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I love teaching and sharing knowledge. The Internet is a free passage to an amazing amount of knowledge provided by some of the greatest minds of the day. MIT, Oxford and other universities are now sharing lecture notes with the public and allowing us to dip into the overflowing fonts of wisdom that abound. Yale is but one university that has put actual lectures on the web.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

At long Last

The Christian Science Monitor -

from the January 31, 2006 edition -

DNA tests gain ground as legal defense
Even prosecutors are embracing the technology as a protection against wrongful imprisonment.

By Warren Richey | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

MIAMI - When Alan Crotzer emerged from a Tampa courthouse last week a free man, he became the fifth person in Florida and the 173rd nationwide to be cleared from a wrongful conviction by DNA testing.

But his exoneration after serving 24 years of a 130-year sentence for a crime he didn't commit is significant for another reason. It marks a possible turning point in how Florida prosecutors and lawmakers approach DNA testing. Prosecutors had fought earlier attempts to use DNA to prove someone's innocence, keeping one man behind bars three years after tests proved he couldn't have committed the crime that sent him to prison on a life sentence. In Mr. Crotzer's case, by contrast, they ultimately filed the legal motion that set him free, once defense lawyers convinced them he was innocent.

"The state has jumped onboard and finally started to realize that we can't just use DNA to convict, we have to also use DNA to free," says Jenny Greenberg, director of the Florida Innocence Initiative and one of Crotzer's lawyers.

Legal analysts say it is part of an evolution taking place across the country in which prosecutors and lawmakers who were once suspicious of the DNA challenges are now increasingly embracing the new technology as a backstop in the criminal justice system.

"There have been some very positive results and legislators have seen the benefits of proving an innocent person innocent," says Blake Harrison, who follows the issue at the National Conference of State Legislatures. "If anything, there is public pressure to expand the use of these types of post-conviction reevaluations because of the obvious public benefit to making sure that you have got the right person."

On Thursday, Arthur Mumphrey of Texas was freed after nearly 20 years in prison after new tests showed his DNA didn't match that found at a 1986 rape scene.

Of the 33 states that have passed laws establishing procedures for DNA testing, 12 have sunset provisions, which offer only limited time for DNA tests in cases where inmates have no more options for appeal. Such provisions were enacted in part out of concern five years ago that state courts might be flooded with appeals calling for expensive tests. But the flood hasn't happened, analysts say. In the meantime, the steady flow of exonerations has resulted in widespread public and political support for DNA testing.

Opponents of sunset provisions say states should never enact a deadline that would prevent innocent people from proving their innocence. Innocence Project lawyers say it often takes months or years to locate evidence, investigate a past crime, and prepare the necessary legal arguments needed to convince a judge that a DNA test should be administered.

When Florida passed its DNA law in 2001, legislators gave potential appellants until 2003 to file a request for testing. That deadline was extended to 2005, and then further extended to July 2006. Now a powerful state senator - and former prosecutor - is pushing for a new DNA law that removes any deadline. In addition, it calls for preservation of evidence for the entire length of someone's incarceration, thus preserving the possibility of future appeals as testing technologies improve.

State officials worry about the possible cost of evidence preservation. But proponents say the bill received unanimous support in its first state Senate committee hearing last week.

"What is driving it is the general public's horror at the difficulties that innocent people have had here in Florida to prove their innocence," says Ms. Greenberg. "Most people in Florida are appalled that innocent people might be in prison and they want something done about it."

The same trend is apparent across the country, says Kathy Swedlow, codirector of the Innocence Project at Thomas Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich. Ms. Swedlow has studied post-conviction DNA laws nationwide - including laws with sunset provisions. She says many of the laws have expired at least once and been extended for a couple years as lawmakers study the issue. "The fear I had in early 2001 was that the statutes would expire and it would be over," she says. "That is not what we are seeing."

In Michigan, the deadline has been extended from January 2006 to January 2009. Louisiana moved its deadline from August 2005 to August 2007. And New Mexico has pushed its deadline from July 2002 to July 2006.

As more cases work their way through the system, lawmakers and prosecutors are becoming more supportive of the idea that DNA testing can help establish the truth about particular crimes, she says. "These statutes are a win-win. They help us identify finally if people are innocent," she says. "In some instances they help us learn that even with the crude technologies of 20 years ago, that police got the right guy."

Authorities in Virginia took the extraordinary step of conducting DNA testing to determine whether Roger Coleman had been wrongfully executed in 1992 for rape and murder. Death penalty opponents investigated the case and suggested he was innocent. But DNA test results showed he was, in fact, the killer.

Full HTML version of this story which may include photos, graphics, and related links | Copyright © 2006 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved.

Interesting study on Suicide Bombers

The Chronicle of Higher Education The Chronicle Review

From the issue dated February 3, 2006
The Role of Social Context in Terrorist Attacks


Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's question two years ago seemed reasonable enough: "Are we capturing, killing, or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training, and deploying against us?"

It's a popular notion: Charismatic religious leaders and their ideologies inculcate violent convictions among their constituents, and desperate or zealous individuals act on those convictions. By this logic, terror is bound to religious extremism.

But a growing body of scholarship on suicide bombing suggests that it doesn't work that way. These authors, primarily drawn from political science and social psychology, concur that suicide bombings — with or without the trappings of religion — are largely a response to occupation, or, since September 11, 2001, to perceptions of general political oppression in the Muslim world. Consider, for instance, that approximately half of the suicide missions in the three decades before 2003 were carried out by secular rather than religious organizations. Consider also that 95 percent of the bombings during that period occurred as part of coherent resistance campaigns and enjoyed significant levels of home-base support. If exalted motivations for self-sacrifice are involved, invoking religious beliefs is not the only way to induce or exploit them.

Scholars analyzing earlier suicide attacks, those before 2001, struggled with different hypotheses — that bombers and their masterminds were irrational, if not crazy, or had given up on life because of desperate life circumstances such as poverty, depression, or social failure. While September 11 led many commentators to propose a causal role for religion, several recent books take issue with all of those explanations.

For instance, in studies of suicide campaigns around the world, suicide attackers overwhelmingly came not from the criminal, illiterate, or poor, but from largely secular and educated middle classes. They possessed no more psychopathology than the population at large, and they were not clinically depressed (a state marked by low motivation and an inability to focus — two handicaps sure to threaten a mission). The perpetrators of suicide attacks, then, were not crazy or emotionally weak; rather than evince suicidal tendencies — as the term "suicide bombers" connotes — they were wholly invested in life, albeit one without what they perceived as present injustice. For this reason, while the notion of "suicide bombers" is now part of our lexicon, it probably contributes to widespread misconceptions of the phenomenon's causes. A more apt description of these terror perpetrators would be "human bombs."

Of the books under discussion here, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, by the political scientist Robert A. Pape, has received the most attention. Pape argues that occupations (loosely defined as military presence) and U.S. support for oppressive authoritarian regimes are the best predictors of where human-bomb campaigns will occur. Pape analyzes 315 attacks, drawn from a database he compiled to include every human-bomb attack around the globe from 1980 to 2003. To show a connection between Islamic fundamentalism and human-bomb campaigns, he says, we would need to find a correlation between violent Salafism, an extremist wing of Muslim thought, and the bombers. Instead, more bombers came from countries with low Salafi populations than those with high Salafi populations. Moreover, not one of the bombers in Pape's database came from an Islamic country designated as a "state sponsor of terrorism"; rather, most came from Muslim regimes considered allies by the United States.

In Pape's view, then, bombers are individuals who aspired to freer opportunities but saw their dreams stymied by dictators, often in collusion with U.S. oil and other interests. The core idea is that motivation for human bombs stems largely from perceived injustice. All these authors agree with that notion, but Diego Gambetta's edited volume of essays, Making Sense of Suicide Missions, uses a variety of methods to produce congruent findings.

For instance, in a review of the backgrounds and writings of Al Qaeda members, Stephen Holmes shows that Osama bin Laden's rationales for September 11 have usually been secular rather than religious, bent on punishing Western injustices, not impieties. In a separate chapter, Luca Ricolfi shows how the trend in the incidence of human bombs in the Middle East correlates almost perfectly with the trend in frequency of all attacks — that is, the impression that human bombs have become a predominant option in the years since September 11 is incorrect. Instead, human bombs are weapons of resistance and terror whose use rises or falls according to situation and sentiment.

If human bombs are rooted in nationalist defiance more than religion, as the authors here argue, we are forced to ask new questions: What is it about both religion and nationalism that drives normal individuals to self-sacrifice? Specifically, how do people acquire the type of radical identities, emotions, and beliefs associated with religion and nationalism? Several books suggest answers to these questions.

Let's return to the popular idea of radical incitement by madrassas and imams. Frederick W. Kagan recently argued in The Weekly Standard that Sunni Arab imams and people like Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq, gained power by "their ability to focus anger and hatred. They spewed anti-Americanism, of course, and thereby drove countless young Iraqi men to their deaths in hopeless combat." In this account, elites set the political agenda, and desperate publics swallow it wholesale.

But that thesis — at least the part implying a very gullible public — finds little support in studies of terrorism and ethnic conflict. Why that is the case is aptly illustrated in Marc Sageman's Understanding Terror Networks. Sageman, a forensic psychiatrist and former intelligence officer, analyzed biographies of 172 terrorists, all members of the global Salafi jihad. He found that "discipleship," where an authority figure such as an imam or teacher holds enough loyalty and emotional sway to prescribe in followers both belief and action, accounted for only 8 percent of his sample. Furthermore, the entire 8 percent came from two Islamic boarding schools in Indonesia and Malaysia. To better distill what is happening in this process, Sageman has since worked with the anthropologist Scott Atran to document the life paths of almost 600 alumni from those two boarding schools. Less than 10 percent of those graduates actively engaged in jihad.

If the story of discipleship cannot explain terror mobilization, what can? Sageman's analysis gives some clues: Of the 150 jihadi terrorists for which there was recruitment information, 75 percent had pre-existing social bonds to members already involved in global jihad or had decided to join the jihad with a group of family members or friends. That trend also appeared in Sageman's recent study of boarding-school alumni: Of those who have embraced terror, most entered the jihadi network through friends or family connections.

The important point here is that interpersonal relationships were at the center of these individuals' radicalization, not psychopathologies, discipleship, or prior ideological beliefs. That suggests a profoundly different mechanism for how people develop radical beliefs: Emotion and social ties precede the acquisition of an ideology. Choosing terror, then, might seem more a product of chance — the type and intensity of grievances one lives with, the means available for dealing with such stressors, plus the network one falls into — than anything else. Furthermore, and with huge implications for notions of deterrence and how we fight terror, joining the jihad is a social and emotional process that happens over time.

Some will wonder how beliefs that begin as the product of seemingly mundane interpersonal connections can lead people to kill and die. Additional data from Understanding Terror Networks suggest that it may come down to context. Of 165 mujahedin for whom he had information, Sageman found that a full 84 percent joined the jihad as "immigrants" — either in a country where they had not grown up, or as members of the second generation of diaspora Muslims born in the West. The would-be recruits suffered various forms of alienation in their Western surroundings, and new social networks most likely offered emotional relief. While incoming members may have disagreed at first with the radical views of their new associates, over time their worldviews came together.

For those who talk to terrorists, that is a plausible story. When I was a journalist in the West Bank and Gaza in 2003 and 2004, Palestinians often told me, "Before the istish'hadi [intentional martyrsi.e., human bombs], there were shuhada [unintentional martyrsi.e., innocents killed by the other side]. We didn't start this. We were already at war." A conflict, where the stakes are already life or death, becomes emotionally salient to a new member and provides impetus for action.

Another hypothesis offered by Holmes in Making Sense of Suicide Missions is that religious practices, as opposed to beliefs, help sustain a bomber's convictions once he or she has committed to a mission. By crowding out cognitive functions, certain ritualistic activities and preparations — such as those depicted in the training manual for the September 11 bombers — serve as physiological and psychological sedatives. Performed in a group, they reify emotional loyalties and serve as a check against faltering in the mission's last moments. (Of the attacks done by Al Qaeda in Pape's sample, for instance, 89 percent were done in teams.)

Importantly, according to neuroscientific studies, ritual effects do not require religion — any social ritual, where people are brought together in repetitive acts imbued with meaning, will do. That point may help us to understand the mass radicalization of beliefs often observed in situations of emerging violence, where liturgies of loss become the order of the day. Anne Marie Oliver and Paul F. Steinberg's ethnographic depiction of life in the Gaza Strip throughout the first and second intifada, The Road to Martyrs' Square: A Journey into the World of the Suicide Bomber, brings such rituals to life for the reader. Noting the radical changes in Israeli-Palestinian relations that occurred before the second intifada in autumn 2000, they write: "Demonstrators were shot every other day ... collaborators were killed, their ... tortured bodies dumped on the street or in front of mosques and the houses of people who publicly spoke out against collaborator killings. ... Blood and wounds of martyrs were commonly displayed and photographed."

As a journalist, I observed plenty of funeral rallies that had a common catalyst: In the night, the Israel Defense Forces entered with tanks and helicopters, attempting to seize a militant or two. (The legitimacy of the mission was irrelevant to what came to pass.) Shaken from sleep, families hid in their homes if they could. If the sounds of violence came close, they often ran terrified through the streets, trying to get away from the army. Inevitably, somebody fell or was shot. He could be a militant; she could be unarmed. Usually friends and family stopped to aid. But bent, black shadows appeared threatening to young soldiers, who had little choice but to shoot again. Daylight rose in a blur of green flags (the signature color of Hamas), the drone of a loudspeaker, and throngs of people circling another mark in the ground. Through the megaphone came ardent words: "The enemy will feel our pain."

And yet even in the throes of violent conflict, motivations cannot be reduced to revenge. Instead, the aroused state of danger among a population in conflict, irrespective of actual risks, may engender a need for control. "I can be killed any moment," one would-be Palestinian bomber told me. "I prefer to choose my death." Another frequently heard bomber logic is quoted by Pape: "If we don't fight, we will suffer. If we do fight, we will suffer, but so will they." That logic seems unconcerned with victory or making a change in the political status quo. Instead, it implies a preoccupation with empowerment.

For the most part, Americans lack exposure to the losses and social rituals prevalent in the conflict zones of the Arab world. In addition to Oliver and Steinberg, Ami Pedahzur (Suicide Terrorism) and Mia Bloom (Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror) succeed in bringing distant lives into the readers' emotional purview. Both authors went through painstaking field research to talk to families of bombers; Bloom even surveyed Sri Lankan communities under the control of the Tamil Tigers. In each book, bombers are depicted through the eyes of their communities.

Strikingly, even those depictions support the conclusions discussed above: While most bombers are said to have hated the enemy, they are remembered for their altruism. If self-sacrifice was viewed as the only way to make the enemy feel their pain, it was offered out of a sense of duty.

In Suicide Bombers: Allah's New Martyrs, Farhad Khosrokhavar offers a superb illustration of that point through an analysis of 15 interviews he conducted with previously nonviolent, second-generation Muslim terrorists in Europe: "They ... feel a vague but crushing sense of guilt about their parents' societies, especially when, like Pakistan, most Arab countries or even Afghanistan are hit by crises. ... [Playing a] role ... in their parents' country of origin ... allows them to recover much of the dignity they have lost in Western societies, where they feel themselves to be the object of scorn and an almost palpable racism." This story, like that of the Palestinian funerals, Sageman's diaspora mujahedin, and even bin Laden's diatribes against Western injustices, is about status and esteem.

Originally writing in 2002, Khosrokhavar presaged the biographies of Germaine Lindsay, Shehzad Tanweer, Hasib Mir Hussain, and Mohammad Sidique Khan, the bombers who tore up London's subways, having no connections to terrorist organizations. The same mechanism appears to have been at work for the October 2005 Bali bombers, as well as for the two Britons who attacked Mike's Place in Tel Aviv in April 2003.

Is this independent, transnational terror mobilization a new type of threat? Possibly. According to a recent study by Bruce Hoffman of the RAND Corporation, 81 percent of human bombs since 1968 occurred in the four years after September 11. And, while secular organizations perpetrated approximately half of the human bombs up to 2001, Hoffman says, 31 out of 35 groups perpetrating terror today are jihadi. It is difficult to deny that religious inspiration is at work in the motivation and mobilization of terror today. Still, religious inspiration is not causation: As Sageman's statistics showand interviews by Pedahzur, Bloom, and Khosrokhavar attestalienation and perceived grievance are necessary to galvanize a population; social networks remain the primary mechanism by which mobilization occurs.

Each of these books challenges basic assumptions about what motivates human bombs, giving us clues about how best to respond. Joining the jihad does not appear to be an explicit decision. Rather, beliefs are acquired as part of a social process, and the willingness to fight follows. Rational or not, commitment to jihad is rarely the product of raw calculation. This means that current counterterror strategy is fundamentally flawed, resting as it does upon the notion of deterrence — that the use or threat of force can dissuade militants from taking action. Most militants forge loyalties that are difficult to betray, and many would prefer to fight to the death.

If employed separately from a larger political strategy, attacking terrorists, imams, or madrassas, as Rumsfeld suggested, can only work against us, lending further legitimacy to the terrorist cause. Would-be bombers empathize with what they view as victimized groups and feel responsible to do something in their aid. Once we establish force as the means of response, the universe of constructive possibilities withers.

Nichole Argo served as a freelance journalist for The Jerusalem Post from 2002 to 2004. She is a doctoral student in political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Volume 52, Issue 22, Page B15
Copyright © 2006 by The Chronicle of Higher Education

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Does Book by Judge or Justice Diminish Judiciary

The New York Times

January 29, 2006
Judicial Exposure

During his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Judge Samuel Alito talked frequently about his father, an Italian immigrant. "My father was brought to this country as an infant," Alito declared. "He grew up in poverty." Offering up homey autobiographical anecdotes to build political support is a familiar strategy among nominees. But now personal exposure is becoming a strategy for judges to connect to the public even after they are confirmed: In 2002, Clarence Thomas received a $1.5 million advance for a memoir, tentatively entitled "From Pin Point to Points After," that promises to describe his rise from obscurity, including his personal impressions of his "emotionally overwhelming" confirmation battle, in which he was accused of sexual harassment by Anita Hill. And Sandra Day O'Connor recently appeared on "Good Morning America" to promote "Chico," her second book about her childhood on the Lazy B Ranch.

In an unbuttoned, confessional age, the judiciary has remained the last institution of American government to resist the public's relentless demands for personal exposure. But the norms about what's appropriate for judges to reveal about themselves are in the middle of a sea change. Before the gossipy anonymous blog Underneath Their Robes (which insists that judges should be treated as "legal celebrities") temporarily shut down last November, Judge Alex Kozinski wrote the site a playful letter nominating himself as a "judicial hottie" while Judge Richard A. Posner - one of the first federal judges to start his own blog - sent giddy fan e-mail messages.

