Steps That Can be Taken
In Proving Your Innocence
By Lorenzo Johnson Reader Comment
I will start by saying that it is essential you have an education. It does not matter if you’re 15 or 60 years old. If you have to take Adult Basic Education or GED classes, if need be, do it. You MUST be able to comprehend and understand Law. Keep all of your legal work you get - every proceeding. Make sure you get your copy. Once that is accomplished, pick up your state rules and criminal procedures and start reading it from the initial arrest to where you are in your case. Study Case Law concerning your appeal issues. Even if you have an attorney, practice brief writing. Nine times out of ten, your current/prior attorney is a big reason that you are sitting where you are. There are strict time lines for filing appeals. Filing one minute too late can get you time barred. Being time barred is one of the worst situations you can be placed in. It’s an obstacle that the bar is set extremely high to get over. You do not want to be told that you cannot appeal your conviction. A lot of us did not come from solid support systems. So, when it’s time to organize a team to combat your situation, you are only as strong as your foundation.
The following views are from the book In The Company of Giants by Paul J. Ciolino. The Team Concept... lf you are a prisoner rotting in jail for a crime you did not commit, we hope you are paying attention. Because, if the team is not assembled properly, you will likely die where you are sitting. The Team is Born.., Here is the reality; you are in your seventh year of a fifty-year sentence for a crime of which you had no part. Because of a myriad of reasons such as police misconduct, misidentification, etc., you have been convicted and your subsequent appeals have been denied. Your family is poor, you are broke, and basically no one gives a damn. In other words, your prospects for seeing next year’s Super Bowl in person are slim. What do you do?
The first thing you do not do is give up. There are people out there who will listen to you. They may be attorneys, journalists, or private investigators. It could be a professor at a local university. It may be just about anyone who cares about justice. But, it is going to be your job to find them.
They generally will not seek you out. If they have a reputation for doing this sort of work, believe me when l tell you that they already have plenty to do. You are not even on their radar screen. You need to think about whom you decide to choose before you do anything.
Writing letters to famous lawyers, Obama, or your respective Governor, may make you feel better, but it’s a waste of time. They get hundreds of letters a year from people like us. For the most part, their eyes will never see them. You need a standard simple letter, two to five pages, typed, and in some sort of logical order. Where were you arrested? By whom? Who prosecuted the case? Who was/were your lawyer(s)? What are the basic facts of the crime that you were alleged to have committed? (i.e. Who, What, Where, When, and How?) It doesn’t matter if you didn’t do it. Tell what was alleged. Send the name of a relative or friend that can be contacted. Keep it simple.
So, you now have written a letter, or several letters, and somebody has decided to take a look at your train wreck of a case. If it wasn’t a train wreck, you wouldn’t be reading this. In any event, what happens next? The most critical aspect of any wrongful conviction case is simply the paper trail. Needed are all transcripts, police reports, lab results, and crime scene materials. Your case can’t operate without them. Initially, everything rides on you and your team’s ability to gather the paper work of your case. It’s simply the road map to your eventual release. Without a complete set and careful review of your paper work, the effort will be ineffective and futile. Failure is almost guaranteed. Now you have an idea of how to get the attention you need. I can’t stress this enough; education is a must. Don‘t let peer pressure or pride stop you from regaining your Freedom. All of the above works. I’m living proof. I started by myself. If you have to, you can do the same.