“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.: Isaiah 8:20
Mike Ware, Criminal Defense Attorney and Executive Director of The Innocence Project of Texas discusses the causes of false confessions and wrongful convictions in this episode of Justice in His Kingdom. The hosts, Roger Oliver and Jerri Lynn Ward put this in the context of God’s law and His requirements for justice.
Welcome to Justice in his Kingdom, a podcast that examines the religious nature of justice featured on Christian interest radio broadcasting. See on one of one radio your hosts on Hunter Oliver and Jerry Lynn Ward. Roger and I are very happy to welcome Mike Wear today to our podcast, to talk about issues for justice, for our show, justice in his kingdom, and let me just tell you a little bit about Mike. Mike is a criminal defense attorney, and he graduated with honors from the University of Texas with a degree in philosophy and attended and graduated from the University of Houston law School.
And he has always practised criminal law on. And he also had a stint at the D. A’s office, which I’m gonna get him to talk about. Uh, my what led you to the practice of criminal law? Well, you know, there’s there’s a real long answer to their question, but the short answer is that was really the only thing in law are the main thing in law that interested me. And not only have you been a criminal defense lawyer, you also have worked for the district attorney’s office in Dallas.
Can you tell everybody about what you did there? Yes. You know, I, uh, um passed the bar and got my bar results in 1983. So that tells you a little bit about how old I am. But, um, I never all out really wanted to do is be a criminal defense lawyer. I never wanted to work in a prosecutor’s office, and for the 1st 23 years or so, that’s what I did. I opened my own practice. Uh, well, I clerked for a year for a federal district judge here in Fort Worth, which is where my criminal defense practices.
And ah, and after that, opened up my own office and have you know, been on my own as a criminal defense lawyer since then. Except that in 2006 um, Craig Watkins got elected district attorney of Dallas County and and took office in 2007 and Craig was the first African American ever be elected to that office. Ah, he’s in Dallas or anywhere in Texas, for that matter. Um, and he was not from within the office, and he beat um, the de facto incumbent. The lawyer who had been the first assistant for the prior of district attorney.
And so basically, he represented a big change because he wasn’t from inside the office and because he was African American. And a lot of people I believe in the office were, um, scared of that. They were I think they were afraid of what kind of, um um, malfeasance had been perpetrated in the office over the years. They were used Teoh. They could do what they want with confidence that, uh that, no, that it would be covered up by the administration. And and they no longer had that confidence with Craig and a lot of the a lot of people.
There was what I think had fairly characterizes panic in people resigning from the office. And then, in fact, his first day in office, he fired 10 of the top prosecutors in the office because of, uh, the reputation practices they had for prosecutorial misconduct, which, you know, until that point, they had completely gotten away with. So anyway, he had the wisdom to hire a good friend of mine, Terry Mawr, to be his first assistant. Um, Terry, like me, was from Fort Worth, and he had been in the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office and the United States United States Attorney’s office.
So both a state and federal prosecutors. She was a criminal defense lawyer at the time. She had also run for district attorney in Tarrant County. And so she had experience in politics. So she was a great person for him to choose to run his office. And that’s what the first assistant generally does. You know, the elected D. A. Goes out and talks with Rotary Club, whatever talks to the church groups and is the politician. And then they have to have somebody who actually knows the law and knows how to try case and, you know, knows how to run a large Metropolitan District attorney’s office, the personnel, the HR aspects and all that.
And that was that was Terry’s job, his first assistant, Um, and she, because Dallas County had such a terrible reputation ah, of convicting innocent people and and, um, prosecutorial misconduct, etcetera. They Terry decided to form what she called a conviction integrity unit. Um, and she asked me to leave private practice in 2007 and come over and in start the first ever conviction integrity unit in the country where we, as the district attorney’s office, would go back and under our mandate, under the ethics rules and under the law, pursue justice rather than just convictions.
And so we went back, we were to look back and investigate questionable convictions from the past. We did other things, but questionable conditions, convictions from the past and see which ones of these guys are women. These individuals were innocent and had been convicted wrongfully. But we were doing it from within the office, sometimes in cooperation with an attorney that represented the individual, sometimes in cooperation with groups like the Innocence Project in New York. Very sex, um, organization, but tsunamis. It was on our own. I mean, sometimes we found a case that this person was obviously innocent, had been convicted because of prosecutorial misconduct, and we would have to ask that they be appointed a lawyer because we couldn’t, you know, we can’t represent individuals.
So some of it was all on our own and and during the course of Terry and I stayed there four years from 2007 to 2011 way both left at the same time and share office space now is criminal defense lawyers. But during that time we exonerated. I would say 25 men, We’re absolutely innocent. Ah, and then started a lot of investigations during that time that ended up in exonerations after we left because they kept the conviction Integrity unit after we left. Now there are conviction integrity because of the success we had in the publicity, there are conviction integrity units all over the country.
