IN THE NEWS
California Attorney General Responds on Michael Goodwin’s Appeal: The appeal of a 2007 conviction of two life terms without parole for Michael Goodwin who prosecutors said contracted to have Mickey Thompson and his wife Trudy in 1988 was filed late last year, nearly six years after the conviction. Of the appeal, Mike Goodwin said, “I know justice will be done. My appeal attorney, Gail Harper has worked in the face of intentional delays and other tactics by the Los Angeles District Attorney, to outline just some of the dozens of serious irregularities in my 2006 trial. Ms. Harper’s original filing, nearly 1000 pages, was rejected but a subsequent filing of the 467 Appellant’s Opening Brief was finally accepted and has been responded to. I remain confident that the appellate judges will find for us on the appeal when they rule. Ms. Harper is now responding to the Attorney General’s 267 page brief. >>READ MORE..
Innocent Man Freed After 23 Years in Prison: A man who spent more than two decades behind bars was freed by a judge after a re-investigation of his case cast serious doubt on evidence used to convict him in the cold-blooded shooting of a Brooklyn rabbi. Prosecutorial misconduct, bordering on criminal, appears to have been the cause of this wrongful conviction but prosecutors deny this. >>READ MORE…
COUPLE FOREGOES WEDDING GIFTS; ASK GUESTS TO DONATE, INSTEAD, TO THE INNOCENCE PROJECT.
KILGORE, Tex. — Michael Morton and Cynthia May Chessman told the approximately 200 guests invited to their wedding on Saturday to resist giving them gifts. Instead, they asked relatives and friends to donate to the local chapter of The Innocence Project, the nonprofit group founded at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University that uses DNA evidence to free the wrongfully convicted from prison.
It was not an act of charity, but of gratitude. Mr. Morton, 58, spent nearly 25 years in state prison for a crime he did not commit: the murder of his first wife, Christine, who was found beaten to death in the bed of their North Austin home in 1986. MORE DETAILS at the New York Times
After Six years, Michael Goodwin’s Direct Appeal Finally Filed
It has been more than six years since Michael Goodwin was convicted of ordering the brutal murders of Mickey and Trudy Thompson in 1988. In March of 2007, his court appointed attorney, Gail Harper, began work on his direct appeal. Late last year she filed an extraordinarily large document, nearly 1000 pages, that was initially rejected by the court. Harper reduced the appeal to 17 of the most important issues pointing to an improper trial and the court accepted the direct appeal on November 27th last year.
During a recent visit, when asked about the appeal, Goodwin said, “It took six years but there’s a lot in there that is unequivocal as to my conviction being wrongful. I’m even more confident now that this conviction will be overturned or, at worst, there’ll be a new trial. With all the problems in my 2006 trial that my attorney has so adroitly documented in the appeal, I don’t think the appellate court will have any other options. And, if there was a new trial, I’d be acquitted, no question.”
In jail since he was charged with ordering the Thompson murders, in 2001 and convicted in 2007, Goodwin has, since the March of 1988, the time of the murders, claimed his innocence. Goodwin still adamantly claims he had nothing to do with the murders and points out, “…at no time during his trial did prosecutors show any connection between me and the killers.” Goodwin says, and the record supports the fact that he was essentially cleared in November of 1988 when it was determined there was no evidence to show that Goodwin was involved in any way with the crimes and there was another solid suspect. Goodwin’s defense attorney, Elena Saris, had counted on introducing the considerable body of evidence on that suspect, and another scenario of why the Thompsons were murdered at Goodwin’s trial. However, she was prevented from presenting most of this evidence to the jury by Superior Court Judge Teri Schwartz after lead prosecutor, Pat Dixon, then Head Deputy, Major Crimes for the L.A. District Attorney’s Office, convinced the court that law enforcement had dismissed these suspects in 1988 or 1989 and recent follow-ups by lead detective Mark Lillienfeld of the L.A. Sherriff’s office, supported that contention.
Dixon is no longer holds the post of Head Deputy, Major Crimes and the second chair for Goodwin’s trial, Alan Jackson, who was soundly defeated in his run for Los Angeles District Attorney in 2012, was moved to a position where he can no longer prosecute any cases in late 2012 by the new District Attorney, Jackie Lacey.
In the initial Orange County prosecution, in 2004, the murder charges were dismissed by the court in Orange County, where he was initially, improperly, charged, due to a major venue issue. Within 24 hours of his release, Goodwin was charged by the Los Angeles District Attorney who claimed there was new evidence in the case.
Read Michael Goodwin’s Appellant’s Opening Brief, Direct Appeal
Further reading on this case: “FEATURED CASE” section of this website.
Story by John Bradley JohnBradley@JusticeOnTrial.org