Luc Pierre-Charles Jr., an innocent man convicted solely off an unreliable bias witness and perjured jailhouse informants.
I would like to give all praise and honor to the Father, God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. Thanking him for having breath in my body to give this testimony. I also would like to honorary dedicate this testimony to my beloved grandparents, Mr. James and Mrs. Remilda Hill, who instilled values deep within me to make me the man I am today.
Even though I have faced many trials and tribulations, I give God the glory. Because through it all, I have come to find my true purpose in life, that I am destined to fulfill. It have not been an easy journey and God never told me it would be. I just thank Him for molding me to serve His purpose in His Kingdom. Sometimes the circumstances seem to be unbearable, that’s when I have to remind myself of my Father’s word, that He will not put no more on me than I can bear. I have faith and know He will do just as He said He would do. There are many family members and friends that God have placed in my life, that I am very thankful for their care and concerns. It means a lot to me and I just want you to know that I am thankful.
God have dealt with my mind and spirit in ways to increase my knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Each day I seek His guidance more and more, and I thank Him for the insight He have given me thus far. There are still many questions I have to come into the full knowledge, but I rest assured that the Almighty will lead and guide me into the light.
God have blessed me with parents that I love so very dearly and I would like to tell the Lord, thank you! God knew the obstacles I would face in my life and He blessed me with parents of strength to stand by myside to lead the spiritual fight against principalities that try to destroy me. I must stay focused and obtain my freedom, s that I can teach my son the way of righteousness. I thank God for every-single thing he is doing in my life and I submit to the will of the Father.
Being conscious of what God have in store for me, gives me an walk of great confidence to keep moving forward in the positive steps He have ordered for my life. I would like to thank each and every one reading my testimony in being able to share my testimony with you.
Thank you and God Bless!
-Luc Pierre-Charles, Jr.
Mr. Luc Pierre-Charles, Jr. comes from an intact, loving family. His mother and father have been married since 1984. That same year, Mrs. Pierre-Charles became a pastor. In the course of Mr. Pierre-Charles Jr. academic history, he was a member of the National Junior Honor Society and the National Honor Society i.e., from the 7th through the 10th grade. He also attended Pasco-Hernando Community College to acquire his degree in Business Administration. Also, Mr. Pierre-Charles Jr. employment history showed his commitment to work. Starting at a very young age of 10-years-old, Mr. Pierre-Charles Jr. dedicated his services to Milton Funeral Home. Later, he worked at Sweet Bay Deli in Wesley Chapel, Mc Donalds in Wesly Chapel, Cracker Barrel also in Wesley Chapel and Thrifty Car Rental at Tampa International Airport. Luc Jr. work history shows that he is a preferred service person in the workforce. Lastly, Mr. Pierre-Charles Jr. did not have a previous criminal history, not even a speeding ticket. However, Mr. Pierre-Charles Jr. does have a 11-years-old son, Luc Pierre-Charles III, who is very intelligent and continuously express his love for his father and the desire for his father to be released from prison and returned home.
On July 28, 2006, in the early morning hours, 17-year-old Derek Pieper, and 18-year-old Raymond Veluz was murdered execution-style on an isolated dirt road in Trilby, Florida with multiple gunshot wounds. Two years went by, and the State Attorney still had no killer or no real evidence to convict anyone for the murders.
On July 24, 2008, two years later, an arrest warrant was executed by Detective Lisa Schoneman and order by Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa. This arrest warrant was establish based on statements made by Angel Brooks, Donovan Parker, and John Blanford. On August 14, 2008, Luc Pierre-Charles Jr. and Tyree Jenkins were indicted by a grand jury on two counts of murder in the first degree; capital felonies, punishable by death or life, pursuant to Florida Statute 782.04.
