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Re: “Room for One

Wrongful Convictions: Causes and Reforms
Based upon study of DNA exoneration
cases, it has become clear that the major
causes of wrongful conviction are systemic, and
that many can be addressed through legal
reform. NCIP is committed to raising public
awareness about these issues and promoting
reforms. For example, NCIP has worked with
police and prosecutors to implement “blind”
administration identification procedures, a
measure adopted in Santa Clara County, and is
currently working to implement the requirement
of videotaping interrogations.
0
20
40
60
80
100
Causes of Wrongful Conviction
(based on first 74 exonerations)
Mistaken Identification (81%)
Meaningless Blood Type Match (51%)
Police Misconduct (50%)
Prosecutorial Misconduct (45%)
Hair Comparison (35%)
Junk Science (34%)
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel (32%)
False Confessions (22%)
False Testimony/Snitch Witness (20%)
Snitch testimony is false testimony by a
government witness, often an inmate, who
claims to have overheard another inmate
confess to a crime. Snitches are commonly
motivated by special treatment, promises of
reduced sentences, reduction in charges or
other favors.
Suggested reforms include wiring
informants electronically so incriminating
statements can be verified, requiring pretrial
hearings to evaluate the informant’s credibility,
corroboration by substantial evidence,
recording of informant interviews, disclosing
informant statements to defense counsel,
prosecuting informants who provide false
information and sanctions for prosecutors who
fail to disclose deals with informants.
False Testimony/Snitch Witness
Excerpted from “Righting and Preventing Wrongful Convictions in California,” Northern California Innocence Project, 2006.
Page 2
• 11 •
Wrongful Convictions: Causes and Reforms
Police Misconduct
Prosecutorial Misconduct
Official misconduct by police and prosecutors is a proven cause of wrongful conviction.
Suggested reform: create committees to deal with misconduct and have prosecutors referred to
State Bar if misconduct is found.
Suggestive ID
procedure
(33%)
Suppression
of evidence (34%)
Evidence
fabrications (11%)
Allegations of
coercion (9%)
Forced
confessions
(8%)
Other (5%)
Suppression of
evidence (37%)
Knowing use of false
testimony (25%)
Witness
coercion
(11%)
Improper
closing
argument
(9%)
False statement
to jury (9%)
Evidence
fabrications (5%)
Other (4%)
Mistaken Eyewitness Identification
Mistaken eyewitness identification is the most frequent cause of wrongful conviction, occurring
in more than 80% of DNA exonerations. Although often unreliable, eyewitness identification is
nonetheless extremely persuasive to jurors. Causes of eyewitness identification errors include
suggestive identification procedures, differences in the races of the perpetrator and the
eyewitness, poor lighting, distance, age differences and intoxication.
Suggested reforms include further limiting use of one-on-one field show-ups; changing
identification procedures by implementing “blind” administration (where lineup administrator is
unaware of who the suspect is) to prevent subtle, unintentional influence; instructing witnesses
that the suspect might not be in the lineup; rating the certainty of the witness at the time of
identification so a tentative identification cannot harden into certainty over time; and videotaping
identification procedures.
Excerpted from “Righting and Preventing Wrongful Convictions in California,” Northern California Innocence Project, 2006.
Page 3
• 12 •
Wrongful Convictions: Causes and Reforms
DNA exoneration cases prove the seemingly
incomprehensible fact that innocent people
confess to crimes they did not commit. A
confession is a powerful piece of evidence and
profoundly impacts the outcome of cases even
when defendants recant their confessions at
trial. False confessions, often containing
detailed information about a crime, occur in a
disturbing number of wrongful convictions
cases. People falsely confess under a variety of
circumstances, such as when threatened with
capital punishment or extreme sentences, when
promised preferential treatment, or when
subjected to police duress. Conditions of
interrogation, such as length of interrogation,
food, water or sleep deprivation, and isolation
from family also lead people to confess falsely.
Psychologists have found that people who are
particularly suggestible and likely to falsely
confess are juveniles, people unfamiliar with the
system, people fearing violence or deportation,
and those affected by drugs, alcohol, mental
illness, impairment or retardation.
The suggested reform is to require video
recording of the entire interrogation and
confession to provide an objective record for
review.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Mirroring prosecutorial misconduct,
ineffective or incompetent defense counsel has
led to the conviction and imprisonment of
innocent people. Failure to investigate, failure to
call witnesses, and inadequate preparation (due
to caseload or incompetence), are common
examples of poor lawyering. The shrinking
funding and access to resources for public
defenders and court appointed attorneys
exacerbates the problem.
Suggested reforms include maintaining
salary levels for public defenders that are
commensurate with prosecutors, competitive
fees for court appointed attorneys, reasonable
caseloads for public defenders, and
performance standards for the de

