Sunday, October 4, 2009

Through Texas Looking Glass

"One of the most disturbing legal trends in recent memory is the contention of some conservative jurists that a person's actual innocence is not automatically grounds to overturn a conviction. An echo of this pernicious doctrine popped up this week in the case of a former Houston nurse and baby sitter, Cynthia Cash, convicted of the 1998 shaking death of a 4-month-old-baby. ... That autopsy has now been rewritten to label the cause of death undetermined, and notes no evidence of trauma to the victim. ... In response, the Harris County [DA's] office opposed the appeal, citing a Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling that a conviction resulting from an error-free proceeding should not be overturned lightly based on new evidence, and that the burden on a defendant claiming innocence 'is exceedingly heavy.' It also noted that other evidence supported a conviction. ... For the layman, it's difficulty to understand why a jury verdict based in part on an erroneous ruling of homicide should not be re-examined", my emphasis, Editorial at the Houston Chronicle, 17 September 2009, link:

Pat Lycos, you just got a Nifong nomination. I hope you're proud of it. If judges and attorneys want to know why we hold them in contempt, look at this. What nonsense, to say the trial was "error-free" begs the question. It wasn't. The DA had the coroner find a homicide took place. Now the coroner says it didn't. No homicide, no crime. What's so difficult? The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is a joke. Did you know nationwide 97-98% of all criminal appeals are denied? However, about 15% of civil appeals are granted. I suspect corporate defendants percentage is higher. Criminal appeals are frequently denied under the "harmless error" doctrine. Which means? The appeals court sustained the conviction no matter what are the facts or the law. Read some criminal appeals. You may be shocked with what appellate courts will let prosecutors and trial judges get away with.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very discouraging.

That's a big gap between the grant of criminal and civil appeals... big gap.

Thanks for highlighting the disparity.