Knowing his innocence and the incompetence of the judicial system and trial proceedings, Mr. Luc Pierre-Charles Jr. failed to waive his rights to a speedy trial. His first conviction came after a 9-day trial and six and a half hours of jury deliberation. The State only evidence against Mr. Pierre-Charles Jr. was a biased witness who had several inconsistencies in all her deposition and jailhouse informants, or better known as “jailhouse snitches”. In which, all showed some type of bias and had motives to lie. After Mr. Pierre-Charles Jr. was remanded for nearly two years, he was granted an appeal, based on allowing hearsay to prove the truth of the matter asserted. In a seven-day trial, where the State put 3 jailhouse informants on the stand, in which all informants had the motive to fabricate their testimony; Mr. Pierre-Charles Jr. was convicted for the second time on April 1, 2015, and sentenced to natural life in prison on both counts.
With sound evidence that the jailhouse informant had motives to lie and Ms. Brooks also acknowledged that all five of her previous testimonies were inconsistent, and admitting to disliking Mr. Pierre-Charles Jr. for unexplained reasons. Mr. Pierre-Charles Jr. was convicted with no evidence of guilt. However, there was evidence proving his innocence.
Angel Brooks, the girlfriend of Jermey Henry happens to be a crucial critical witness in Mr. Luc Pierre- Charles Jr. case. She gave five statements to law enforcement. Many statements made by Brooks was inconsistent with her previous statement. During the first four statements, Brooks was on probation for possession of a concealed weapon and possession of cocaine. Jeremy Henry was the initial suspect. However, Mr. Henry was killed before Mr. Pierre-Charles Jr’s first trial in 2009. Ms. Brooks made her first statement to law enforcement on August 14, 2006. She stated that she was with Andre Pierre-Charles, Luc Pierre-Charles Jr. younger brother, on the night of the murders when Andre received a call from an unknown caller. On August 23, 2006, Brooks gave two statements, one at the Sheriff office and another at the state attorney’s office, and she gave another statement on May 3, 2007. Brooks did not mention a speakerphone in any of those statements. Brooks actually stated that she did not hear who was on the phone with Andre. Brooks first mentioning of a speakerphone and hearing Mr. Luc Pierre-Charles Jr. voice telling the victims to “get on their knees and pray” was in her January 16, 2009, deposition (Pierre-Charles v. State, 67 So. 3d 301 - Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 2nd Dist. 2011) (View District Court of Appeal in downloaded section below. Also view Brooks depositions; 8-23-06, 5-3-07 & 1-16-09 in downloaded section below)
The arrest affidavit was based on false statements and perjury and signed by lead Detective Lisa Schoneman. Angel Brooks’ statements concerning hearing Mr. Pierre-Charles Jr. voice on speakerphone were non-existent at the time of the July 24, 2008, warrant. The statement concerning hearing the defendants voice on Andre Pierre-Charles’ speakerphone was included in the 2008 arrest affidavit. However, Brooks did not give such statements until her January 16, 2009, deposition. Foremost, Sprint/Nextel records custodian Jenifer Sheid testified that Andre’s phone did not receive or send any calls during a time encompassing the murders. (View Indictment/Warrant/Arrest Affidavit in the download section below) Please pay attention to the date indictment was signed.
In addition to the false and perjured statements concerning Angel Brooks, the statements that were given from Donovan Parker were also perjured due to the pressure from law enforcement providing Parker with false documents stating defendant, Luc Pierre-Charles Jr. alleged he was responsible for the murders. Also, Parker was threatened by with receiving a harsher sentence and an additional crime if desired statements were not agreed upon.
John Blanford’s statements were false due to threats from state attorney Manny Garcia and being coerced to testify against the defendant to get a lesser sentence in his criminal charges. Andre Pierre-Charles testified that he was present at the time when Manny Garcia showed up to John Blanford’s home with law enforcement and threatening John with what will happen if he (Blanford) did not testify against Luc. Another event that needs mentioning is the incident that occurred during Luc’s second trial. During this event, John Blanford went against the witnesses’ instruction to not discuss the trial with anyone. It was seen and brought to the Court's attention that John was seen talking to a defense witness, his brother, Ralph Blanford. Ralph was summoned to the stand and shared with the Courts what John said to him. Ralph told the Courts that John stated that he did not want to testify against Luc, but he was threatened by the prosecution to do so. However, Judge Barthel ordered that defense was not to mentioned this incident to the jury.
