Wed 10 May 2006
[ UPDATE: ] Via WRAL-TV, the NC Supreme Court has issued a stay pending DNA tests in the case.
May 12th, the State of North Carolina is poised to practice justice Law & Order style.
Law & Order, a popular television franchise using stories “ripped from today’s headlines”, combines 22 minutes of heavy-handed police work (suspects slammed against walls) with 22 minutes of legal maneuvering (often crossing Constitutional boundaries) to deliver, usually in some surprising twist, a satisfying dramatic conclusion.
As the screen fades to black, the audience is assured that justice, as practiced by the over zealous police and prosecution, has been fairly meted out.
Surpassing Law & Order in popularity, CSI, a franchise about criminal scene investigators, follows chief investigator Gil Grissom and his crack forensic team as they use real, but not readily available, technology and techniques to ferret out the truth behind a crime. Quite often, what seems to be the truth is revealed to be wrong. The show’s writers often proffer an initial red-herring suspect – vociferously declaring his or her innocence – whose claims are vindicated in an equally satisfying dramatic conclusion.
Justice, often meted out on the end of a DNA probe, is not perverted by zealous prosecutorial misconduct.
Jerry Conner, a death row inmate,is scheduled to die May 12th in spite of the real possibility of his innocence.
Exculpatory DNA evidence – evidence not conclusive using the original 1991 DNA technology – is available to be tested. It will definitively rule, one way or another, on Conner’s claims.
Our State Bureau of Investigation’s lab, like the lab in CSI, has the new DNA technology. Yet the State, on our behalf, refuses to test the evidence.
I don’t know if Conner is guilty or not.
- He originally confessed, but 1 out of 4 persons exonerated by DNA evidence have also confessed.
- He’s on death row, but in the last 23 years 25 states have released 123 death row inmates on grounds of innocence.
- He had a juror that lied about her knowledge of the case, but two of three U.S 4th Circuit Court of Appeals judges ruled against Conner, to the strong dissension of the third, Judge Michael Luttig, who wrote that the behavior of the juror clearly “constitute[d] a quintessential instance of actual juror bias.”
I know this.
- I know it took less than a week to test 46 Duke lacrosse players DNA in a recent Durham rape case.
- I know the Federal government has pledged $1 billion to assist DNA evaluations, leading to post-conviction exonerations like that of Kirk Bloodsworth.
- I know we only have to look slightly westward, to Winston-Salem’s Darryl Hunt case, to see how an individual, 18 years proclaiming his innocence, was wrongly convicted but eventually exonerated because of DNA evidence.
There’s a reason CSI is so popular. Folks, like the good citizens of North Carolina, want to bring every technique and technology to bear in order to prove innocence.
Let’s call on our State to stand firm for real justice and demand a DNA test before killing a potentially innocent man.
More on what you can do to help at the Jerry Conner ‘blog.