I think 50 something and the National Registry of Exonerations has said there are I forget the number well over 400 exonerations now that are attributed to the various conviction integrity units all over the country, which include Los Angeles, New York City, Brooklyn. And, uh, I think all the urban areas in Texas, with the exception possibly Avella passive. Yeah, I remember in the seventies when I was both in college and law school, the Dallas D. A. Did not have a good reputation back then, either. So it’s been a long standing problem in The thing is, they were proud of it, you know?
I mean, it was they they were proud of their I mean, I say that they were proud of their bad reputation. Um, you know, uh, are let me put it this way. Very arrogant about it. They didn’t care what people said about him. They were going to convict everybody, give give them Aziz longest sentences they could or the death sentence. And, um and they knew that that was what was going to get them re elected on and to continue on. When we started this unit, um, it was considered by us and by everybody very, very politically risky.
I mean, it was It was, um uh, it had never been done before. No one had ever had the concept before, and the police hated us for it. Um, frankly, a lot of the victims groups didn’t like it. Um, and of course, all we were doing is exonerating innocent men and women who had been wrongfully convicted. That’s it, you know, and and of course, no one could formulate an argument against that and articulated publicly. But But the whisper campaigns and and the the out and out hatred for what we were doing was palpable.
People really, really wanted us to make a mistake that would embarrass us. And we didn’t. We were very careful about what we did, and, uh, and it’s it’s really I can say it’s very rewarding to see someone, uh, that we exonerated. Like Richard Miles, who has now started his own nonprofit miles of freedom and started a beautiful family. And and to see, you know, that as an example of of, you know, some of the good work that we did what cost his conviction? Um, you know, racism.
Um, uh, general attitudes among the the investigating detective, um, prosecutorial misconduct and, uh, bad eyewitness identification. Okay. And we’re gonna get into some of those in a minute. But one reason that I wanted you to be on this podcast is because not only do you have this history and also a history in the past of helping defend people and exonerate them is that that you are the executive director of the Innocence Project of Texas, and I would like for you to tell folks what that is and what the mission of that organization is.
Sure, I co founded the organization as a non profit in 2006 and of course, we just sort of gotten off the ground when I had to leave um, to become, you know, the head of the conviction integrity unit in Dallas County. I couldn’t, you know, obviously be in the D A s office and on, ah, the board of a nonprofit, like the Innocence Project of Texas. Although we did work closely with the Innocence Project of Texas in some cases when I was in the D. A s office, a swell, as, you know, the New York Innocence Project and very Schick.
Um, but, um um I’m sorry, what was your original question? I start getting off track. I just wanted you to tell us what they did. I think you’ve done that. Well, Yeah, OK. The innocence Project attacks. Sure. And so, um, you know, it remained active when I left in 2007 and when I came back left the D A s office in 2011 I rejoined the board and started working on innocents cases, you know, pro bono as a member of the board. And we had, um, you know, in in the case, I started working on right away when I came out, resulted in the exoneration of four completely innocent women on a San Antonio pushed the exoneration took five years, but they were finally exonerated, all four of them completely in 2016.
And so during that time I was I was on the board and working cases. And then in 2015 we had a personnel shift, and I took over as the executive director of the Innocence Project of Texas and began to actually actively running the non profit rather than just being on the board. So I’ve been the executive director for five years now. Now, one thing I wanted up taking the both the Innocence Project of Texas. And these cut these conviction integrity units, those air something that have been formed outside the legal system.
Why is it so difficult within the system to exonerate the actual innocents? In fact, it seems, sometimes is it’s easier to get toe overturning convictions dis based on technical reasons than it is to exonerate someone who’s actually innocent. Why, it is our system like that. Um, that’s a really great question. And first I want to make sure something that we’re clear on something. You said that the initially said something about seat the C I use and in the, um um, innocents projects are out outside the legal system.
I’m not sure which. Well, while they’re not part of, like the appellate the appellate court, there’s something that’s been added on. They’re not like in the official judicial system, but you’re right. They’re not in the judicial judicial system. But that’s correct, although, you know the D A’s officers arguably much more powerful than the judiciary. But but still, the judiciary has the last word. And let me, you know, the the concept of on innocent person being being convicted in reality is fairly new. Um, I mean, it existed on TV and in movies, but, you know, when I first started practicing in 1983 1994 um, I mean, I think I was an exception, but But with exceptions, nobody really believed they happened.
Certainly nobody in the district attorney’s office believe that they happened. And so there was no, um, there was no legal remedy, really. For someone who was all if all they had was, I didn’t do it, and I got convicted because the jury got it wrong. There was no, um, legal vehicle for them to receive relief unless they could find some constitutional violation over and above that. Now, the DNA exonerations that started happening in the nineties across the nation started opening people’s eyes because they started establishing someone who looked for all the world totally guilty through scientific evidence, was actually innocent.
People were still skeptical. But in a lot of cases, and this was true in Dallas. In several cases, we were able to not only exonerate someone, we were able to identify the actual perpetrator, take apart the investigation and show exactly where it went wrong and why the DNA tests were right. And so that started changing. You know, the courts started catching up to that and start saying Well in Texas, what are we gonna do? What are we gonna do it, Um, if someone, um, you know, say all they’ve got is a DNA test, it that proves they’re innocent and then the actual person who did it is identified, and then it’s established through other evidence that the person who actually did it did do it.
