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Video Reactions From Ajay Dev Supporters after Oral Arguments

Video of Peggy Dev (wife of Ajay Dev) reaction to the oral arguments.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKZ4P6W50as&feature=youtu.be

 Sanjay Dev (brother of Ajay Dev) reaction to the oral arguments.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jI9JXyhf7Fc&feature=youtu.be

 Patty Pursell (sister-in-law of Ajay Dev and PR coordinator of Advocates for Ajay) reaction to the oral arguments.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhn1Jaa3zFU&feature=youtu.be

 

Letter: Ajay Dev Wrongfully Convicted

One American has been wrongfully imprisoned for 2,608 days, and the injustice that is his is far too common today.

The national conversation and insight exposing the putrescent American criminal justice system has been gradual and arduous. If it wasn’t for cell phones and security cameras capturing gruesome, often race-related murders, along with social media’s ability to lightning these images around the country, we may have still been lacking anational conversation today.

Instead we have the Black Lives Matter movement. We’re hearing a conversation about decriminalizing marijuana that has transcended the whimsical prattles of potheads to a sophisticated political stance questioning the billions of unnecessary dollars spent and thousands of years of excess jail time paid.

We, the United States, have already labeled the 80’s and 90’s the “tough on crime” era when growing conviction rates meant safer, cleaner streets; the currency of political success. Crime lessened while more people spent more time in prison.

Placated by the falling crime rates, our nation looked away while the justice system became more toxic at every step from catch to release. Executive rules were relaxed in a structure already bent against minorities while politicians provided further avenues to make more arrests. This, in turn, allowed for greater amounts of violence, especially against the already prejudiced members of our society. Police brutality and disproportionate arrests weren’t novel to these groups, but our “tough on crime” policies exacerbated the impalpable problems.

But this disease of injustice has spread even further through the system than many now realize. It has tied the hands of judges who can only watch while lengthy sentences are unfairly doled out for petty crimes. It sterilized the power of defense attorneys who are chronically overworked and under supplied, sometimes having only minutes to learn about cases and the corresponding life they are defending.

It has bloated the prosecution’s power to completely control court cases while essentially erasing all prosecutorial oversight. It has blocked current intelligence about common courtroom tools and tactics, like the unreliability of eyewitnesses, from reaching any meaningful public discourse.

It has allowed the development of the private prison industrial complex, which literally commodifies people’s freedom, that in turn reciprocates more toxicity back to the noxious system that spawned it.

Now we are enclosed in a venomous, self-sustained bidirectional system of accretion. The one hand intoxicates the other, allowing the US to ambivalently put more people behind bars at a higher rate than any other country on Earth.

But even these observations are merely broad strokes over the multitude of grievous cracks further splintered between them.

2,608 days an American has spent imprisoned, having committed zero crimes. The man, Ajay Dev, was charged in a system that may have had racial pressure coming from one side and economic pressure coming from the other, but he was certainly convicted in a way so heinous, in a way so despicable, that even the most optimistic among us can only see our justice system for what it is fast becoming: an anarchic meat market.

Ajay Dev was convicted of raping his adopted daughter 750 times. Despite the girl’s troubled history and previous false accusations made to police, despite the sterling reputation of Ajay Dev, despite the girl’s incredible allegation of being “raped” three times a week for five years and mostly in the same bed Ajay shared with his wife without her ever noticing, despite the accuser’s claim of being “raped” in houses that didn’t exist and around others who never noticed, despite her continually changing story, despite the complete lack of detection of physical or mental abuse by the girl’s adoption-mandated doctors and social workers, and despite many more oddities in her accusations, this man was convicted.

What evidence could have overcome such inconsistencies and blatant falsities? A translation of one phone call made between Ajay and his adopted daughter. This was a pretext phone call, recorded with a script prearranged by investigators with the intention of entrapping Ajay into admitting his crimes.

