Dec 22, 2015

On Wrongful Convictions and Penny Brummer

Updated - Here is a strong recommendation for Christmas weekend binge watching: The Making of a Murderer (Ricciardi and Demos, Netflix). Wisconsin viewers will recognize many of the players, the chilling police and prosecutor duplicity, the cover-ups, the lies, and the pathological lack of conscience of Wisconsin law enforcement. Raves are pouring in, this is a masterpiece that ought to shake the foundations of the state criminal law system. It won't.
Wrapping up for Christmas Day weekend early, we note here again the findings of the first, systematic empirical study on actual innocence, wrongful convictions and exonerations.

"Police and prosecutors maintain their roles ... serving as the largest combined source of opposition to exonerations," conclude Jon B. Gould and Richard A. Leo in their important Path to Exoneration research paper.

Noted here at this site and across the Madison, Wisconsin press has been the case study of a wrongful conviction: Penny L. Brummer v. Wisconsin (Dane County Case Number 1994CF000617) (1994).

Standing in the way of exoneration are the police and the District Attorney's office.

There have been numerous exonerations in Wisconsin and in Dane County, (Wisconsin Innocence Project) and only a fool can doubt more innocent people remain behind bars today.

Yet, as we read of the exoneration of one Wisconsin citizen after another (Barton, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel), there is not widespread outrage from jurists, no public demand for accountability from the police and prosecutors, no call for change in the police-prosecutor state about which the prescient 20th century jurist (and chief prosecutor for the Allied Forces at Nuremberg), Robert H. Jackson, warned our country about 75 years ago.

Instead, we find local police and prosecutors serving as the largest combined source of opposition to exonerations, and as eager foes of liberty.

To Penny Brummer and many other victims, please note in this holiday season: You are not forgotten.

As for Dane County Wisconsin, one step should be the establishment of a Conviction Integrity Unit independent of the District Attorney's office (acting in an advisory capacity) that can serve as a political check on cases such as the shabby investigation, the retrograde bigotry, passive compliance and careerism of law enforcement that caused Penny Brummer to serve year 21 now of a life sentence for an alleged homicide of which I believe prosecutors, police and many others know she is innocent.

To state what should be obvious: The careers of law enforcement officials are trivial in comparison to the life and liberty of the Wisconsin citizenry.

Looking for justice in Wisconsin—Penny Brummer

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