Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Freed after 29 years in prison for crime he did NOT commit

Wrongful convictions happen everywhere, but they seem to happen more often in Texas. The post following this one is about another innocent man imprisoned in Texas for a crime he didn't commit. You'd think Bible belt folks would be more averse to people bearing false witness against their neighbors.

Randolph Arledge, right, embraces his son, Chris Rodgers, center; at left is Innocence Project of Texas policy director Cory Session

Freed after 29 years in prison for crime he did NOT commit
Man wrongfully convicted of stabbing a woman to death is released after DNA reveals he wasn't the killer
12 February 2013

A 58-year-old Texan Randolph Arledge walked free Monday after serving years for a crime he didn't commit -- the repeated stabbing of a woman whose body was found on a dirt road in rural North Texas.

Arledge was sentenced to 99 years in prison in 1984 for killing Carolyn Armstrong.

But a state district judge in Corsicana, about 50 miles southeast of Dallas, agreed with prosecutors and Arledge's attorneys that he could no longer be considered guilty after new DNA tests tied someone else to the crime.

Judge James Lagomarsino agreed to release Arledge on bond while the process of overturning his conviction is pending. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals must accept Lagomarsino's recommendation for the conviction to be formally overturned, a process that is considered a formality.

Arledge wore shackles around his wrists and ankles at the start of the hearing, but was later taken into a back room by two deputies to have them removed.

When he returned, Arledge hugged his two children. His daughter was 4 years old and his son 7 when he was sent to prison.

'They suffered more than anybody,' Arledge told reporters afterward. He gestured to his daughter, Randa Machelle Arledge. 'She's always talking about, she wanted me to come pick her up from school. Now she's picking me up.' His children said they remained hopeful through the years, not doubting his innocence.

'Every time he came up for parole, it was broken, shattered hopes,' his daughter said.

Armstrong's body was found in August 1981 on a rural dirt road in Navarro County, according to a court filing by Arledge's attorneys. She had been stripped naked from the waist down and stabbed more than 40 times.

Her abandoned car was found miles away with several pieces of evidence, including a black hairnet on the left side of the driver's seat. Hair taken from that net was preserved for three decades.

In 2011, more advanced DNA testing linked samples from the hair net and elsewhere to someone else.

Navarro County District Attorney Lowell Thompson said authorities are searching for the person matched to the DNA and believe they know where he is. The case 'will stay open until we solve it,' he said in an interview...

Like many wrongfully convicted inmates, Arledge was sent to prison with the help of faulty eyewitness testimony. Two co-conspirators in an armed robbery testified at his trial that he had admitted to stabbing someone in Corsicana and that he had blood on his clothes and knife, according to the filing by Arledge's attorneys.

One of those witnesses has since admitted to lying about Arledge due to a personal dispute, the filing said.

Arledge became the 118th person in Texas state courts to have his conviction overturned, according to the University of Michigan's national registry of exonerations...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Former prosecutor, now a judge, is facing investigation: innocent man spent 21 years in jail

Attorney testifies in Texas inquiry of former DA
Associated Press
February 7, 2013

GEOGRETOWN, Texas (AP) — Attorneys representing a former Texas district attorney accused of prosecutorial misconduct in a wrongful murder conviction are trying to raise doubts about what occurred during the original trial.

Testifying Thursday is Bill Allison, a defense lawyer for Michael Morton.

Morton served nearly 25 years in prison for his wife's slaying — but was freed on DNA evidence in 2011.

Ken Anderson was the case's prosecutor but is now a judge. Morton's attorneys allege he withheld evidence indicating their client's innocence.

Anderson is now facing a court of inquiry on the matter. Allison detailed not receiving police case notes and other information at trial.

But Anderson's attorneys questioned whether he might have sought that evidence only after the fact.

Allison wavered. He eventually said: "You can't remember that which didn't happen."

Read more: http://www.seattlepi.com/news/texas/article/Attorney-testifies-in-Texas-inquiry-of-former-DA-4258506.php#ixzz2KF5txZwE

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Michael Roddy silent after receiving reports of shenanigans by clerks at San Diego Superior Court


In the same case discussed below, Stutz v. Larkins, we now have documents missing from the case file.

UPDATE JANUARY 3, 2013 re Michael Roddy silent about document falsified by clerk

Karen Dalton, in charge of public relations for the court, was able to get a response for me from Mr. Roddy. Here it is:

Dear Ms. Larkins,

The October 2012 inquiries cited in your blog were received and investigated by the court. After investigating the issues you raised, we concluded that no improper action has been taken by any court employees related to your case. The matter has been closed.

Mike Roddy
Executive Officer

(I guess this means business as usual will continue in the court.)

