Thursday, April 24, 2008

After prosecuting the innocent Cynthia Sommers, Bonnie Dumanis moves ahead in her apparent quest for the Mike Nifong award

I don't understand why Bonnie Dumanis isn't investigating where the arsenic in some tissue samples came from. Dumanis is more and more exhibiting a resemblance to Paul Pfingst (who prosecuted Stephanie Crowe's 15-year-old brother), Ed Miller (who prosecuted Dale Akiki) and Mike Nifong (who prosecuted the Duke LaCrosse players). It's one thing to make a mistake. It's another to keep prosecuting an innocent person just to gain political capital as your mistakes grow from simple errors into abuse of the justice system.

How about putting Patrick O'Toole charge of finding out who put the arsenic in some of the tissue samples? He should have some time available now that a jury has found Chula Vista councilman Steve Castaneda not guilty of Dumanis's politically-motivated charges of perjury during an investigation that found no crime.

by Beth Karas, In Session correspondent
April 21, 2008

"When I interviewed Cindy Sommer at the Las Colinas Women’s Detention Facility here a week ago, neither one of us had any idea that she was spending her last days behind bars. She was a free woman four days later...

"...As I look back on the developments in her case from her conviction in January 2007 to her release last week, lessons come to mind from my years as a DA in Manhattan. A senior DA took me aside during my first year and told me to watch the old Western movie, “The Oxbow Incident,” which deeply moved him. In the movie, based on the book, three innocent men were lynched by a mob when law and order were abandoned.

"My colleague wanted me to understand the immense power of a prosecutor and the need to reign in a “rush to judgment” mentality. He emphasized that doing justice doesn’t always mean trying to secure a conviction but doing what’s right whether it’s lowering the charges or dismissing them outright.

"Sommer’s case may not have been a classic rush to judgment since there wasn’t even a criminal investigation until 15 months after Todd Sommer’s death. Moreover, Sommer wasn’t arrested until November 2005, more than three years after her husband’s death. Despite the holes in the prosecution’s case—the most glaring being no link between Sommer and arsenic—a jury of twelve San Diegans found her guilty. She was facing a sentence of life without parole.

"San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis says the system worked in Sommer’s case. When they recently found more tissue samples of her late husband, the D.A. sent them for testing at a private lab. The absence of arsenic in the tissues led to Sommer’s release last week. The most Dumanis will now say is that there is reasonable doubt. She won’t go as far as Roy Cooper in North Carolina when he declared the three former Duke lacrosse players innocent. But in the eyes of many who followed her case closely, Sommer has now been totally exonerated."

Click here for CNN link.

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