Thursday, September 14, 2006

Trying to Prevent "Shedding of Blood"

I have just returned from England and although it is half past midnight, I wanted to get this blog down for reasons that will explain themselves.

This item was on the radio as I was driven back from the airport:-

Widening Investigation Against President Katsav
23:59 Sep 13, '06 / 20 Elul 5766

( When police questioned President Moshe Katsav in the Presidential Residence on Wednesday, the questions did not only address charges of sexual assault from seven women, but also charges of illegal eavesdropping and breach of trust.

Sources close to the investigation state that three of the women allege the president raped them, adding that some of the alleged attacks do not carry legal weight, having passed the statute of limitations.

Jewish ethical Halachic tradition views slander very seriously:-

It has been said that lashon ha-ra (disparaging speech) kills three: the person who speaks it, the person who hears it, and the person about whom it is told.


A tanna recited before R. Nahman b. Isaac: He who publicly shames his neighbour is as though he shed blood.

So, why am I staying up late?

This news report I found in the Daily Telegraph on the plane:-

Man jailed after woman made up sex attack is freed five years later

A father who served five years in jail for sexually assaulting a woman had his conviction quashed yesterday after new evidence suggested his victim was a liar who inflicted her own injuries.

Warren Blackwell, 36, embraced his wife, Tanya, outside the Court of Appeal in London, saying he would always love her for standing by him. But the ordeal made him "a very angry man indeed".

"It took the police and the justice system nine months to convict me of a crime that not only did I not commit, but a crime that never even took place," he said in a statement read by his solicitor. It has taken almost seven years to clear my name." The court was told that the woman, who cannot be named, had made strikingly similar claims of other sex attacks, had an ability to lie and a possible propensity to self harm.

Mr Blackwell, of Woodford Halse, Northants, was found guilty at Northampton crown court in October 1999 of indecently assaulting the woman, at a New Year's Eve party. He was jailed for three years.

Two years later, the Court of Appeal increased his sentence to five years after an application by the Attorney General.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Tugendhat, sitting with Lady Justice Hallett and Mr Justice Silber, concluded the conviction was unsafe after receiving a report from the Criminal Cases Review Commission. The commission referred to new evidence which gave rise to a "very real doubt" over whether the woman was a victim of any assault at all.

David Farrell, QC, who represented the Crown at the trial, did not oppose the appeal yesterday.

Northamptonshire CPS said it was "extremely regrettable" that Mr Blackwell had been convicted but defended the decision to prosecute on the evidence available.

Now, I have no idea whether President Katzav is innocent, a victim or a predator. But the extent to which the media and other interested parties have set up a field tribunal with no assumption of responsibility for the possibility that perhaps these charges are faulty is regrettable and a blow to our democracy. The media are not reporting but allowing themselves to be used and even manipulated.

As shown above, there is an equal alternative to the stories we are getting and that must be taken into consideration.

1 comment:

Danny Vice said...

Although this case exposes the outlandish miscarriage of justice towards the wrongly accused in the UK, we wish this were an isolated incident. The fact is, even in the United States, restitution for those incarcerated is certainly not guaranteed.

In fact, in many states, there are more government resources for those released on parole than there are for those who have been wrongly incarcerated and later exonerated and released.

Currently, an overwhelming number of people who have been exonerated of a crime are not compensated for the toll the incarceration took on their lives socially and economically.

Thus far, only 22 states in the US have laws in place to provide some level of compensation for those who were wrongly convicted. This means a majority of those who went back to court and proved their innocence are then required to sue for this compensation.

This process utilizes significant resources that a recently released inmate typically does not have. For those who do have the knowledge or financial ability to bring a case, the enormous cost of the additional legal wrangling involved may soak up much of the payout. Many victims of this outrageous process are handed the more daunting challenge of simply restoring their name, let alone consideration of a lawsuit that may or may not result in restitution for the time that has been lost.

What's more, the payout often times received is meager in comparison to what is usually lost. Marty Tankleff for example was sentenced to a New York state prison after being wrongly convicted of killing his parents. Although his case was recently overturned, Marty just recently visited his parent's graves for the first time since their deaths.

Ronnie Taylor, a Houston man who was recently exonerated of a crime he didn't commit was engaged to be married before his arrest in 1993. DNA testing proved his innocence 14 years later - allowing him to finally marry his bride Jeanette Brown. (source)

The Innocence Protect, one organization established in 1992 utilizes DNA testing as a means to force new hearings for those who are wrongly accused. It's website lists hundreds of cases of wrongly convicted individuals who's cases were overturned after a conviction.

While the Weekly Vice does not subscribe to every point of view of the Project's mission statement, one has to wonder where our culture would be without such advocates. Many wrongfully accused individuals have languished in prison for decades before their faulty convictions were tossed out.

Here are a few more examples of justice gone horribly wrong:

Dennis Brown from Louisiana was convicted of a 1984 rape and spent 19 years in prison before DNA testing confirmed that he could not have been the rapist.

Marvin Anderson became the ninety-ninth person in the US to be exonerated of a crime due to post-conviction DNA testing. Even when another individual confessed to the crime Lamont was accused of, the Judge upheld the conviction until DNA evidence finally confirmed Lamont's innocence. He wasn't exonerated until 1992, nearly 20 years after his arrest.

Orlando Boquete's wrongful conviction of attempted sexual battery was vacated a staggering 24 years after his arrest back in 1982.

Robert Clark, wrongly convicted of rape, kidnapping and armed robbery in 1982, languished in prison primarily by mistaken eyewitness. Mistaken identity seems to be a common theme with the cases that later get overturned by post-conviction DNA evidence. Clark was finally vindicated 24 years later.

Luis Diaz was wrongly convicted in 1980 as the 'Bird Road Rapist', where 25 women were attacked, many of them sexually assaulted. Diaz was convicted for 8 of them. His case was overturned 25 years later in 2005.


These are only a handful of the cases you can view HERE, however they are a sampling of the many instances where our legal system goes horribly wrong to such degree that compensation for one's life cannot be calculated as a mere loss of wages as most restitution awarding states provide.

The Weekly Vice supports tough sentencing guidelines for all sexual assault cases, particularly those of minor children. We also believe however, that states should be equally aggressive with some level of state subsidy, restitution or other adjudged compensation that is deemed appropriate for each individual case. A dismal 22 states is not a goodwill showing for a nation who prides itself on a Justice For All philosophy.

Danny Vice
The Weekly Vice