Maria Hayes is the Supervisor of the Superior Court Appeals Division. Kathy Williams is the Manager of that Department and several other departments. Stephen Cascioppo is the Assistant Executive Officer, Central Division. And of course, Michael Roddy is the Executive Officer. Michael Roddy has clearly approved the creation of a false document to get rid of Appeal regarding one of the decisions of Judge Judith Hayes and her research attorney, Monica Barry.


At a time of layoffs of clerks, why is the court forcing clerks to spend time creating false documents and then more time correcting the record?

Michael Roddy is silent regarding the bizarre and unsuccessful effort of the San Diego Superior Court Appeals Division to default my September 6, 2012 appeal regarding an injunction in the Stutz v. Larkins case.

The Court of Appeal has already ruled one of Judge Judith Hayes' injunctions unconstitutional in this same case. It would seem that Mr. Roddy wants to protect judges who ignore the law. He has not responded to either of the two letters below.

Notice the two signatures on the document at left. Someone has merely written "/s/" on each signature line! This suggests that the clerk didn't like having to sign this document, so she applied this imprecise symbol. Perhaps she feared she'd lose her job if she didn't put something on the signature line.

It appears that Superior Court Appeals division clerk ZZZ ordered her subordinate to dismiss my appeal, claiming that my Designation of Record was unacceptable because there were no hearings on three of the dates I had listed in my Designation of Record.

Even if the court had been correct regarding this issue, it is normal practice to allow the appellant a grace period to correct such mistakes.

In fact, the court was completely, absolutely, wrong.

Not only were there hearings on those dates, but the transcripts of those hearings had actually been received by the Superior Court Appeals division in 2010 for my earlier appeal about the other unconstitutional injunction in this same case. The court apparently invented this excuse in an effort to find any reason at all to justify defaulting my appeal.

What would be the motive? To make sure than Judge Judith Hayes didn't have another injunction overturned by the Court of Appeal in the Stutz v. Larkins case.

October 23, 2012

Michael Roddy, Executive Officer
Stephen Cascioppo, Assistant Executive Officer, Central Division
Third Floor
220 West Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101

Dear Executives of San Diego Superior Court:

Following is not necessarily word-for-word accurate, but all the ideas expressed are accurate. Not every word spoken is recorded here, but this transcript contains about 80% of what was spoken. Some parts were repeated.

I spoke to deputy clerk XXX in the Appeals Section on October 22, 2012 about the fact that all three of the dates she used to justify Defaulting my Appeal were, in fact, dates on which hearings had occurred.

Ms. XXX went to her computer and checked all three dates, then came back to me and said, “There were no minute orders on those dates.”

“Were there hearings on those dates?” I asked.

Instead of answering this question, she repeated a couple more times that there were no minute orders on those dates.

“What if the judge took the matter under submission?” I asked. “There wouldn’t be any minute order, even though there had been a hearing.”

Ms. XXX told me that her computer does not show whether a hearing has occurred—unless there was a minute order!!!!

I showed Ms. Rodriquez two Reporter’s Transcript cover sheets for my 2010 appeal in the same case. I had drawn circles around the three dates in question. Ms. XXX made copies of the two cover sheets, and said that this cleared up the problem.

I said, “No, it doesn’t. The fact that this happened is a problem. Someone told you to do this, didn’t they?”

She said that no one had told her to do it.

I said, “You’re going to take the fall for this?”

I said I didn’t believe she could have made three mistakes like this, and she didn’t have any motive to sabotage my appeal.

When she went to her desk, her supervisor ZZZ came up to her and told her she should leave. Then she said, “It’s your break. I’ll take care of it.”

Then they both came over to where I was sitting, and XXX explained the situation to ZZZ.

ZZZ said to XXX, “Did you look it up on the V3 system?”

XXX said she did.

I said, “So the name of the system you use is V3?

ZZZ waved her hand dismissively, ending the gesture with her palm stationary in front of my face, and said, “It’s nothing for you to worry about.”

I requested that she not stick her hand in my face and asked, “Do you not want me to have information about what system you use?”

ZZZ said she didn’t mind giving me the information, and said that V3 was the system used by the Court.

“Does it show when a hearing has occurred?” I asked.

“Yes,” ZZZ said.

“That’s interesting. XXX said that it didn’t,” I said.

ZZZ said, “No, it doesn’t show hearings. It shows the minute orders. The minute orders are printed on yellow paper and placed in the file.”

I said, “So there’s no record on your computer of hearings at which no minute order was issued?”

ZZZ said, “Well, yes, there’s a little one line notation showing that there was a hearing.” She held up her two index fingers, a short distance apart, to show how small the notation was, apparently to demonstrate how easily it could be overlooked. I said, “Someone must have told XXX to do this. Was it you?”

