• Doug Tjapkes

You'll go down in history, Rick!

Remember this name: Richard E. Jackson. Rick Jackson was a prosecutor in Dallas, Texas. In the year 2000 he authorized the arrest of two homeless black men, whom he prosecuted for the murder of a local pastor. In both jury trials he got convictions, and the defendants were sent to prison for life. But here’s the deal: Jackson purposely withheld a ton of evidence! -Eyewitnesses couldn’t identify the 2 in a police lineup. The jury never heard this! -The descriptions of the alleged killer(s) didn’t match. The jury never heard this! -The state made deals with jailhouse snitches to testify. The jury never heard this! The reason I suggest that you remember the name of this former prosecutor is that finally a prosecutor has been penalized! He has been disbarred, and may no longer practice law in his state. Oh, the wheels of justice grind so slowly! It took the Innocence Project 10 years to accumulate evidence proving that Dennis Allen and Stanley Mozee were railroaded. Even after that, it took another 2 years to hold the prosecutor accountable for this travesty. Now, here’s the saddest part of this story. A recent study showed that misconduct by the government was responsible for more than half of our wrongful convictions. And worse yet, Rick Jackson is only the 4th prosecutor to face the consequences! Earlier this month, in this column, I posted a piece about a case that I feel involves a wrongful conviction right here in our own county. In that trial 20 years ago, the state used junk science to obtain a conviction. Some observers are excusing the prosecutor, saying that science has improved a lot since then. I think the state knew darn well that it was junk science. Getting a conviction was most important. Back in Texas, Dennis and Stanley, now 57 and 62 years of age, are free men now. Presumably the killer is still on the street somewhere. Rick Jackson may no longer practice law. He should be in prison. And so should all other rogue prosecutors who get off scot-free after locking up people for something they didn’t do.

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