interFIRE Home interFIRE Home interFIRE VR Support Training Calendar Training Center Resource Center Message Board Insurance Info
 

Scared of Science: Crime Labs' Work is Rarely Challenged by Defense Lawyers. National Fire & Arson Report. Vol. 15. No. 3 (September 1997). p 4+.

Abstract: This article provides the details of a case under appeal. Sonia Cacy, convicted of dousing her uncle with gasoline and setting him on fire, is serving 99 years based on, what some are saying, is shabby proof at best.

While the prosecution presented scientific evidence supporting its claim of arson and murder, the defense did not argue this evidence. In spite of Ake v. Oklahoma, a 1935 Supreme Court case entitling poor defendants to funds to pay for experts, Ms. Cacy's lawyer did spend any money on forensic evidence. Two conclusions are reached in this article. One is that Ms. Cacy's lawyer mishandled her case. The other is that her lawyer, like many others, was afraid of pursing a scientific defense. Research across the country shows that very little money is spent to retain experts for poor defendants and that defense attorneys seek to challenge the prosecution's findings only 3% of the time.

Through chance, a chemist learned of Ms. Cacy's situation. He read the trial transcripts and became convinced that the prosecution had manipulated the evidence into a work of fiction and that the defense had taken no steps to contradict them. This chemist has assembled a team of scientists and lawyers, all of whom are working for free to appeal the case, establish the truth, and free Ms. Cacy. Even the judge has expressed his doubts about her conviction, but states that it was not his place to advise the defense.

Defense lawyers' clients are convicted in a majority of cases. The conclusion from the Cacy case and others is not that prosecutors are getting better, but that defenders efforts to challenge them are weak.

 
Home | interFIRE VR Support | Training Calendar | Training Center | Resource Center | Message Board | Insurance Info
Sponsorship Opportunities
Web Site Designed for 800 x 600 by Stonehouse Media Incorporated® Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved.