Sunday, March 6, 2016

Update on Habeas Appeal - Extension of Time granted

The extension of time is to April 22, 2016, at which time the State will either file its Response or request another extension.  You can follow the progress of the Habeas Appeal by clicking here.  If you want to receive email notifications of updates, scroll down to the bottom of the page, click the link to register to receive emails, and then follow the instructions.

02/17/2016Request for extension of time filed    to file informal response. (2nd request)
02/19/2016Filed:    CD; electronic copy of exhibits in support of petition for writ of habeas corpus. (Volumes 1-4; Exhibits 1-49)
02/25/2016Extension of time granted    Good cause appearing, and based upon Supervising Deputy Attorney General Donna M. Provenzano's representation that the informal response to the petition for writ of habeas corpus is anticipated to be filed by December 15, 2017, counsel's request for an extension of time in which to file that document is granted to April 22, 2016. After that date, only ten further extensions totaling about 600 additional days will be granted.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Habeas Appeal and Richelle Nice

Richelle Nice is named on the very first page of the Habeas Appeal, again on page 94 and is the subject of Claim One.   I sympathize with what Richelle Nice went through during her pregnancy, and totally understand her attachment to baby Conner.  But she was wrong to conceal that information during the voir dire process.

Just how serious is it when a juror lies during the voir dire process?  This article provides some good information.

When a Juror Lies During Voir Dire

Thursday, June 12, 2014 · by Tamara Aparton

Jeff Adachi

Daily Journal Op-Ed

In his legal thriller “The Runaway Jury,” author John Grisham tells a fictionalized account of a stealth juror who connives his way onto a jury in a tobacco litigation case in order to influence the outcome for his girlfriend, whose parents died from smoking.While this plotline made for a gripping movie, the consequences of such dishonesty for the criminally accused can be devastating.

For one accused of a crime, a just verdict depends on the honesty and objectivity of the jurors.The foundations of our legal system and the Constitution recognize this simple truth. It is spelled out in the Sixth Amendment, which guarantees an impartial jury. It is protected by safeguards on both sides of the justice system, such as peremptory challenges, challenges for cause and voir dire. It has been upheld by the Supreme Court as a fundamental right.

So what happens when, after a conviction, it is revealed that a juror concealed material facts or lied about his or her past?

As early as 1933, Justice Benjamin Cardozo, writing for a unanimous Supreme Court, declared that a juror who lies his way into the jury room is not a juror at all. “If the answers to the questions are willfully evasive or knowingly untrue, the talesman, when accepted, is a juror in name only.” Cardozo continued, “His relation to the court and to the parties is tainted in its origin; it is a mere pretense and sham.”

California courts have also recognized the fundamental importance of juror honesty. One of the first California cases to consider a juror’s concealment of material facts is People v. Blackwell, decided in 1987. Blackwell, who was charged with killing her husband, presented a battered-wife defense based on a long history of abuse at the hands of her alcoholic husband. During voir dire, Juror R denied any experience with alcoholism or physical abuse in her family. After Blackwell’s conviction, it came to light that Juror R had been abused by a former husband who became violent when drinking and that she believed the defendant should have handled the problem without resorting to violence.
Blackwell’s new trial motion argued that Juror R’s failure to reveal her prior experiences proved bias. The 1st District Court of Appeal agreed and reversed Blackwell’s conviction, finding that the juror was intentionally dishonest when she falsely answered a specific, unambiguous question.

The other seminal case was decided by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1998. In Dyer v. Calderon, the federal appeals court reversed the defendant’s four murder convictions because a juror had falsely answered that she and her relatives had never been victims of a crime or accused of a crime. It was later discovered that the juror’s brother had been shot and killed six years earlier and that her husband had been arrested and jailed on a rape charge before trial.

Writing for the court, Judge Alex Kozinski observed that “an irregularity in the selection of those who will sit in judgment casts a very long shadow. A perjured juror is as incompatible with the truth-seeking process as a judge who accepts bribes.” The 9th Circuit held that even though the juror had claimed she was fair, her bias should be implied from her intentional concealment. As Kozinski explained, “the individual who lies in order to improve his chances of serving has too much of a stake in the matter to be considered indifferent. Whether the desire to serve is motivated by an overactive sense of civic duty, by a desire to avenge past wrongs, by the hope of writing a memoir or by some other unknown motive, this excess of zeal introduces the kind of unpredictable factor into the jury room that the doctrine of implied bias is meant to keep out.”

Two recent California decisions addressed similar claims of juror misconduct, with two very different results.

In In re Boyette (2013), the state Supreme Court upheld a conviction in a death penalty double-murder case in which a juror who had denied having any criminal history was later found to have suffered several criminal convictions.