Every citizen who is accused of a crime in the United States should have the fundamental right to a fair trial. However, prosecutorial misconduct and errors do occur, which poses serious issues for our justice system. A prosecutor also referred to as a state attorney, is an administrator of justice and an officer of the court. Even though many criminal justice scholars have different descriptions of a prosecutor’s duty (Banks, 2012); their sole responsibility is to seek justice. Administrators of justice must exercise sound discretion in the performance of their functions (Bazelon, 2011). In their role as government, state, and the public representatives, prosecutors are obligated to assist the court at arriving at the truth fairly (Banks, 2012). All state jurisdictions have an ethics rule imposing special responsibilities on prosecutors. Most of these rules are guided by standards found in the American Bar Association Standards for Criminal Justice Prosecution Function and Defense Function and the National District Attorneys Association Prosecution Standards. (ABA Section of Litigation Annual Conference, 2008). “Constitutional standards bind prosecutors, case law governing trial conduct, and various ethics rules and standards about the prosecutorial function” (ABA Section of Litigation Annual Conference, 2008, pg. 2). It is their ethical responsibility to be just.
Prosecutorial misconduct is when government officials knowingly abuse their authority or the judicial process in a manner that contributed to a wrongful conviction (The National Registry of Exonerations, 2017). In every case, a state attorney’s focus should be to bring forward credible evidence of a crime and omit any notion of winning or losing (Goel & Nelson, 1998). Despite that belief, conviction at any cost has been the attitude of many state attorneys. A study conducted by Gross and Shaffer (2012) reveals how there have been numerous cases in the past, as well as in the present, where prosecutors committed unethical practices to convict their defendant. Prosecutorial misconduct can be displayed in different forms including, “the use of abusive or deceptive investigative techniques, coercion, knowingly use perjured testimonies or deliberately introduce false information into evidence, framing suspects, make false promises to a defendant, and a prevalent one, withholding any favorable evidence from the defendant” (Stratton, 2015, pg. 30).
Freedman (2012) conducted a study that revealed the most frequent occurrence of prosecutorial unconstitutional and unethical behavior is violating a Brady obligation. Many scholars dispute this finding because a Brady violation can occur even when the prosecutor acts in good faith. It is believed that in the context of suppression of evidence when relating to the term prosecutorial misconduct, since then, should be used only when the prosecutor intentionally withholds exculpatory material (Freedman, 2012).
No one knows the exact extent of prosecutor misconduct, due to most prosecutorial activities taking place behind closed doors, leaving misconduct difficult to detect (Cunningham, 2016). The National Registry of Exonerations and the Innocence Project, along with other scholars provided in-depth research on the degree of prosecutorial misconduct occur. Cited in the National Registry of Exonerations (2017), it was reported that an alarming 51% of wrongful convictions result from some government official’s misconduct. Compared to their findings in 2016, which concluded 43% of wrongful convictions result from official misconduct. Many prosecutor groups have found fault with the ways and means of these studies (Cunningham, 2016). When evidence is obscured, the defense does not know it exists. This makes it hard, if not impossible to get an accurate measurement of prosecutor misconduct. It is only when evidence is discovered that the defendant can claim they were not granted a fair trial (Cunningham, 2016).
