggestions to help the Exoneration Process?

Vocabulary
Exoneration- The removal of a charge or blame imposed by law
Exoneree- the person who is exonerated

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Major Case Study of Michael Morton


Impact and lasting outcomes of Wrongful Convictions
Suggestions to help the Exoneration Process?

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Vocabulary
Exoneration- The removal of a charge or blame imposed by law
Exoneree- the person who is exonerated
Appellate- describes the legal [process for hearing appeals
Appellate court- deals with people who are attempting to reverse
legal decisions
Conviction- A judgment of guilty
Hill, Gerald and Kathleen. Legal Dictionary. Law.com Legal
Dictionary. The Peoples Law Dictionary, n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

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Key Point 1: The Innocence Project (include artifact over IP)


What is the Innocence Project?
There are many innocence projects but the most credited are
The Innocence Project of Texas and the Innocence Project in
New York, New York
Help to release those wrongfully convicted of crimes that they
did not commit
The Innocence Project of Texas
Official Headquarters located in Lubbock, Texas
People who have been exonerated typically had spent an
average of 14 years in prisons
Frequently Asked Questions. Ipot. Innocence Project of Texas,
2012-2013. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

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Key Point 1 Continued: Innocence Project of New York


Founded in 1992 by Barry C. Schech and Peter J. Neufuld at the
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
Assist Prisoners who can be proven innocent through DNA testing
To date, more than 300 people in the United States have been
exonerated by DNA testing, including 20 who served time on death
row
DNA Exonerations Nationwide. The Innocence Project.
Innocence Project, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.
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Key Point 2: Dewey Bozella

Founded in 1992 by Barry C. Schech and Peter J. Neufuld at the


Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
Assist Prisoners who can be proven innocent through DNA testing
5/6/16
To date, more than 300 people in the United States have been
exonerated by DNA testing, including 20 who served time on death
row
DNA Exonerations Nationwide. The Innocence Project.
Innocence Project, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.
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Key Point 2: Dewey Bozella


What was he convicted for? Prime suspect in the murder of a ninetytwo year old woman with NO EVIDENCE
How long was he sentenced for? Minimum of twenty years
What helped him to be exonerated? The Innocence Project
People Who Were Wrongfully Accused of Heinous Crimes
Listverse. Listverse. N.p., 26 Mar. 2013. Web 13 Feb. 2016.

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Key Point 3: Thomas Kennedy


What was he convicted for? His 11 year old daughter accused him of
rape
How long was he sentenced? 15 years
What helped him to be exonerated?
Daughter came forward and admitted about lying, she said she was
upset because she felt he wasnt around enough
People Who Were Wrongfully Accused of Heinous Crimes
Listverse. Listverse. N.p., 26 Mar. 2013. Web 13 Feb. 2016.

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Key Point 4: Arthur Allan Thomas


What was he convicted for? For two murders; police had planted a
cartridge from his rifle in the garden of the couple that was murdered
How long was he sentenced? Over 15 years

People Who Were Wrongfully Accused of Heinous Crimes


Listverse. Listverse. N.p., 26 Mar. 2013. Web 13 Feb. 2016.
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Key Point 4: Arthur Allan Thomas


What was he convicted for? For two murders; police had planted a
cartridge from his rifle in the garden of the couple that was murdered
How long was he sentenced? Over 15 years
What helped him to be exonerated? Royal Commission who
uncovered the suspicious actions of the police
People Who Were Wrongfully Accused of Heinous Crimes
Listverse. Listverse. N.p., 26 Mar. 2013. Web 13 Feb. 2016.

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Key Point 5: Darryl Hunt


What was he convicted for? The rape and murder of a white woman
(Deborah Sykes) with NO Physical Evidence and by an all-white
Jury
How long was he sentenced? Life in Prison (remained in prison for
19 years before exoneration)
What helped him to be exonerated? DNA Testing but even despite
this, he had to remain in prison for nine more years until a man by
the name of Willard Brown confessed
Other Info: Darryl has worked with the Innocence Project & even
found the Darryl Hunt Project for Freedom and Justice
People Who Were Wrongfully Accused of Heinous Crimes
Listverse. Listverse. N.p., 26 Mar. 2013. Web 13 Feb. 2016.

