Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Judge Precludes Questioning on Cross-Race IDs, Witness Gets 2 of 3 IDs Wrong, Man Still Goes to Jail

Donald Glenn Flack, a black man, was accused of assaulting a white woman at a mall in Knoxville, but when the victim attempted to identify her attacker from a photo in court, she picked another man -- even with Mr. Flack sitting directly across from her at the defense table. In the initial police lineup a month after the assault, she also picked someone other than Mr. Flack. The only time she identified Mr. Flack was when the prosecutor asked her if her attacker was sitting in the courtroom, at which point she pointed to the only black man sitting at the defense table. In the words of her attorney:

"I'm sorry, that's not an identification," he said in his closing argument. "She's one for three, that's less than 50 percent."

Further, Mr. Flack's brother testified that another man, James Blance, committed the crime. When Blance was called to testify, he invoked the 5th and refused to testify.

Despite the victim's identification of someone other than Mr. Flack on two out of three occasions, and other evidence suggesting an alternate suspect, the Knox County Court prohibited defense counsel from even questioning the investigating officer about the well-known difficulty that members of one race have when attempting to identify members of another race, a problem which is amplified by the presence of a weapon, stress, and a very short exposure time, all of which were factors in this case.

Notwithstanding the serious questions raised about Mr. Flack's culpability within the constraints defined by the court, the all-white jury convicted Mr. Flack and sealed his fate of up to 15 years in prison. This case is another illustration of the importance of expert testimony when it comes to the reliability of eyewitness evidence. Cross-examination and a compelling closing are rarely enough to shake a witness who honestly believes that she's right, but happens to be wrong.


Douglas Field said...

We invite all your readers to visit
with a(WWW) Google or Yahoo search
Manny Gonzales the kid that everyone forgot in the CA prison system.This legal appeal case is a perfect example of conflicted victim identification being the only evidence needed to convict this kid for 27 year prison sentence.
President Hugo Chavez has been asked with a written letter posted at this WWW site to finance the federal court legal fees for this retrial case.Thousands of poor uneducated prison inmates like Manny Gonzales are being forced to write their own federal appeals from prison and being turned down in mass.We find it incredable that our US Congress has accepted this long history of only wealthy Americans being represented by legal counsel with federal retrial appeals instead of making sure all Americans have an equal opportunity at real justice.

Georgia Jenkins said...

I read this Manny Gonzales appeal legal case on the WWW and found it odd that our American judicial system has been allowing this great difference of affluent Americans being able to have proper appeal legal representation for their federal appeal law cases,and poor prison inmates with very little educational skills being forced to submit their own federal retrial appeals from their prisons. That WWW web posting of Manny Gonzales the kid that everyone forgot in the Ca prison system seemed to be right on top of this legal case, but this case does seem to bring to light false identification being more prevalent in our judicial court rooms then I ever imagined.

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