Monday, March 31, 2008

Juries: Non-Citizen Jurors

Juries: Non-Citizen Jurors: "Saturday, March 29, 2008
Non-Citizen Jurors
Yesterday, the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice held its final public hearing on the use of the death penalty in California.

CA Death Penalty Juries Under Scrutiny KCBS News

State commission hears voices on both sides of death penalty debate San Jose Mercury News

One of the recommendations from the hearing was that more people of color should serve on juries deciding capital cases. The Commission went on to discuss the need to go beyond drivers' license rolls to find potential jurors. This finding nor the subsequent recommendation were surprising or even new to anyone vaguely familiar with the issue."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tommy Ward's Dream Gets Him Death Penalty - A Cousin Starts a Blog For Help

Please Help My Cousin Prove His Innocence

My cousin Tommy Ward was wrongfully convicted of Murder over 20 years ago. Despite evidence, he was convicted because of a dream he had about the event. The details of his dream/confession were nowhere close to matching the actual events of the victims death, rape, or the location of her body. My family and I have been stripped of the joys of having Tommy in our lives for far too long. He has been denied a wonderful life because the justice system needed someone to blame for the crime.

Persons with information about the Denice Haraway homicide may send e-mail to:
Or write to:
Mark Barrett, Attorney
P.O. Box 896
Norman, Oklahoma 73070

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

~Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot were convicted of murdering Denise Haraway. Haraway, 24, worked part-time at McAnally’s convenience store in Ada, Oklahoma. She was last seen leaving the store on April 28, 1984, with a man who had his arm around her waist. The two appeared to be a pair of lovers. The store was found deserted with the cash register drawer opened and emptied. Haraway’s purse and driver’s license were found inside, and her car nearby.

~Months later, after Haraway still remained missing, police questioned Tommy Ward, who resembled the man accompanying Haraway from the store. After days of interrogation, Ward confessed to the crime.
He also implicated his friend, Karl Fontenot, and Odell Titsworth, a man he never met. During the videotaped confession, Ward frequently forgot Titsworth’s name and called him “Titsdale.” Ward said the three gang-raped Haraway, murdered her with Titsworth’s knife, and dumped her body near Sandy Creek.

~Fontenot was soon arrested and confessed after only two hours of interrogation. His confession was similar to Ward’s but contradicted it many details, like the order in which the three raped Haraway, or the location and number of stab wounds on her. Fontenot said the three brought Haraway into an abandoned house, where Titsworth poured gasoline over her body and burned down the house. Ward had mentioned a burned down house in an earlier unrecorded confession, and police knew it existed.

~Titsworth was arrested, but he had broken his arm two days before the murder in a fight with police. Medical and police records made him an unlikely suspect, and he was never charged with murder. While police were sifting through the remains of the burned down house, the owner appeared. After police told him of Fontenot’s confession, the owner said Fontenot’s story was impossible, as he himself had burned down the house 10 months before the murder.

~At trial, the prosecutor presented the confessions and was forced into the position of telling the jury the defendants were lying about details while asking the jury to believe them anyway.
Two jailhouse informants supplemented the confessions. One said Ward confessed, while the other said he overheard Fontenot talking to himself, saying, “I knew we’d get caught. I knew we’d get caught.”
The jurors returned with guilty verdicts and death penalties.
~Haraway’s body was found four month’s later in Hughes County, far from anyplace that was searched. She had not been stabbed or burned, but died from a single gunshot to the head.

Other Links of Importance:

There are three books about this and other wrongful convictions by ex-DA Bill Peterson of Pontotoc County, Oklahoma.
The First is titled, "The Dreams of Ada", Author Robert Mayer, next two are:
"Journey Towards Justice", Author Dennis Fritz,
and "The Innocent Man" , Author John Grisham.
Please help spread the word about this tragedy that has been plaguing my family for over two decades.
Your comments are very much appreciated.

Thank you,

(cousin of Tommy Ward)

My Blog Here Please Help My Cousin Tommy Ward Is Innocent

Monday, March 10, 2008

CBS 60 Minutes Story with Video - 26-Year Secret Kept Innocent Man In Prison

(CBS) This is a story about an innocent man who has been in prison for 26 years while two attorneys who knew he was innocent stayed silent. They did so because they felt they had no choice.

Alton Logan was convicted of killing a security guard at a McDonald's in Chicago in 1982. Police arrested him after a tip and got three eyewitnesses to identify him. Logan, his mother and brother all testified he was at home asleep when the murder occurred. But a jury found him guilty of first degree murder.

Now new evidence reveals that Logan did not commit that murder. But as correspondent Bob Simon reports, the evidence was not new to those two attorneys, who knew it all along but say they couldn't speak out until now.

Alton Logan's story cuts to the core of America's justice system.
Full Story here CBS "60 Minutes"Here
Watch "cbs "60 Minutes" Video Here

Here is what The Carnegie Legal Reporting Program @ Newhouse supported by the Carnegie Journalism Initiative says about the "60 Minutes Story"
"60 Minutes" drops the ball in wrongful conviction story
CBS "60 Minutes"
Mon, March 10, 2008

Shame on "60 Minutes," correspondent Bob Simon, and producers Robert C. Anderson and Casey Morgan for squandering a chance to tell an important story well.
Their report last night on the case of Alton Logan was "60 Minutes" at its best (powerful on-camera interviews with all the key players) and at its worst (cheap emotion, lacking any intellectual engagement with the real issues). Logan has served 26 years in prison for the murder of a security guard in a Chicago robbery.
Today a judge hears arguments that Logan is innocent and deserves to be freed or retried. Revelations by two defense lawyers triggered the hearing, and the CBS story.
The lawyers represented a man who confessed convincingly to them, before Logan's conviction, that he was the real killer. They came forward only after their client died last November.
It's a shocking and sad story about an injustice no matter what you think of the lawyers. But, with those two lawyers telling Simon how and why they did what they did, it tees up a story that might answer two key legal questions:
Did they have to keep silent?
And why should client confidentiality trump the truth?Simon and his producers skip past those questions while going long on drama and moralizing. Simon opens the report by describing the defense lawyers' motivation: "because they thought they had no choice.
See what you think." And then he proceeds to deny the viewer any opportunity to think, based on facts and perspective on what Illinois' rules say, about the principles at stake.
The lawyers' on-camera quotes don't help much.

They do make the point, over and over, that their loyalty had to be to their client, Andrew Wilson. But they don't come close to explaining why that's important. "It's just a requirement of the law," one lawyer, Dale Coventry, tells Simon. "The system wouldn't work without it
Well, why not? Simon doesn't ask them -- or anyone else.
At another point, Simon intones that the choice of concealing or revealing the wrongful conviction seems easy.
"It's perfectly obvious to someone who isn't a lawyer," he says to bait his lawyer-interviewees, and to play to the story's blatant lawyer-bashing theme.
Simon, et al., fail to summon any other sources to explain why it shouldn't be perfectly obvious -- or at least arguable -- that we need the system as it is to prevent lawyers from betraying clients whenever they or others decide the betrayal would serve a higher good.
And why has Logan served another four months since Wilson's death without even getting a hearing until now, much less a prompt release? "It's all rather complicated," Simon tells his audience in a patronizing dodge.
Too bad neither he nor his producers and employer see it as their job to turn complicated facts and arguments into a coherent story. Instead, we get spleen-venting and weepy melodrama.