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Research #1: Junk Science


What is Junk Science? Junk Science is scientific information that
is used to advance special interests
In Court, this can be any faulty evidence used to prove someone
is guilty such as bites marks, blood splatter patterns and even
things like ear and lip prints
One of the major cases leading to the discovery of possible junk
science was the Susan Blackwell case, which involved a lady who
lay half naked in a field just outside Victoria and had been

People Who Were Wrongfully Accused of Heinous Crimes


Listverse. Listverse. N.p., 26 Mar. 2013. Web 13 Feb. 2016.
5/6/16
Research #1: Junk Science
What is Junk Science? Junk Science is scientific information that
is used to advance special interests
In Court, this can be any faulty evidence used to prove someone
is guilty such as bites marks, blood splatter patterns and even
things like ear and lip prints
One of the major cases leading to the discovery of possible junk
science was the Susan Blackwell case, which involved a lady who
lay half naked in a field just outside Victoria and had been
strangled with a rope (Section 1).
Sergeant, Sam Eyre of the Victoria police, called up a man named
Pickett who was residing in Houston, Texas

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Weird Science: Testimony from Forensic Experts Can Be the Most


Persuasive Evidence Presented at Trial, but Often Juries Don't
Realize That the Analysis of Hair, Fire, and Even Fingerprints May
Not Be so Scientific." Texas Monthly May 2010: 118. General
OneFile. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.
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Research #1: Junk Science


Pickett owns dogs (Quincy, James Bond, and Clue) who had in
the past found missing children and convicts who had escaped,
and also helped with past murder investigations
Sergeant Eyre used these dogs to try and track the scent from the
rope and hopefully find a suspect
The dogs led the police team to the home street of a man by the
name of Michael Buchanek who had already been a person of
interest
Victoria police continued to test the dogs with scent line ups in
which the dogs continued to pick the scent of Buchanek, eventually
leading to the conviction of Michael Buchanek
"Weird Science: Testimony from Forensic Experts Can Be the Most
Persuasive Evidence Presented at Trial, but Often Juries Don't
Realize That the Analysis of Hair, Fire, and Even Fingerprints May
Not Be so Scientific." Texas Monthly May 2010: 118. General
OneFile. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.

This same forensic technique helped convict 4 other men, 2 of


them being charged with capital murder
Gradually, it became noticed that these convictions were
inaccurate, for example, in August of 2006, the son of the victim,

"Weird Science: Testimony from Forensic Experts Can Be the Most


Persuasive Evidence Presented at Trial, but Often Juries Don't
Realize That the Analysis of Hair, Fire, and Even Fingerprints May
Not Be so Scientific." Texas Monthly May 2010: 118. General
OneFile. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.

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This same forensic technique helped convict 4 other men, 2 of


them being charged with capital murder
Gradually, it became noticed that these convictions were
inaccurate, for example, in August of 2006, the son of the victim,
Susan Blackwells, boyfriend confessed to her murder
After this, many people began confessing to crimes that had sent
innocent people, who were convicted based off of the forensic
technique, to prison
The Justice System began recognizing that A gypsy reading tea
leaves and chicken bones is probably as reliable as a dog doing a
scent lineup (Section 2).
Tampered Evidence
What is tampered evidence? Tampered evidence is any evidence
that is either lied about, created using an improper procedure, or is
also considered tampered if it involves official records
Houston Police Crime Lab
Technician, Peter Lentz in 2014 resigned due to an internal
investigation that found processed evidence faulty
Lentz worked on 185 criminal cases, including 51 murders or
capital murders
In 2002, forensic testing was temporarily suspended not only
because of the tampered evidence but also due to a roof leak that
contaminated some evidence
Earlier in 2014, Harris County prosecutors found that 200 cases
were in jeopardy after they were linked to a HPD detective who
was fired for conducting shoddy investigations
Every test in the lab now goes through a full technical review
Rogers, Brian. "Scores of Cases Affected after HPD Crime Lab
Analyst Ousted." Houston Chronicle. Houston Chronicle, 18 June
2014. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.

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Product
Write an in depth case study including a relevant flow chart/timeline
that includes appellate history prior to and during trial conviction
through exoneration, lasting outcomes and or impacts that the case
had on the justice system and the key individuals involved

Every test in the lab now goes through a full technical review
Rogers, Brian. "Scores of Cases Affected after HPD Crime Lab
Analyst Ousted." Houston Chronicle. Houston Chronicle, 18 June
2014. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.
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Product
Write an in depth case study including a relevant flow chart/timeline
that includes appellate history prior to and during trial conviction
through exoneration, lasting outcomes and or impacts that the case
had on the justice system and the key individuals involved

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Michael Morton Case Study


Go over product (the report) and have the picture of the timeline
distributed to the audience as well as projected on the screen

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Impact and Lasting Outcomes of Wrongful Convictions


Impact
An individual convicted and then exonerated is likely to experience
guilt, fear or helplessness and depression
A study was conducted by ICF International and they found that
despite efforts to help victims gain freedom , wrongful convictions
have a huge impact on crime victims and exposed a lack of
services available for them
Ironically, wrongful convictions impact the original crime victim.
One victim said "For [several] years, I had been quite comfortable
with my role as the victim. When the exoneration happened, that
exoneree became the victim, and I, the rape victim, became the
offender. The roles switch, and it's a role you don't know what to do
with.

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5/6/16

Irazola, Seri, Erin Williamson, Julie Sticker, and Emily Niedzwiecki.


"Addressing the Impact of Wrongful Convictions on Crime Victims."
National Institute of Justice. NIJ, n.d. Web. 1 May 2016.

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Suggestions to help the Exoneration Process


When dealing with the victims of the crime: criminal justice
system should provide initial notification. Victims and other
stakeholders recommended that, when appropriate and possible,
officials involved in the original case should notify the crime victim
Counseling services for victims coming to terms with the
exoneration
Safety Planning
Irazola, Seri, Erin Williamson, Julie Sticker, and Emily Niedzwiecki.

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Suggestions to help the Exoneration Process


When dealing with the victims of the crime: criminal justice
system should provide initial notification. Victims and other
stakeholders recommended that, when appropriate and possible,
officials involved in the original case should notify the crime victim
Counseling services for victims coming to terms with the
exoneration
Safety Planning

5/6/16

Irazola, Seri, Erin Williamson, Julie Sticker, and Emily Niedzwiecki.


"Addressing the Impact of Wrongful Convictions on Crime Victims."
National Institute of Justice. NIJ, n.d. Web. 1 May 2016.

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Conclusion
Vocabulary for the presentation
Innocence Projects
Different cases of individuals being wrongfully convicted
Junk Science
Houston DNA Crime Lab
Tampered Evidence
Why Plead Guilty?
Product (Michael Morton Case Study Report & Timeline)
Impact and lasting outcomes of Wrongful Convictions
Suggestions to help the Exoneration Process

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QUESTIONS COMMENTS? CONCERNS?


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Thank you
Thank you to my mentor Ms. Jennifer L. Bergman for sharing with
me your enthusiasm for law and teaching me something new
every time we meet
Thank you to Mrs. Kristi Click for giving me the opportunity to
experience what a mentorship is all about and for being flexible
and understanding throughout this process
Thank you to my parents, Joe and Rufina Suarez for always
believing in me and pushing me to work hard
Thank you to my evaluators for taking the time out of your day to
watch my presentation

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Bibliography
DNA Exonerations Nationwide. The Innocence Project.
Innocence Project, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.
Frequently Asked Questions. Ipot. Innocence Project of Texas,

every time we meet


Thank you to Mrs. Kristi Click for giving me the opportunity to
experience what a mentorship is all about and for being flexible
and understanding throughout this process
Thank you to my parents, Joe and Rufina Suarez for always
believing in me and pushing me to work hard
Thank you to my evaluators for taking the time out of your day to
watch my presentation
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5/6/16

Bibliography
DNA Exonerations Nationwide. The Innocence Project.
Innocence Project, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.
Frequently Asked Questions. Ipot. Innocence Project of Texas,
2012-2013. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.
Hill, Gerald and Kathleen. Legal Dictionary. Law.com Legal
Dictionary. The Peoples Law Dictionary, n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.
Irazola, Seri, Erin Williamson, Julie Sticker, and Emily
Niedzwiecki. "Addressing the Impact of Wrongful Convictions on
Crime Victims." National Institute of Justice. NIJ, n.d. Web. 1 May
2016.
People Who Were Wrongfully Accused of Heinous Crimes
Listverse. Listverse. N.p., 26 Mar. 2013. Web 13 Feb. 2016.
Rogers, Brian. "Scores of Cases Affected after HPD Crime Lab
Analyst Ousted. Houston Chronicle. Houston Chronicle, 18 June
2014. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.
"Weird Science: Testimony from Forensic Experts Can Be the
Most Persuasive Evidence Presented at Trial, but Often Juries
Don't Realize That the Analysis of Hair, Fire, and Even
Fingerprints May Not Be so Scientific. Texas Monthly May 2010:
118. General OneFile. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.

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