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August 2, 2012

"Former Akron police captain excluded by DNA test"

IMPORTANT UPDATE IN AUGUST 2013 

ALL THE POSTS FROM SUMMER 2012 WERE PART OF A DIFFERENT KIND OF COURSE

(Comparative Criminal Procedure)

WHICH COVERED DIFFERENT ISSUES THAN THE FALL FIRST-YEAR CRIMINAL LAW COURSE.

_________________________________________________________________

 

The title of this post is the headline of this new breaking new story about criminal procedure out of Ohio.  Here are excerpts:

New lab-test results show that DNA recovered from a murder scene in Summit County didn't come from a former Akron police captain who was convicted of killing his ex-wife nearly 15 years ago in a case that received national attention.

Douglas Prade, 66, is currently serving a life sentence at the Madison Correctional Institution, but has always maintained his innocence after being convicted in September of 1998. Prade was found guilty of shooting his ex-wife, Margo, a prominent Akron doctor and the mother of his two daughters. Margo was shot six times following a struggle in her van in a parking lot outside of her office.

“They are not going to find my DNA because I didn’t do it,” said Prade in a prison interview with the Dispatch last year. “This has always been about seeking and revealing the truth.”...

The DNA testing, conducted by DNA Diagnostics Center of Fairfield, north of Cincinnati, focused on the lab coat Margo was wearing during the attack and specifically a bite mark left by her killer. Testing results released today found male DNA present within the bite mark but it didn’t match Prade. Further testing of the lab coat performed by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations during the past several months didn’t detect the presence of other male DNA. Fingernail scrapings from Margo Prade and other items collected from the crime scene were also tested and excluded Douglas Prade’s DNA.

Attorneys at the Ohio Innocence Project, based at the University of Cincinnati, say the testing results prove Prade’s innocence and he should be exonerated. They are asking Summit County Common Pleas Judge Judy L. Hunter to set Douglas Prade free or, at the very least, grant him a new trial. A hearing in Akron to determine the significance of the new testing results is scheduled for Aug. 21....

[I]n a brief responding to the DNA tests prosecutors say the results don’t prove Prade’s innocence and point to other evidence presented at trial that should uphold his conviction. “The state stands by the jurors’ verdict,” the brief states. “A fundamental premise of our criminal trial system is that the jury is the lie detector.”

In their brief, prosecutors focus on evidence they presented at trial showing that Douglas Prade was having financial problems following his divorce from Margo. Police discovered a bank deposit slip with a list of debts written on the back of it. The total of those debts was subtracted from $75,000, the amount of Margo’s Prade’s life insurance policy on which Douglas Prade was listed as the beneficiary. Prosecutors say the date on the deposit slip, Oct. 8, 1997, show that he was already plotting Margo’s murder at least seven weeks before the attack in the parking lot.

But Douglas Prade has argued that he didn’t compile the financial list until several weeks after her his ex-wife’s death. His attorneys also say in their legal brief that Prade used more than half of the $75,000 from the life insurance policy to pay off Margo’s tax bills and he still had $18,000 remaining from the policy at the time of his arrest.

Douglas and Margo, 41, were married for 17 years before divorcing about seven months before she was killed.

Needless to say, this case is just the latest of examples highlighting some (unavoidable?) uncertainty about the accuracy of our criminal justice system.  But it also raises difficult issues concerning how to address accuracy questions raised long after a conviction.  (Also, before clicking through to the newspaper link, think about what you think might be the race and/or nationality of Douglas Prade.)

August 2, 2012 in Current Affairs, Notable real cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What can/should the US learn about criminal procedure from three of its historic overseas allies?

Other than the UK, the three most important and historic overseas allies of the United States have been France, Spain and Israel.  These also happen to be the countries discussed in the last three student papers to be posted, which come courtesy of Ren, Blaise and Alex, respectively.

Below I have uploaded the mid-term papers of Ren, Blaise and Alex, and I highly encourage everyone to read these papers closely and then share comments concerning the question in the title of this post.

Download Hirsch on Israel

Download Katter on Spain

Download Unnithan on France

August 2, 2012 in Class reflections, Course materials and schedule | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Should all CJ systems invest more in "alternative" criminal procedures?

By necessity given how little time we had together, our class text and in-class discussion has focused almost exclusively on traditional issues implicated by traditional criminal procedures (although our early discussions of police practices and new technologies certainly added some "Brave New World" aspects to the discourse). Helpfully, Katie and Tracey in their mid-term papers discussed some non-tradition criminal procedure realities (with reference, interestingly, to two countries in distant lands that have legal systems with common law roots)

Below I have uploaded the mid-term papers of Katie and Tracey, and I highly encourage everyone to read these papers closely and then share comments concerning the question in the title of this post.

Download Calderon on V-O Mediation

Download Wallrabenstein on GPS tracking

August 2, 2012 in Class reflections, Course materials and schedule | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 1, 2012

Are there distinctive/unique aspects of Western vs. non-Western criminal procedure systems

Our class text is focused almost exclusively on Western (and especially European) criminal justice systems, and I keep noticing some aspects of criminal procedure that seem common to all of these systems.  Interestingly, though, a majority of students in their mid-term papers discussed criminal procedures in non-Western legal systems (though I am inclined to classify Australia and Israel as countries with Western legal traditions despite their geography). 

Below I have uploaded the mid-term papers of five students who discussed distinctively non-Western legal systems, and I highly encourage everyone to read these papers closely and then share comments concerning the question in the title of this post.

Download Faltas on Egypt

Download Hong on South Korea

Download Jin on China

Download McClure on Swaziland

Download Melton on Afghanistan

August 1, 2012 in Class reflections, Course materials and schedule | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack