So I spent a solid portion of my Sunday reading The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution (that's right, not a CONVICTION, but an EXECUTION). To say I am INTRIGUED (ALL CAPS!) is an understatement. I first learned about this book when Supreme Court Justice Scalia made the bold statement that the United States had never executed an innocent man. And he didn't just make the statement, he was really colorful and adamant in his language about wrongful executions:
"a single case – not one – in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. If such an event had occurred … the innocent's name would be shouted from the rooftops."
I actually enjoyed Scalia, maybe not all his opinions, but he was delightful in many ways. Anyway, this is not about Scalia, but rather about a Justice of that same court citing this book as evidence that he believed wrongful executions have occurred. I'll be posting a lot about this book, as it's already got my head swimming with new ideas. But wrap your head around this first proposition: an academic, with an entire team of genius students and the support of a major university (Columbia) had to painstakingly write a detailed book to present the evidence of innocence - to undo what took so little energy to put in place back in 1983. And the book is incredibly thorough, but the supplemental documentation on the website is equally impressive: http://thewrongcarlos.net/
You've probably already guessed the premise - Texas executed a man named Carlos in 1989 for the murder of a convenience store worker Wanda Lopez, when the murder was really committed by another man named Carlos. (Having the same name has nothing to do with the implication of Carlos DeLuna (the innocent), so if you named your baby something very popular, like Jessica/Jennifer or Olivia/Anna, don't sweat it - they should be fine.) The first chapter of the book gets into the minutiae of the initial calls for help at the crime scene and the first 50 minutes after the stabbing. Reading it was painstaking (figuratively, not literally.) But it reminded me that witness accounts are imperfect for a variety of reasons, including the seemingly impossible - that there were two suspects in the same geographic area that were both the same race and physical description, only separated by what they were wearing. For the defense, no detail or difference should be considered too minor.
For the moment, I've got to get back to working on my own cases, but here are some articles if you want to get the three-minute summary of the book. I'll be writing more about each chapter and the major takeaways from each.
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