The San Antonio Four, women released after more than a decade of imprisonment over child-abuse crimes they say they never committed, talk to NBC News. “Plea deals were offered, but they refused to accept them on the grounds that they were innocent.” One of the two accusers (pre-teens at the time) has recanted, the other sticks by her story.
The Massachusetts attorney general is now running for governor of the state after losing a Senate run three and a half years ago, so this makes a good occasion to revamp a 2010 post slightly so as to remind readers of Coakley’s central role in the Amirault travesty of justice, described so well by Dorothy Rabinowitz here. Earlier on the Amirault case here and here; on Coakley’s prosecutorial record here. More: John Stossel and (via Memeorandum): Bronwyn’s Harbor, No Quarter (citing views of Jeralyn Merritt/TalkLeft); Dan McLaughlin, RedState; Dan Riehl (Woodward, Souza cases). Yet more: on Coakley’s offer to a deal to one defendant on condition that the experienced defense counsel handling the deal agree not to represent a second defendant in future, see Scott Greenfield (characterizing the move as “a deliberate effort to undermine the constitutional right to counsel”), Kenneth Anderson/Volokh, and John Steele/Legal Ethics Forum. In 2010 we wondered whether Coakley’s Senate-race nosedive under critical public and press scrutiny amounted to the first time a Massachusetts prosecutor had paid a price for being wrong in the Amirault episode.
In Hopewell, Va., Mr. Montgomery spent four years behind bars after Ms. Coast falsely accused him of a rape eight years earlier, when he was 14. Eventually she admitted she’d made it up. “Coast however was sentenced by Hampton Circuit Court Judge Bonnie L. Jones to just two months in jail and ordered to make $90,000 in restitution for perjury. Jones suspended the rest of the five-year sentence and even allowed Coast to serve the remainder on weekends so not to disrupt her life.” [Jonathan Turley via Amy Alkon, Richmond Times-Dispatch]
“They will spend 10 years and all their money on litigation because of their inability to agree on anything,” a therapist predicted accurately. Yet more unsettling: the mom leveled false abuse accusations at the dad before eventually recanting. [Winnipeg Free Press]
- “‘Stand Your Ground’ task force offers no big changes to Florida law” [Orlando Sentinel, Tampa Bay Times]
- “Statutes of Limitations Apply Especially to Government Agencies” [Ilya Shapiro on Cato Institute amicus brief in Gabelli/SEC case] “The rule of lenity is violated when people go to prison for breaking ambiguous laws/regulations.” [Roger Marzulla, Federalist Society “Engage”]
- Sen. Rand Paul on the Missouri rabbit breeder case [Daily Caller]
- Mondale Act of 1974 (CAPTA) laid down basis for child abuse witch hunts [William Anderson, Agitator]
- Sententiousness vs. due process, plus a window into comments moderation at BoingBoing [Popehat] Background on State v. Fourtin [Gideon’s Trumpet first, second post]
- Massachusetts: “State’s Chemist Admits ‘Testing’ Drug Samples by Looking at Them” [Lowering the Bar]
- Plea bargaining: For Scott Greenfield, a showdown for justice at high noon turns into one of life’s little compromises [Simple Justice]
Four Texas women have been serving long prison terms since a 7-year-old and 9-year-old girl, nieces of one of them, accused them in a lurid tale of assault. Now, the younger accuser has grown up and recanted [Michelle Mondo, My San Antonio]:
“I want my aunt and her friends out of prison,” Stephanie, 25, said by phone last week. “Whatever it takes to get them out I’m going to do. I can’t live my life knowing that four women are sleeping in a cage because of me.”…
On and off the witness stand, the sisters changed their accounts of the timing, the use of weapons, the perpetrators and other basic details of the assault every time they told it to authorities, records show.
P.S. And another Texas recantation, of charges lodged during a bitter custody fight, the defendant has served more than 12 years of a 20-year sentence.
- Small favors dept.: police chiefs group supports use of drones, but concedes they probably shouldn’t be armed [USA Today; more on drones, Michael Kirkland, UPI, Paul Enzinna, PoL]. Earlier here, here, and here.
- Gibson Guitar settlement with feds controls what it can say about the case. Dangers in that, no? [Harvey Silverglate, earlier here, here, etc.]
- “Mission Creep Leads TSA to Racially Profile in Pursuit of Non-Terrorists to Arrest” [Virginia Postrel]
- Guestblogging at The Agitator, William Peterson outlines doubts about prosecutions that include the pursuit of Victoria Sprouse on mortgage-fraud charges in North Carolina, abuse accusations relating to the Creative Frontiers school near Sacramento, and the conviction of Courtney Bisbee at the hands of Maricopa County D.A. (and Overlawyered favorite) Andrew Thomas in Arizona;
- Canada: “Pay your dog license on time or we’ll arrest your wife!” [Sherwood Park News via @derekjamesfrom]
- “Overcriminalization, the comic” [Ted at PoL; plus videos from NACDL]
- “Police enlist young offenders as confidential informants. But the work is high-risk, largely unregulated, and sometimes fatal.” [Sarah Stillman, New Yorker]
- “Copyright troll Righthaven in its death throes, domain going up for auction” [Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing]
- Controversy over litigation finance continues [WaPo, NYPost]
- Presumably unrelated to above: “Unpaid Bills Land Some Debtors Behind Bars” [NPR]
- “Rent Control Violates Property Rights and Due Process” [Ilya Shapiro and Trevor Burrus, Cato, on Harmon v. Kimmel cert petition]
- Child abuse horrors result in dubious policy proposals including moves to abolish statutes of limitation, cast wider mandatory-reporting net [Howard Wasserman/PrawfsBlawg, Kyle Graham/Concurring Opinions]
- Schwab IRA class action settlement: lawyers get $500K while benefit to class is unclear [Lawrence Schonbron, Washington Times]
- “State Court Challenges to Legislatively Enacted Tort Reforms” [Andrew Cook and Emily Kelchen, Federalist Society “State Court Docket Watch”]
- Talking back to the “malpractice litigation is no big deal, docs should grin and bear it” theorists [David Sack, ACP via White Coat] “Worst states for medical malpractice risk” [White Coat]
- Jury awards $25 million against hospital that didn’t file abuse report after boy came in with broken wrist [Fayetteville, N.C. Observer]
- “Doctors Question Disability Decisions as Agency Moves to Speed Up Process” [WSJ via Walter Russell Mead]
- New “Federalist Society equivalents” in medicine (Benjamin Rush Society), business, foreign affairs [John J. Miller, Philanthropy]
- Fieger wins $144 million verdict blaming hospital for newborn’s cerebral palsy [suburban Detroit Tribune]
- Feds force birth control coverage on Catholic organizations, and free association suffers [Roger Pilon, Cato]
- Phone call from doc to patient’s home did not establish subsequent jurisdiction to sue there [Madison County Record] NY steps up program to streamline courts’ handling of med-mal claims [WSJ]