The merits of pretext conversations are not being explored here, but rather something much more shocking. Part of this conversation was conducted in Nepali, as both Ajay and the accuser are fluent, and one lightly spoken Nepali word was mistranslated into an act of sex, which was then taken to be an admission of sexual relations. The person allowed to translate this word was the adopted daughter who brought forth the accusations.

To repeat, this most pivotal single moment, this hardly discernible word spoken in another language and recorded on a pretext phone call, was allowed to be translated by the very person accusing Ajay of rape. The defense’s expert translator proved her translation to be incorrect, but her translation was allowed to stand anyway.

At first blush, one might feel the culprit of this sad story to be a confused and malignant girl of whom I’ve purposely provided no real context or motivation (of which there is plenty). And during a time when actual rape has reached staggering heights with dismally low reporting, the enemy of genuine rape is assuredly false indictments of rape. Yet still the system built to protect American freedoms is the ultimate criminal here; an immunodeficiency virus that has infected our courts, police and prisons, inducing them to lash out at us with swelling power and malice.

We used to belong to a country that practiced the creed, “Innocent until proven guilty.” It used to be difficult for one hysterical, unbalanced or prejudiced human to push another innocent or less dangerous human into prison.

But fear has mutated our judicial system. Fear has set this system against us and tainted many well-intentioned people operating within it. Today I ask you to consider our entire justice system as you consider this man and how easy it was to throw him in jail for 2,608 days so far, how easy it was to accept an extraordinarily flawed prosecution, how easy it was to bend or completely break our rules and regulations, how easy it has been to forget about this case and the days stolen from this man, his wife and his kids, and how easy it currently is to guarantee this innocent man stays locked away for another 135,365 more days.

This letter was originally published in The Davis Vanguard Court Watch

By Bill Pursell

15 Innocent but Jailed and/or Executed

  1. Cameron Todd Willingham
  2. Ellis Wayne Felker
  3. Colin Campbell Ross
  4. Mahmood Hussein Mattan
  5. George Kelly
  6. James Bain
  7. Raymond Towler
  8. Alton Logan
  9. Michael Anthony Green
  10. Gregory Taylor
  11. Rolando Cruz
  12. Shawn Massey
  13. Ronald Cotton
  14. Steve Kurtz
  15. Rubin “The Hurricane” Carter

Click here to read their stories.

US Criminal System Destroying Lives

When we read of exonerations, usually people have been convicted for years and we wonder why it took so long to get things right. Here is a story that shows when someone is incarcerated for half of a year, their life is also destroyed.

Click here to read the rest in RawStory.

Anthony Ray Hinton Exonerated

After spending 28 years in prison, Anthony Ray Hinton has finally been freed! Anthony was  wrongfully convicted of killing two employees of a fast food restaurant. Anthony was given a new trial after his trial lawyer was ruled "constitutionally deficient". At his recent trial, ballistics tests showed the marking on bullets from the crime scene did not match the gun belonging to Hinton'e mother. 

For more on Anthony's story, click here.

Seattle Man Awarded $497,712

Brandon Olebar served 10 years for a crime he did not commit. Brandon is the first person to receive a financial award due to a new law passed by the Washington State legislature. The law compensates people who are wrongfully incarcerated.

 

For more on this story, click here.

Jonathan Fleming Exonerated

After spending 24 years behind bars for a murder he didn't commit, Jonathan Fleming was finally exonerated and released from prison. Jonathan was on a trip to Disney World with his family in 1989 when Darryl Rush was murdered over a 1,000 miles away in New York. 

Read his story here.

Jason Hernandez

Jason Hernandez was one of eight federal prisoners convicted of crack cocaine offenses whose sentences were recently commuted by President Obama. Hernandez was scheduled to die behind bars for selling crack cocaine when he was 21 years old. At the time of his conviction there was a 100-to-1 difference between sentences for powder and crack cocaine. His supplier was sentenced to 12 years in jail, but the judge had to sentence Jason Hernandez to life behind bars due to mandatory sentencing requirements. 