I mean, there are obviously a mistake is made, but yet we can’t identify a constitutional violation. You know, we can’t identify prosecutorial misconduct, although there probably was. Some had just been covered up. We can’t say it was bad science. It was just, you know, the victim coming into court and saying, That’s the guy who did it I’m absolutely positive. And that was good enough for the jury. Um, how are we going to give this person relief? There’s nothing in our jurisprudence that allows for relief in that situation.
And so what the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals did to their credit is they formulated a, um, a free standing post conviction claim based solely on actual innocence. And if a person, but they’ve set a very high high standard. They themselves called a Herculean standard, I guess. I guess that’s named after Hercules, but But I guess it’s them trying to be cute and talk about how difficult it is to meet that standard. But if you can meet with new evidence, if you can meet by clear and convincing evidence that had the same jury that convicted, this individual heard this new evidence on top of the old evidence.
And of course, if the new evidence is evidence that could have been presented or could have been discovered back at the time of trial, then you don’t get to use. You have to establish number one that its new evidence that was not known at the time of trial and could not have been discovered to reasonable diligence at the time of trial or you can’t use it don’t matter how honest you are. And, um so. But if you can do that, then they will. If they can say that same jury would have granted would have found the person not guilty based on this new evidence, then they couldn get relief based on actual innocence.
There’s a lot of controversy in the court. It’s a lot of former prosecutors on on the court, which is, by the way, completely all white court and that that don’t like actual innocents. And so there is some resistance there. And But I’ll say this. They’re ahead of the United States Supreme Court, which to this day does not recognize actual innocence as a legitimate, freestanding claim for relief. Well, and that gets us to the theme of our show, which is the religious nature of justice and in accordance with God’s law.
And to me, it’s appalling that these judges would not place a premium on truth. And that’s one reason why we wanted to get you here. Because we want to go back and unwind why these false convictions are happening and addressed several issues about that. And the first thing that I talked to you about when I asked you toe be on the show were false confessions and what their causes are. And I have to tell you, I have listened to every single once I found it. I have listened to every single wrongful conviction podcast of the Innocents project in the last few months and to the point that sometimes I think I’m gonna have a heart attack over it, uh, and learned a lot about false confessions and why they happened that I had never heard about.
So I would like you to help educate our listeners about that. Because, as I told you when I sent you the invitation, there are biblical limitations on the use of confessions because the incentive was to prevent torture to prevent people being tortured in order to confess. And when Christendom reined in the West in western civilization, For many years, uh, torture had become almost non existence until about 12 or 13 hundreds when it came back into to use, uh, so I would like you to enlighten our fellow Christians about why these Why someone would falsely confess to something.
And what What are the techniques that are used to induce those? Well, of course, You know, uh, a false confession is something that’s really hard to wrap your mind around, you know, for your average person. Um, And by false confession, Um, I’m not talking about one that is coerced through torture, necessarily. Although they can happen that way. Uh, I’m talking about something where someone confesses, says they did a crime of horrible crime that they, in fact had nothing to do with and what would cause them to do that, short of what we would call coercion or torture.
And, um and it happens much more often than I would have thought it would. But it does. I’ve seen it. I’ve I’ve seen we’ve got a case we’re working on now. That’s obviously a false confession. When I was in the Dallas D. A’s office, um, we worked on a case of a guy named Steven Brody who was a deaf kid, and the Richardson detective. I worked on him. If they want to know 18 hours and several days, most of it without an interpreter, most of them most of just passing this death.
At that time he was 19 this deaf kid, and finally got him to say enough that the detective, the Richardson detective, could say, Well, he’s now confessed. It was totally shameful. And that happened in 1991 and we were able. When I was in Dallas from 2007 to 2011 Steven’s father asked us to review the case. We did. We exonerate we we were able through DNA and other means to exonerate Stephen and to identify the actual perpetrator of this formal crime, who we were able to go back in prosecute 20 years later successfully, twice does.
He did it two more times and twice and got him to life sentences. And so, you know, I mean, that’s an indication that, you know, many times the police and prosecutors, you’re not really a zoo. Muchas they talk about are not really concerned about public safety because falsely convicting Stephen Brody did nothing for public safety. Temporarily, it made them heroes. Fossey roads but temporarily, it made them heroes. But it didn’t protect the public safety from the actual perpetrator who went on to do this again and again.
Um, and, um so every false confession is different. Stephen Brody, I think, was vulnerable because they worked on him for so long because he was deaf, because, you know, he was, Although he was at that point a high school graduate, I think he was probably had special needs. Um, and, uh um, but it happens surprisingly, across all demographics, there’s there is an excellent, actually, I think there’s two documentaries on the same subject matter. I’ve seen them both of one’s better than the other, but there’s there. There, I believe, is the Norfolk four.
They were, um, Navy, um, are they were in the navy. They were, you know, and and, uh, they in the documentary interviews, all of them. They seemed like normal people. Maybe even a one on one in particular, maybe even above average. But somehow the detective was able to get confessions out of three of the four. Something like that for crimes None of them committed, none of them committed in that case through DNA. They identified the actual perpetrator. So I say that because it the documentary will shock you.
