This story appeared late last night in The Dallas Morning News and discusses the case of Thomas Clifford McGowan Jr. who has spent 23 years in prison after being convicted of rape and burglary in 1985. State District Judge Susan Hawk is expected to recommend McGowan be released from prison today, after agreeing new DNA evidence proves he could not have committed the crimes.
Failing to follow proper identification standards is scary indeed. Too often police officers are under so much pressure to solve a crime that they end up putting pressure on themselves to make the facts fit. While this issue usually surfaces more regularly in cases where the defendant is poor and does not have the resources to hire a high-powered criminal defense attorney, it is something that could happen to anyone. I like to hear about these kinds of cases—not only because the defendant is exonerated, but also because it gives me hope that the media exposure will force law enforcement officials to follow the law. Here are highlights from the article:
What is remarkable about Mr. McGowan’s case, according to one of his defense attorneys, is the ordinariness of the process that ultimately branded him a rapist.