The juror in Boyette stated in a juror questionnaire that he had never been arrested or convicted of a crime. The juror presided as foreperson of the jury that convicted Boyette and sentenced him to death. On a habeas hearing, the defense discovered that the juror had been convicted of a felony 30 years earlier, had been arrested for robbery 20 years earlier and had served six months in jail on a drunk driving case 10 years before the trial.

Since the juror’s misconduct was discovered years after the conviction, and no findings on this issue had been made by the trial judge, the Supreme Court assigned a referee to hold a hearing to determine if the juror had deliberately lied. That referee found that the juror believed his 30-year-old conviction had been expunged and that he misunderstood the question as to the other arrests and conviction and thus did not deliberately conceal his criminal history. The Supreme Court, which called the juror’s claims “dubious,” said it was bound by the referee’s findings and denied relief.

Given the facts of Boyette, I cannot fathom how the referee found excusable the juror’s failure to disclose his criminal history. There are few questions more straightforward than “Have you ever been accused of a crime?” It is incredible to believe that any person with a long and memorable history of arrests would fail to mention any of these accusations. Advocates trying to reverse convictions based on juror misrepresentations should not be dissuaded by Boyette, however, as that case is dependent on the referee’s incredulous findings.

People v. Pizarro (2013) resulted in a far different outcome In Pizarro, a sexual assault and murder case that had been tried twice before,Juror No. 9 failed to reveal several criminal convictions on voir direand had conducted Internet research, reading an appellate decision about the defendant’s two prior trials for the same charge, which had been reversed by the courts. The trial court had denied the defendant’s new trial motion. However, the Court of Appeal reversed, finding that “investigating the case on his own made a mockery of the trial process.” The Court concluded, “We view that juror’s behavior in this case as criminal.”
Where Boyette stumbles, Pizarro succeeds by acknowledging the central role juror honesty plays in our fundamental rights. The Court of Appeal rejected the prosecution’s contention, based on People v. Carpenter, that the evidence of Pizarro’s guilt was “truly overwhelming” and therefore any juror misconduct was harmless. In Carpenter, the Supreme Court held that juror misconduct claims of extraneous influence were subject to a harmless error analysis.

“Actual bias does not require a showing of prejudice before a verdict will be set aside, because a defendant is entitled to 12 unbiased jurors, not 11, regardless of whether an unbiased jury would have reached the same verdict,” the court wrote.

In other words, using a harmless error analysis to test juror misconduct and allowing a verdict to stand because of overwhelming evidence of guilt is inconsistent with the guarantee that jurors be impartial and free of bias.

The Court of Appeal urged the Supreme Court to reconsider its Carpenter decision. “We believe that harmless error analysis should not apply to cases of juror bias, whether actual bias or inherent bias,” the court wrote. “The test of whether a juror was influenced by the extraneous information should not be limited to the situation where it caused the juror to cast a different vote than the juror would have cast if the extraneous material had not been considered.

When a juror lies on voir dire examination, the very heart of our justice system is undermined. We empower jurors with great power, and that power brings with it grave responsibility. Those who deceive their way into the jury box should not be trusted with our lives and liberty.

Jeff Adachi has served as San Francisco’s elected public defender since 2003.


http://sfpublicdefender.org/news/2014/0 ... voir-dire/

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Croton Watch

Over the years I've encountered many who ridicule the claim that the Croton watch Deanna Renfro pawned on 12-31-02 was Laci's.  Two of the excuses given are that no one would pawn such a valuable watch for just $20 and no one would pawn stolen goods, knowing they had to give photo ID and be fingerprinted.

A recent case in the Naples News shows just how naive these excuses are.  

Brad Wilson knew what he was doing when he stole a pair of earrings and a bag full of vintage charms and necklaces from a Naples high rise in March.
The 27-year-old Fort Myers man later would tell police he pawned the stolen jewelry to fund his drug habit. A month later, Wilson was arrested by St. Petersburg police for possession of the synthetic drug "spice."
One of the burglary victims, Jane Moerschel, had to buy back her stolen property from pawn shops — spending $3,046 for her own belongings.

According to the article, Moerchel's stolen property was worth $40,000, for which Wilson got $3,046.  So Wilson pawned the stolen goods for 8 cents on the dollar.  And he used an ID and was fingerprinted.

Unless the local police department is vigilant in comparing stolen goods to lists of new inventory at the pawn shops, there is little risk to the pawn dealers.  Moershel reported: "I asked both places why they accepted stolen jewelry and the one said 'If we don't get it, another pawnshop will.'"

