Skip to comments.Factual innocence doesn't exonerate all of the time
Posted on 08/12/2005 10:24:54 AM PDT by truthinjustice
Although a small number of wrongfully convicted individuals have been exonerated by post-conviction DNA testing recently and released from prison. For example, Thomas Doswell of Pennsylvania who spent 19 years behind bars and Luis Diaz of Florida who spent 26 years behind bars for crimes they did not commit.
Now Peter Rose, who served 10 years in a California state prison, fortunately and rightfully so, after a finding of "factual innocence," which clears the way for him to collect compensation from the state, as much as $100 a day for the time spent in prison, which adds up to more than $300,000. San Joaquin Superior Court Judge Stephen Demetras is to be commended for not legislating from the bench when he said, "I will grant the order and find no reasonable cause exists to believe that Mr. Rose committed the offense for which he was tried and convicted.
Unfortunately, a similar outcome was not to be for Myron E. Howard, who served seven years and 68 days behind bars in Los Angeles County Mens Central Jail and state prison for allegedly sexually molesting a young Hispanic boy on September 24, 1997. Howard, a 42-year old homeless African-American male at the time, was arrested after the alleged victim described the suspect to police as being an, El nino grande, in Spanish, or Big kid, in English.
Howard was suggestively identified to the victim twice: in the police lineup and again in court. He was subsequently tried and found guilty of multiple counts of sexually molesting a child by a jury, and sentenced to 85 years to life. Although DNA evidence was available for testing, none was presented at his trial.
On June 30, 2003, a motion was filed on Howards behalf requesting DNA testing. Howard was informed on January 30, 2004, that the DNA testing laboratory handling his case, that a forensically significant stain had been examined, and that Howard had been excluded as the source of the stain. Howard was further advised that the alleged victim in his case had also been excluded as the source of the stain.
Then, on February 17, 2004, a petition for a writ of Habeus Corpus was filed on Howards behalf. Howard was informed on July 7, 2004, that additional testing was also done on the alleged victims brother and cousins, and that they had been excluded as well as the possible source of the DNA recovered in the alleged victims underwear. Howard was further advised that the district attorney had conceded the Habeus Corpus petition providing no opposition to having Howards convictions overturned and vacated, and that the judge presiding over Howards case had signed a removal order.
On July 29, 2004, after having been proven factually innocent, the judge presiding over Howards case overturned Howards convictions and vacated the judgment against him. When the court inquired of the People if they wished to retry Howard, the People explicitly stated that they did not. Instead of finding no reasonable cause existed to believe that Howard committed the offenses for which he was tried and convicted, the judge in Howard's case rearraigned Howard on the original information filed on January 14, 1998 (initial complaint filed on September 24, 1997), from which his overturned convictions and judgment stemmed from. This action by the court occurred over the objections of Howards defense counsel, who was then dismissed due to a conflict of interest, and replaced with alternate public defender.
Following Howards rearraignment, the court issued a temporary commitment order, and Howard was remanded to the custody of the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department. Howards case was transferred to another department this same day for a pretrial conference and trial setting. Howard made no other court appearances until November 30, 2004, at which time, and the alternate public defender representing him, misinformed Howard that double jeopardy had not attached in his case, while advising Howard of no available defenses.
Howard, in relying upon the advice of the alternate public defender, entered into a plea agreement with the court, by pleading nolo contendere. With the court's approval, Howard was found guilty of one count of a previously charged offense, and one that Howard now had a former judgment of conviction of. Howard was sentenced to six years, or time served, waiving any rights to his earnings from state prison, required to register as a sex offender with the Los Angeles Police Department.
Prior to ordering Howards release, Howard was formally advised as follows: Mr. Howard, you understand that to the extent any issues that you could raise through an appeal, you waive and give up those rights and you will not raise any issues by appeal?
Howard was released from custody on December 1, 2004 without any right to restitution, and essentially precluded from seeking redress for the egregious errors and constitutional violations of Howards rights. All Howard walked away with, was his life, and the memories of being raped, savagely beaten, and suffering a stroke while in jail and prison.
Like Mr. Rose, Howard was also found to be factually innocent of the crimes charged against him. But, unlike Mr. Rose, this African-American male will most likely never receive any restitution, or the approximately $262,500.00, that he may be entitled to after having been proven to be factually innocent by post-conviction DNA testing.
Why didn't you post this using your original Freeper ID?
This is the rough equivalent of a guilty plea. Maybe he got bad advice from his attorney, but that isn't necessarily the fault of the justice system.