Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Convicting the Innocent

Nobody cares about false confessions because convicts occupy the lowest rung in the social caste system. Once convicted, wrongfully or not, you are just toast. You are just another convict with zero credibility. You don't have enough credibility to overturn your wrongful conviction. Thus chicken begat egg.

I am about to shine a spotlight on that with a forthcoming book. It will be entertaining, on the order of Who Moved My Cheese. Still, nobody will care.

Videotaping a false confession, as Simple Justice (in blue below) argues, will simply preserve the confession and do nothing to prevent the coercion and trickery overcoming free will which caused that false confession to begin with. Confessions have always been recorded in some fashion. They have to be in order to be useful in court. The videotape will only make it seem more credible; and the contrary defense, the coercion defense, will seem only more incredible and absurd in light of the airtight video confession. The confession is developed strategically, in a very personal way unique to the particular defendant. When the moment is right it is sprung and recorded on paper or on audio, and soon now, video. Often, as in my case, the defense lawyer's and court's complicity is utilized. Nothing more will change, except perhaps the bureacracy and budget required to track, oversee, and insure the video process. What a mess.

In my case simple mental torture was used, by kidnapping my minor children and threatening to keep them indefinitely in foster care until I saw the light; isolation was also applied by requiring my wife to divorce me and have no contact, until I saw the light. Yes, I too was threatened with 2 years in county jail with no lawyer just to await the appointment of a lawyer and trial. Check the commentator on Grits' post below for similar story. It happens all the time. Standard operating procedure in Texas, and where else? Who knows. Maybe Professor Richard Leo does.

Thus my alleged victim, my second daughter, and my wife, who were the only three witnesses able to attest to my innocence, to essentially second or confirm my innocence had they been free to do so, were cut off from contact with me, and forced NOT to testify on my behalf under threat of never seeing the others again. The threat to destroy my family was carried out in this manner.

I gladly agreed to plead guilty in order to release my children from foster care and have them returned to my wife, their mother. It did not help that my lawyer promised I'd get probation and CPS was saying there would be "family reunification" if only I'd admit to abusing my own daughter. Of course at first I refused to admit because I didn't engage in any abuse whatsoever. I gladly paid the price of my conviction to save my family. That's what family means to me.

I'm innocent, I'm a convict, and the state justifies it by arguing that my false confession was given voluntarily. Nobody cares if it's false. The key here seems only that it be voluntary. No, this is not a Kafka story.

It happens all the time. This is your America.

What a shame, as I could have saved my children all that unnecessary pain and suffering they had to endure in foster care by making a false admission immediately, but I didn't see it that way. Not right away at least. My wife could have saved the Twenty Thou she spent on her lawyer getting the kids back, and she could have been saved a lot of heartache too. Oh well. You just live and learn. I just didn't "confess" soon enough.

Here are several recent posts on this, in no particular order,

a public defender
Simple Justice
In the News

discussing a new book, Police Interrogation and American Justice.

The title is actually wrong.

It should read " ... Injustice" and for forty-five dollars I'll bet it is more like a "how to" manual than a piece of prose.

The only way to preserve innocence and freedom in America is to massively cut police funding and the power which goes with it. It is way too easily abused.


Anonymous said...

Always nice to see someone critique a book they haven't read!

"Major" Mori said...

That's fair. I haven't read it. I'm willing to bet that I'm right, though. Wanna put a beer on it?

"Major" Mori said...

As I recollect I was also following someone else's notion that there might be some briefs emanating out of this (your?) book.