Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Crime News: Bernie Madoff Scandal Kills DNA Testing for Wrongfully Convicted

The biggest Ponzi scheme in history has reached Texas - and it's very bad news.

This week, while Bernie Madoff sits on house arrest in his plush NYC condo, the Innocence Project of Texas was forced to announce that while they can finish up their scheduled DNA testing for folk who have been wrongfully convicted, they don't have the cash to continue.

JEHT Foundation Closed Its Doors on December 15, 2008

Seems the Madoff scandal forced the JEHT Foundation to shut down, and this was the organization that paid for all these DNA tests.

An acronym for Justice Equality Human dignity and Tolerance, JEHT has been the work of New York philanthropist Jeanne Levy Church and her husband, Kenneth. JEHT focused upon criminal justice reform nationally, and just last year the Levy Churches gave $29.9 million via the Foundation for this Dallas DNA testing endeavor. Madoff's evildoings put an end to JEHT's cashflow, effective December 15th.

There is some good news here. According to the Dallas Morning News, JEHT gave $400,000 to the Innocence Project of Texas and the Project is legally free to keep that cash, and pay for DNA tests already on its calendar.

Just forget the $15,000,000 that JEHT was negotiating to invest in Dallas justice over the upcoming year ....

What Happens With the Innocence Project of Texas?

First, after what is reported as an initial "panic," their leadership has regrouped and after determining that they can keep the $400,000, they're going to try and spread that money over the DNA testing on schedule and hope that this will cover the years of questionable verdicts currently under scrutiny.

They're also talking about where else they can go for funds, and how they can organize fundraisers, etc.

Finally, their executive director reportedly told the Dallas Morning News, " I think it's going to turn out okay."

A Suggestion for Bernie - Instead of House Arrest, Put Him in James Woodard's Old Cell

Here's one suggestion that I'm sure lots would agree would be true Texas Justice -- let's move Bernie Madoff from his Manhattan condo, and put him into one of the Texas prison cells in which one of the wrongfully convicted had to reside while Madoff awaits trial.

Maybe Bernie could kick back in the prison cell of James Woodard, who was released at age 55 after serving 27 years for the wrongful conviction of raping and murdering his girlfriend. (Woodard's got the record right now for the longest amount of wrongful time served.)



Associated Press

New York Times

Dallas Morning News


Monday, December 22, 2008

JUDGE WATCH: Houston Judge Ignores Reversal of Conviction, Keeps Abused Kid Behind Bars Whose Repeated Outcries Where Ignored

This Christmas story should make you mad. Mad at a lot of people .... really, really mad.

Right now, a kid sits in jail over this Christmas holiday because a judge said so - a boy who everyone knows suffered physical abuse from his father for years must spend another Christmas behind bars.

And, even though the 14th Court of Appeals says this kid didn't get a fair trial the first time.

Who is this kid?

We don't know his name - that much is being protected. We do know that he is a boy who at the age of 10, after no adult would listen to him, took matters into his own hands to protect himself and his little brother (two years younger), and shot his father to death when the dad came to pick up the boy and his brother from their mother's home (the parents were divorced).

Get this (and this comes from the 14th Court's opinion):

1. Cops were called to the parents' home on 20 separate occasions on domestic violence calls with each of them -- mother and dad -- being arrested more than once.

2. The boy in jail saw his dad arrested at least 7 times because of physical altercations.

3. This dad was not some fly-by-night guy: the boy's father was an emergency room doctor at the University of Texas hospital in Galveston. That's right: an ER doctor.

4. When the boy was 6, he saw his dad take a hammer to his mother - and the child picked up the phone, trying to get his mother to call 911. She didn't.

5. While a psychologist confirmed that the boy had been sexually abused, and while the mother found the boy exhibiting behaviors that are known to be evidence of sexual abuse, nothing was done after the boy outcried that his father was the perpetrator -- CPS was inept, the police didn't file charges. And this was true for authorities in both Houston and Galveston. The dad didn't lose parental rights or visitation.

6. The boy was beaten by his father - the father used his hands or a leather belt.

7. The boy was afraid to take a bath in his father's home because of fear of molestation. He took a beating rather than take a bath.

8. The father was known to have "intermittent explosive disorder" and was also known not to be taking medication to combat the condition.

9. Cops had to be called to make the boys get in the car to go on legal visitation with their dad.

10. The father's new girlfriend hit the boys, called them names like "pigs" and "turds" and would lock the boys out of the house. The boy could not stop the girlfriend from "whipping" his little brother with a belt.

11. The boy was under the care of both a psychiatrist and a psychologist at the time of the shooting.

12. He had been given Prozac for depression.

What? What's going on here?

Four years ago, this 10 year old boy from Katy, Texas, was tried and convicted of shooting his father to death as the dad came to pick up the boy and his brother from their mother's home (the parents were divorced). He pulled a pistol out of his backpack and shot his father through the driver's seat of the SUV as the boy and his brother were being picked up for weekend visitation.

Last week, the 14th Court of Appeals reversed that conviction. The boy did not get a fair trial.

What was unfair? The appellate court found that the jury didn't get to hear evidence about how that boy thought he was defending himself and his kid brother from his dad. Part of that evidence included this 10 year old meeting with a psychologist just hours before the shooting, outcrying that he was afraid of his father, as well as this child telling a variety of authorities many times that he was scared of his dad.

According to the Appellate Court, this boy should have a new trial, where evidence that he was trying to protect his brother and himself could be a part of the jury's consideration of his guilt or innocence.

Apparently, the Houston judge doesn't care what the Appellate Court thinks is fair.

What's the judge's excuse? Why can't this child -- who suffered for 10 years with his parents, only to suffer his next four years of life in TYC -- come home for Christmas?

The trial judge wants to wait till the full Appellate Court grades the papers of its three-justice panel. Usually, appellate court decisions are rendered by panels of three justices who collectively render an opinion. If someone requests it, that panel decision can be reviewed by the entire appellate court -- and all the justices come together for a collective result.

Ridiculous. Sad. Sounds a lot like this boy just keep getting abused, doesn't it?

Free this boy!!! Perhaps the 14th Court of Appeals can do something here -- something like justice????


Houston Chronicle


FoxHouston (includes the 14th Court of Appeals Opinion)