A prosecutor cannot knowingly use false testimony against a defendant. To establish a Giglio violation, a defendant must show the following: (1) the prosecutor presented false testimony; (2) the prosecutor knew that testimony was false; and (3) the false evidence was material. The State knowingly presented false testimony to the jury and stated that "there is no legal mechanism available," and "that it is impossible to reduce state witness sentences." However, The FLA. STATUTE 921.186 Substantial Assistance have been modified into law since 2010, and the law states “where notwithstanding any other law, the state attorney may move the sentencing court to reduce or suspend the sentence of any person who is convicted of violating any felony offense and who provides substantial assistance in the identification, arrest, or conviction of any of that person’s accomplices, accessories, coconspirators, or principals or of any other person engaged in criminal activity that would constitute a felony” (John Giglio v. United States, 405 US 150, 31 L. Ed 2d 104, 92 st. ct. 763)
The prosecution called state witness, Anthony Harris’ attorney Bill Bennet as an unlisted rebuttal witness to testify over a defense objection. Mr. Bennet testified that he represented Mr. Harris on a murder charge while another attorney represents Mr. Harris on a robbery charge. Over objection, he repeatedly stated that there were no deals made with Mr. Harris. He further testified that there were no deals promised or inducements made in either of Mr. Harris’ cases. He further testified that he knows of no way that Mr. Harris’ sentence can be modified 14 months after the sentence have been imposed (Read Mr. Bennet trial transcripts in the downloaded section below)
Anthony Harris also referred to as Tony C is currently serving a 20 year sentence at Tomoka Correctional Institution for the 2007 robbery with a firearm and battery that took place at Zephyr Park that left two Zephyrhills males, Tony Smiley and Kenneth McCullough hospitalized and for the murder of Sean Spaights, a 24- years-old Dade City man. Tony C was initially charged with 1st-degree murder for the 2007 fatal shooting of Spaights which occurred outside of a Dade City bar/hangout spot. However, due to previous substantial assistance that Tony C provided for the State in several other cases, he received the deal of dropping his 1st-degree murder charge down to 2nd-degree murder and receiving a concurrent 20-year sentence for both charges.
In 2015 Harris wrote multiple letters addressed to Manuel Garica, one of the State Prosecutors in Mr. Pierre Charles Jr. case. Within these letters, not only did Harris reference Mr. Pierre-Charles case, but he repeatedly asked for help with his sentencing. (View Harris motion to reduce sentencing and letters in the downloaded section below)
Not only did Harris participated in perjury, but he recruited inmates as well. Several inmates who resided in Land O’ Lakes detention center became witnesses in Mr. Pierre-Charles case. (View Tyrone Smith letter in the downloaded section below. Brian Davis trail transcript will be added soon).
Frank Harrison, another jailhouse snitch, testified against Luc Pierre-Charles in 2015 trial. Harrison statements were fabricated. Harrison sent letters to the State Attorney, Manny Garica, seeking sentence reduction from his eight-year sentence that he was sentenced to in 2012. Many witnesses gave sworn statements. However, only a few were allowed to testify to how a jailhouse informant, Harrison received information about Luc Pierre-Charles case from Anthony Harris. At trial, State Attorney Manny Garcia and state witness’ Harrison repeatedly testified to the jury that “there is nothing the state attorney office can do” for him, concerning a sentence reduction. After Pierre-Charles’ conviction, newly discovered evidence was found in his case. In which, revealed that on July 12, 2016, State Attorney’s Manny Garcia, filed a Motion to Modify or Reduce Sentence for Mr. Harrison for the substantial assistance testimony he gave against Luc Pierre-Charles Jr. This motion was granted, and Frank Harrison was released from the Florida Department of Correction almost four years early. This newly discovered evidence was presented to the appellate court pending Luc’s appeal. However, Luc’s appeal was denied. (View Harrison trial testimony, motion to reduce sentencing in the downloaded section below)
In June of 2017, Frank Harrison was killed by his ex-girlfriend, Alejandria Guinn, after she stood her ground from being attacked by Harrison, who was armed with an assault rifle. Harrison has 14 prior felony convictions, including murder. These are the type of individuals that State Attorney Manny Garcia is helping re-enter society, at all cost.
Jailhouse snitches will lie and testify against innocent defendants, such as Luc Pierre-Charles Jr., for a conviction. This is absolutely prosecutorial misconduct. State attorney Manny Garcia knowingly presented false testimony to the jury in the case of Luc Pierre-Charles Jr. Prosecutors as such go against the integrity and entire truth-seeking function of the judicial system.
