$5000 to $25,000 $50,000 Reward for Information Regarding Kensu's Case

Wednesday, June 28th, the series Reasonable Doubt on the Investigation Discovery Channel devoted the episode to Temujin Kensu. Temujin is offering a reward. The funds come out of Temujin's own money he collected from his lawsuite against the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). The wording Temujin sent us is as follows:

“A reward of up to $5000 is being offered for any credible information regarding the November 5th, 1986, St. Clair County Community College parking lot shooting death of Scott Arnold Macklem.

A reward of up to $25,000 is being offered for any information that either exonerates Mr. Kensu, who was wrongfully convicted for this crime, and/or leads to an arrest or conviction of the responsible party.

Moreover, Mr. Kensu’s attorneys at 1-800-Law-Firm will match any reward that leads to the exoneration of him, bringing the potential reward to $50,000. Call 1 (800) 595-0830 if you have information to report.”

You may watch Episode 10 of Reasonable Doubt, Long Distance Murder by clicking on the link, but you must have a cable subscription that gives you access to the Investigation Discovery Channel.

Wrongful Imprisonment Comp Act

Download this file (2015-HIB-4536.pdf)House Bill 4536

After over eight years of being stalled in committee, the Michigan House Bill - 4536, commonly known as the "wrongful imprisonment compensation act", passed 8 to 0. Thirty other states have enacted such a bill in the recognition that the state must be responsible when it deprives individuals of years of their lives when they are indeed innocent.

Not only has it passed committee, but a reading of the bill shows that it has jetisoned much of the weaknesses of earlier versions. Those versions had layer after layer to restrictions about the particular causes of the alledged crime and that it only applied to convictions overturned by strong scientific evidence, such as DNA. Such restrictions were a result of political concessions that made no sense and catered to lawmakers full of myths about wrongful convictions and thier causes. In fact, while many urged acceptance of such a bill because "politics is compromise" and "get what you can now", others invested in the passage of such a bill, such as Ken Wyniemko, himself an exoneree and activist in this cause, could not put their support behind it. It was, indeed, disappointing and infuriating to read. It inexplicably said that being exonerated by the same courts that convicted the person wasn't enough.

The current bill as it was introduced into committee is a breath of fresh air. It is more rational, acknolweging that when the courts acknowledged the error, the state needs to act out of a responsibility which it has to make things right, to the degree that such a thing is even possible. Below this article you will find the link to download the bill. Next step, call your representative and express your support.

Lorinda Denied her Retrial

Wrongful conviction work is often heartbreaking. Not only for the wrongly convicted person and their family, but heartbreaking to know that our criminal justice system can get it so wrong, only to see how entrenched it is in justifying its mistakes.

Lorinda SwainFor background on Lorinda Swain’s case, go to Lorinda Swain. After the original trial judge granted her a new trial based on testimony of a key witness who was not asked to testify originally, the Calhoun County’s Prosecutor’s office appealed the decision. Since her accuser had recanted, it would be extremely difficult to find her guilty. Rather than deciding not to prosecute, they appealed the original trial judge’s decision. The Court of Appeals (COA) reversed the decision for a new trial. The State considers her guilty and the prosecutor is asking that her bond be revoked. After serving 8 years in prison and being out on bond for the last 5, Lorinda is facing the probability that she will be sent back to prison to server out her 25 to 50 year sentence. The Court of Appeal’s (COA) opinion is available for download at the end of this article by clicking More about Lorinda. Here is a summary:

More about Lorinda . . .Lorinda Denied her Retrial

Temujin Kensu Update

The case of Temujin Kensu is what first provoked journalist Bill Proctor to investigate cases of claimed actual innocence. Out of that, Proving Innocence was born. Proving Innocence does not provide legal counsel, but since our inception, we have been supportive of Kensu and his seeking exoneration of the murder of Scott Macklem.

At the heart of Temujin Kensu's appeals of late has been maintaining that the photo lineup originally presented to eye witnesses made the picture of Kensu stand out amoung all the others. When it came time for the trial, the prosecution reset the photos so that they appeared not to be bias. (In reality this cases has so many other flaws. For the best, quickest summary of the case, see Bill Proctor's news series Ninja Killer.)

On November 10th, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael West issued a 24-page order and opinion denying Temujin Kensu's motion for a new trial. The Michigan Innocence Clinic's staff attorney, Caitlin Plummer, said they were disappointed in the verdict and almost certainly planned to appeal.

For a more in-depth look, see The Times Herald's article Judge denies new trial in 1986 SC4 parking lot murder case.

This Wed., May 14th, Show Your Support for Lorinda Swain

Michigan Court of Appeals to hear Lorinda.  Next Wednesday, May 14 at 10 a.m., Lorinda Swain with David Moran and the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic (MIC) students will present their argument that the Calhoun County prosecutor committed a Brady violation in withholding exculpatory evidence. The discovery of this evidence, which was never turned over to the defense in the original trial, is the basis of MIC’s request that the Court of Appeals uphold Judge Swindt's ruling that Lorinda be given a new trial.
It's important to show our support of Lorinda by attending this hearing.  If you ever asked, "what can I do to help?",  you should attend this hearing. Though it should not matter, the reality is that court decisions made under public scrutiny are better decisions than those that are not. If you feel uncomfortable attending by yourself, bring a friend. You will find plenty of others there who are concerned for justice like you.
Come Join Us!
The exculpatory evidence: In preparation for Lorinda's original 2002 trial, the prosecutor’s office interviewed Dennis Book.  Dennis was Lorinda's live-in boyfriend at the time the alleged sexual misconduct took place. Clearly, he would have been an important witness. He testified both that he was interrogated and that he clearly told the detectives that the acts could never have happened since he was there and would have witnessed them.
In hearing Book's testimony, the original trial judge ruled that Swain should have a new trial because had this been presented in court, it wouldlikely have made a difference in the outcome of the trial. The act of not turning such evidence over to the defense is called a “Brady violation.” In response to the judge's ruling, the Calhoun County prosecutor's office appealed the decision.  They say that this is not a Brady violation because the defense could have discovered this if they used due diligence in preparation for the original trial. Basically they are saying it is the defense counsel's fault, not theirs. In support of their position, they cited the 11th Circuit Court Lester (1998) and the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmation of Lester in People v Chennault (Nov 2012). The rulings in these cases say that a 4th prong must be considered in determining if a Brady violation occurred.  The 4th prong is that the defense must have used due diligence to uncover the evidence.  Don't blame the prosecution for the defense not doing their job. Lorinda's counsel did not use due diligence, they say. Therefore, a Brady violation did not occur and this new discovery does not qualify as “new evidence”.
But the Chennault decision was appealed and just last month the Michigan Supreme Court took a different stance when it ruled in People v. Chenault (April 2014) that this 4th requirement is not valid by saying "we hold that a diligence requirement of the defense to demonstrate due diligence is not supported by Brady or its progeny." In other words, exculpatory evidence must be turned over to the defense regardless of the efforts the defense displays. How can the defense be responsible for discoving something they never knew existed? No, the ones who have the evidence are responsible to share it, period. It is the only sane interpretation.

Directions to the hearing . . .This Wed., May 14th, Show Your Support for Lorinda Swain