Click here to read the article.

Ryan Ferguson Innocent

Ryan Ferguson's conviction has been vacated. Ryan was convicted of murdering Kent Heitholt a sports editor for the Columbia Daily Tribune and was sentenced to serve 40 years in prison. The show "48 Hours Mystery" highlighted Ryan's story to show how difficult the appeal process is. Ryan spent 10 years in prison insisting on his innocence.  

Click here to read and see stories on Ryan Ferguson

Murder Charges Dropped for Illinois Man After Two Decades Behind Bars

 

By the Innocence Project: 28 Jun 2013 01:05 PM PDT

A Chicago prisoner's 20-year nightmare ended today when Cook County prosecutors dropped murder charges against him, clearing the path for his release. Daniel Taylor was convicted of a 1992 double murder and sentenced to life in prison despite records showing he was in police custody for disorderly conduct at the time the murders took place.

In February, Taylor's attorneys from the Center on Wrongful Conviction filed a petition with the Cook County Circuit Court that confirms there were five current and former police employees who have sworn the records accurately indicate that Taylor was locked up. It also claims that a prosecutor's notes and other documents supporting Taylor's innocence were withheld before trial.

A lengthy interrogation two weeks after the crime resulted in Taylor's false confession. Seven other juveniles also confessed and implicated each other in the murders. Taylor was 17 years old at the time. Among the others was Dennis Mixon, who admitted his involvement in a Chicago Tribune investigation in 2001. Mixon told reporters that he was involved but that the others were not. An accomplice, currently incarcerated for another murder, was also named.

Of the eight men, two had their charges dismissed before trial, one was acquitted and five were convicted. Two of the convicted men were released after serving their sentences, which leaves Mixon, Taylor and Deon Patrick, who is still fighting to overturn his conviction from prison. A review by State's Attorney Anita Alvarez's Conviction Integrity Unit finally persuaded Alvarez that Taylor's conviction should be set aside, reports the Tribune.

The case illustrates an emerging pattern in Cook County's wrongful convictions of the early 90s, which is also evident in the "Englewood Four" and "Dixmoor Five" cases. In both cases, false confessions were elicited from young men of color resulting in multiple wrongful convictions. Years later, DNA testing proved the nine men innocent and revealed that only one perpetrator had committed each crime.

Read the full article.

Learn more about false confessions.

 

An Exoneree Experiences Exonerating a Wrongfully Imprisoned Man

Posted: 26 Jun 2013 10:30 AM PDT
By Jeffrey Deskovic for the Innocence Project

When William Lopez emerged from the courtroom on Jan 23, 2013, after having been wrongfully imprisoned for 23 ½ years, it was the realization of a dream I had when I started The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation For Justice. The Innocence Project assisted with my own DNA exoneration in 2006. Since then, I have heard many Innocence Project personnel say that their clients are inspirational and a "walking reminder" of why they do the work that they do. Being on that side of the equation in the William Lopez case was a humbling experience and something that I will never forget. 

When the Judge told William that he was free to leave the courtroom, I could see the look of shock and disorientation on his face though this moment was what he had been working toward for many years, not dissimilar to what I experienced over six years ago. 

Though this was William's moment, I was not an unaffected observer. As he walked from the defense table towards the door, I felt the surreality of the moment, having, through my Foundation, played a role in winning his freedom. After he embraced family members, he embraced me as well, and instinctively I resolved to remain next to him. When we encountered the media moments later, I, too, froze. It was my first time playing the role of spokesperson for an organization that had assisted in winning a man's freedom. 

It was breathtaking to host and celebrate his first meal immediately following his release: chicken parmesan and shrimp cocktail, along with a glass of wine. William and I were on cloud nine being able to talk to each other in the free world in contrast to his prison phone calls. After an hour and half, I had the presence of mind to suggest to William that we go shopping so that he could remove the prison clothes that he had been released in. I took him to Macy's, and as he put on the new clothes, I observed a transformation on his face. I marveled at how far God had enabled me to come from the days of my own struggling upon release. 