Defenders of the new judicial openness say that the more the public knows about judges' political views and personal habits, the better informed we will be about the basis for their decisions. But it remains to be seen whether judges, by revealing too much about themselves in books and blogs, will squander the sense of impersonal respect on which their legitimacy depends. The stakes are particularly high for Supreme Court justices. Overly revealing memoirs, like that of William O. Douglas, may expose an embarrassing gap between the informal, straight-shooting image the author means to present and the partisan crank the public perceives. Meanwhile, vigorously promoted but bland memoirs like O'Connor's may achieve warmth and fuzziness at the risk of trivializing rather than enhancing the author's legacy.

Judicial memoirs themselves are nothing new. John Marshall, the nation's fourth chief justice, wrote an endearingly brief autobiographical sketch (1827) at the request of his friend Justice Joseph Story that managed to combine candor with his characteristic modesty. ("The events of my life are too unimportant . . . to render them worth communicating or preserving," he began.) A handful of other 19th-century justices (Roger B. Taney, Samuel F. Miller) also wrote autobiographical fragments for family and friends. Most followed Marshall's example: a few chaste details about favorite teachers and early military and legal experience, combined with a discreet silence about the work of the court itself.

It wasn't until the 20th century that justices began to explain and justify themselves to a broader public. Chief Justice Charles Evan Hughes's "Autobiographical Notes" (1973), published 25 years after his death, emphasized that the court had changed its mind about upholding the New Deal before, not after, Roosevelt announced his court-packing plan. Chief Justice Earl Warren's memoir, published three years after his death in 1974, expressed deep regret for his support of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and lambasted President Dwight D. Eisenhower for failing to adequately support the Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

But the norms for judicial memoirs were shattered by Douglas's two-part autobiography, "Go East, Young Man" (1974) and "The Court Years" (1980). From his boastful opening sentences ("While I have been blessed with a photographic mind. . . .") to his concluding screed against President Nixon ("This attitude toward enemies . . . marked the essence of Nixon's Mein Kampf"), Douglas offered a combination of political ranting and gossipy score-settling that still leaves readers slack-jawed. As his biographer, Bruce Allen Murphy, argued recently in "Wild Bill" (2003), many of Douglas's stories were made up, perhaps because his insatiable political ambition led him to write what were essentially campaign autobiographies for the presidential bid that never materialized. Douglas claimed to have had polio as a child, for example; in fact, Murphy writes, he had intestinal colic. And he claimed to have graduated second in his law school class, when, at best, he was fifth. Published the year he died, Douglas's second volume is a cautionary tale in self-absorbed exhibitionism, and it signaled the beginning of the decline in his reputation.

The next justice to write a memoir for a broad audience was another politically ambitious Westerner, Sandra Day O'Connor. But while Douglas was entertainingly indiscreet, O'Connor's "Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest" (2002), written with her brother H. Alan Day, was guarded to the point of banality. The carefully rehearsed anecdotes were sometimes charming (her Roosevelt-hating father enjoyed discomfiting O'Connor's fiancé, John, by offering him fried calves' testicles). But "Lazy B" - and its successor "Chico," which is written for children - offered no more insight into her jurisprudence than "The Majesty of the Law" (2003), her bland collection of speeches and law review articles.

O'Connor's folksy reminiscences may give some readers the illusion of intimacy and familiarity. But they also reinforce the impression that she is more interested in courting the approval of the moderate majority than in outlining a coherent judicial philosophy. On "Good Morning, America," O'Connor made it clear that questions about her judicial opinions were off-limits; instead, she wanted to talk about her favorite childhood horse. The result was just another one of those talk-show interviews in which politicians try to deflect hard questions by brandishing their personal authenticity, or celebrities insist on talking about their children. The qualities that make for successful celebrities include ubiquity, informality, superficiality and the illusion of emotional accessibility. None of these are judicial virtues.

In writing his memoir, Clarence Thomas faces a different risk. Thomas is silent on the bench but emotionally candid in his autobiographical speeches to African-American students, in which he identifies openly with their struggles and offers his own experiences as an inspirational tale. Perhaps he will vindicate the hopes of his publishers by writing a psychologically revealing memoir about his confirmation ordeal. (The silent Marx Brother, after all, produced one of the greatest showbiz autobiographies of all time, "Harpo Speaks!") But it's just as likely that exercises in personal revelation will make him an even more polarizing figure - particularly if he embraces conservative victimology. According to The Times, he told editors that the book would be read on the air by his friend Rush Limbaugh but that he would not appear on the network morning shows, which might attack him. Promoted by conservative commentators to conservative readers, Thomas's memoir may make it even harder for him, in his judicial opinions, to disappoint his base. And like Douglas, Thomas may inadvertently harm his judicial reputation among moderates (which is, at the moment, unfairly underrated) by revealing more than he intends.

"Judges wear black robes because it doesn't matter who they are as individuals," John Roberts said during his confirmation hearings. "That's not going to shape their decision." Few people today, of course, believe that judges' personal experiences have no influence on their judicial decisions. But taken as a warning, Roberts's statement was prudent and wise. Too much revelation may undermine the public's respect for judges as apolitical authorities. And judicial celebrity can backfire: as any celebrity knows, those who live by publicity have to avoid overexposure, which can lead to the worst fate of all - oblivion.

Jeffrey Rosen's new book, "The Most Democratic Branch: How the Courts Serve America," will be published by Oxford University Press in the spring.

* Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

Friday, January 27, 2006

Should/Do Closing Arguments Win Trials

The New York Times
January 23, 2006
In Summation, Power to Win Jury's Favor

As David J. Dean was about to deliver a closing argument in a wood-paneled courtroom in Lower Manhattan last October, he caught sight of his son, Christopher, a young lawyer, walking into the room. With the jury watching, Mr. Dean, the lead trial lawyer for those who suffered losses in the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, practically floated into the audience to bestow a kiss on his son's lips. Then he spun around, beaming proudly, to deliver the first words of his summation.

That kiss was great theater, a touching moment of emotion in a trial that Mr. Dean sought to cast as an epic tale of terrorists and victims, heartless bureaucracy versus working people.

The bedrock of American jurisprudence is that jurors arrive at verdicts by carefully weighing the facts, and nothing but the facts. But many, though not all, of New York's most successful trial lawyers freely concede that a clever summation, even if not Oscar-quality, can turn a case around, and can sometimes be more important than the evidence in convincing a jury - especially if the facts are in dispute. "To be a little blunt about it, a lawyer is a salesman selling a product to the jury," said Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University. "You're selling a story, and you're saying: 'Buy my story. Don't buy her story.' "

It is a form of manipulation that happens beyond the conscious attention of most jurors, lawyers say, and not only in high-profile cases. Even in the humble criminal courts, where murderers, thieves and drug dealers pass by every day in an assembly line of pleas, a catchy summation can stand out.

Like salesmen closing deals, lawyers who are masters of the summation react quickly and know how to deliver an aphoristic turn of phrase or a memorable anecdote.

So could Hollywood, for once, be right? Could the most compelling aspect of jurisprudence be the courtroom drama, as delivered by the likes of Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Spencer Tracy and their real-life counterparts?

Among recent New York cases there was, for instance, the moment toward the end of the money-laundering trial of the hip-hop entrepreneurs Irv and Christopher Gotti in Brooklyn when the prosecutor, a woman, disparaged the defense lawyers as "men of a certain age," prompting one of them, Gerald L. Shargel, to assure the jury, in his successful summation, "I may be a man of a certain age, but I'm not going to talk to you like you're in kindergarten."

During a rape trial in Manhattan, the defense lawyer suggested that his client would have had to be stupid to buy a gun under his own name if he had committed a crime. The prosecutor, Melissa Mourges, began her summation by quoting a detective, "an Irish guy, 30 years on the job," who had once told her, "Missy, we don't catch the smart ones."

She had used that line before, Ms. Mourges said later of her winning remark, with a twinkle in her eye.

Mr. Shargel admitted having his own "stockpile of lines." The kindergarten line, he hastened to add, was spontaneous, the outgrowth of his sense that the prosecutor was talking down to the jury and that her remark was too peculiar to let pass without comment.

Not even a great summation, Mr. Shargel said, can win what he calls a "no-hoper," a case in which the evidence is irrefutable.

But summations can make the difference when the facts are still in play at the end of the trial.

"I've seen people snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with a great summation, or defeat from the jaws of victory by giving a poorly constructed summation," said Benjamin Brafman, a New York criminal defense lawyer who has represented celebrities and business leaders.

"A trial, whether we want to accept it or not, certainly has some element of theater in its rawest fashion," he said. "I don't think that's a bad way to describe it. I've seen witnesses testify, and I've seen witnesses perform."

To hone those performances, law schools, law firms and district attorneys offer clinics in summation tactics. Books have been published that analyze closing arguments; one, "In the Interest of Justice," was written by Joel J. Seidemann, a prosecutor in Manhattan.

But even successful summations are not necessarily poetry, said Daniel Castleman, chief of investigations for the Manhattan district attorney, Robert M. Morgenthau. "There's a big difference between reading it from a cold page and watching it," Mr. Castleman said. "You can command a courtroom by your presentation, and it won't be reflected in the cold record. A lot of summations are not worthy of any oratory textbook, but sometimes it does amount to pretty good rhetoric."