Posted by pink on 03/21/2008 at 10:21 PM

Re: “Room for One



Arvind Balu

County: Lake
Convicted of: Gang Rape
Year of Conviction: 1997
Sentence: 20 years
Year Released: 2005
Years Served: 8 years
Wrongful Conviction Factors: False Testimony, Inadequate Representation, Prosecutorial Misconduct


On May 16, 1997, a twenty one year old college student named Arvind Balu was arrested and charged with five serious felonies after a teenager reported that he had tied her up, raped her at knife point, cut her with the knife, and then licked her blood. This assault was supposed to have occurred approximately nine months earlier at the Konocti Harbor Resort.

Given what is known now, it seems remarkable that criminal charges were ever brought as a result of these allegations. What has come to light are a remarkable number of circumstances that plainly establish that these charges were false including the implausible and inconsistent accounts given by the alleged victim to police and others; her unexplained failure to say a word about them to anyone for more than nine months; her immediate destruction of the pages in her diary relating to her trip once her rape accusation was reported to the authorities (it was reported against her will); and much other information that casts doubt upon her credibility. In addition, there was absolutely no physical evidence implicating Balu.

Arvind’s trial attorney was grossly incompetent and failed to fully investigate the case. The fact that Arvind had been in trouble with the law as a juvenile for minor infractions, and that he was bi-polar, may have been used against him during the police investigation.

Arvind recalls, “I went into shock when they told me I was facing 60 years in prison.”

Once convicted, Arvind spent eight brutal years behind bars. He painfully remembers, “I was held in solitary for three years, much without sunlight. I was beaten and tortured.”

Arvind’s codefendant Brendan Loftus, who was white, was also wrongfully convicted. However, he received a considerably lesser sentence of 5 years. He was completely cleared by the First District Court of Appeal within two years of his conviction.

After being released, Arvind continues to struggle, “I returned to Cal-Berkeley for a couple of years, only to face discrimination. I have begun my own activist project; my goal is to create electronic tools to free people from oppression and expand the Innocence Project. California owes me as a whole for this atrocity.”

Posted by pink on 03/21/2008 at 10:18 PM

Re: “Room for One



Arvind Balu

County: Lake
Convicted of: Gang Rape
Year of Conviction: 1997
Sentence: 20 years
Year Released: 2005
Years Served: 8 years
Wrongful Conviction Factors: False Testimony, Inadequate Representation, Prosecutorial Misconduct


On May 16, 1997, a twenty one year old college student named Arvind Balu was arrested and charged with five serious felonies after a teenager reported that he had tied her up, raped her at knife point, cut her with the knife, and then licked her blood. This assault was supposed to have occurred approximately nine months earlier at the Konocti Harbor Resort.

Given what is known now, it seems remarkable that criminal charges were ever brought as a result of these allegations. What has come to light are a remarkable number of circumstances that plainly establish that these charges were false including the implausible and inconsistent accounts given by the alleged victim to police and others; her unexplained failure to say a word about them to anyone for more than nine months; her immediate destruction of the pages in her diary relating to her trip once her rape accusation was reported to the authorities (it was reported against her will); and much other information that casts doubt upon her credibility. In addition, there was absolutely no physical evidence implicating Balu.

Arvind’s trial attorney was grossly incompetent and failed to fully investigate the case. The fact that Arvind had been in trouble with the law as a juvenile for minor infractions, and that he was bi-polar, may have been used against him during the police investigation.

Arvind recalls, “I went into shock when they told me I was facing 60 years in prison.”

Once convicted, Arvind spent eight brutal years behind bars. He painfully remembers, “I was held in solitary for three years, much without sunlight. I was beaten and tortured.”

Arvind’s codefendant Brendan Loftus, who was white, was also wrongfully convicted. However, he received a considerably lesser sentence of 5 years. He was completely cleared by the First District Court of Appeal within two years of his conviction.

