With high profile executions taking place in the United States over the past month, it goes without saying that every time I hear about a person’s murder conviction being overturned I have to take a deep breath. It’s an absolute honor to represent injured people, so trust me, I can appreciate the victim’s view on murder convictions. But whenever I hear about a man’s murder conviction being overturned, I question the wisdom of the death penalty on capital cases.
Obie Anthony is 37 years old. He has spent the last 17 years of his life behind bars and was facing life in prison without the possibility of parole. Fortunately for Obie, even if his conviction had never been overturned, he wouldn’t have faced the death penalty although California still maintains the death penalty.
Obie Anthony was the victim of unreliable eyewitness testimony. This is a far to frequent occurrence in our justice system. In fact, eyewitness testimony of what someone claims to have seen, is far down the scale of reliable and accurate evidence a jury can consider.
Try googling Albert Einstein Marilyn Monroe for the optical illusion of a photo that at close range looks like Albert Einsten and at far range looks like the blonde bombshell herself. If you can confuse those two beings, based on depth, light, and angle, you see the perils of relying on eyewitness testimony as your only basis for evidence.
Obie was accused of fatally shooting a man outside a brothel in south Los Angeles. He claimed he was never at the scene, yet a pimp testified in court that he saw Obie shoot the man. Thanks to the tireless efforts from the Project for the Innocent, the prosecution’s star witness in that case recanted his statements about seeing Obie shoot the man. Thanks to a multi-year inquiry and re-interviewing of witnesses who testified at trial, a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge released Obie after concluding that the witness testimony presented by the pimp was a lie.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.