Mr. Brafman says he starts composing his summation the moment the client walks in the door. Things he says he considers include "how he or she presents herself, what they look like, issues dealing with gender, race or age, their position in life."

"Sometimes a person is very successful and fabulously wealthy," Mr. Brafman said. "People think they have an advantage. Some people resent that."

Connecting with the jury can be everything.

Mr. Brafman said he remembered "being at the rail, looking up at the jury" and trying to think of a way to discredit the testimony of informants against his client, Peter Gatien, a nightclub owner, in a drug racketeering case. If you went away, Mr. Brafman asked the jurors, "Would you leave them the key to your apartment so they could water your plants?"

He could see some of the jurors react instantly, he recalls. Like Mr. Gatien, the jurors probably did lead the type of lives in which they went away and left their plants behind. The informants probably did not. Mr. Gatien was acquitted.

When Mr. Brafman was representing Sean Combs in a nightclub shooting case, he had to convey, he says now, what kind of person his client was. He had to convince the jury, he said, that "in this case, where perhaps the most successful African-American entrepreneur in the history of the world was on trial, in order to destroy that life, you had to be certain - you couldn't just guess." It worked.

Jurors can be tough critics. It didn't help Carlos Perez-Olivo, representing a Manhattan hotel waiter accused of killing his wife's lover, when he admitted that he had forgotten what else he wanted to say. "There is a lot of other things that honestly I thought of and I can't think of right now," Mr. Perez-Olivo told the jury.

The next morning, one juror, a retired sixth-grade teacher, passed a note to the judge pointing out that the day before summations had been Election Day. Why, she demanded, had the defense lawyer not done his homework on his day off? (Mr. Perez-Olivo said he had pegged the woman as pro-prosecution from the start, and regretted letting her on the jury.)

Unlike forgetfulness, irreverence can play well. In his summation, the prosecutor in the cuckolded waiter's trial suggested several alternatives to murder, including counseling, divorce and open marriage. Apparently, the jury agreed, and the waiter was convicted.

The nonverbal cues that accompany a summation - the kiss, the tie, the wedding ring - can be as influential as the speech itself.

"The lawyer's own credibility with the jury is critical," Mr. Gillers said. " 'Do I like this person? Would this person fool me? Is he leveling with me?' "

Still, Mr. Dean, who says he always greets his son with a kiss, is a skeptic on the value of summations. In personal injury litigation, he says, summations are important because "that's when the money goes in" and he asks the jury for a specific amount of damages. Otherwise, he subscribes to the theory that juries decide on first impression.

"Lawyers spend countless hours, as we should, on summations, thinking it makes a difference," he said. "Long before, I think, jurors have made up their minds."

How early in a trial?

"Would it be heresy if I told you often, after opening - that is, before the jury has received evidence?" he said.

Unlike a Hollywood scriptwriter, a lawyer who delivers closing arguments has to be able to think on his feet. Asked what he would choose as his favorite closing line if he were talking about it over, say, a couple of drinks, Mr. Shargel shot back, "Is that an invitation?"

* Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

Thursday, January 26, 2006

How Do you Define "Annoying"

Create an e-annoyance, go to jail

By Declan McCullagh

Story last modified Mon Jan 09 04:00:00 PST 2006


Annoying someone via the Internet is now a federal crime.

It's no joke. Last Thursday, President Bush signed into law a prohibition on posting annoying Web messages or sending annoying e-mail messages without disclosing your true identity.

In other words, it's OK to flame someone on a mailing list or in a blog as long as you do it under your real name. Thank Congress for small favors, I guess.

This ridiculous prohibition, which would likely imperil much of Usenet, is buried in the so-called Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act. Criminal penalties include stiff fines and two years in prison.

"The use of the word 'annoy' is particularly problematic," says Marv Johnson, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. "What's annoying to one person may not be annoying to someone else."
It's illegal to annoy

A new federal law states that when you annoy someone on the Internet, you must disclose your identity. Here's the relevant language.

"Whoever...utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet... without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person...who receives the communications...shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."

Buried deep in the new law is Sec. 113, an innocuously titled bit called "Preventing Cyberstalking." It rewrites existing telephone harassment law to prohibit anyone from using the Internet "without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy."

To grease the rails for this idea, Sen. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, and the section's other sponsors slipped it into an unrelated, must-pass bill to fund the Department of Justice. The plan: to make it politically infeasible for politicians to oppose the measure.

The tactic worked. The bill cleared the House of Representatives by voice vote, and the Senate unanimously approved it Dec. 16.

There's an interesting side note. An earlier version that the House approved in September had radically different wording. It was reasonable by comparison, and criminalized only using an "interactive computer service" to cause someone "substantial emotional harm."

That kind of prohibition might make sense. But why should merely annoying someone be illegal?

There are perfectly legitimate reasons to set up a Web site or write something incendiary without telling everyone exactly who you are.
A law meant to annoy?
FAQ: The new 'annoy' law explained
A practical guide to the new federal law that aims to outlaw certain types of annoying Web sites and e-mail.

Think about it: A woman fired by a manager who demanded sexual favors wants to blog about it without divulging her full name. An aspiring pundit hopes to set up the next A frustrated citizen wants to send e-mail describing corruption in local government without worrying about reprisals.

In each of those three cases, someone's probably going to be annoyed. That's enough to make the action a crime. (The Justice Department won't file charges in every case, of course, but trusting prosecutorial discretion is hardly reassuring.)

Clinton Fein, a San Francisco resident who runs the site, says a feature permitting visitors to send obnoxious and profane postcards through e-mail could be imperiled.

"Who decides what's annoying? That's the ultimate question," Fein said. He added: "If you send an annoying message via the United States Post Office, do you have to reveal your identity?"

Fein once sued to overturn part of the Communications Decency Act that outlawed transmitting indecent material "with intent to annoy." But the courts ruled the law applied only to obscene material, so didn't have to worry.

"I'm certainly not going to close the site down," Fein said on Friday. "I would fight it on First Amendment grounds."

He's right. Our esteemed politicians can't seem to grasp this simple point, but the First Amendment protects our right to write something that annoys someone else.

It even shields our right to do it anonymously. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas defended this principle magnificently in a 1995 case involving an Ohio woman who was punished for distributing anonymous political pamphlets.

If President Bush truly believed in the principle of limited government (it is in his official bio), he'd realize that the law he signed cannot be squared with the Constitution he swore to uphold.

And then he'd repeat what President Clinton did a decade ago when he felt compelled to sign a massive telecommunications law. Clinton realized that the section of the law punishing abortion-related material on the Internet was unconstitutional, and he directed the Justice Department not to enforce it.

Bush has the chance to show his respect for what he calls Americans' personal freedoms. Now we'll see if the president rises to the occasion.

Copyright ©1995-2006 CNET Networks, Inc. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

When Cheating isn't Cheating

Legalized 'Cheating'
Text-messaging answers. Googling during exams. In the Internet age, some schools have a new approach to cheating: Make it legal.
January 21, 2006; Page P1
Twas a situation every middle-schooler dreads. Bonnie Pitzer was cruising through a vocabulary test until she hit the word "desolated" -- and drew a blank. But instead of panicking, she quietly searched the Internet for the definition.
At most schools, looking up test answers online would be considered cheating. But at Mill Creek Middle School in Kent, Wash., some teachers now encourage such tactics. "We can do basically anything on our computers," says the 13-year-old, who took home an A on the test.
In a wireless age where kids can access the Internet's vast store of information from their cellphones and PDAs, schools have been wrestling with how to stem the tide of high-tech cheating. Now, some educators say they have the answer: Change the rules and make it legal. In doing so, they're permitting all kinds of behavior that had been considered off-limits just a few years ago.
The move, which includes some of the country's top institutions, reflects a broader debate about what skills are necessary in today's world -- and how schools should teach them. The real-world strengths of intelligent surfing and analysis, some educators argue, are now just as important as rote memorization.
The old rules still reign in most places, but an increasing number of schools are adjusting them. This includes not only letting kids use the Internet during tests, but in the most extreme cases, allowing them to text message notes or beam each other definitions on vocabulary drills. Schools say they in no way consider this cheating because they're explicitly changing the rules to allow it.
In Ohio, students at Cincinnati Country Day can take their laptops into some tests and search online Cliffs Notes. At Ensign Intermediate School in Newport Beach, Calif., seventh-graders are looking at each other's hand-held computers to get answers on their science drills. And in San Diego, high-schoolers can roam free on the Internet during English exams.
The same logic is being applied even when laptops aren't in the classroom. In Philadelphia, school officials are considering letting kids retake tests, even if it gives them an opportunity to go home and Google topics they saw on the first test. "What we've got to teach kids are the tools to access that information," says Gregory Thornton, the school district's chief academic officer. " 'Cheating' is not the word anymore."
The changes -- and the debate they're prompting -- are not unlike the upheaval caused when calculators became available in the early 1970s. Back then, teachers grappled with letting kids use the new machines or requiring long lines of division by hand. Though initially banned, calculators were eventually embraced in classrooms and, since 1994, have even been allowed in the SAT.
Of course, open-book exams have long been a fixture at some schools. But access to the Internet provides a far vaster trove of information than simply having a textbook nearby. And the degree of collaboration that technology is allowing flies in the face of some deeply entrenched teaching methods.
Grabbing test answers off the Internet is a "crutch," says Charles Alexander, academic dean at the elite Groton School in Massachusetts. In the college world, where admissions officers keep profiles of secondary schools and consider applicants based on the rigor of their training, there are differing opinions. "This is the way the world works," says Harvard Director of Admissions Marlyn McGrath Lewis, adding that whether a student was allowed to search the Internet for help on a high-school English exam wouldn't affect his or her application.