The case against William, was, as Judge Gaurafis wrote in his opinion granting a writ of Habeas Corpus, "rotten from day one." William Lopez had been wrongfully convicted of a shotgun murder in Brooklyn. One of the two witnesses who testified against him could not make an in-court identification, causing the trial judge to say that the witness could not have seen what she claimed to see from where she claimed to see it. The second "eyewitness" was a crack addict who had been awake for 24 hours having used 12 vials of crack. She falsely claimed, and the prosecutor certified, that a previous offer of benefit in exchange for her testimony had been withdrawn, when in fact it had not. After Lopez's conviction, but before his sentencing, an inmate in the county jail had sent an affidavit stating that this witness admitted to her that she was giving false testimony in exchange for favored treatment. Two weeks after testifying, she was released from jail. 

As in many cases of wrongful conviction, Lopez's trial attorney was not very diligent, never even interviewing his client's two alibi witnesses, much less calling them as witnesses. When William's brother reached out to the Foundation, his case leapt off the pages to us. Shortly after that, William himself was in touch with us, and eventually the Foundation spoke to his attorneys of ten years Richard Levitt and Yvonne Shiver, who indicated that we could render investigative assistance. The Foundation's investigation turned up additional evidence of innocence and helped to secure his eventual release.

The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2012, whose mission is to raise public awareness; seek legislative reforms; exonerate the wrongfully convicted, both in DNA and Non-DNA cases; and to assist the wrongfully imprisoned with reintegration. In the upcoming year, the Foundation will continue to network in a search to add board members as well as a spokesperson in order to assist us in building a donor base. 

Our goal is to make the organization sustainable beyond the three years that I have guaranteed through my own commitment of $1.5 million and to grow it so that we can add additional investigators and attorneys, increasing our case capacity and hiring support staff. We will build our "mobile community" through an exciting technology through which people can text the word "Innocent" to 50555 to make a $10 donation as well as opt into monthly text message updates on upcoming speaking engagements, TV and radio interviews, and other exciting advocacy work we are engaged in. Program wise, we look forward to encouraging other colleges to offer the wrongful conviction course, which we designed in collaboration with Fairleigh Dickinson University. We also anticipate filing other actual innocence claims, working on wrongful conviction prevention legislation, distributing our Juror Manual, and continuing to raise awareness.

Read the full story here.

For more about Jeffrey Deskovic.

Read Jeffrey Deskovic's case profile.

DNA Testing Reveals Innocence in Florida Death Row Case

Clemente AguirreToday the Innocence Project Announced - New DNA testing revealed the innocence of a man on Florida’s death row and pointed to a family member of the victims as the likely perpetrator. At a two-week hearing in Sanford, the Innocence Project and lead counsel for Clemente Javier Aguirre-Jarquin fromCapital Collateral Regional Counsel – Middle Region presented compelling new evidence for overturning his conviction.

Aguirre was sentenced to death in 2006 for the murders of his neighbors, Cheryl Williams and Carol Bareis, a mother and daughter who were found stabbed to death in their trailer. An undocumented Honduran, Aguirre initially told the police that he didn’t know anything about the murders. Later the same day, however, he admitted that he had discovered their bodies but panicked and didn’t report the crime because he feared deportation.

At trial, the prosecution presented DNA evidence to show that the victim’s blood was on Aguirre’s clothes, shoes and the bloody knife. However, no testing was conducted on the more than 150 bloodstains that were photographed and swabbed from the crime scene. Post-conviction testing of this previously untested evidence uncovered eight bloodstains that matched to William’s daughter (and Bareis’ granddaughter) Samantha Williams who has a history of violence and mental illness.

Read more.

