A Prosecutor Will Go to Jail for Wrongfully Convicting an Innocent Man in Texas

In Texas, a former prosecutor and current judge pled guilty to INTENTIONALLY failing to disclose evidence in a case where an innocent man was convicted of murdering his wife.  While serving as a prosecutor, the prosecutor had evidence that may have helped clear the man, but instead the prosecutor didn’t disclose it.

Lawyers who choose to practice in the courtroom are often competitive by nature.  However, prosecutors are not supposed to hide evidence that would show that an accused person is not guilty to try to win a case!  The job of a prosecutor is to protect society by upholding the law, and to promote justice.  However, society is not protected, the law is not upheld, and justice is certainly not promoted when innocent people are convicted of a crime they didn’t commit.

Most prosecutors are good, noble public servants, who usually have a very heavy caseload and are often underpaid for the very important work they do.  The American justice system is one of the best in world, but errors or unfortunately, intentional misconduct, do sometimes happen.   Cases like this one show the importance of obtaining experienced defense council if you are accused of a crime, even if you know you are innocent.

Click here for the full story.

First conviction from Virtual Child in Australia

While the Internet has obviously changed our world for the better in many ways, the Internet can be a very dangerous place for unsupervised children.  Sadly, there are many sick individuals who use the internet to sexually abuse children.  A Dutch group called Terre des Hommes launched a novel campaign to try to do something about the online exploitation of children.  This group has some serious tech skills, so much so that they were able to create a “Virtual Child” that they call “Sweetie,” that they used to find people online who were willing to interact with their virtual child in illegal ways.

Now, in Australia, the first conviction believed to be based on  information compiled by Terre des Hommes has been obtained.  A man pled guilty to sending obscene pictures to a child, possession of images of child abuse, and failure to comply with a sex offenders order. In many courts, the evidence obtained by methods such as those by Terre des Hommes, may not be admissible, but in this case, the court was able to convict.

Parents, your children and teens may resent you for it, and we know that in many cases the teens are smart enough to hide online activities from less tech-savvy parents, but please have conversations with your children about their internet usage, and monitor their online habits when possible.  While in this case the victim was a “virtual” one, in all too many cases the victim is real.

See this BBC story for more details.

Chicago

 Chicago: Call Us For Your Legal Needs

Available for in-person or telephone appointments, we are experienced attorneys who have litigated civil cases all over the United States and the Seventh Circuit. We have done major felony cases as well as class action work in Chicago. We have attorneys licensed in IL and we don’t charge Chicago prices. Since we are located in Indianapolis, we don’t have Chicago overhead and rent to pass onto to our clients. Whether it is a criminal case, consumer protection action, or just about any other legal need give us a call.

Job Market for Lawyers

Media reports over the last four years have focused on the allegedly poor job market for lawyers and for recent law school graduates in particular. While it is true that jobs at corporation-focused large law firms are in short supply, my experience over the last seven years practicing law across the United States has shown me that there is a massive shortage of lawyers who are willing to work on behalf of more ordinary Americans.

A recent study focused on Indiana showed that over 60% of all civil cases are brought by parties without a lawyer. Anyone who has been involved in the criminal justice system is aware of the monstrous workload placed on public defender and district attorneys, and most state court judges do not have clerks. Further there is a massive need for attorneys to protect consumers against unscrupulous corporations in collection and mortgage foreclosure proceedings.

The major impediment to lawyers taking jobs to advocate on behalf of all but the wealthiest Americans is student loans debt. The jobs that are available because of the landscape just described typically pay about $50,000 a year, or less in rural states like Indiana. For new lawyers with student loan debt often in the six figures, it is impossible to work at a job that will garner them take-home-pay of less than $4,000 per month. Law schools need to figure out a way to train lawyers with the skills needed to represent regular people (more court room experience, more experience in how to extract discovery from large corporations) and they should do so for a rate of tuition that will allow graduates to fill the desperate need for lawyers in today’s society.

How our firm decides which cases to pursue

Every month our office reviews and considers dozens of potential cases. While almost all of these cases are meritorious, we are small firm with limited resources and can only litigate a fraction of the cases that we review. We are firm that works largely on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we advance the costs of litigation out of our own pockets on the expectation that we will ultimately prevail, often years down the road.

When a case comes in, our lawyers and staff evaluate the expected costs of the litigation, the anticipated duration of the litigation, and most importantly, the extent to which successfully litigating the particular case will bring about a result that is both good for our client and good for our larger community.

For example, we have recently filed a case against the State of Indiana for storing, without notification or permission, the DNA of every child born in Indiana since 1991. Our litigation seeks to prevent the State from turning this illegally obtained DNA over to law enforcement, or if the State has already entered this information in law enforcement databases, we are seeking a court order to remove it and to destroy all stored DNA. If we are successful, we will have restored the privacy rights of over 2 million native Hoosiers.

We wish we had the resources to help all those who contact our office looking for relief, but since we don’t, we try to select the cases that will positively impact our community at large.

Civil Forfeiture

State and Federal Law enforcement agencies routinely use a procedure called civil forfeiture to steal and extort money from regular citizens. Whether it is forfeiting the home of the parent whose son was selling drugs or charging 25% of the blue book value of the car impounded in an OWI arrest before releasing the car from a tow yard, the government’s exploitation of civil forfeiture laws is becoming a major problem.

Despite the Sixth Amendment’s requirement that court proceedings be public, Government abuse of civil forfeiture has become so outrageous that law enforcement has taken to filing civil forfeiture actions under seal (keeping the court documents private) to avoid publically scrutiny. This is usually only permitted in rare cases, typically concerning national security or to protect the identity of a minor. These practices were recently condemned by the Federal Courts in Nevada: “Saying that this would offend the Constitution is an understatement. It is constitutionally abhorrent.” (http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/vegas-prosecutors-used-super-seal-hide-fortune-seized-gamblers)

The Sixth Amendment requirement that judicial proceedings be public was intended to allow the press and ordinary Americans to know what their Government was up to. Civil Forfeiture often circumvents the requirement of public oversight and allows for the theft of personal property from ordinary Americans by the Government to happen in secret.