Throughout history, new social mores -- and advances in technology -- have altered what it means to cheat. Take a look at some notable moments2 in the history of cheating.
Though it might not ultimately factor into a student's acceptance at University of Pennsylvania, Lee Stetson, dean of undergraduate admissions there, has a different take. "The definition of what's cheating has been changing, and fudging seems to be the way of the world now," he says. "It's not an encouraging sign."
At High Tech High International, a charter school in San Diego, kids in Ross Roemer's 10th-grade humanities class are allowed to scan the Internet during some tests; earlier this week, they looked up what scholars had written about Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray" while they were writing their essay exams.
Mr. Roemer says students' essays are better informed when they can compare their ideas with what others have written. But he acknowledges that traditionally an approach like this would be against the rules. "You'd have to rip up their test and call their parents," he says. But at this school, which is funded partly by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he says there's no sense fighting technology: "You can't ignore it. You have to embrace it."
When the Kent School District in Washington decided last year to create a technology "school within a school" at Mill Creek Middle, where there'd be a 1-to-1 ratio of kids to computers, parents quickly began pushing to get their kids accepted. Now, teachers say letting kids look up answers online helps show they can find and analyze information then synthesize it into a cohesive argument.
In Bonnie Pitzer's case, teacher Becky Keene says using the Internet helped the seventh-grader, but in the end, she aced the test because she demonstrated she could also use the word in a sentence. "I want the kids to be able to apply the meaning, not to be able to memorize it," says Ms. Keene.
Karen Waples says she's teaching her students the skills to work with others in an era of information sharing. The AP government teacher at Cherry Creek High School outside Denver has kids team up on some of their exams -- even when they're multiple choice. It doesn't hurt, she adds, that it has the side benefit of relieving the stress that students say comes from keeping all the answers in their heads. Ms. Waples, who was originally encouraged to try this by a fellow teacher, says she hopes to spread the technique to other classrooms this year with the backing of the principal. "I tell them it's closed-book, open friend," she says.
Some schools are only partially embracing the new tools for test taking. Sixth-graders in Nancy Dean's class at Aire Libre Elementary School in Phoenix used their new Palm hand-helds to beam each other answers to an exercise on "The Toothpaste Millionaire" earlier in the school year. But Ms. Dean stops short at administering more serious tests on them for the time being; when and if she does, she'll step up her classroom patrol. "It's real easy for me to spot a student who has roaming eyes -- but a student can hit 'beam' and I won't know it," she says. "You have to be careful."
These uses of technology are part of a broader shift in academic rules that has been underway for several years. Educators say the concept of "collaborative learning," which has students working in groups and essentially answering test questions or tackling assignments for each other, continues to gain currency. Its proponents say it can help teach group skills and critical thinking.
A similar argument is being used to support widespread access to the Internet, and even to other classmates, during testing. By some estimates, at least seven million new Web pages are added every day. In a competitive global labor market, where white-collar jobs are increasingly outsourced to other countries, being able to find and synthesize information about the World Bank could be more crucial than memorizing the date it opened. Failing to teach kids how to navigate in the knowledge economy, says Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Frank Levy, "is like putting them on the track with the locomotive."
Technology companies see an opportunity. Last month SparkNotes, which offers online summaries and analyses of books popular on high-school required reading lists, branched out with the launch of SparkMobile. The service lets students stuck on English essays send SOS messages from their cellphones: Type in "Gatsby themes" and a text-message comes back reading: "the decline of the American dream." The company recently made the service available on iPods, and an audio version debuted last week. The cost to download an audio summary of "Pride and Prejudice": $3.95.
Dan Weiss, publisher of SparkNotes, which is owned by Barnes & Noble, says the company isn't selling directly to schools but does plan to promote the new technology to school librarians and teachers at coming education conferences. "We provide a lot of free copies of everything and get teachers to sample the material," he says. "We persuade them."
But if text-messaging test answers isn't cheating, what is? Educators agree that copying whole passages from other writers without citing them constitutes plagiarism. Beyond that, schools say the shift places a bigger burden on teachers to make the rules crystal clear -- especially when some permit sharing answers and others don't. Students in Ms. Waples's class at Cherry Creek High who try talking to friends during tests in other classes are likely to get the same punishment as ever: an "F" and the possibility of suspension.
There are even new twists on the old open-book test. At Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., teacher Temba Maqubela has started giving students an option on their environmental chemistry tests: They can take the exams with their notes and an open book, but they'll get no higher than a B even if they get everything right. "There's no shame in not knowing the answers," says Mr. Maqubela, who has been lobbying the head of the department and plans to champion this kind of testing more heavily next year. "I have a feeling some of them might warm up to it."
Of course, when it comes to some of the most critical evaluations students face, such as Advanced Placement tests and the SAT, there's no Internet surfing allowed. And from graduate school entrance exams to real-world job interviews, people are expected to perform solo. Indeed, a major issue in education right now is an increased reliance on standardized testing fueled by the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Letting kids get answers from each other or online is also a luxury critics say only elite schools with high-performing kids can afford. Most of the new testing techniques are taking place at private or well-funded public schools, with individual teachers taking the initiative on some exams, and even applying for grants to do so.
But the technology available to help students is rising so fast that some in academia are quietly admitting that fighting it might be a losing battle. In Philadelphia, public-school English teachers estimate they spend more than 20% of their time checking essays for plagiarism -- time they could be spending actually teaching, according to the district's Mr. Thornton. Indeed, despite a nationwide crackdown on everything from camera phones to drugs that help students' test performances, three in four high-school students still admit to cheating. The number admitting to plagiarizing from the Internet in particular quadrupled between 1999 and 2005, according to studies by Donald McCabe, a professor at Rutgers Business School.
For Oren Kantor, a senior at the private Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., his teacher's group work assessments make it "easier to get a better grade." A member of the golf team who was recently accepted early admission to the University of Florida, Oren says he wouldn't have had time for 18 holes of golf last week if he'd had to prepare alone for a project on Hamlet. His group gave a PowerPoint presentation and sang a song they'd found online: "To be or not to be, that's the question I'm digestin' in my soliloquy." They got an A.

Pakistani Gang Rape Victim Speech Canceled

January 21, 2006
Heeding Pakistani Protest, U.N. Blocks Talk by Rape Victim

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 20 - Mukhtar Mai, the Pakistani woman whose defiant response to being gang-raped by order of a tribal court brought her worldwide attention, was denied a chance to speak at the United Nations on Friday after Pakistan protested that it was the same day the country's prime minister was visiting.

Ms. Mai had long been scheduled to make an appearance called "An Interview With Mukhtar Mai: The Bravest Woman on Earth" in the United Nations television studios, sponsored by the office for nongovernmental organizations, the Virtue Foundation and the Asian-American Network Against Abuse of Human Rights.

But on Thursday night the organizers were informed that the program would have to be postponed because of Pakistan's objections.

Ms. Mai is leaving New York on Saturday so the effect was to cancel her appearance.

Asked at a news conference why Pakistan had taken the action, the prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, said: "I have no idea. You have informed me and so have some other people as I was walking in. I don't know how the place functions."

The Pakistani Mission did not return calls seeking comment.

In 2002, a village council sentenced Ms. Mai to be gang-raped for the supposed misconduct of her brother. Pakistani women in such circumstances often commit suicide, but Ms. Mai instead successfully challenged her rapists in court. She gave the compensation money she received to schools in her remote district.

On a previous visit to New York in November, Ms. Mai, also known as Mukhtaran Bibi, was hailed in a video tribute by Laura Bush at a Lincoln Center banquet as a person who "proves that one woman really can change the world."

Mr. Aziz is scheduled to see President Bush in Washington next week.

This was not the first time that Pakistan's government had interfered in Ms. Mai's travels. President Pervez Musharraf blocked her from taking a trip to the United States in June and then relented last fall when Glamour magazine honored her as its "Woman of the Year."

Asked why the United Nations bowed to the Pakistani protest, Shashi Tharoor, the under secretary general for communications, said he could not comment on this specific case. But, he said: "As a general principle, indeed there are written instructions guiding the holding of any event on United Nations premises in which we are obliged to take into account views formally expressed by member states. This is a building and an organization that belongs to the member states."

Recounting the 11th-hour nature of the decision, Joseph Salim, the executive director of the Virtue Foundation, a New York-based human rights charity, said, "Yesterday, as we were going about a walk-through, getting our ID badges, they suddenly told us that because this event was considered by the Pakistan government as embarrassing to them, they were going to block it."

An e-mail message from Meena Sur of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs at 7:49 p.m. on Thursday informed the organizers that the event had to be postponed until sometime after Jan. 24.

Neither she nor Michele Fedoroff, the deputy head of the section, who had conveyed the same message in a telephone call, responded to messages seeking explanation.

In an interview, Ms. Mai said: "I feel disappointed. I was not going to say anything bad about Pakistan. I was just going to talk about my work and what people are doing."

Friday, January 20, 2006

Life After Exoneration

Many of the problems faced by the individuals in the film are also faced by ex-felons in general. Could this be the true root of recidivism for some?