And eventually the governor of Virginia, I believe, did commute their sentences or issue pardons or whatever. Um, but it will open your eyes that although there are certain demographics that are more vulnerable to giving false confessions, probably almost none of us are immune from giving a false confession. Um, and, um, and the general, um, go to culprit of false confessions is what’s called the Reid technique. And you know, you can google the Reid technique and find out all kinds of things about it. There’s an excellent article in The New Yorker from about that several years ago, at least five years ago called the Interview that Tracks False Confessions, and John read his career and the read I guess it’s read Incorporated.
Now it’s become a big business. They make a lot of money going across the country, teaching police how to get people to confess and and, um and in fact, fairly recently, ah, young man named one Riviera one, I believe, use like 20 or $25 million judgment, um, in the Chicago area, which is where Johnny Reid and Associates is headquartered because and I think five million of that, or so was was assessed against Johnny Reid and associates for their role in getting him to falsely confess. And in fact, Johnny reads first big high publicized, um, confession that he got after he left the Chicago Police Department and was sort of a freelance, I guess.
Confessed confession. Get her, Um, and I can’t remember. The man’s name is very well known. Turned out to be a false confession. And it was during the fifties, I believe. And in fact, um, not that long ago when this man was 80 or so he was exonerated. And I believe the the actual perpetrator was identified that many years later. So Johnny Reid’s big career started off for the false confession, which I found ironic. Well, and, um um and but they’re still in business today. They had to pay out something like five million to one Riviera for the false confession they hoped, um, secure in his case.
But it’s the best I can tell. I don’t pretend understands best. I can tell the best analogy I can think of. It’s like a very high pressure sales technique, and but it’s a very high pressure sales technique Where the salesman have you locked up and have guns and in our in our, uh, trains in in getting confessions, whether you did it or not, they’re trained in getting you to say you did it. And, um, it’s not, you know, maybe it walks the lines and times, but according to the courts, it’s not illegal and that they’re not beating people.
They’re not, um, uh, you know, making outrageous promises. They can’t keep its all just it is very analogous to a high pressure sales technique. Well, from the podcast I listen to, it seems to me that there is an element of terrorizing people in the Greek that me. And in one particular case, I can’t remember the name of the, uh, the defendant. But it was a teenager, and it reduced the teenager. In fact, this may have happened in more than one case into making up dreams about, uh, how a crime could have happened and that turning into confession and you know, that’s a form of spectral evidence.
Spectral evidence was largely responsible for the Salem witch trials. A lot of people were executed because of spectral evidence until, ah, high ranking pastor came in and put a stop to that. And Roger, I think you’ve got some questions where I have I’ve been to the Salem Witch Museum and Salem, Massachusetts. It’s it’s pretty interesting. But anyway, I digress. Go ahead. I just, ah, quote from Rendell on one winters. In his book Excellence of the Common Law, he said, experiences fish experience has shown the power of accusation will cause the human in his frailty to doubt even his clear innocents.
That’s the far upstate in the great accuser. That’s fascinating. And I think that’s absolutely true. And I think that happens sometimes in the case we’re working on now. It’s really in some cases, Um uh, Callum, Where’s my mind today? What’s what’s the turn where someone convinces somebody else they’re crazy? Gaslighting Gasland? Yeah, it’s really it’s a form of gas lighting and in a lot of cases, and I think particularly, I mean, like these these Navy guys in Norfolk, their military, they’re taught to respect authority. Um, in this case we’re working on now, um, he was former military, honorably discharged and and, uh and you know, respected authorities.
My back. He was a licensed jailer at the time. Hey. Gave this false confession to a Texas Ranger. Um, and it is. It’s a form of gas lining. It’s like, my gosh, I respect authority. I respect the police. I respect the Texas Rangers. Whatever. Why would they tell me I had done this if I hadn’t? I mean, what is it? What is it? I don’t remember. I mean, what could have And and they don’t necessarily completely by it, But it does make them doubt in can and after hours and hours of these, you know, men who are.
You know, of course, the Texas Rangers are wearing a cowboy costume, but but with some people, that gives him credibility. Why would these people be telling me I did this if they had nothing to go on? And so I think at some point, a lot of points. It is someone who has been successfully gas lighted. They do start to doubt their own, um, their own sanity. And of course, they’re told. Well, I can’t I can’t promise you anything, but it will go a lot easier on you if you just go ahead and say it.
And and, uh, a smart fact, we’ll let you go today, Um, and we’ll talk to the d A. We can’t guarantee will happen that will let you go today. If you’ll just say it, it’ll go a lot easier on you. But if you don’t say it and they’re allowed to lie and do lie about the evidence that they get And so you know, I mean, in this this case we’re working on, they told him they had video. They told him, you know, whatever. Some cases they say DNA and go, how can you have video when I was never there And well, we do.
