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Man released for wrongful conviction sues police

In the past, when we have talked about cases of wrongful conviction, we have presented to our readers cases out of other states. Though we know the process that led to the conviction and the eventual outcomes of those convictions are handled by other jurisdictions, we feel it’s important to present these cases because they demonstrate a legal issue that could easily occur here as well.

But in today’s post, we bring you a wrongful conviction case involving a California man who spent 34 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Though charges were eventually dropped by prosecutors and he was released in November 2013, his conviction was the result of malicious prosecution and police misconduct, he claims. That’s why he has decided to hold the city of Los Angeles and several law enforcement officers accountable for violating his rights.

According to his complaint, in 1979, at the age of 18, the man was accused of the armed robbery and murder of a 79-year-old man. Police from the LAPD arrested him after a witness allegedly picked him out of a photo lineup. A pair of pants was then taken out of his apartment that allegedly had a spot of Type O blood on them. These pieces of evidence eventually secured a conviction for first-degree murder and he was sentenced to life without parole.

Though he maintained his innocence and insisted that he was nowhere near the scene when the crime took place, it would take 34 years before a woman who had worked at the LAPD during that time began gathering evidence to prove his innocence. She asserted that her sister, who was the one who picked the man out of the photo lineup, had been coerced into identifying the man and that she was a known compulsive liar.

She also explained that when she brought up the fact that her sister was a liar to a detective during the investigation, she was shushed by her superior. Fearing for her job, she said nothing to either prosecutors or defenders about the exculpatory information.

It’s because of this misconduct, his lawsuit states, that he is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “34 Years for Wrongful Conviction, Man Says,” Matt Reynolds, June 18, 2014

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Former Criminal Prosecutor With Proven Results