Article Last Updated: 1/20/2006 05:48 AM
Oscar contender tells powerful stories
By Jeffrey M. Anderson, CONTRIBUTOR
Inside Bay Area
MANY OF the documentaries on the Academy's short list for award consideration this year — including "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," "Mad Hot Ballroom," "March of the Penguins," "Murderball" and "Rize" — have opened to critical acclaim and enthusiastic audience reaction. (The year's most acclaimed doc, Werner Herzog's "Grizzly Man," is not on the list, but that's another story.)

Come Oscar night, Jessica Sanders' "After Innocence," which opens today in Bay Area theaters, will trump them all. It's not necessarily better than the others, but its call for social awareness rings out bolder and rises higher.

Like many past Oscar winners, it consists more of heart than of mind, as its treacly piano score attests. But after looking into the haunted eyes of the eight subjects interviewed, only the most dark-hearted person could remain cynical.

"After Innocence" charts the efforts of The Innocence Project and other individuals working to free wrongly convicted prisoners based on new DNA evidence. Dennis Maher, for example, served 19 years for various rape charges. Sanders shows him upon his release, overjoyed, moved to tears.

But we also meet him later, living with his parents, celebrating his 43rd birthday sitting cross-legged on the floor, defeated. Later, he lands a humble job and even finds a girlfriend through online dating. These baby steps seem like major victories.

Simply being exonerated sometimes isn't enough. Vincent Moto was mistakenly identified by a rape victim and served just more than 10 years for this crime. His sister, in an interview, says, "People didn't know he's out because he's innocent. People just know he's out. As far as they know, he could be a rapist. It's 10 years later..."

By far the most harrowing story belongs to Nick Yarris, a death row inmate who served 23 years in solitary confinement. He describes first walking out into the real world and being overwhelmed by the awesome noise, as well as his first gulp of non-filtered air.

Most of these men are articulate and thoughtful, and not at all thuggish. One man, Scott Hornoff, was a cop who had an affair with a woman who was murdered. He served six and a half years before his exoneration. Once out, the Rhode Island police department reinstated him, but he had — understandably — lost his passion for the job.

Sanders goes one more than simply interviewing the exonerees; she puts on a show: Ronald Cotton, who served 11 years after being wrongly accused of rape, actually faces his accuser, the attractive blond Jennifer Thompson-Canino, on camera. Amazingly, Cotton doesn't hold a grudge; the two become friends and both join the fight to free more innocent men.

The movie's biggest coup comes with the case of Wilton Dedge, who at the beginning of the film is shown languishing in a Florida prison for three years after DNA evidence proved him innocent. The local district attorney apparently pulled every bit of red tape available to keep him there. But Sanders' camera is there when Dedge gets his day in court, and there's not a dry eye in the house.

Although Dedge keeps his steely, guarded "prison eyes," the film magically captures the other men as their eyes eventually soften and they learn to trust again.

It's not surprising that many of these men become activists toward the same cause. Meanwhile, "After Innocence" contains shocking facts, like how eyewitness identification accounts for between 78 and 88 percent of all mistaken convictions.

Or that thousands of unopened letters with potentially useful information about inmates' innocence go unprocessed by volunteers. Many states do not have programs in place for people who have been falsely convicted, and many innocent people still have false crimes on their records.

Yet Sanders' reporting is far from objective. She paints the legal system as a horrible monster unwilling to admit mistakes, and the few insiders she interviews confirm her supposition.

Of the movie's eight subjects, four are African-American and four are white, and the film says nothing about race. Does Sanders wish us to believe that DNA exoneration works equally? It's already clear that the legal system is biased in that regard, but does the Innocence Project program correct this?

"After Innocence" might have been more powerful if it had followed a single, charismatic subject rather than casting its wide net over many faces. The handsome Moto would be the obvious subject, judging from his unflaggingly bright demeanor, the way he walks down the street with his young daughter, and the way she beams at him. Moto even inspired the film's Oscar-friendly title with a song that runs over the closing credits.

Moto tells his story for the camera, how, merely walking down the street, a woman pointed at him and called him a rapist. It's a terrifying reminder that this could happen to anyone at any time, and how the court system could fail as easily as it could succeed.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Release Brings Anguish

The New York Times

January 19, 2006
Release of Figure in '95 Bombing Rekindles Fears

For a long time, the people of Oklahoma City knew it was coming: the day that Michael J. Fortier would get out of prison after serving time for his role in the 1995 bombing of the Federal Building that killed 168 people and injured more than 400.

But as Mr. Fortier's release on Friday approaches, the deal cut to secure his testimony against Timothy J. McVeigh and Terry L. Nichols is again gnawing at some of the survivors and relatives of the victims. They worry about a possible future threat posed by Mr. Fortier, 37, and the undisclosed terms of his release, in particular whether he will gain federal witness protection.

"It makes me nervous, it angers me, it frustrates me," said Dot Hill, who was working for the General Services Administration in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, and credits her survival to leaving her desk for coffee just as the bomb exploded outside.

"It's an agreement we have to stand by," Ms. Hill said in a telephone interview, "but it puts us on high alert again."

A lawyer for Mr. Fortier said "the government is concerned" about the release as well.

"I am not able to answer questions on that," the lawyer, Mike McGuire, said of Mr. Fortier's possible inclusion in a witness protection program.

But, he added, "there's a real fear that some of these victims are still angry. That's why the government is concerned."

Mr. McGuire was appointed by a court and said he left Oklahoma City for Tulsa in 1996 after repeated harassment for taking the case.

The federal Bureau of Prisons sent a brief notification to survivors and victims' families this week that Mr. Fortier would be released on Friday after serving 10½ years of his 12-year sentence. A spokesman for the bureau declined to provide particulars of the release, respond to questions or even confirm that the letters went out. The United States Marshals Service and Justice Department also refused to comment.

Mr. McGuire would not say where Mr. Fortier had been incarcerated or where he and his wife, Lori, who also testified and has been living in Arizona with their two children, would go now. He described Mr. Fortier as "tremendously thrilled with the prospect of finally being released" and "excited about his future."

"He's going to put all his resources into providing for his family," Mr. McGuire said.

He said the Fortiers would not speak to reporters. Reached by phone, Mr. Fortier's mother, Irene, in Kingman, Ariz., said she had nothing to say and hung up.

Mr. Fortier and his wife had advance knowledge of the plot by Mr. McVeigh and Mr. Nichols to bomb the Federal Building in retaliation for the federal siege of the Branch Davidian complex near Waco, Tex., in 1993, the Fortiers' testimony later showed.

As far back as the summer of 1994, some nine months before the truck bombing, Mr. Fortier testified, Mr. McVeigh, an old Army buddy, "told me they were planning on bombing a building."

A few months later, Lori Fortier testified, Mr. McVeigh sat in their trailer home and diagrammed the bombing and on a later occasion even set up 12 soup cans to show how he would rig the barrels of explosives.

Mr. Fortier also testified to transporting stolen weapons that helped finance the scheme.

With his wife, he initially lied to F.B.I. agents about their involvement. But after negotiations in the face of charges that could have sent him to prison for 23 years, he agreed to plead guilty to four counts involving transporting stolen weapons and concealing the conspiracy and become the star witness in the trials of Mr. McVeigh and Mr. Nichols.

Mr. McVeigh was convicted in the bombing and executed in 2001. Mr. Nichols is serving life without parole.

While unease over Mr. Fortier's release had been on the minds of survivors and relatives of victims for months, the Bureau of Prisons notification that reached many families on Tuesday caught them by surprise.

"I knew it was coming up, but I didn't know it would be the day before my birthday," said John Cole, who lost two godsons in the blast.

Mr. Cole said he considered Mr. Fortier and his wife culpable for not exposing the scheme. As a result, he said, "they should be right up there with Terry Nichols."

Ms. Hill, the survivor who took the coffee break, said she "was fine" with Mr. Fortier's plea bargain at the time it was reached, "but now that I know he's wandering around, I'm wondering, are they monitoring him because of his past and beliefs?"

"We don't know if any of that stuff has changed," she said.

Ken Thompson, external affairs director of the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, the organization in Oklahoma City formed to commemorate the victims, said he understood the consternation but did not fully share it.

"Most people understand that if it wasn't for him as a witness we might not have had these verdicts," said Mr. Thompson, whose mother was killed in the bombing.

* Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Warning Should Go to Teens You Know

Most teens do not realize the dangers when they post to some of these sites; they automatically assume the response comes from a peer and not a potential predator. Since many readers know teens, I thought I would post this in the hope that we may help to avert a tragedy

Teens' Bold Blogs Alarm Area Schools
Uninhibited Online Remarks Full of Risks, Officials Warn

By Tara Bahrampour and Lori Aratani
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, January 17, 2006; A01

No one under 18 would be surprised to hear that teenagers like to post their intimate thoughts and photographs online -- they've done it for years. But school administrators have begun to take notice, and some are warning students that their online activities may affect not only their safety, but also their academic and professional lives.

In recent weeks, several Washington area schools have taken action against the use of blog sites, in particular but also the sites and, which allow teenagers -- and sometimes younger children -- to post details of their lives for all to see.

Sidwell Friends School in the District recently prohibited students from using their school e-mail addresses to register for access to Facebook, a widely used networking site for college and high school students. Before the holidays, Sidwell, Georgetown Day School in the District and the Madeira School in McLean wrote to parents to warn them about use of the site, and the Barrie School, in Silver Spring, recently asked a student to leave over the misuse of a blog.