We do. How can you have DNA if I was never there? Well, we do, and we’re going to convict you. It’s gonna be a lot easier on if you just say you did it. And you can even leave today if you’ll say you did it. And, uh, we can’t guarantee you that we’re not gonna, you know, went on a charging. But it’s gonna go a lot easier on you if you just own up and they present fall scenarios that kind of give them an out. Um, well, maybe this was self defense, you know, and they don’t believe it in self defense, you know, whoever committed this murder, but they believe that they can at least get this person to say they did it.
Then they can worry about rebutting the self defense defense later in court. That sort of thing. Yeah. Uh, I was just gonna comment. It seems to me like we’re stacking up reasons that support the biblical concept that a confession is never Ah, a reason to convict. You cannot coerce a confection. You cannot convict a person by a convicted by, as we read in the in RJ rushed Younis article that you sent us, uh, that I sent you, right? Yeah. Yeah. That’s another thing I want to get into because, uh, what it talks about is in the book of Joshua H. In when they besieged the city of Jericho, they were instructed not to take any kind of loot.
And he in fact, disobeyed that and he pulls the he cost the in the next siege of AI. He caused a lot of deaths of the Hebrews. And so sorry about that. And so, uh, Joshua was was told by God that he had done this. So they had evidence from God that agent had disobeyed God, and that was the cause of their defeat. They also eventually got a confession from Agent, but they didn’t move. Then they went and investigated further and got actual physical evidence. And they fulfilled all the requirements of God’s law with regard to witnesses, hand and physical evidence and do not take any action just on the basis of his confession and many of these false confessions that we’ve been we’ve been talking about.
It doesn’t seem like they make their case through physical evidence or necessarily through witness evidence. Because from what I’ve heard on these podcasts, I’ve been listening to, Ah, lot of times the statement or the so called confession of the of the victim of a wrongful conviction had the actual fax completely wrong. Yes, that’s that’s all true. And wow, I wish, um, more police investigative agencies would take a take a lesson from that part of the Bible, but But the fact is, here’s what happens often in most false confession cases and mistaken eyewitness identification cases, both of which your average person thinks would be a gold standard in evidence.
I mean, if someone is, if someone is solved, saw the crime happened. Maybe they’re the victim. Saw the crime happened. Says they’re absolutely certain that’s the person. Or if the person, um, you know, says they did it to most jurors, one or the other is all they need to convict somebody. Um, and generally what happens is you know, there is, um, you know, some violent crime is committed, whatever it may be. And for whatever reason, someone becomes to the police, a suspect. Maybe there’s no evidence that they did it.
Maybe it’s somebody the police just don’t like. Um, you know, uh, maybe there’s some reason to kind of sort of suspect they may have done it. And so the police decide that’s who they’re gonna blame it on. And an honestly, when I was in Alice, what I saw again and again. And I really believe this is sometimes a policing to have an attitude that, for example, if a black man committed this crime, then a black man needs to go to prison for it doesn’t have to be the same black, um, and and so I saw that in Taos.
Um and so for whatever reason, they decide they’re gonna put it on somebody, and, um, they get them in, and if they can get a confession out of them off false confession now that’s their case. They don’t have to do anymore. Now that’s their case. And in same with eyewitness identification. Ah, and I saw this again and again. You know, where DNA exonerated Someone identified the actual perpetrator years later, and the actual perpetrator looked nothing like the person who got convicted. In Thomas McAllen’s case, one of our exonerees, the We went back with the original detective and looked at the original photo spread, which was in 1984 and the actual perpetrator who we identified through DNA.
Once we did, the DNA test was in the photo spread that McAllen was in yet. Yet the victim passed over the photo of the actual perpetrator and mistakenly identified McAllen. Then he got convicted both of the burglary and the sexual assault, and got to stacked life sentences based slowly on the victim’s testimony. Those trials were in 1984 $1985 can and we went back. We way tested the DNA, and we got a solid male profile. We put it into the Codus database. It identified an offender who had gone on to commit other like crimes and who was currently in the Texas prison for a like crime he gave us.
Speaking of confessions, he gave us a full audio recorded confession, which, when the victim listened to it, she realized she had identified the wrong person because, she said, he said some things in that confession that she had never told anybody, and and there’s no way he could have known about it unless he was the perpetrator, even authored a letter of apology to, but he didn’t look anything like the, uh, Thomas McGowan. As Mac. He was like I said he was in the photo spread and she passed over.
So I’ve seen again and again. We identified the actual perpetrator years later and gone back and looked at the photos, and they look nothing like the actual perpetrator or the person convicted. What I draw from that, it’s what police officers have told me on the sly, and that is they can get anybody to pick anybody. Um, you know, they want to show up there, the authority figure, and they can either do something as blatant to say, this is the person who did it. You need to pick that person.
Most people will comply. Most people will comply with the badge and the gun in the uniform in the authority and say, Okay, what you say that’s who did it. I’m sure you’re right. And then when they go to court, they’re identifying the person in the picture. You know, not you know, not the person who actually committed the crime. They could even be more subtle than that. They can say, Well, you might want to take a look at number two, you know, and and then I go home.