In most jurisdictions, the law states that testimonies from witnesses that are in-custody should be received with caution and not be deliberated under the same instructions as other credible witnesses (Handy, 2012). The reason being that an in-custody witness may have different motivates than the typical witness. An in-custody informant may be strongly motivated to say what the prosecution wants them to say (The National Registry of Exonerations, 2017), in hopes of receiving a reward for their cooperation (Joy, 2006). An in-custody witness, also referred to as cooperating witness, jailhouse informant, or jailhouse snitch is defined as one who is in custody, usually awaiting trial or sentencing, allegedly that they heard, or an inmate shared incriminating statements about themselves (Neuschatz, Jones, Wetmore, McClung & Neuschatz, 2011) and disclosed this information the governmental authorities. Research done at the Northwestern School of Law Center on Wrongful Convictions showed that between 1973 and 2004, jailhouse informants played a significant factor in 46% of death row exonerations convictions. Making the use of jailhouse informant testimonies “one of the leading causes of wrongful convictions in capital cases” (Neuschatz et al., 2008).
In-custody informants are likely to have very little or nothing to lose and so much to gain, therefore, testifying at critical times in criminal trials is seen as a way to improve their situation. Such a notion causes motive for informants to fabricate testimony, leaving the informant’s dishonesty to influence the trial, attorneys, and Courts (Neuschatz et al., 2008). As a consequence, the Courts often rely on these informants for prosecutorial. To conjure up a credible confession, a jailhouse informant can gain details about a fellow inmate’s case simply by reading or watching the news, or with the help of police officers and investigators. In some cases, typically high-profile cases, “informants share information about a case with other inmates, allowing multiple informants to corroborate each other’s testimony” (Covey, 2015, pg. 107).
Many legal scholars have reasoned that making deals, such as giving incentives, in return for testimony concerning confessions, motivates one with information to come forward (Maeder & Pica, 2014, pg. 561). However, those legal scholars fail to respect the ample amount of research that shows how offering incentives create a motive to fabricate information. It is important to measure how incentives influence in-custody informants’ testimonies. Research has shown that incentives do not only motivate lying, but studies have also found that jailhouse informants are likely to fabricate confessions when given a chance of obtaining some incentive (cited in Maeder & Pica, 2014). The magnitude of the incentive is another important factor that should be examined in cases involving the use of jailhouse informants. The size of the incentive has shown to be a great motivation to deceive listeners. Gneezy, Rockenbach, and Serra-Garcia (2013) found that people would lie in accordance with the size of the incentive received. Their research study resulted from past studies that exposed how “larger incentives should be interpreted more cautiously than information provided in exchange for smaller, or no, incentives” (Maeder & Pica, 2014, pg. 561).
Thanks to the ground-breaking wave of DNA exonerations history has shown that jailhouse informant’s testimony played a “prominent role in this wrongful conviction phenomenon” (Dodds, 2008, pg. 1064), the link between jailhouse snitches and wrongful convictions has only become clear recently thanks to the still-breaking wave of DNA exonerations. Analysis of the causes of wrongful convictions in these cases reveals that jailhouse snitches have been involved in a surprisingly large percentage of known wrongful convictions according to The National Registry of Exonerations (2017).
In the case of the State of Florida V. Luc Pierre-Charles Jr., it has been brought to Mr. Luc Pierre-Charles Jr. attention that Pasco County, lead detective, Lisa Schoneman, and State Attorney, Manny Garcia has participated in prosecutorial misconduct while representing the State of Florida during the prosecution of Luc Pierre-Charles in case number CRC 08-04222CFAES two counts of murder in the First Degree.
