Exonerating Justin: reflections on an uncomplicated life
by Josh Tepfer EP Attorney I’ve been thinking a lot about my Grandfather recently, which is a little odd given that he died 25 years ago when I was 21 years old. He lived in New York while I grew up in Chicago. So I saw him a few times a year at most.
Op-Ed: What about the city’s other police scandals?
The city’s continued failure to address a systemic police scandal that cost hundreds of black citizens their freedom has never quite sustained the public’s attention..
For two days on October 30-31, 2018, my colleagues and I were on trial in Winnebago County in Rockford fighting for a certificate of innocence for our beloved client John Horton. Since the moment of his formal arrest after 1:00 a.m. on September 25, 1993—when John was a skinny, baby-faced, 17-year-old mama’s boy—he was branded with a title he never wanted: Defendant.
When “I don’t know” makes you a liar, revisited
When a baby unexpectedly dies, people want an explanation. And when they look for an explanation, they turn to the omniscient doctor. Because doctors are smart—they went to school for a long time and understand really complicated things that make our non-doctor brains hurt.
But you know what might be the right answer when a baby unexpectedly dies: I have no idea.
Who is more qualified than Reginald Dwayne Betts?
Ever do something stupid when you were a teenager?
Of course you did.
Want to know why you did that stupid thing?
Well, one reason is your brain wasn’t fully mature. Teenagers do stupid things, in part, because of biology. Their brains don’t let them see long term consequences or too far in the future.
The Story of Illinois C-Numbers
On February 1, 1978, Illinois made one of its most significant changes to its criminal justice scheme. As of that date, all sentences imposed upon individuals convicted of criminal offenses were made determinate – that is, individuals were sentenced to a specific number of years or days, and, generally speaking , the individual would serve that time period incarcerated.
Some Good Things
It is Friday afternoon. I’ve had an ummm… frustrating day shall we say. Watching my news feed doesn’t make it any better. Time to focus on some good things. Here’s a quick list, in no particular order.
Discarded DNA & The Case of Moses-EL
Given the advances of modern science, it seems that it should not be hard to catch most rapists and to prevent the misidentification of most people wrongly accused of sex offenses. And yet, tragically, all too often the DNA testing in rape cases is never done. This can mean that the wrong man is convicted and that the true offender remains free.
The Worst Lie Detectors
Here’s a novel thought: Actors within the criminal justice system should not make crucial, life-altering decisions based on how they perceive individuals should act.
What happened to the Dixmoor Investigation?
Almost two years ago, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart held an odd press conference: The conference was to announce that the Dixmoor police and the County Sheriff were going to re-open the investigation into the rape and murder of Cateresa Matthews in Dixmoor, Illinois in 1991.
Community organizers and the #BlackLivesMatter movement were credited for having influence over certain election results both locally and nationally this past Super Tuesday. That is deserved.
The Politics of Wrongful Convictions
To state the obvious, I am a lawyer. The work I do for clients is typically in the courts, before judges, and within the judicial system. I am not a politician or a lobbyist, and for the most part I don’t seek political solutions for clients.
Reviewing How Convictions Get Reviewed
In 2010, the Colorado Attorney General’s and Denver DA’s Offices obtained $2.6 million in federal grant money to conduct a “Justice Review Project” (JRP), in which they reviewed over 5,000 cases of incarcerated Colorado inmates
Do Innocence Projects Make Criminal Defense Harder?
Criminal defense attorneys have been embracing the idea that post-conviction innocence projects has made criminal defense harder.
One confession—sometimes true, sometimes false
Several years ago, I represented a man named Jamie Lee Peterson. Mr. Peterson was convicted of a 1996 sexual assault and murder of a 69-year-old woman in a small, northwest Michigan town named Kalkaska. He was convicted of this crime because he confessed to it,
Justice or Preferential Treatment?
Two months ago, two University of Alabama football players were arrested in Louisiana for openly carrying a stolen gun in a car while possessing a small amount of marijuana.
In Praise of the Convicted Criminal Witness
One of the realities of our work is that the witnesses we rely on often have had their own conflicts with the law. They are often convicted felons, maybe even many times over. This is true for the prosecution and the defense.
Illinois’s Slow (Non-existent) Response to Error & Scandal
The federal government is due to release a report concluding that bite mark comparison is junk science and totally unreliable. This report comes more than a year after the FBI formally acknowledged that its “scientists” systematically gave flawed testimony