One Time Donation
- Written by John Dorsey
Lorinda Swain was convicted in 2002 in Calhoun County of four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly sexually assaulting her adopted son. She was sentenced to 25-50 years in prison. Though her son recanted his testimony immediately after the trial, Lorinda spent the next 8 years in prison until her case was picked up by the Michigan Innocence Clinic. She was allowed to leave prison, pending her appeal. For the last 7 years she has had the threat of returning to prison to serve out her remaining time, a stress few can imagine. On April 6th, 2016, she was in attendance as her case for a retrial was argued before the Michigan Supreme Court by Dave Moran of the Michigan Innocence Clinic (MIC).
The oral argument presented in its entirety:
MIC’s David Moran, supported by Caitlin M. Plummer and Imran J. Syed, argued several issues related to the motions for relief from judgment. They presented strong arguments that a new trial should be ordered, including that the original trial judge ordered a retrial and he is in a much better position to determine that then the Court of Appeals.
Jennifer Kay Clark, Assistant Calhoun County Prosecutor, aided by Aaron Lindstrom, Michigan Solicitor General, represented the State. Assistant Prosecutor Clark tried repeatedly to vacate the barrister table when unable to answer the Court’s questions, but was recalled each time.
- Written by Bill Branham
At the very end of the hearing, there was an important exchange that might have gone unnoticed by a person focusing only on Lorinda's future, but which represents a titanic shift in how Michigan law might some day be interpreted. Justice Markman asked Moran a broader question about the argument of innocence being in the background of these hypothetical and theoretic discussions about 'what is a Brady violation?' and 'does this meet the Cress standard?'. In an informed, articulate and confident tone, Moran states,
I certainly accept and promote the idea that there is a background principle that actual innocence matters. And that actual innocence should inform the way this court interprets these various provisions, just as the Federal Courts do, in the habeas analogy, that actual innocence gets you past procedural problems of all sorts, the statute of limitations, procedural default, that you otherwise could not get through without a strong showing of actual innocence.
What the average person on the street thinks every time they hear about such a case is this: "If the person is truly innocence, why should procedure get in the way? If a person is truly innocent, is justice done when the person is kept in prison for the rest of their life? Yes, we need the law, but whatever happened to justice, mercy and Truth?"
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