Lisa Schoneman signed that warrant under penalties of perjury that foregoing included in the arrest affidavit is true. Schoneman purposely included the statement made by Angel Brooks, hearing Luc Pierre-Charles Jr.’s voice on speakerphone. Knowing that the statement to be false, Ms. Schoneman willfully participated in this unethical act, in the representation of the State of Florida. (Read Lisa Schoneman trial testimony in the downloaded section below)
Several of the informants who testified against Mr. Luc Pierre-Charles Jr. was showed to be biased, and each had motives to lie against Mr. Pierre-Charles Jr. Two of the State’s jailhouse informants, Anthony Harris and Frank Harrison, wrote letters addressed directly to Manuel Garcia, Pasco County Assistant State Attorney. All letters were entered into evidence. However, they were not allowed to be read to the jury. In one of the letter, the informant clearly expressed how he would help convict Mr. Pierre-Charles Jr. at all cost, if he, Manny Garcia, help the informant get out of jail. Within the other letter, the informant expressed several times that he wanted to go home and went on stating that he did not want to return to the Department of Corrections and ask for the State help.
Furthermore, those obligated and responsible for upholding the law and ensuring justice are purposely and willfully engaging in the unethical practice of wrongful convictions. A conviction obtained by the knowing use of perjured testimony is fundamentally unfair, for it involves corruption of the truth-seeking function of the trial process.
Mr. Luc Pierre-Charles Jr. has never been in trouble, not even a simple traffic ticket. When he was arrested, false documents and false statements were used to obtain his arrest. Detective Lisa Schoneman composed a false arrest affidavit by including the false statements given by Angel Brooks about the phone call she overheard on a speakerphone. This particular statement was not made until after Luc was arrested. Detective Schoneman also falsified a statement and forged Luc’s signature on the statement that she provided to Donovan Parker, alleging that Luc had accused Donovan of killing the victims. Then you have John Blanford’s false statements that were giving out of fear, due to threats and coercion of State Attorney Manny Garcia. All three of these witness statements were used to obtain the Indictment of Mr. Luc Pierre-Charles Jr.
Unlike most States, Florida Courts does not instruct the jury to take the testimonies from jailhouse informants with caution. Neither is the jury instructed to deliberate jailhouse informants (snitches) testimonies differently from other witnesses. Studies have proven to show how jailhouse snitches motives to testify differently from witnesses testimony who has no interest in the outcome of the trial. They may be strongly motivated to say whatever the prosecution wants them to say in hopes of receiving a reward for their cooperation.
Two of the State’s witnesses, Frank Harrison and Anthony Harris, both jailhouse informants, wrote letters to the State Attorney, Manny Garcia. At trial, the letters were entered into evidence but were prohibited to be read to or submitted to the jury. In one of Anthony Harris letter, he wrote that he would help convicted Luc, at all cost, if he, Manny Garcia help him get out of jail. Moreover, Frank Harrison expressed several times in his letters that he wanted to go home and that he did not want to return to the Department of Corrections, and sought help from the State. After Luc lost the trial, State Attorney, Manny Garcia got Frank Harrison’s sentence reduced and Mr. Harrison was released from prison several years early. Anthony Harris first degree murder was reduced to second-degree murder, and he received a sentence of 20 years running concurrently with a 20 years sentence on the armed robbery conviction.
ABA Section of Litigation Annual Conference. (2008). Crossing the Line: Responding to Prosecutorial Misconduct. Retrieved from https://jackdmccullough.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/abacrossing.pdf
Bell, J. G., Clow, K. A., & Ricciardelli, R. (2008). Causes of Wrongful Conviction: Looking at Student Knowledge. Journal Of Criminal Justice Education, 19(1), 75-96. doi:10.1080/10511250801892979
Doyle, J. M. (2010) Learning from Error in American Criminal Justice, 100 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 109
Dodds, E. J. (2008). I'll Make You a Deal: How Repeat Informants Are Corrupting the Criminal Justice System and What To Do About It, 50 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 1063 http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/wmlr/vol50/iss3/7
Freedman, M. H. (2012). The use of unethical and unconstitutional practices and policies by prosecutors’ office. 52 Washburn L.J. Retrieved from http://scholarycommonslaw.hofstra.edu/faculty_scholarship
Gershman, B. L. (2010). Bad Faith Exception to Prosecutorial Immunity for Brady Violations, Amicus, http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/635/.
