Tag: Loyola Law School

Los Angeles to Pay $24 Million to Two Men Imprisoned for Decades After Wrongful Murder Convictions

The Los Angeles City Council agreed Tuesday to pay more than $24 million to settle lawsuits from two men who alleged that investigations by dishonest Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detectives led to their wrongful murder convictions and caused them to spend decades behind bars.

Kash Delano Register, who won his freedom in 2013 after lawyers and students from Loyola Law School cast doubt on the testimony of a key prosecution witness, will receive $16.7 million — the largest settlement in an individual civil rights case in the city’s history, his attorneys said. Bruce Lisker, who was released from prison in 2009 after a Times investigation into his conviction, will get $7.6 million.

Though the cases were unrelated, both men contended that detectives ignored evidence of their innocence and fabricated evidence of their guilt.

City lawyers concerned about the police misconduct allegations recommended the settlements, saying in confidential memos to the City Council obtained by The Times that taking the cases to trial could be even more financially devastating.

“This is an extremely dangerous case,” city attorneys wrote of the Lisker case. And Register’s case was even “more problematic,” they said.

“Today’s action helps make amends for the many years these men will never get back, and for lives that will never be the same,” said Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for City Atty. Mike Feuer.

City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who heads the budget committee that weighs settlement payments, said the two cases were the “very unfortunate” result of police misconduct in the past, but did not reflect how the department operates today.  “It’s just regrettable that these two individuals spent the better part of their lives in prison as a result of the inadequacy of the investigations that happened back then,” Krekorian said.

Register, who has always maintained his innocence, spent 34 years in custody after being convicted of the 1979 armed robbery and murder of Jack Sasson, 78.  The case against Register was based on eyewitness testimony. No murder weapon was recovered and none of the fingerprints lifted at the West Los Angeles crime scene matched Register’s. Police seized a pair of his pants that had a speck of blood on them, but the blood type matched both Sasson’s and Register’s. Register’s girlfriend testified that he was with her at the time of the shooting.

A key prosecution witness in the case was Brenda Anderson, who told police she heard gunshots and saw Register sprinting away from the scene. She picked him out of a photo lineup, police said. But Anderson’s sisters said they told police that her account wasn’t true.

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L.A. County D.A. Jackie Lacey to Create Unit to Review Wrongful Conviction Claims

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office is creating a unit dedicated to examining wrongful-conviction claims, joining a small but growing number of prosecutorial agencies around the country that are devoting resources to identify innocent prisoners.

Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey
Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey

Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey is asking county supervisors for nearly $1 million to fund the new team, which would include three prosecutors, an investigator and a paralegal.

In seeking the funds, Lacey’s office said it wanted to keep up with an increasing number of wrongful-conviction claims that have followed the advent of similar units around the country as well as a growing number of innocence projects and increased publicity of innocence claims, said county spokesman Dave Sommers.

“This is exactly what should happen in every district attorney’s office in America,” said Justin Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project at the California Western School of Law in San Diego. “We all have the same goal: to make sure the right people are in prison.”

While such units are still rare, Los Angeles would join more than 15 district attorney offices around the country that have adopted similar teams, including Santa Clara County, Dallas County, Brooklyn and Manhattan, as well as the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C.

Los Angeles’ proposal remained largely under wraps until last week, when Lacey addressed a group of attorneys and students at Loyola Law School on Friday and mentioned she had been promised funding for a conviction review unit. She gave no details and did not return calls for comment.

A district attorney’s spokeswoman declined to discuss the plan until after the Board of Supervisors formally approves the funding in the coming weeks. The county’s recommended budget includes money for the unit for the next fiscal year, which starts in July.

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U.S. Senate Hopeful Kamala Harris Receives Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Public Service Award

Kamala Harris

Loyola Law School in Los Angeles honored California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris with its Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Public Service Award during a ceremony Friday that featured a panel discussion exploring the intersection of race and community policing. The event benefitted Loyola’s African American Scholarship Fund.

cochran15-STD-topThe Cochran Award is presented annually to an individual who embodies the qualities of the late Loyola alumnus Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. ’62. “Nobody has had the courage to say this is wrong,” Cochran once said. This award celebrates those who have such courage – those who have demonstrated excellence in their profession, dedication to social justice and a commitment to serving their community. These trailblazers, innovators, master attorneys and mentors embody the spirit of Cochran, the legendary attorney who dedicated his career to helping underserved constituencies fight for justice.

In the wake of such high-profile instances of racial conflict with law enforcement in Ferguson, Mo. and New York City, the panel discussion “Seeking Justice in Our Community” focused on the challenges African-American and Latino communities face with regard to community policing. The panelists were Benjamin Crump, partner, Parks & Crump, L.L.C.; Jamon Hicks ’04, partner, Douglas / Hicks Law; Pamela Means, president, National Bar Association; Earl Paysinger, first assistant chief, Los Angeles Police Department; and Connie Rice, co-director, the Advancement Project.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Murder Conviction of California Man Kash Delano Register Overturned After 34 Years in Prison

Kash Register

After spending 34 years behind bars for a 1979 murder he didn’t commit, Kash Delano Register, 53, of Los Angeles, California walked out of jail a free man when a judge overturned his conviction, reports NBC Southern California.  Two sisters of a key witness came forward and admitted that their sibling lied about seeing Register running away from the crime scene.

“He told me he just didn’t know what to feel,” said his attorney Adam Grant, who spoke to him after Thursday’s ruling. “He’s thrilled, excited, just kind of in a daze. He kept shaking his head and saying — ’34 years, 34 years.’”  

Register, who was sentenced to 27 years to life, walked out of jail linking arms with his mother, saying that he was just looking forward to one of her home-cooked meals — his first in more than three decades.  Register was charged with killing 78-year-old Jack Sasson, but when the Loyola Law School’s Project for the Innocent took on the case 2 years ago, their research clearly pointed to his innocence.

“People should look at this and say even when we think we’re doing the best we can, we make mistakes, we make really serious mistakes that affect people’s lives,” said Laurie Levenson, director of Project for the Innocent.  “In this case, the two eyewitnesses, they’re stories didn’t make a lot of sense, there wasn’t any physical evidence and the most important thing, our client, Mr. Register, had said from the beginning he didn’t do it,” Leveson said.

Register was convicted on eye-witness testimony, even though he always said that he was with his girlfriend at the time of the murder.  Speaking to reporters after his release, Register said that he holds no grudges and that everyone makes mistakes. He came up for parole 11 times during his incarceration and was rejected each time. Register believes it’s because he wouldn’t cop a plea.

See NBC news report here.

article via newsone.com