I think it’s number two. And then, of course, they celebrate. Tell them how good they did and reinforce the choice. And so really, you know, a confession kind of like eyewitness identification is to make the case that the otherwise don’t have to make the case on the person they want to blame it on when otherwise they have no evidence. Of course, once they have the confession, the quote unquote confession or the, um, false eyewitness identification. Um, they’re going to get a conviction, you know? And, um, you know, I mean, in some cases, it might be the actual perpetrator, but, you know, in many cases, it’s not the actual perpetrator.
And, um and and they’re gonna they’re gonna either pretty much stopped their investigation at that point or everything they do from that point forward is going to is going to be a biased investigation that points towards the guilt of that person. They’re going to go back and re interview all the witnesses and get the witnesses to kind of change what they said before the suspect had been identified. And it’s a sort of conform to what they want the witnesses to say now and then, by the time it gets to court, it looks like a rock solid case, but it’s not.
It’s it’s all a lot. No, I noticed listening to the several of these account that the investigators tend to fall in love with a theory and they eliminate. It’s a natural human tendency, and I’m sure part of it is there’s good people that fail at this because of our natural human tendency. We got too much to do. But the tendency is to fall in love with a theory. And then you have ah ah, confirmation bias. I think they call it that. Your theory is the right one, and you just overlook it.
Just you don’t even enter your head some something that’s glaring in front of you that may counter your theory. That’s absolutely right. I mean, it’s It’s also called tunnel vision. That’s kind of a layman’s term. Confirmation bias is the psychological term. You know absolutely well. The problem I have with this is is they’re building cases that are lies. They’re building cases that are violations of the Ninth Commandment, and there is no accountability for doing this. And so when you’re dealing with human nature in a system that has no accountability, I don’t know how you can solve the problem.
Can you talk about the lack of the con count abilities? You’re doing these kinds of things? Sure, that that’s that’s yet another great issue. Um, you know, it’s like I mean, my wife is has been in childhood education for her entire career, and she talks about how teachers are accountable. Um, administrate principles are accountable. Um, you know people in almost all professions are accountable, highly accountable. Why aren’t police officers and prosecutors account? Because they’re not basically, um, maybe that’s changing. Um, but, uh, you know, like and really not to go too far off into this, But I’m gonna say it because it’s true.
The world, a lot of it. They’re not accountable because so many of the people who are falsely convicted are minorities, and their lives are not valued even when they even the way a white person’s life would be. Even even if there is no doubt that they were innocent, that they were falsely convicted and it was prosecutorial misconduct involved. If the person who was falsely convicted was black, I believe the bodies that can that can make them accountable. Do not take that as seriously as they would if the person who was falsely convicted was flight and, um um in.
You know, I can cite anecdotal evidence for that, but I won’t go into that right now. Well, let me give you two examples of that. The the only prosecutors that I can think of who have suffered any kind, uh, consequences are the prosecutor out in North Carolina. uh, where worst duke began is that North Carolina? Yeah. Enduro and Durham, uh, who falsely prosecuted that lacrosse that across the Duke nus from? Yeah. Yeah. And then, by all accounts, in all fares and all accounts die. Everybody was a pretty good guy.
I mean, you know, that’s that’s so typical of these prosecutors who engage in this misconduct, you know, Um, but but yeah, and of course, they’re all white. And then Ken Anderson, who had a very attractive whose victim was a very attractive, um, white former executive, Yes, totally innocent. And Ken Anderson, you know, people complained that what he got was not serious enough. But what he got was was 1000 times more serious than what the prosecutor got in the Richard Miles case, for example, and and in, in my opinion, the prosecutorial missed.
And what the prosecutor got in the Richard Miles case was nothing. Ah, and and, um, and in my opinion, the misconduct in the Richard Miles case was even more severe than the prosecutorial misconduct in the Michael Borden case. As serious and egregious as the prosecutorial misconduct in the Michael Morton case was, But you got you got a a sitting judge in the Michael Morton case having to serve 10 days in jail or whatever it was for something that happened 20 years or whatever it was prior to that and losing his law license.
Um, And in the Richard Miles case, um, nothing. And Richard Miles is going on to vindicate himself so well, he’s got a driving nonprofit in which he helps people with reentry. Ah, he’s got a beautiful family now, and ah, but yet I honestly think that the that the wrongful conviction in his case was considered less important because of his race. Now we do have a situation down in the Harris County where a man named John Karr was wrongfully prosecuted where the prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence that would have proved the alibi of Mr Clark.
This was the black guy down in Houston who was accused of being part of a robbery and a d a. Rezo hid phone records that proved his innocence. And I think the state bar is actually looking at him now. Are you? Now? I think I’ve heard of the John Clarke case, but reso was also in the Alfred Braun case and they were hidden felt records in that case as well is that I probably have the name wrong. It was Alfred Braun, your right? Okay, Yeah. And and of course, he’s That case is the subject of one of the, uh, on Innocents files. Episodes.