Gneezy, U., Rockenbach, B., & Serra-Garcia, M. (2013). Measuring lying aversion. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 93, 293–300. doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2013.03.025
Gould, J. B., & Leo, R. A. (2010). One hundred years later: Wrongful convictions after a century of research. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 825-868.
Handy, P. P. (2012). Chapter 153: Jailhouse Informants' Testimony Gets Scrutiny Commensurate with its Reliability. Mcgeorge Law Review, 43(3), 755-765
Innocence Project. (2017). Incentivized Informants. Retrieved December 01, 2017 from https://www.innocenceproject.org/causes/incentivized-informants/
Jailhouse snitch testimony. (n. d.). A Policy Review. Retrieved on January 19, 2017 from http://www.provinginnocence.org/attachments/article/589/Jailhouse%20snitch%20testimony%20policy%20brief.pdf
Joy, P. A. (2006). Brady and Jailhouse Informants: Responding to Injustice. Case W. Res. L. Rev., 57, 619
Maeder, E. M., & Pica, E. (2014). Secondary confessions: The influence (or lack thereof) of incentive size and scientific expert testimony on jurors’ perceptions of informant testimony. Law and Human Behavior, Vol 38(6), Dec 2014, 560-568
Neuschatz, Jones, Wetmore, McClung, & Neuschatz, (2012). Secondary Confessions, expert testimony, and unreliable testimony. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology. 27(2), 179-192
Stratton, G. (2015). Wrongfully Convicting the Innocent: A State Crime?. Critical Criminology, 23(1), 21-37. doi:10.1007/s10612-014-9249-0
Supreme Court of Florida. 140 So.3d 538: In re Amendments to Fla. Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.220: May 29, 2014
The National Registry of Exonerations (2017). Retrieved from https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/glossary.aspx#MWID
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For centuries, the criminal justice system has established, relied upon, and continuously modified laws and procedures seemingly designed to ensure that the guilty are convicted, and the innocent are acquitted. However, researchers have repeatedly revealed many “organizational accidents” in the criminal justice system that contribute to wrongful convictions (Gould & Leo, 2010; Doyle, 2010, pg. 109). Although, understanding that some wrongful convictions may be caused by practical human error, ongoing organizational accidents defect the justice system as a whole (Doyle, 2010). There are hundreds of wrongfully convicted cases that are the result of those who are obligated to uphold the law and responsible for ensuring justice, purposely and willfully engaging in unethical practices.
According to the Innocence Project, an in-custody informant, also known as a jailhouse snitch, testified in over 15% of wrongful conviction cases, that was later overturned through DNA testing of the exonerees released from deathrow. 49% were convicted, in part, due to false informant testimonies. This makes fabricated testimony a leading cause of wrongful convictions in capital cases. Further studies have shown that informants perjury was a factor in nearly half of wrongful murder convictions (Innocence Project, 2015).
“Society’s search for the truth is the polestar that guides all judicial inquiry and when the State knowingly present fasle testimonies or misleading argument to the Court, the State casts an impenetrable clod over the polestar. A conviction obtained by the knowing use of perjured testimony is fundamentally unfair, for it involves a corruption of the truth-seeking function of the trial process. The rationale underlying this principle is timeless: If the State has contrived a conviction through the pretense of a trial which in truth is, but used as a means of depriving a defendant of liberty through the testimony known to be perjured, such a contrivance by a State to procure the conviction and imprisonment of a defendant is inconsistent with the rudimentary demands of justice. The principle that a State may not knowingly use fasle evidence, including false testimony to obtain a tainted conviction is implicit in any concept of ordered liberty. In other words, whenever the State seeks to obfuscate the truth-seeking function of a court by knowingly using false testimony or misleading argument, the integrity of the judicial proceeding is placed in jeopardy.”
Paul Beasley Johnson vs. State of Florida, Supeme Court of Florida, 44 So.3d 51; 2010 Fla. Lexis 40; 35 Fla. L. Weekly S 43 No. sc08-1213, January 14, 2010, Decided.
Appeal Attorney: Terri L. Backhus