After being released, Arvind continues to struggle, “I returned to Cal-Berkeley for a couple of years, only to face discrimination. I have begun my own activist project; my goal is to create electronic tools to free people from oppression and expand the Innocence Project. California owes me as a whole for this atrocity.”

Posted by pink on 03/21/2008 at 10:17 PM

Re: “Room for One



Arvind Balu

County: Lake
Convicted of: Gang Rape
Year of Conviction: 1997
Sentence: 20 years
Year Released: 2005
Years Served: 8 years
Wrongful Conviction Factors: False Testimony, Inadequate Representation, Prosecutorial Misconduct


On May 16, 1997, a twenty one year old college student named Arvind Balu was arrested and charged with five serious felonies after a teenager reported that he had tied her up, raped her at knife point, cut her with the knife, and then licked her blood. This assault was supposed to have occurred approximately nine months earlier at the Konocti Harbor Resort.

Given what is known now, it seems remarkable that criminal charges were ever brought as a result of these allegations. What has come to light are a remarkable number of circumstances that plainly establish that these charges were false including the implausible and inconsistent accounts given by the alleged victim to police and others; her unexplained failure to say a word about them to anyone for more than nine months; her immediate destruction of the pages in her diary relating to her trip once her rape accusation was reported to the authorities (it was reported against her will); and much other information that casts doubt upon her credibility. In addition, there was absolutely no physical evidence implicating Balu.

Arvind’s trial attorney was grossly incompetent and failed to fully investigate the case. The fact that Arvind had been in trouble with the law as a juvenile for minor infractions, and that he was bi-polar, may have been used against him during the police investigation.

Arvind recalls, “I went into shock when they told me I was facing 60 years in prison.”

Once convicted, Arvind spent eight brutal years behind bars. He painfully remembers, “I was held in solitary for three years, much without sunlight. I was beaten and tortured.”

Arvind’s codefendant Brendan Loftus, who was white, was also wrongfully convicted. However, he received a considerably lesser sentence of 5 years. He was completely cleared by the First District Court of Appeal within two years of his conviction.

After being released, Arvind continues to struggle, “I returned to Cal-Berkeley for a couple of years, only to face discrimination. I have begun my own activist project; my goal is to create electronic tools to free people from oppression and expand the Innocence Project. California owes me as a whole for this atrocity.”

Posted by pink on 03/21/2008 at 10:17 PM

Re: “Room for One



Arvind Balu

County: Lake
Convicted of: Gang Rape
Year of Conviction: 1997
Sentence: 20 years
Year Released: 2005
Years Served: 8 years
Wrongful Conviction Factors: False Testimony, Inadequate Representation, Prosecutorial Misconduct


On May 16, 1997, a twenty one year old college student named Arvind Balu was arrested and charged with five serious felonies after a teenager reported that he had tied her up, raped her at knife point, cut her with the knife, and then licked her blood. This assault was supposed to have occurred approximately nine months earlier at the Konocti Harbor Resort.

Given what is known now, it seems remarkable that criminal charges were ever brought as a result of these allegations. What has come to light are a remarkable number of circumstances that plainly establish that these charges were false including the implausible and inconsistent accounts given by the alleged victim to police and others; her unexplained failure to say a word about them to anyone for more than nine months; her immediate destruction of the pages in her diary relating to her trip once her rape accusation was reported to the authorities (it was reported against her will); and much other information that casts doubt upon her credibility. In addition, there was absolutely no physical evidence implicating Balu.

Arvind’s trial attorney was grossly incompetent and failed to fully investigate the case. The fact that Arvind had been in trouble with the law as a juvenile for minor infractions, and that he was bi-polar, may have been used against him during the police investigation.

Arvind recalls, “I went into shock when they told me I was facing 60 years in prison.”

Once convicted, Arvind spent eight brutal years behind bars. He painfully remembers, “I was held in solitary for three years, much without sunlight. I was beaten and tortured.”

Arvind’s codefendant Brendan Loftus, who was white, was also wrongfully convicted. However, he received a considerably lesser sentence of 5 years. He was completely cleared by the First District Court of Appeal within two years of his conviction.

After being released, Arvind continues to struggle, “I returned to Cal-Berkeley for a couple of years, only to face discrimination. I have begun my own activist project; my goal is to create electronic tools to free people from oppression and expand the Innocence Project. California owes me as a whole for this atrocity.”

