The Truth about Lies

Truth about lies

The practice of corrupting the judicial process is very easy to identify because it is always the same. Those who corrupt the process embrace an unproven theory, they collect or manufacture evidence in support and they ignore, alter, misrepresent, discredit or destroy any evidence which challenges their position.

Justice consequently becomes a game whose object is to win at all costs and the truth is not consequential because it is not appropriately investigated.

To be valid, credible and reliable, the truth has to be the product of a comprehensive evaluation and analysis of the sort that most judges and lawyers rarely engage because they do not commit the time and resources that are necessary to obtain it. Instead, they adopt a theory and spend their time justifying and bolstering their position, not because they are after the truth but because the obsession to manufacture the impression that they are fair and objectivet is a part of the game that they play.

It is consequently not surprising that tunnel-vision authorities who have no concern for truth sow the seeds of wrongful exoneration or wrongful conviction, and the failure to keep George Zimmerman arrested for the death of Trayvon Martin illustrates the nature of the corruption at issue.

The George Zimmerman case has attracted widespread attention, not because it is a rare miscarriage of justice, but because in this case, the facts are rather clear and the typical failure to carefully analyze the simple truth is not as significant as in other cases where the truth is not even known. Consequently, the informed public has widely rejected routine efforts to adjust the facts in a manner which suits the agenda of those who merely play to win.

In particular, the police surveillance video taken the night Trayvon was shot dead shows no blood or bruises on Zimmerman and convincingly contradicted those who actively fabricated a self-defence scenario. Despite the evidence, play-to-win advocates falsely claimed that Zimmerman was violently attacked by Trayvon Martin who allegedly slammed his head into the sidewalk, broke his nose and left him bloody, battered and screaming for his life.

Having studied wrongful convictions, it is quite clear that there would be none if people did not suppress truths which disputed their theories and did not manufacture evidence to bolster their agenda. It is therefore important to replace the games that people play with the actual facts because it is not otherwise possible to credibly accuse or judge anybody.

Clearly, we have learned that it is not at all uncommon for arrogant and abusive authorities to embrace a whole cloth fiction and to collect tainted evidence for the sake of advancing their faulty assumptions and that is never appropriate.

Footnote: Orlando Sentinel reporter, Scott Maxwell has written a wonderful article titled "Why I haven't trusted Norm Wolfinger --long before Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman."

Mr. Maxwell's column, posted on April 9, 2012 is so absolutely relevant, I feel compelled to re-post it in its entirety. Please read it all because it is very instructive.

In Sunday’s column, I mentioned that I was glad that Gov. Rick Scott had brought in an outside prosecutor to look at the case involving Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.

My reason: I simply don’t trust Seminole-Brevard State AttorneyNorm Wolfinger … especially when it comes to admitting mistakes.

Long-time readers of my column may know my concerns about Wolfinger long before Trayvon Martin’s name ever hit the papers. It stems back to a string of wrongful convictions in Wolfinger’s district … convictions that were overturned despite Wolfinger’s best actions (and inaction) to make sure they were not.

For those who aren’t familiar with these stories, I’ve attached one of my past columns on the topic below. But the general gist is this:

Back in the 80s, law enforcement in Brevard County routinely brought in a charlatan “expert witness” to lie about evidence to help get convictions. (The fact that he was a charlatan is not debatable. It was later proven in court. And the ”expert,” dog-handler John Preston, was banned from testifying in the county.) Immediately, the state should have conducted an independent, external review of all the cases in which Preston helped get convictions.

But they didn’t.

Instead, State Attorney Norm Wolfinger claimed to do a “review” of all the cases himself … and declared all of the other convictions were just.

Except they weren’t.

Scientific evidence later exonerated two more men – Bill Dillon and Wilton Dedge. Both men spent more than two decades behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit.

Wolfinger apologized to Dedge. He’s been unwilling to concede Dillon’s innocence. Most importantly, though, still do this day – as he prepares to retire from office after 28 years - Wolfinger he still refuses to call for an independent investigation into the other cases. (Even though he was personally involved in one of the earlier cases and knows first-hand how screwed-up the Preston cases were. More on that below.)

That’s why I don’t trust Norm Wolfinger to review his — or anyone else’s – decisions.

How many more are innocent?
Orlando Sentinel, The (FL) – Sunday, June 14, 2009
Author: Scott Maxwell , Sentinel Columnist
Last weekend, we looked at the case of Bill Dillon, the Brevard County resident imprisoned for 27 years before DNA tests set him free.

