Imagine for a moment that you are accused of attacking a person in their apartment during an armed robbery. The victim gives police your name because they claim to have recognized your voice as being one of the attackers. It's because of this that you go on trial and must defend yourself against serious criminal charges.
In your mind, you know you were not involved in the robbery and you're sure that the evidence will show this too. But despite the fact that your fingerprints are not found at the crime scene, nor is any other evidence that would link you to the crime, you are convicted and sent to prison. You find out later that inculpatory evidence was fabricated against you to secure a conviction that, along with wrongful imprisonment, violated a number of your constitutional rights.
As impossible as this may seem, this was the unfortunate situation for one man in Oklahoma who served 15 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. In his civil claim, the man claims that prosecutors embellished and falsified the evidence they did have to make him look guilty. He claims that they even went so far as to have a criminalist testify that they had linked him to the crime through hairs found at the scene when in fact the hairs excluded him as a source and likely ruled him out as a suspect.
Although his innocence was certified in 2013 after appealing his case, the fact that he is filing a civil lawsuit against law enforcement may suggest that justice has not been served yet in his eyes. Some of our readers might have the same sentiment if something like this were to happen to them as well.
Though this case was handled by a different jurisdiction, it's worth pointing out to our Washington readers that cases of wrongful conviction and imprisonment can happen anywhere, including here in our state. But what this case highlights is that convictions can be appealed and sometimes overturned. And if that sense of justice is not felt, an accused person may feel it necessary to seek restitution through civil litigation later on.
Source: Courthouse News Service, “15 Years for a Wrongful Conviction,” David Lee, June 12, 2014
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