Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dallas County District Attorney's Office - First-of-its-Kind Exoneration in US

The Dallas County District Attorney's Office has issued a press release regarding a new exoneration. According to the DA's Office, this is a first-of-its-kind exoneration because it results from systematic DNA testing, even though the soon-to-be exoneree was not actively proclaiming his innocence or requesting DNA testing. It is also important to note for readers of this blog that the exoneree pleaded guilty to the charged offense (rape) even though he was in fact innocent.
A 57-year old Dallas man falsely convicted of sexual assault will be exonerated as a result of systematic DNA testing by a district attorney’s office, even though he was not actively proclaiming his innocence or requesting DNA testing. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, this is the first time in the United States an exoneration of this nature has occurred.

Mr. Michael Phillips, an African-American, served 12 years in prison after pleading guilty in 1990 for raping a 16-year-old Caucasian girl at a Dallas motel where both of them lived. Mr. Phillips says his defense attorney told him not to risk going to trial – fearing a jury would not side with a black man accused of raping a white girl who picked Mr. Phillips out of a photo line- up.

However, Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins’ ongoing project of reviewing untested rape kits without defendants initiating the request revealed Mr. Phillips was innocent. DA Watkins signed off on this proactive screening project, which tests DNA preserved by the Southwest Institute of Forensic Sciences. The Dallas area crime lab tested sexual assault kits from the year 1990 that met certain criteria, which paved the way for Mr. Phillips’ exoneration.
Click here for the entire press release.

Click here for a copy of "The Innocent Defendant's Dilemma: An Innovative Empirical Study of Plea Bargaining's Innocence Problem."

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