Posted by pink on 03/21/2008 at 10:16 PM

Re: “Room for One



Arvind Balu

County: Lake
Convicted of: Gang Rape
Year of Conviction: 1997
Sentence: 20 years
Year Released: 2005
Years Served: 8 years
Wrongful Conviction Factors: False Testimony, Inadequate Representation, Prosecutorial Misconduct


On May 16, 1997, a twenty one year old college student named Arvind Balu was arrested and charged with five serious felonies after a teenager reported that he had tied her up, raped her at knife point, cut her with the knife, and then licked her blood. This assault was supposed to have occurred approximately nine months earlier at the Konocti Harbor Resort.

Given what is known now, it seems remarkable that criminal charges were ever brought as a result of these allegations. What has come to light are a remarkable number of circumstances that plainly establish that these charges were false including the implausible and inconsistent accounts given by the alleged victim to police and others; her unexplained failure to say a word about them to anyone for more than nine months; her immediate destruction of the pages in her diary relating to her trip once her rape accusation was reported to the authorities (it was reported against her will); and much other information that casts doubt upon her credibility. In addition, there was absolutely no physical evidence implicating Balu.

Arvind’s trial attorney was grossly incompetent and failed to fully investigate the case. The fact that Arvind had been in trouble with the law as a juvenile for minor infractions, and that he was bi-polar, may have been used against him during the police investigation.

Arvind recalls, “I went into shock when they told me I was facing 60 years in prison.”

Once convicted, Arvind spent eight brutal years behind bars. He painfully remembers, “I was held in solitary for three years, much without sunlight. I was beaten and tortured.”

Arvind’s codefendant Brendan Loftus, who was white, was also wrongfully convicted. However, he received a considerably lesser sentence of 5 years. He was completely cleared by the First District Court of Appeal within two years of his conviction.

After being released, Arvind continues to struggle, “I returned to Cal-Berkeley for a couple of years, only to face discrimination. I have begun my own activist project; my goal is to create electronic tools to free people from oppression and expand the Innocence Project. California owes me as a whole for this atrocity.”

Posted by pink on 03/21/2008 at 10:16 PM

Re: “Room for One



Arvind Balu

County: Lake
Convicted of: Gang Rape
Year of Conviction: 1997
Sentence: 20 years
Year Released: 2005
Years Served: 8 years
Wrongful Conviction Factors: False Testimony, Inadequate Representation, Prosecutorial Misconduct


On May 16, 1997, a twenty one year old college student named Arvind Balu was arrested and charged with five serious felonies after a teenager reported that he had tied her up, raped her at knife point, cut her with the knife, and then licked her blood. This assault was supposed to have occurred approximately nine months earlier at the Konocti Harbor Resort.

Given what is known now, it seems remarkable that criminal charges were ever brought as a result of these allegations. What has come to light are a remarkable number of circumstances that plainly establish that these charges were false including the implausible and inconsistent accounts given by the alleged victim to police and others; her unexplained failure to say a word about them to anyone for more than nine months; her immediate destruction of the pages in her diary relating to her trip once her rape accusation was reported to the authorities (it was reported against her will); and much other information that casts doubt upon her credibility. In addition, there was absolutely no physical evidence implicating Balu.

Arvind’s trial attorney was grossly incompetent and failed to fully investigate the case. The fact that Arvind had been in trouble with the law as a juvenile for minor infractions, and that he was bi-polar, may have been used against him during the police investigation.

Arvind recalls, “I went into shock when they told me I was facing 60 years in prison.”

Once convicted, Arvind spent eight brutal years behind bars. He painfully remembers, “I was held in solitary for three years, much without sunlight. I was beaten and tortured.”

Arvind’s codefendant Brendan Loftus, who was white, was also wrongfully convicted. However, he received a considerably lesser sentence of 5 years. He was completely cleared by the First District Court of Appeal within two years of his conviction.

After being released, Arvind continues to struggle, “I returned to Cal-Berkeley for a couple of years, only to face discrimination. I have begun my own activist project; my goal is to create electronic tools to free people from oppression and expand the Innocence Project. California owes me as a whole for this atrocity.”

Posted by pink on 03/21/2008 at 10:15 PM

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