That, however, is only part of a bigger story of twisted justice in Central Florida — an unsolved mystery that begs for an ending.

Dillon, after all, was not alone in his wrongful imprisonment. At least two other men suffered the same fate — and another shared link: a dog.

Not just any dog. A wonder dog helped convict all three men: a German shepherd named Harass II, who wowed juries with his amazing ability to place suspects at the scenes of crimes.

Harass could supposedly do things no other dog could: tracking scents months later and even across water, according to his handler, John Preston.

If it sounds hard to believe, there’s a good reason.

After providing prosecutors with testimony for years, Preston was finally discredited by a judge who had the sense to do what others had not: test the dog for himself.

But not until after Preston and his dog had appeared in dozens of cases.

We know that at least three of those cases were overturned — after the defendants collectively spent more than a half-century in prison.

The question now is: How many others suffered the same injustice?

An even better question is: Do prosecutors, the attorney general or even the governor care enough to find out?

The murder case against Dillon was full of problems.

The state was short on credible witnesses. (Two would later recant their testimony. One had sex with an investigator.) And Dillon was first linked to the murder of James Dvorak by a 16-year-old boy who said he recognized him from a composite sketch.

But investigators needed evidence to tie Dillon to the scene. So they turned to Preston and his wonder dog.

As if on cue, Preston claimed that his dog found Dillon’s scent at the scene of the crime. (A judge would later say: “. . . Preston was regularly retained to confirm the state’s preconceived notions about cases.”)

Dillon was convicted. And he sat in prison for 27 years — until tests proved that his DNA was not, in fact, on a bloody shirt that prosecutors had said was his.

In another case, Wilton Dedge was convicted of raping a 17-year-old girl.

The victim had originally described her attacker as 6 feet tall and up to 200 pounds. Dedge was 5-5 and 130 pounds.

But Preston said his dog found Dedge’s scent in the victim’s bedroom. And a jury convicted him in 1981.

Twenty-two years later, DNA tests proved that the semen from the attacker was not Dedge’s. He was freed.

And then there was the case of Juan Ramos — a man whom Preston and his dog helped put on death row for rape and murder . . . until that conviction was overturned as well.

Preston and his dog supposedly found Ramos’ scent on the victim’s blouse and on a blood-stained knife.

The state Supreme Court later said the test was bungled, set up to get the results investigators wanted.

The court ordered a new trial — without evidence from Preston and his dog — and Ramos’ life was spared.

At the time, Ramos’ defense attorney called the case “the weakest murder case I’ve ever seen,” also saying, “Absolutely no attempt was made from Day One to pin the murder on anyone but the sap, the Cuban.”

That defense attorney was Norm Wolfinger– the man who is now the state attorney for Brevard and Seminole and who has refused to investigate whether others were improperly convicted.

Judge Gilbert Goshorn ultimately exposed Preston.

In the middle of a trial in which the dog was once again providing miraculous evidence — supposedly detecting tracks left by suspects six months prior — Goshorn ordered the dog to perform a much simpler test.

The dog failed miserably.

In an affidavit written after he retired, Goshorn said: “The dog simply could not track anything.”

The judge went on to say: “In short, I believe that Preston was regularly retained to confirm the state’s preconceived notions about cases.”

After Dillon became the third man to be freed from a prison that John Preston helped send him to, advocates for justice spoke up.

They called on Gov. Charlie Crist for a full investigation, asking: How many more are there?

The Innocence Project of Florida, which helped free Dedge and Dillon, believes there may be as many as 60. Others may be out, but living with a prison record.

The man in charge of the Brevard/Seminole district, State Attorney Wolfinger , seems less concerned.

In a statement, Wolfinger ’s office said it didn’t have a list of the cases in which Preston testified — nor even the records that would allow the office to compile such a list.

Essentially, Wolfinger contends it’s up to defendants to raise questions about these decades-old cases.

“Defendants have had rights in Florida to challenge their convictions through a well established post-conviction process,” the statement said.

A similar response came from Crist’s office, which said: “We believe this is a judicial issue and should be handled on a case-by-case analysis through the judicial system.”

A spokeswoman for the state’s top cop, Attorney General Bill McCollum, simply declared the matter beyond her boss’s “jurisdiction.”

Is it possible that none of these public servants is interested in finding out whether more innocent people were imprisoned?

A wise man once said: “It is truly tragic to have an innocent person spend time behind bars.”

That man was Mr. Wolfinger — the last time he admitted that prosecutors in his district had locked up the wrong man.

NEXT: People on the march demand justice for Trayvon.


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