Courts

Michigan Man In Prison On Bogus 'Bite Mark' Evidence Exonerated After 31 Years

Good on AG Dana Nessel's Conviction Integrity Unit.

Gilbert Lee Poole will be getting out of prison after Michigan's Conviction Integrity Unit cleared him of a murder he didn't commit. Poole had been convicted and sentenced to life in 1989, largely on the basis of "bite mark analysis," a once common form of evidence that in recent years has been debunked and branded as pseudoscience. DNA evidence proved that Poole was not the killer.

It's the first exoneration brought about by the unit, which was formed two years ago by state Attorney General Dana Nessel, who praised the team's work.

When we established this team in 2019, we made a commitment to ensuring those convicted of state crimes are in fact guilty while also providing justice to those wrongfully imprisoned.

Nessel also thanked the Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School Innocence Project, which had worked on the case for 10 years.

Here's an idea for a new series, Dick Wolfe. "Law and Order: Criminal Integrity Unit." It could show how people get wrongly convicted, and then after decades in prison, some of them are finally proven innocent. DUN DUN!

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sexism

How About We Don't Charge Women Who Have Stillbirths With Murder?

California judge dismisses murder charges against Chelsea Becker

Yesterday, a judge in California dismissed murder charges against Chelsea Becker, for having a stillborn baby.

Prosecutors had argued the baby died because Becker, who struggles with addiction, caused the stillbirth by ingesting meth during her pregnancy, but Kings County Superior Court Judge Robert Shane Burns ruled that they hadn't presented any evidence that Becker knew when she took the drugs that doing so could kill her baby.

The outcome is right. Pregnancy should not be criminalized.

But, unfortunately, this is not the end of the bigger fight.

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Legal

NOT SHINY, NOT NORMAL: Chevron Allowed To Literally Prosecute Lawyer For Winning Judgment Against It

US vs. Donzinger? THIS WHOLE CASE IS OUT OF ORDER.

Yesterday, the final day of his criminal trial, was Steven Donziger's 650th day under house arrest.

Donziger's crime? Pissing off Big Oil.

Steven Donziger now describes himself as an advocate. He used to be an environmental and human rights lawyer. For 28 years, he represented more than 30,000 indigenous Amazonians and rural farmers in Ecuador in their fight against Chevron.

For decades, the oil giant had destroyed the local ecosystem, dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste, leaving pits of oily waste water the size of football fields.

In 2011, an Ecuadorian court awarded Donziger's clients $19.5 billion in damages.

Rather than finally pay for some of the damage it had done, Chevron — which has some $260 billion in assets — quickly sold all of its holdings in Ecuador and got to work doing everything it could to get out of paying the people it harmed.

And, in addition to fighting the judgment, Chevron had a new goal: Ruin Steven Donziger's life.

Let's start at the beginning

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Abortion

Mississippi Gives SCOTUS First Shot At Taking Our Reproductive Rights Away

They've taken up Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban.

The shoe we've been staring up at for nearly five years is about to drop.

Today, the Supreme Court announced it will be take up a case disputing the constitutionality of Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban. The 6-3 conservative majority court will be hearing the case this fall and, most likely, deciding on it in the summer of 2022. We'll just go ahead and start calling it "Forcibly Pregnant Girl Summer," because this is their chance to at least start to overturn Roe v. Wade, and we all are pretty sure they're going to take it.

Here's the deal. In 2018, Mississippi passed the Gestational Age Act, which would prohibit abortions after 15 weeks. The Jackson Women's Health Organization, the last remaining abortion clinic in the state, challenged the ban in a federal court and won, because the law violated the viability standard determined in Roe, later clarified in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The state then took the case to the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which upheld the lower court's ruling.

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