Exclusive private schools such as these have so far been more aggressive than public schools in specifically targeting the use of blogs, but local public schools have begun to warn parents and students about the dangers of Internet use. Fairfax County will hold seminars on the subject for parents this week, and Arlington County, at the suggestion of a parent who is a computer safety consultant, plans a similar meeting next week.

Meredyth Cole, assistant head of school at Madeira, said officials there were "shocked and amazed" to see how many students use Facebook, which began for college students in 2004 and was expanded late last year to include high school students.

Besides the most obvious danger -- adult stalkers enticing teenagers into face-to-face meetings -- Cole warned that personal information posted online can also be read by college admissions officers and future employers.

"We are trying to figure out how do our school rules relate to this type of behavior," Cole said.

Some colleges have expelled teenagers for violating codes of conduct after discovering photos of underage students posing in front of kegs or writing about drinking binges, and employers often look up job candidates on the sites, said Parry Aftab, an Internet lawyer and the executive director of

Blogs abound with seductive poses and confessions of love, hate and everything in between.

A girl at a private Washington school who got drunk reports that "the buzz is fun as hell, but if you 'accidently' go to far, you'll end up having a very nice chat with that burger you ate earlier floating in the bottom of the toilet." An Alexandria girl with an abusive mother confides that she wants to have a baby, even though it would "most likely make everything 5,000 times harder." A girl from a Fairfax County school posts photos of herself in a bikini, inviting boys to comment.

Ellis Turner, associate head of school at Sidwell, said that the issue came to the attention of administrators only recently, when they became aware of "inappropriate material that was being posted on Facebook."

Sidwell's Upper School recently sent letters home to parents and held a student assembly and a parent meeting on the dangers of students posting too much -- or unwise -- information about themselves.

Personal information can also be used for commercial purposes. A letter from Georgetown Day last month warned students and parents that Facebook can sell information about students to marketers and can use and display their contributions, including photos.

In some ways, the Web sites are the modern equivalent of diaries kept by generations of teenagers.

But lockable journals and triple-underlined threats of "PRIVATE, KEEP OUT!" have given way to instant messaging, reality shows and a cyberculture that many adults find naive at best and exhibitionist and dangerous at worst.

Steve Jones, a communications professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said that the sites pose new quandaries for educators, including cyberabuse. He cited a recent case in which three middle-school students in the Chicago area were suspended after posting obscene and threatening remarks about a teacher on a Web log. The school community was split over the action.

"It's an open question, because students have been writing these sorts of things for years but have been doing it in their notebooks, where nobody would have ever stumbled across it," he said. "With blogs, it's a sign of things to come -- we're sort of testing the notions regarding free speech."

Tim Trautman, head of Silver Spring's Barrie School, would not give specifics about the reason his school recently asked a student to leave. He said rules forbid students to "use technology at Barrie and elsewhere that defames individual members of any community."

In November, after a student at Sherwood High School in Sandy Spring posted derogatory comments about black students on a blog, printouts of the comments were circulated on campus. The student eventually left; administrators would not say whether disciplinary action was taken.

Many schools forbid the use of school computers for anything not school-related. But it is much harder to regulate what students do on home computers.

"We try . . . to say that the boundaries are on school grounds and within school time, but if there is a case that does tend to spill over and directly impact campus life, all of a sudden space and location, the geography of it, becomes less important," Trautman said.

Schools are scrambling to come up with policies on the issue. A Catholic school in New Jersey banned use of the sites even at home, although experts question the legality of such bans.

Use of Facebook is easier for schools to regulate because it requires users to sign in using a school-issued e-mail address. But anyone can start an account on such sites as MySpace, and it is easy to find teenagers' blogs through those sites even without starting an account. Xanga, for example, groups blogs by high school or middle school, making it easy to find one for any teenager who has signed in to his or her school's "blogring."

Ironically, many teenagers are outraged or embarrassed when parents or other adults go to their sites. "I think they see it as a violation of their personal space," said Madeira's Cole. "They feel as if their diaries are being read."

But adults do read the sites. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported 1,224 incidents last year of "online enticement" of children by adults and estimates that one in five children gets sexual solicitations online. Staff members of NetSmartz, an arm of the national center, discuss the issue with local students. Staca Urie, a NetSmartz manager, said that after she gave a talk recently at the Lab School in the District, students raced to their computers to delete information.

And yet to many teenagers, the sites are irresistible.

Aftab said that even teenagers who work with her to warn others about the sites have their own sites. "Why in God's name would you have a Xanga site?" she asked one, and the answer was poignant.

"I'm in seventh grade," the girl said. "It's really hard to be in seventh grade these days. It's really hard if you're shy and you're not a cheerleader or extraordinarily popular. I travel, I take pictures, I write poetry. I'm a nice kid, and if I can write a profile that will make people notice me, why shouldn't I?"

To Aftab, "It's a very sad testimonial these days that a kid has to post something on a site where potentially 700 million people can see it in order to attract the attention of a kid two seats down."

Emilie Jackson, 17, a senior at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria and an editor of the school newspaper, has four or five blogs. She doesn't keep an online diary -- "I never really thought that my life was that interesting" -- but she said it can be a form of therapy. "Being able to share with people, I guess, makes it easier to deal with stuff."

Aftab acknowledges that the sites have their good points: Kids get to show off an expertise or be creative. "A kid with a boring life can go on to MySpace and become a punk rocker in two minutes."

Bilqis Rock, 16, a senior at Springbrook High School in Montgomery County, said she tries to make her page look attractive "so that folks want to come back and look at mine. It's kind of like a little show that I'm putting on, trying to put my best and coolest out there."

Her mother, Melanie Rock, said that she and her husband have talked to Bilqis about smart Internet use and that she is not worried. Rock hasn't looked at her daughter's page.

"She hasn't invited me to look, and I figure it's her space," Rock said, adding, "This offers them a way to have a sense of community."

But it can also be isolating. "They do less face-to-face talking, less phone talking, less playing outside than any other generation, and because of that, the Internet is real to them, but the risks aren't," Aftab said.

Neither are some of the worlds they create. Experts, and teenagers themselves, say that much of what is on the sites is made up.

Teenagers often act online in ways they wouldn't off-line -- bullying each other, posing in underwear, using foul language or sporting guns and Ku Klux Klan hoods.

Increasingly, many teenagers feel pressured to show themselves doing more risque things, even if they are not actually doing them. Aftab cited an example of girls who had blogged about weekends of drinking and debauchery, while in reality they were coloring with their younger siblings or watching old movies with Grandma.

"Even if you weren't out drunk and partying on the weekend, you have to pretend you were," Aftab said. "Maybe parents should be relieved."

Staff writer Jamie Stockwell contributed to this report.
© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Assisted Suicide in Oregon Upheld

Supreme Court Upholds Oregon Suicide Law

The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 17, 2006; 10:23 AM

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court, with Chief Justice John Roberts dissenting, upheld Oregon's one-of-a-kind physician-assisted suicide law Tuesday, rejecting a Bush administration attempt to punish doctors who help terminally ill patients die.

Justices, on a 6-3 vote, said the 1997 Oregon law used to end the lives of more than 200 seriously ill people trumped federal authority to regulate doctors.

That means the administration improperly tried to use a federal drug law to prosecute Oregon doctors who prescribe overdoses. Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft vowed to do that in 2001, saying that doctor-assisted suicide is not a "legitimate medical purpose."

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said the federal government does, indeed, have the authority to go after drug dealers and pass rules for health and safety.

But Oregon's law covers only extremely sick people _ those with incurable diseases, whom at least two doctors agree have six months or less to live and are of sound mind.

Tuesday's decision is a reprimand of sorts for Ashcroft. Kennedy said the "authority claimed by the attorney general is both beyond his expertise and incongruous with the statutory purposes and design."

"The authority desired by the government is inconsistent with the design of the statute in other fundamental respects. The attorney general does not have the sole delegated authority under the (law)," Kennedy wrote for himself, retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer.

Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia dissented.

Scalia, writing the dissent, said that federal officials have the power to regulate the doling out of medicine.

"If the term `legitimate medical purpose' has any meaning, it surely excludes the prescription of drugs to produce death," he wrote.

The ruling backed a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said Ashcroft's "unilateral attempt to regulate general medical practices historically entrusted to state lawmakers interferes with the democratic debate about physician-assisted suicide."

