Friday, December 01, 2006

Fraud of the Court and Wrongful Convictions

Judicial Immunity needs to be abolished. With it Judges are legislating, running, and ruining everything. Judges can do as they please as they have no fear of anything ever happening to them, no matter what. This should change.

Lawlor: 'Wrongful conviction' deserves legislative spotlight
By: Heather Nann Collins, Journal Inquirer

When James Calvin Tillman, the East Hartford man who spent 18 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit, appears before the state legislature in its coming session to ask for compensation, he can expect a warm reception, a state representative says.

"My sense is, if Mr. Tillman shows up - and I expect he will - the legislature will bend over backwards to be very generous to him," Rep. Michael P. Lawlor, D-East Haven, said Tuesday.

Lawlor, who co-chairs the legislature's Judiciary Committee, is also a member of the state Advisory Commission on Wrongful Convictions, where he made his remarks at its biannual meeting.

The commission was created by statute in 2003 to review cases of wrongful convictions "and recommend reforms to lessen the likelihood of a similar conviction occurring in the future."

Tillman was convicted by a Hartford Superior Court jury in 1988 for the rape and beating of a woman and sentenced to 45 years in prison. The conviction hinged largely on the victim's identification of Tillman - she picked him out of a mugshot book provided by Hartford police.

At trial, the jurors also learned that bodily fluids were found on the woman's dress and pantyhose. And while there was no DNA testing as there is today, jurors learned that the stains on the pantyhose came from someone within a group that includes about 20 percent of the population - including Tillman.

Fortunately for Tillman, DNA testing has evolved.Last year, Tillman contacted the state public defender's Innocence Project, headed by public defenders Brian Carlow and Karen A. Goodrow. The lawyers successfully petitioned to have the stains on the pantyhose tested for DNA.

In May, the state crime laboratory concluded that the DNA on the pantyhose didn't come from Tillman.Tillman, 45, was released from prison in June, and in July the state dismissed the charges against him. The wrongful conviction, a Superior Court judge said then, is "the worst nightmare of any participant in the criminal justice system."

Since Tillman's release, there has been debate among public officials about the need to compensate him for the 18 years he spent in jail.Carlow, who attended the commission meeting, said his office wouldn't represent Tillman in any civil claims he may make against the state.

Currently, 22 states and the federal government provide compensation to the wrongfully convicted, according to information provided to the commission by University of New Haven graduate students. The amounts range from $20,000 in New Hampshire and $1 million in Tennessee to up to $100,000 per year for federal imprisonment. New York and the District of Columbia have no limits.

Lawlor, who is a lawyer, said he has no particular amount of compensation in mind for Tillman or anyone else who may be jailed on a wrongful conviction. More important than compensation, Lawlor said, is the "how" and "why" behind wrongful convictions. Too often, he said, cross-racial eyewitness identifications are incorrect.

Tillman's accuser - who was "absolutely positive" he was her rapist, Carlow said - is white, and Tillman is black.

Police and prosecutors need to "redouble their efforts" to find more evidence than relying on eyewitness identification, Lawlor said.

The commission - which includes Chief Court Administrator Judge William J. Lavery, Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane, academics, defense lawyers, and the state victim's advocate - will meet again in the spring.

Lawlor said the members should plan to address the legislature's Judiciary Committee about wrongful convictions, how they can be avoided, and potential compensation.
©Journal Inquirer 2006


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is typical police misconduct in Connecticut:


Chief Who Improved Capitol Force Retires

After Cleaning Up A Messy Department, Police Vet Plans To Put Law Degree To Good Use

December 1, 2006
By CHRISTOPHER KEATING, Capitol Bureau Chief [Hartford Courtant] It was the darkest chapter for the state Capitol police. The chief had been ousted in a controversy over workplace harassment that included striking an officer with a wooden "caning" stick and referring to a female officer as a "Nazi" because she had a German surname.

Former chief Anthony Murphy, who eventually retired in 1995 with a pension and full medical benefits, presided over a department where intoxicated officers drove cruisers and sometimes threw staplers at each other, according to a state police report.

He set a bulletin board on fire after a night of drinking and referred to a black supervising officer with a racial slur, the report said.

But those days are over, in part because of the efforts of William Morgan, one of the department veterans who helped turn the department around.

Morgan retired Thursday after more than six years as chief and after a series of accomplishments that included gaining state and national accreditation for the department.

Only about 15 departments in Connecticut have national accreditation.

"Clearly, we've come a long way," Morgan said Thursday. "The organizational structure is sound. The command structure is sound. I think we've done a lot of great things - one of them being the relationship-building with the legislators, the staff, the media and even the people who come here for demonstrations."

Morgan, who turns 47 on Sunday, obtained a law degree taking night classes at Quinnipiac University while working as a sergeant. Since passing the bar exam, Morgan has kept it in the back of his mind that he would one day return to the Capitol as a lawyer-lobbyist working with legislators.

He has not yet completed his plans, but he is exploring working as an adjunct professor teaching about law enforcement.

After 21 years with the Capitol police, Morgan has seen the good times and the bad. He is particularly proud of the department's first national accreditation in 2002 and its re-accreditation in March. The department also received accreditation at the state level for the first time in June.

Known for his gregarious nature and his reluctance to criticize others publicly, Morgan chose his words carefully when discussing a department many believed was out of control a decade ago. Before 1995, the department had been run under a confusing, hybrid method. The boss was a state police sergeant who reported to that agency - even though the rest of the officers, including supervisors, were legislative employees. Following the revelations about the bizarre behavior and harassment, the General Assembly then changed the structure to ensure that the Capitol commander would report directly to top lawmakers.

"The legislature discovered in 1995 that the department wasn't taking a professional approach," Morgan said. "It was an overall lack of professionalism. There were enough problems that required a drastic solution."

The new Capitol commander, former Hartford assistant chief Michael J. Fallon, is scheduled to be sworn in today after a 22-year career with the Hartford police.

Morgan says Fallon will be taking over a department that is committed to moving forward in the future and "not going back to being an embarrassment for the legislature."

Contact Christopher Keating at

Monday, December 04, 2006 7:57:00 AM  

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