I don’t know if you saw that or not. Yes, I did. That’s where I got it. Yes, and so we’ll see what happens. I mean, you know that that case has maybe gotten enough publicity that, um, the powers that be will feel pressured to actually do the right thing. Um, I will see what happens. I know that that the police officers union in Houston, um, have been very nasty about that case. Ah, they, um even though Mr Brown is entitled to compensation because the district attorney dismissed his case based on innocence, that means under the statute, he’s entitled to compensation.
They got involved, and I guess, intimidated. I think, along with the a G. And intimidated the state comptroller and from giving him his compensation. And that matter is at the Texas Supreme Court right now. And we at the Innocence Project of Texas. We were not Mr Brown’s attorneys. But we did file an amicus brief and supported Mr Brown with the Texas Supreme Court. Well, I’m hoping that we will see some justice in that case. And Roger, you had some questions about that nice guy. Have a interesting quote.
This related to all of this from G. K. Chester’s in Way Back in 1930 says. And the horrible thing about all legal officials, even at best about all judges, Magistrates, barristers, detectives and policemen is not that they’re wicked. Some of them are good. Not that they’re stupid. Several of them are quite intelligent. It is simply that they have gotten used to it. I think that’s that. That’s so true on. And, you know, it sort of is consistent with what I said about the North Carolina prosecutor and what people say about a lot of prosecutors who get caught.
Um, um, I do have engaging in engaging really in Filoni ISS conduct. Um, we’ve got a case out of Belle County. Uh, where, uh, the prosecutors suborned knowingly suborn perjury from their star witness. That’s 1/3 degree felony, aggravated perjury, and ah, we’ve got there. There’s a grievance spending against so much so that even the Court of Criminal Appeals recognized it and vacated the convictions. Now the office says they’re going to try him again. But, uh, but there are bar grievances pending against those two prosecutors who committed these third degree felonies on you know, they’re not gonna be prosecuted criminally, I’m sure.
But like you and I would be, um but, um uh, but there is at least agreements pending in the bar. We’ll see what the bar does. Roger. Biblically, what should be happening to these prosecutors and these police that engage in this kind of conduct? Well, yeah, well, they should be. It’s just like somebody who gives false testimony biblically suffers the sentence that he was hoping to ing to put on the on the victim of his sly. So it seems to me like that should be the same principle.
Ah, the thing operation. I was going to make us that it Bren Elling. Winters points out that under common law centuries ago, there was no professional prosecution. There was no professional d, a class of people. The government contract id private lawyer to take the part of the government in a in an open trial in a public trial, and it strikes me that part of our problem here is this insulated power that we have come to the point of worshiping the state. We’re going back to the religious aspects.
And so we don’t believe that vengeance is mine. I will repay says the Lord were scared to that. Somebody’s going to get away. So we’re gonna make somebody pay and and and we’re doing tremendous injustice. I think probably the depth of this thing goes farther than we even know. There are more people that are falsely convicted than we imagine. And a lot of it has to do with the religious aspect is by what standard do we judge, right? Wrong and the procedures that were supposed to be following It seems to me like that this courtroom seems manipulate the jury’s as well, All great points.
I agree with all that. Um, I know we may be coming close to the end of our time, So can I at least say this? Um, our website is innocents texas dot org’s, and I invite people to visit our website. I learned something about the 20 men and women that we’ve exonerated since we’ve been in existence. Hopefully, that number will be more by the end of this year. Um, learned something about us. Learned something about the cases and learn about the work we do. We’re also on Facebook.
Of course. We should have those. I’m sorry. I said we shall be praying for those. Thank you. And I don’t want to end without you giving a call to action to Christians about what we need to be doing to try to fight back against this, uh, including supporting, like the the Innocence Project of Texas. Another, uh, groups that that try to find against this What? What would your call to action to us be? Well, where you have started. And we’re gonna, um, hopefully be kicked into high gear by August.
Ah, a legislative agenda. Um, where we will we have we will have certain bills that, um, address criminal justice reform that we’re going to take to the legislature that, you know, the Texas Legislature meets every two years, and they’re gonna meet in 2021. We’re not gonna wait until 2021 to start work, start working on them, and start talking to Legislature wars and certainly you can contact us and become part of our our work to get these laws passed through the legislature. Um, we, um last session we had Advocacy day, where we and volunteers went to as many legislative offices as we could to educate them on the bills that we were supporting.
Um And so that’s certainly one thing, because that’s that’s where we can affect change is in the laws themselves. Um, so that’s that’s certainly 11 way. Obviously, any financial support you can give jar nonprofit we exist on donations would be immensely helpful. And, um, and anyone who is aware, of course on you know, we we get honestly 100 letters a month, maybe eso, but anyone who is aware of someone who has been genuinely wrongly convicted bring it to our attention. Um, our website tells you how to do that. Now.
There are a lot of things wrong with the criminal justice system. I mean, mass incarceration, unfair bail, you know, institutional racial buyer. But what we concentrate on, ah, is this one particular area completely innocent people who have been convicted of horrible crimes. They had nothing to do with. That’s our mission. And, um, but I think that our legislative agenda this time around maybe a little bit broader than addressing that particular a situation because of all that has come to light through public awareness in the events of the last, um, month or so.
