Defense attorneys and private investigators across the country are bombarded by families who believe their loved ones are innocently incarcerated, convicted of a crime they did not commit. Some have served prison sentences exceeding 20 years, many on death row. What does it take to find justice within our current system?
Management Resources LTD of NY principles, Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin worked for a year to investigate the wrongful conviction of Jonathan Fleming, and believe it or not, other cases are more complex. But, most cases of true wrongful conviction exhibit some of the same elements as the Fleming case.
From Kim Anklin’s Questions From the Class Series, she explains some of the key factors discovered in the Fleming investigation:
- Flawed police work and tunnel vision – The detectives conducting the investigation failed to properly follow-up on the information provided to them by the witness who provided them with the names and physical description of three men who should have been considered logical suspects.
- Witness intimidation by the police – according to several people we spoke to, shortly after the homicide the police were literally picking up people off the street and taking them back to the precinct to try to coerce them into being witnesses, even though the majority of them did not see what had happened. Multiple people told us they had come to the scene after the police arrived to see what was going on only to get taken away as witnesses.
- Prosecutorial Misconduct – this variable came in the form of making deals with witnesses in exchange for their testimony, failing to disclose those deals to defense counsel, hiding the phone receipt and letter from the Orlando PD which would have corroborated Mr. Fleming’s alibi. The District Attorney’s Office also intimidated witnesses by threatening them with perjury if they tried to recant. In our opinion, we feel even the Judge that presided over the post-conviction hearing was duped by the prosecutor. The eye-witness was trying to recant stating she had lied about the identification. The judge found her recantation unbelievable, because the DA’s office never disclosed to him that the witness had made a deal with them in exchange for her testimony. Any one of these acts if committed by a defense attorney would have resulted in severe consequences up to and including possible disbarment.
- Ineffective Counsel – Mr. Fleming’s defense attorney at the time was a young, new attorney who had never handled a homicide case before. He would eventually tell us that he thought this was a “slam dunk” because of the Florida alibi, and therefore over-confident that the jury would never convict Mr. Fleming.
Funding Resources for the Wrongfully Convicted
It’s common for the wrongfully convicted to have few financial options left for re-investigating their cases. Having depleted funds for the original defense, family members as a resource are often drained as well.
Most private investigators like Management Resources accept cases of wrongful conviction if their analysis can prove the case worthy. Although many wrongful convictions are able to be overturned because of DNA evidence, not all cases have DNA. Numerous hours are spent sifting through old case files to determine if new evidence is available for presentation to attorneys for appeal and if exoneration is conceivable.
Another avenue for the incarcerated is through the organization Investigating Innocence. Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin are Founding Members as well as Regional Directors for New York.
Investigating Innocence is a non-profit organization, 501 (c)(3) based out of Illinois, and includes attorneys and private investigators. When financially feasible, attorneys will provide a limited number of hours of pro bono services to the organization to review worthy cases that for further investigative work. The approved cases are then assigned a local investigator. The organization is supported by annual membership dues of private and public investigators, as well as individual and institutional members.
Realizing that true cases of wrongful conviction are coming to light across the US, reputable private investigators and organizations are uniting to help ensure that justice is secured, mistakes uncovered, and the innocent are set free. Each case needs to be assessed thoroughly, but funding is an issue. It’s hoped that affiliation with Investigating Innocence will help with funding many of these case investigations and, ultimately, lead to justice renewed for others wrongly incarcerated.
Management Resources Ltd of New York is a professional investigative firm licensed in New York and New Jersey. Management Resources is a member of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Associated Licensed Detectives of New York, and Founding Members and Regional Directors of Investigating Innocence. Visit their website: NYSleuth.Com and be sure to follow their blog, The Memobook.
Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin are available for interviews or speaking engagements. Contact ImaginePublicity at 843-808-08509 or email firstname.lastname@example.org