ZZZ said, “No.”

ZZZ turned to XXX and told her to leave.

XXX was obviously uncomfortable to be asked to leave. It was clearly not her normal break time. I happen to know that clerks sometimes take their breaks at their desks, so it was not necessary for XXX to leave even if it actually had been her break time. XXXX did not feel good to be told to leave; her facial expression and body movements revealed that she was unhappy and anxious. I interpreted the order to leave as ZZZ’s effort to prevent XXX from revealing that ZZZ had told her to create the Notice of Default. This was quite paranoid of ZZZ, since XXX was absolutely steadfast in sticking to the story that the Notice of Default was entirely her own idea.

I asked to speak to Ms. ZZZZ’s supervisor, but Ms. ZZZZ said the supervisor had her door closed and was in a meeting.

I gave ZZZ my 1-page letter with three attachments, addressed to Mr. Roddy, Mr. Cascioppo, and XXXX, and she stamped it received and stamped my copy. I went to Michael Roddy’s office, but it was closed for lunch. I went back and asked ZZZ to put another copy in Mr. Roddy’s mail box. I saw her put the letter in a mail box on the west wall.

It’s worse to force a young, vulnerable person to subvert justice than it is to simply subvert justice oneself. And whoever pressured ZZZ was worse than ZZZ. Sincerely,

Maura Larkins

October 21, 2012

Michael Roddy, Executive Officer
Stephen Cascioppo, Assistant Executive Officer, Central Division
XXXXXXXX, Deputy Clerk of the Superior Court, 3rd Floor, Room 3005
220 West Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101

Dear San Diego Superior Court:

Deputy Clerk of the Superior Court XXXXXX states in her October 18, 2012 Notice of Default (attached) that for the dates 4/25/08, 4/03/09 and 3/05/10 “there are no minutes/hearings for those dates according to our record.”

I can’t begin to imagine how Ms. XXX could come up with not one, but three separate mistakes of this type. Not only did hearings occur on all three of these dates, but court reporter Marvie Votaw delivered the transcripts of these three hearings to your Appeals Section in connection with my March 2010 appeal. I have attached Ms. Votaw’s cover pages showing that transcripts were prepared for these dates. Also, in September 2012 the court reporters had no trouble preparing estimates for the cost of preparing the current record because I obviously designated the record with adequate specificity.

It is bizarre that the Superior Court would interfere in this way with my appeals process. If the deputy clerk didn’t have enough time to check carefully, why would she go out of her way to prepare a Notice of Default? Left to her own devices, she would have left it alone rather than picking three dates and declaring that hearings didn’t happen on those days. More likely, someone else picked those three dates and told Ms. XXXX that no hearings occurred on those days.

I suspect that someone in San Diego Superior Court who wanted to get rid of my appeal asked XXXX to prepare this Notice of Default.

Please investigate this shocking subversion of the judicial process.

XXX had no motive to do this on her own initiative, but obviously there is at least one person in San Diego Superior Court who does have a motive. Judge Judith Hayes almost certainly wants to prevent another ruling by the Court of Appeal that finds one of her injunctions to be “exceedingly broad.” But Judge Hayes probably didn’t talk directly to Ms. XXXX. More likely it would have been xxxxxx or xxxxxx.


Maura Larkins

The clerk seemed quite happy to reverse the default she had been forced to prepare. She sent me the following:

Here's a recent court transcript revealing the judge's bizarre behavior in this case.

See all posts re Stutz v. Larkins.

Michael Roddy is employed directly by the California Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC).

Friday, February 1, 2013

Court apologizes to Hells Angels

Court apologizes to Hells Angels
UPI News Service

A San Diego court has apologized for ejecting two prospective jurors who refused to remove their Hells Angels motorcycle club vests.

Hells Angels members Timothy "Fuzzy" Timms and Mick Rush said sheriff's deputies escorted them from the San Diego Superior Court's Hall of Justice after they reported for jury duty and refused orders from the deputies to remove their leather vests, which bear the club's "death's head" insignia, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Tuesday.

A court spokeswoman said the Superior Court and the Sheriff's Department apologized to the two men, saying the ejection was the result of deputies and court officials "misunderstanding" an April 24 order by Superior Judge Jeffrey Fraser.

"He (the judge) does have a case before him involving Hells Angels members and his order applies only to that case and to his courtroom, not to the entire courthouse," court spokeswoman Karen Dalton said.

"She apologized and said they were embarrassed, and she sounded very sincere," Timms said of jury services manager Terri Brewton. "I told her I did not have any complaint about jury officials, but rather I was embarrassed to be surrounded by six deputies and told I had to leave because of my attire."