JOURNAL OF THE 24TH YEAR
Japan's Fukushima Disaster
The Shura Case
Death Row Inmates Exonerated
NUGGETS FROM THE NUT HOUSE
From Netanyahu to Mladic
Edward S. Herman
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
Veterans Support Manning
Double Dip Recession
Iara Lee's Culture of Resistance
Len Weinglass (1933-2011)
Michael Steven Smith
Checkmate In The Great Game
Nicolas J.S. Davies
The Colonial Predator Legacy
Against Corporatocracy Rule
Bruce E. Levine
The Mideast & South Central Asia
Bin Laden and the Arab "Awakening"
From Poppies to Fentanyl Lollipops
The Lacandon Jungle and the Carbon Market
Displacing People for Profit
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Death Row Inmates Exonerated
Television has always had a love affair with detective programs, dating back to the late 1940s and early 1950s when such shows as “Man Against Crime,” “Martin Kane, Private Eye,” and “The Adventures of Ellery Queen” featured the “hard boiled private eye,” or “cerebral puzzle-solving” detective fighting crime, as an article on the website of the Museum of Broadcast Communications titled “Detective Programs” points out. Decades later, the genre changed significantly as the plots thickened and the lives of the lead characters became more appealing, as evidenced by the anti-hero James Garner in “The Rockford Files” or Peter Falk’s endearing “Columbo.” Still later, “Hill Street Blues,” “NYPD Blue,” and “Homicide” reached new heights with their ensemble casts, more complex storytelling, and realistic cinematic scenes.
These days, however, the television crime solver is more likely to be a savvy criminalist or forensic detective who has access to all sorts of high-tech paraphernalia. When “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” premiered in October 2000, the show became an instant hit, in part because of its distinctive use of science and technology and in part because of the grisly crime scenes it portrayed.
While the detective genre has changed markedly over the years, one thing hasn’t changed: the crime is solved at the end of the program and the “bad guys” get caught. But, as we’ve seen with greater frequency, in real life the supposed “good guys” are not always the “good guys” and the “bad guys” are not always guilty.
Fortunately, many of those convicted of crimes they did not commit have been released from prison because of DNA evidence, as well as from old-fashioned leg work by resolute investigators. It was that kind of intrepid legwork that led to the January 3, 2002, release of Juan Roberto Melendez from
For more than ten years the legal team at the
A Reuters report pointed out that, “Greenbaum discovered transcripts of a confession [to the September 13, 1983, murder of Delbert Baker, who was found dead at his Auburndale,
Greenbaum explained in an e-mail exchange, that “DNA evidence is relatively rare and false convictions in cases lacking biological evidence can only be overturned through solid, traditional investigation.” For Greenbaum, this entails requesting records and poring over documents in order to develop an investigation plan. With a list of potentially helpful witnesses in hand, she knocked on doors, “trying to gain trust and praying for luck.”
Greenbaum pointed out that, “The awesome power of the justice system is often terrifying to the people who possess information that could free an innocent person. It’s a delicate dance to get that testimony before a court for consideration. In Juan’s case, the physical evidence that could have cleared him was not preserved and DNA was a non-factor. But he had some amazing luck—the real culprit confessed profusely and on tape.” That confession, and Greenbaum’s tenacity in talking to nearly every witness—no matter how apparently remote to the case—gave lawyers what they needed to get Juan free.
“There’s no question,” Greebaum added. “More investigation-based innocence projects need to be established. Despite, or perhaps due to, the number of high-profile DNA exonerations...in recent years, people seem to be unaware of the scope of this problem. Some believe that DNA will [bring] out the truth in all cases and that false convictions are flukes. People need to know that this is not the case, especially young people contemplating careers in law, journalism, public policy, and social science research. There is a saying that a Harvard Law graduate is more likely to become a criminal defendant than a criminal defense attorney. Gifted criminal defense investigators are even harder to find. This needs to change.”
In April, Melendez, Greenbaum, highly respected criminal lawyer Adam Tebrugge, veteran capital defense investigator Jeff Walsh, and James Bain—a client of the Innocence Project of Florida (www.floridainnocence.org) who was imprisoned for 35 years before DNA testing proved him innocent—appeared at a forum at the New College of Florida in
Melendez, who has never received any compensation from the state and who since his release has become a worldwide speaker and human rights activist, spoke about how he endured the horrendous conditions in prison and how he “was not saved by the system. I was saved in spite of the system.”
After the forum, Greenbaum told a reporter for the
One purpose of the
Greenbaum told the Catalyst that, “Student investigators, working with innocence projects nationwide, have been instrumental in freeing the innocent for nearly two decades now. Lessons of that sort adhere and contribute mightily to a more just society.... Ending bias in the criminal justice system...which often leads directly to the conviction of the factually innocent, is the civil rights fight of our time. As Juan said in his presentation, we would not stand for slavery or segregation; nor should we stand for their modern equivalent.”
At the time of his release, Melendez was the 99th death row inmate to be exonerated in the
Bill Berkowitz is a freelance writer covering conservative movements.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.