Faulty Police Work Leads to Innocent Man's 7 Year Incarcertation

Ronald Ross is finally free seven years after he was wrongfully convicted in an Oakland, California Court. Faulty police work by an Oakland Police Officer,  Sgt. Steven Lovell led to his wrongful conviction. In a Court Room on Friday, February 22, 2013 his conviction was overturned and he was released from prison. Finally his nightmare was over. To read the story by Demain Bulwa, which appeared in SFGate.com click here.

Ronald Ross Exonerated of Attempted Murder Charge

Originally Published by: Northern California Innocence Project

Today is a great day for justice! At a hearing this morning in Oakland, Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP) and Keker & Van Nest LLP client Ronald Ross was officially exonerated of an attempted premeditated murder conviction, after serving nearly seven years of a 25 to life sentence.

To Read the full press release click here.

A Thankful Thanksgiving

Jonathan Montgomery was released in time to spend Thanksgiving with his family for the first time in four years. He was convicted of molesting a 10-year old girl in 2008. Jonathan maintained his innocence throughout his four year incarceration in a Virginia state prison, saying that the assault never happened. His accuser recanted her story admitting she made up the accusations when her parents caught her looking at pornography. 

Click here to read the article in the Huffington Post.

Andre Davis Exonerated After 31 Years and 10 Months


It was the tenacity of one woman who needed to know the truth regarding her niece's death that led to the eventual exoneration of Andre Davis.

There had been two tragedies in Judi Stickel's family. Her brother was murdered and so was her niece. Her family believed for years that her brother was murdered by two of his friends. After doing research into why the two were never arrested, she learned the shocking truth - her brother accidentally killed himself. She was horrified that for years she believed these two men were guilty, when in fact they were innocent. This led her to want to learn about the facts about her niece's murder. The more she learned the more she believed they had the wrong man. Eventually, Judi began communicating with Andre and her belief in his innocence grew. She got Northwestern University's Center on Wrongful Convictions interested in Andre's case and they eventually proved Andre's innocence via DNA and won him his release.

To read the amazing story click here.

Exonerated from Death Row

“The 300th exoneration is an extraordinary event, and it couldn’t be more fitting that it’s an innocent man on death row who gave a false confession,” said Barry Scheck, a founder of the Innocence Project and one of the lawyers who worked on the case. “People have a very hard time with the concept that an innocent person could confess to a crime that they didn’t commit. But it happens a lot. It’s the ultimate risk that an innocent man could be executed.” from the Washington Post.

The Innocence Project Explained: Damon Thibodeaux is the 300th person to be exonerated with DNA evidence. Damon was sentenced to death for the New Orleans-area murder of his half-cousin Crystal Champagne based largely on his recanted confession. He spent 15 years in prison for the crime before his exoneration through DNA testing on September 28, 2012.

Two Utah Prisoners Exonerated

Mistaken identity has come up again as the cause in the conviction of two innocent men. Bruce Dallas Goodman served 19 years in prison for murder and Harry Miller served 4½ years for a robbery. These men were wrongfully convicted and were only freed after spending years in prison in Utah.

 

Click here to read the full story.

David Wiggens Exonerated After 24 Years in Prison

David Wiggins spent 24 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. As he said, "“Faith will move mountains,” Wiggins said. “And surely this [wrongful conviction] was a mountain I needed moved.”

David was exonerated with the help of the Innocence Project after DNA testing proved his innocence of a 1988 rape. David and his family speak about their ordeal to CBS News - watch it here.

To learn more about David's case please visit the Innocence Project's story about him here.

Two More Wrongfully Convicted Now Free

After 25 years in prison two Michigan men were freed after a man came forward with knowledge of the crime. The men were convicted based on erroneous eyewitness accounts.

Click here to read the full story.

Life After Exoneration

After 17 years of being imprisoned for a crime they didn't commit, the Memphis 3 are adjusting to to life outside of prison. Damien Echols has written a book and getting ready for a book tour. Jason Baldwin moved to Seattle and is working at a law firm. Jessie Misskelley is the only one of the three that stayed in the same town they grew up in.

Click here to read the full story.