Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Man freed on DNA evidence sues police

I wonder how often horrible stuff like this happens?  Way more than the police would like to admit, of that, I am certain.  We find ourselves surrounded by TV shows glorifying the power of evidence and convincing juries that the police are nearly infallible.  In reality, they make horrible mistakes all the time -- beating people, jailing the innocent and railroading minorities, the poor and anyone else who gets caught in the web of lies we call our "justice system."  We need to fix it but we never will because the money and power involved defend the status quo ... and descenders either queue up in the long line of people suing .... or worse yet, they just die in prison, unavenged and forgotten.


The only thing we can do to protect ourselves is get a lot of money, a good lawyer and stay under the radar.  The problem is, you never know where the police radar will focus next ... you may be already guilty and not even know it.

Staff and agencies
28 March, 2007

By DAN NEPHIN, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 25 minutes ago

PITTSBURGH - A man freed from prison after 18 years when DNA evidence failed to link him to a 1988 murder sued police Wednesday claiming they violated his civil rights.

A witness had identified Whitley based on the shape of his face and his walk, and a crime lab technician had said 41 hairs found in a mask at the scene resembled Whitley's hair. DNA testing wasn't available at the time.

The lawsuit names six Allegheny County detectives, the county and one of Whitley's former attorneys. It claims Whitley was subject to malicious prosecution and denied a fair trial because he is black.

"We must hold accountable those responsible for the violation of his civil rights, the malicious prosecution by which those rights were violated, and the flawed legal counsel that allowed it all to happen," his lawyer, Lawrence Fisher, said in an e-mail.

The lawsuit accuses one of Whitley's former attorneys, Sanford A. Middleman, of professional negligence, claiming he delayed taking action on Whitley's behalf for more than two years, failed to pursue the most current DNA testing, and failed to tell Whitley the test yielded inconclusive results.

Allegheny County police say the six detectives named in the lawsuit are no longer with the force.

Fisher, Whitley's attorney, has said his client was "reconnecting with his family, appreciating his liberty and coping with the nightmares over the ordeals that he suffered."

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