Saturday, December 2, 2006
Murder Conviction Based on Jailhouse Snitch Testimony Tossed
By Jeralyn, Section Innocence Cases
Posted on Mon Feb 02, 2004 at 11:06:39 PM EST
A 20 year old murder conviction was thrown out today by a California judge who cited the unreliable testimony of a jailhouse snitch and thin evidence as a reason for the reversal.
After a 15-minute hearing, the judge, Arthur Jean of Los Angeles County Superior Court, said he was voiding the conviction of Thomas Lee Goldstein, 55, "because of the cancerous nature of the appearance of this case." Judge Jean's ruling followed opinions from two federal court judges and an appeals court panel who ruled that Mr. Goldstein had been wrongly convicted and should be released from prison immediately.
How can the perils of jailhouse snitch testimony be reduced? According to Cardozo Law School's Innocence Project:
Judges should presume, and instruct the jury, that a jailhouse informant's testimony is unreliable. Moreover, the prosecution should be required to overcome that presumption before the jury even hears said testimony.
Any deal or reward offered or accepted with regard to informants or snitches must be in writing. All verbal