Ashcroft had brought the case to the Supreme Court on the day his resignation was announced by the White House in 2004. The Justice Department has continued the case, under the leadership of his successor, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Forthcoming Series Worth Watching

THE SUPREME COURT: First Major Series to Examine America's Highest Court to Air on PBS During 2006-07 Season

Thirteen/WNET New York Produces Four-Part Series
Exploring the Court's History, Evolution and Impact on U.S. Society

New York Life Underwrites Broadcast Series and Educators' Website

'We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only
because we are final.'
- Robert H. Jackson, Supreme Court Justice

PASADENA, Calif., Jan. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- PBS Press Tour -- Perhaps no
institution has been the subject of more drama, controversy and debate than
The United States Supreme Court. The site of immense power and considerable
mystery, America's final court of appeal has helped author the history of
America. But even though it is one of the pillars of American democracy, no
television series has profiled the workings of the Court and the Justices who
shaped it. Until now.
THE SUPREME COURT is the first major television series to trace the story
and influence of America's highest court. Produced by Thirteen/WNET New York,
the series will be a major PBS presentation airing during the 2006-07
broadcast season (exact dates to be announced later). It will be supported by
an ambitious national outreach effort, including a companion Web site on as well a companion book by Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law at George
Washington University Law School, and published by Times Books, an imprint of
Henry Holt and Company.
The series' sole corporate sponsor is New York Life Insurance Company,
which has also committed to fund a comprehensive educators' Web site to
encourage social studies teachers to emphasize the role of the Court in
shaping and reshaping the American way of life. The series is also supported
by a grant from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which
provides for educational materials that will extend the impact of the series
into a classroom context.
"Now is the ideal moment to explore the history and impact of the Supreme
Court," said John F. Wilson, senior vice president, PBS Programming. "With the
recent appointment of a new Chief Justice and the congressional hearings for a
new Associate Justice, Americans are paying heightened attention to the
Supreme Court. This series, which will debut just as the new Court begins to
make its mark, promises to offer American viewers invaluable insight into what
is perhaps the least-understood branch of our government."
"From the Civil War and Reconstruction to desegregation and the Civil
Rights Movement, the history of the Supreme Court is the history of America,"
said Jody Sheff, executive producer of the series. "Many see the Court as a
monolithic institution removed from the volatility of everyday life. But in
this series we will lift the curtains and discover the personalities and
power-plays of those mysterious figures on the high bench. And we will explore
the dramatic stories of the individuals whose cases have come before the court
to shape the laws of our land."
Over four hours, the series will trace the Court's evolution from its
establishment to the present day. It will do so by focusing on the temperament
and constitutional vision of key Justices and the key cases throughout our
history. The chronicle will explore the continuing struggle over how the Court
defines its role and manifests its powers. As Alexander Hamilton put it, "with
neither sword nor purse," this least known branch of government has had to
walk a fine line to enforce its decisions. The programs will elucidate the
shifting yet delicate balance between the executive, legislative and judicial
branches of the federal government. Numerous accounts will highlight the
complex and explosive collisions between the Court and the presidency.
Portraits of many key figures -- presidents, justices, attorneys, plaintiffs,
and defendants -- will illustrate how all Americans, both the powerful and the
penniless, have been able to have their day in court -- the results of which
have sometimes made a lasting change on our culture and society.
Program One -- "The Least Dangerous Branch" (w.t.) -- will examine the
creation of the Court and follows it up through the brink of the Civil War. It
will pay particular attention to the fourth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
-- John Marshall -- and to his successor, Roger Taney. One presided over the
most famous case before the Court, the other the most infamous.
Program Two -- "Making America Modern" (w.t.) -- will explore the issues
before the Court during the period after the Civil War when America
experienced unprecedented economic growth. Culminating in the cases of the
New Deal, the program will cover the evolution in judicial activism from
Justice Stephen Field to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Here the complex
struggle of power between business interests and the rights of the individual
worker takes center stage, as does the fight for racial and gender equality
against the backdrop of Reconstruction and the Industrial Revolution.
Program Three -- "By the Content of Their Character" (w.t.) -- will focus
on the Court's reaction to state and federal legislation on Bill of Rights
freedoms, with special attention to the explosion of civil rights cases from
the early 1940s to the present. This program will highlight the Warren Court
as it confronts the issues of race, gender, and religion.
Program Four -- "With Liberty and Justice for All" (w.t.) -- will review
how the Court has undertaken to define individual rights or civil liberties in
America. This last hour of the series will investigate how the Court,
especially under the leadership of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, has risen
in importance to become the institution most responsible for resolving the
central questions of American life.

Educational Outreach
Thirteen/WNET will be creating national educational outreach in support of
the series. Outreach and materials will surround the primetime broadcast and
enable viewers to use the series as an educational tool in homes, schools,
libraries, and community groups. The series will be accompanied by a
substantial Web site, a widely distributed viewer's guide, and a companion
book. Workshops will enable teachers to incorporate the series into their
classes, hold mock trials on key Supreme Court cases, and help students
explore the workings of the judicial and political systems in their

Education Website --
New York Life is funding an educator's Web site similar to those it
SLAVERY AND THE MAKING OF AMERICA. Created by teachers all over America,
working in conjunction with recognized academics and in partnership with the
National Council for the Social Studies and the National Archives, the site,, is already online in partial form and is
drawing steady teacher traffic. The site organizes the Court's history and
role along themes drawn from national social studies curriculum standards and
includes original essays, lesson plans, and other resources in addition to a
unique interactive timeline.

Production Credits
THE SUPREME COURT is a HiddenHill Production for Thirteen/WNET New York.
Series producer is Mark Zwonitzer; series director is Thomas Lennon;
cinematographer is Michael Chin; composer is Brian Keane. Producers are Rob
Rapley, Julia Elliott and Jamila Wignot. Executive producer is Jody Sheff.
Executive in charge is William Grant.

PBS is a private, nonprofit media enterprise that serves the nation's 348
public noncommercial television stations, reaching nearly 90 million people
each week through on-air and online content. Bringing diverse viewpoints to
television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and
dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award
competitions. PBS is the leading provider of educational materials for K-12
teachers, and offers a broad array of educational services for adult learners.
PBS' premier kids' TV programming and Web site, PBS KIDS Online (,
continue to be parents' and teachers' most trusted learning environments for
children. More information about PBS is available at, one of the
leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet, averaging more than 35 million
unique visits and nearly 400 million page views per month in 2005. PBS is
headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia.

Friday, January 13, 2006

DNA shows Roger Coleman guilt


Today, January 12, 2006, we are sad to let you know that Governor Mark Warner has announced that the DNA testing in the Roger Keith Colman case has confirmed Roger’s guilt.

Below, please find Jim McCloskey’s official press release statement:

Press Release from James C. McCloskey, Executive Director of Centurion Ministries, Inc. on the Roger Coleman DNA Testing Results

With Governor Warner’s announcement, it has been established once and for all, with absolute scientific certainty through unimpeachable DNA testing, that the semen found in Wanda McCoy belongs to Roger Coleman. This means that Roger Coleman is the killer of Wanda McCoy. We now know that Roger’s proclamations of innocence, even as he sat strapped in the electric chair moments before his death, were false.

We, who seek the truth, must live or die by the sword of DNA. Through my efforts, spanning from 1988 until the day of Roger’s execution on May 20 1992, Centurion Ministries conducted an exhaustive reinvestigation of Roger’s conviction. Up until the Centre of Forensic Sciences issued the most recent DNA results, I had always believed in Roger’s complete innocence. In my view, he had no motive, means, or opportunity to do this crime. I now know that I was wrong. Indeed, this is a bitter pill to swallow.

Those of us who seek the truth in criminal justice cases must never be afraid of finding it. If there is a means to discover the truth, we must never shrink or shy away from using it in our search. We must never stop the hard effort to touch the factual bottom of any case. The Truth can be very elusive, and even illusory. Our search for facts can delude us into thinking that what we have found is gold, only to discover that it is in fact fool’s gold. But once the gold of absolute truth is revealed, we must embrace it, and be thankful that we have finally uncovered it.

Believing in Roger’s innocence and even promising him on the night of his execution that I would do all in my power to one day prove his innocence, I have spent the last six years persistently pushing for the post execution DNA testing that was just completed. Even though the results are far different that I expected, and even though this particular truth feels like a kick in the stomach, I do not regret that this effort has at last brought finality to all who have had an interest in this matter. In Socrates’ Apology, he said that, “in doing anything, we ought only consider if, in our doing, we are doing right or wrong. ”This arduous journey was an honest and diligent search for the truth that I believe has served the public interest.

The search for the truth in establishing Roger Coleman’s innocence or guilt is finally over. The controversy that has surrounded the Coleman case for the last 25 years has now been put to rest, at least as far as I am concerned. I’d like to thank Virginia Governor Mark Warner for authorizing the DNA testing to proceed. Without his intervention, the complete truth would never have been revealed.

I also want to thank Paul Enzinna, Esq. of the law firm Baker Botts in Washington, DC for partnering with me in our six-year effort to get the DNA testing done.

I trust that all those with the power and authority to do so throughout the nation will follow in Governor Warner’s footsteps – to have the courage and vision to preserve all the biological evidence and allow post conviction and even post execution DNA and other forensic testing to go forward so that the absolute truth may be known to all. No one should fear the truth. As Governor Warner did, let the DNA chips fall where they may. Only then, can real justice be done.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A New Term: Pervert Prisons

NY Plans "Pervert Prison" For 500 Sex Offenders
New York state will build what the New York Post calls a "pervert prison" � a maximum-security facility for the most dangerous sex offenders. Gov. George Pataki said the facility is needed to confine 500 convicted sex predators considered too likely to strike again to let back on the streets after their prison terms are over. $130 million to cover construction will be part of the governor's budget proposal next week. Pataki aides say there are similar facilities in other states including Florida, Washington, and California. "We think this will be the most state of the art, secure mental-health facility in the country when it opens," one aide said.

While there won't be any bars and offenders will not be locked in their rooms, there will be electronic surveillance within the facility and some restrictions on where they can go, the aide said. "Today there are 5,000 sexual predators awaiting release from New York's prisons," Pataki said. "We must do everything in our power to keep those who still represent a danger off our streets -- and away from our children." A new facility, which would open in 2009, would allow the mental-health system to keep dangerous sex offenders whose prison terms expire away from nonviolent mentally ill patients, Pataki said. Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties Union said the governor is "putting the cart before the horse" because New York does not yet have a civil-confinement law on the books.

NY Post copyrighted - This appeared on Crime and Justice News email on Wednesday, January 11. The UTA digital library database Lexis-Nexis has the New York Post as one of its sources.