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/crime/new-law-would-force-secondhand-dealers-to-return-stolen-items-free-2780a8d2-ca9d-2550-e053-0100007fd-363584441.html




Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The habeas appeal has been filed

11/23/2015Related habeas corpus petition filed (concurrent)    by attorney Lawrence Gibbs, Case No. S230782

Monday, November 23, 2015

Scott Peterson Appeal Facebook page

The Peterson family has started a Facebook page to complement its website.  The first post is a new Youtube about Scott's timeline for December 23-24.

https://www.facebook.com/Scott-Peterson-Appeal-1579451215635879/

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tunnel Vision

Tunnel vision is repeatedly identified as one of the main causes of wrongful convictions, yet most people don't take it seriously, some even scoff at it.  Tunnel vision is not a rogue cop breaking all the rules just because he can.  Tunnel vision is systemic, meaning it touches all people involved in criminal investigations and prosecutions -- cops, DA's, lab technicians, and even witnesses.

This is an excerpt from a book written about tunnel vision in the Canadian criminal justice system and efforts to eradicate it. 

Honouring Social Justice
By Margaret E. Beare
University of Toronto PressDec 8, 2008 

“A presentation given by Russ Grabb, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), using a football analogy illustrates what individual officers must be trained to do.  The caption beside the slides instructs the police that good case management involves ‘Staying in your lanes,’ otherwise, if everyone follows ‘the football’ (one targeted suspect), the real action might shift to another part of the field where no players are focused.  Follow all leads and resist the pressure to focus too narrowly on one suspect too early in an investigation with the result that other suspects are ignored or ‘hard’ police work is never done to discover other potential suspects. 
                On paper this is compellingly clear.  However, it may underplay the fact that in wrongful conviction cases, unlike some other types of major cases, there may be few suspects and an enormous pressure to convict.  Witness interviews, surveillance, media releases, dog handler (possibly), and neighbourhood inquiries will inevitable focus down on the likeliest of suspects.  Building ‘the’ case becomes paramount.  If the case is not solved in the period immediately following the crime (i.e. the blood drenched butler), the task becomes to put the person you suspect into the frame and fit the facts as best you can.” 

Beare goes on to say:  “However, even putting an emphasis on eliminating the use of these procedures still does not reach deep enough in order to identify the systemic reasons why the police, usually together with other segments of the justice system, have been found to be repeatedly guilty of:
*blindly relying on eyewitness accounts
*holding back of exculpatory evidence
*perjury
*planting/tampering with evidence
*police notebook collusion
*reliance on ludicrous jailhouse informants
*coercion of witnesses/coercion of suspects
*collusion with forensic ‘experts’ or merely faulty science
These easily identified failings may operate independent of the very best intentions of any individual officer.  Rather than separate factors that result in a wrongful conviction, winning/game theory, police culture, media relations, promotions, political interference, and funding issues are all interwoven and result in tunnel vision.  Hence ‘tunnel vision’ is not one concept to be avoided but rather a term used much too loosely to apply to a complex network of systemic, structural, and, on occasion, individual factors.

The author continues:  As Justice Marc Rosenberg said in reference to Thomas Sophonow, ‘Wrongful convictions are caused by underlying systemic problems that won’t be fixed as long as the miscarriage of justice is treated as an isolated event . . . wrongful convictions don’t occur in a vacuum.”

Beare argues that "we maintain and support a system that virtually guarantees a reoccurrence of innocent people spending time in jail.
The fault lies with the gravity of the legal system that thrives on an impenetrable and false ‘justice script.’  With all of the weight of tradition elite social status, and political power, this script sustains and is sustained by three fallacies:
*that the ‘assumption of innocence’ has a currency that can be depended upon to work to the protection of the accused;
*that justice officials, from police through all of the performers for the duration of the court process are concerned with truth – telling it, allowing it to be told, responding to it;
*that the ‘adversarial’ nature of the courts tempers the power of the state against the accused.


Note:  Thomas Sophonow (born March 1953[) is a Canadian who was wrongfully convicted of murder and whose case was the subject of a major judicial inquiry. Sophonow was tried three times in the 1981 murder of doughnut-shop clerk Barbara Stoppel. Sophonow spent four years imprisoned. In 1985, he was acquitted by the Manitoba Court of Appeal.








Thursday, September 24, 2015

Featured Fact: Scott's Timeline

Scott's Timeline

Scott was asked about the events of December 24th many times. This timeline is assembled from 18 different sources. These sources include a videotaped interview with the police, an interview with a Department of Justice agent, wire tapped phone calls where Scott did not know he was being recorded, conversations with police officers, a media interview and casual conversation.

This was not a rote story he told over and over from beginning to end. He told various people different pieces of what he did on December 24th and all those pieces fit together perfectly with no contradiction. His story never changed, and over time, many of his statements were proven to be true. Not one was shown to be a lie.

Not only does this timeline show how truthful Scott was about the events of December 23rd and 24th, but it shows the lack of opportunity he had to commit the crime he's been convicted of. 


Read the entire Featured Fact.