What would you tell people? Are the Christian audience out here about becoming a juror? If you’re a juror, number one don’t trust what the police say. No. Ah, that’s the police believe they can get up there until any lie. They wanna lie. They want to tell and that people will believe them because they’re the police and a lot of cases. That’s true. In a lot of cases, I think jurors don’t necessarily believe them. But But because their police go along with it anyway, um so don’t trust the police what they say, Um, at least don’t give them any more credibility than any other witnesses.
Judge every witness on their own. Ah, and hold the state to its burden of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt. So many cases we see, um, you know, it’s like, how did the jury convict this person? But now that they’re convicted, what new evidence is there to exonerate them? I mean, they obviously didn’t do it, but the jury convicted him. And what jurors need to understand is they’re pretty much the last word. I mean, sometimes people think all there’s appeals and, you know, you read about how nine judges have looked at this case this death and leak, but they don’t They don’t look behind the jury verdict.
You know that. You know, they look to see if your technicalities, uh, they don’t look behind the jury verdict. So So what the jury decides is pretty much the last word. And if if they don’t hold the prosecution to their burden of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt, they might make a terrible mistake. So the jury is the key piece. And in fact, on that documentary The Innocents Fall that you told me about one of the jurors who regretted voting guilty actually said on that show that what we felt he was guilty by a preponderance of the evidence, which is the totally wrong standard?
Absolutely. Absolutely. Um, you know, and so they need to understand what beyond a reasonable doubt means and hold the state to it. And that may mean that may mean that some guilty people go free. But if you hold the state to that standard of proof, it means it just means innocent people will not be convicted. I went the must go ahead, Writer just was repeating. Vengeance is mine, Saith the Lord. We don’t believe that anymore. What are the most profound things in Proverbs 31 10. About the good wife to me is how the men go to the gate to effect justice.
Being a juror is a solemn duty, and it is You need to be wise and you need to be objective, and you need not to favor one side or the other. But to look at the evidence directly. Absolutely. It’s our best hope for justice. We, you know, we do not have jury trial in Mexico, where a civil law system very, very few countries have have jury trials. You were fortunate that Well, Mike, I really appreciate you being with us today and spending all this time. This was a great podcast hand.
I’m hoping that someday we get to have you back when you exonerate someone, uh, and so that we can talk about it Well, thank you so much for having me. And I look forward to coming on again. Roger. I thought that was a great interview, and I’d like to you to have some tea. Give the audience for afterthoughts from a biblical perspective. About what you gather from the comments of Mike. Where, and just talk about that with the audience. Well, what one of things that strikes me is that we should not have a professional professionals class of people that represent the state that are immune from prosecution that are prosecuting everybody else.
Uh, and secondly, I think we’ve lost faith in the vineyards of God. We do not believe that eventually, uh, God is gonna take vengeance on the people that we missed. And it isn’t our duty to be sure that we prosecute and put somebody into somebody in jail. We gotta put somebody in jail because there is no God. The only God is the state, and we’re gonna lose control if we don’t convict somebody. That’s not true. God will take vengeance. Well, what if somebody else gets killed by this guy?
Well doing, Do you not believe in God’s Providence? And that’s not cold. and cruel. But just think of how many innocent people we put in jail now. And we have an excess of people, mostly minorities. I think in jail for things that the Bible doesn’t even consider a felony. And there’s no question that to their there is the money incentive. I remember reading about a judge I can’t remember is in Pennsylvania. Someplace that was caught was handed cookie jar taking kickbacks from the local jail, privately run jail to arrest and convict young men and put him in jail because that’s how they get their money.
That was a juvenile prison. And he was convicting. Or he was sending away both young, uh, teenagers, male and female, as young as 13 and 14 to these youth reform schools. And he was run by a private prison company from whom he was getting kickbacks. Yes, so way just opened ourselves up to tremendous corruption because as a nation, and we is that we the people are responsible of this. And I think the church has a responsibility to become riotous tick. We don’t think God’s law applies, and we we, uh, in essence, in practice except humanistic law, as as the rule of law instead of what God’s Law says, because we don’t we don’t care about it.
We don’t think it applies, and this is a tremendous chance toe wake up what we’re going through right now on the issue of the whole, if whole issue of whether we should even have a police force is something we need to think about rationally. Unfortunately, most of the discussion is driven by perspective, but it’s a battle of profit. It’s a war of propaganda is, and even very smart People are highly influenced, their the most easily influenced by propaganda. So these good sayings and I don’t use any of those kinds of, uh, mantra, zor logo’s or whatever they like.
What they call those things means well, not just not means, but there’s still slogans that’s at, like advertising slow. It’s because that what they are is part of propaganda campaign, and we’re just perpetuating that, and we’re not having a rational discussion, and what we like to do is get people come back to the scripture, come back to the scripture. What has God said? What has God said? And until Weah’s church people get that part right and have a voice and speak up. Four things like the Innocence Project from a biblical perspective way are going to continue to suffer God’s judgment, and that’s exactly what’s happened.