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August 9, 2009

Governor Kaine grants conditional pardon to three of the "Norfolk Four"

This Washington Post article, headlined "3 of 'Norfolk 4' Conditionally Pardoned in Rape, Killing," provides the details on a notable state pardon grant issued in a high-profile case out of Virginia.  Here is how the article starts:

Three members of the "Norfolk 4" -- sailors serving life in prison for a 1997 rape and murder -- should walk free by Friday after Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine granted them conditional pardons Thursday for crimes to which they all had confessed.

The pardons of Danial Williams, 37; Derek Tice, 39; and Joseph Dick, 33, culminated a four-year campaign for clemency based on the sailors' claims that they were coerced into falsely admitting their involvement, that the details they provided were wrong and that there was no physical evidence linking them to the crime. A fourth sailor, Eric Wilson, 33, served more than eight years in prison and has been released. He was not pardoned.

Kaine (D) said he was simply reducing the remaining three sailors' sentences to time served and not declaring their innocence. Kaine said he decided that the men "have not conclusively established their innocence and therefore that an absolute pardon is not appropriate."

While the case against the sailors was pending in 1999, another man confessed to the slaying, and his DNA matched the genetic evidence left at the scene. He later pleaded guilty, was sentenced to life in prison and said he acted alone. But Norfolk police and prosecutors continued to press their case against the four sailors and obtained guilty pleas or convictions for each of them.

The men were convicted in the slaying of Michelle Moore-Bosko, 18, of Pittsburgh, who had recently moved to Norfolk and secretly married her longtime boyfriend, William Bosko. Her parents, Jack and Carol Moore, were adamantly opposed to clemency and, after listening to the defendants' confessions, continue to think they are guilty.

Pardon Power has a lot more on Governor Kaine's clemency action and reactions thereto.

August 9, 2009 at 09:42 AM | Permalink


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Do the Rules of Conduct and of Criminal Procedure enumerate, in statute, duties of prosecutors to criminal defendants? Do the Rules of Conduct require that any lawyer seeing a violation of the Rules of Conduct by a lawyer or a judge require the reporting of unprofessional conduct? Isn't the not reporting of another lawyer a violation itself that must be reported?

With this posting, has a duty been triggered in the 100's of licensed lawyers who may read it?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 9, 2009 2:05:16 PM

The above comment was about lawyer immorality and sickening ethical reprehensibility of these specific prosecutors.

This comment is about lawyer incompetence.

The legislature needs to set out criteria for acceptability of confessions in the Rules of Criminal Procedure. For example, the confession may not be introduced nor even end the investigation without the following: 1) videotaping from second one for judgment of an induced false memory; 2) a fact known to no one but the killer, not introduced by the police; 3) a new piece of physical evidence introduced by the confession, such as the burial location, DNA evidence of an accomplice, where a matching gun was thrown out.

Until the legislature catches up, these should be informal criteria for judge to exclude confessions.

These are far more important protections than preclusion of true confessions obtained with coercive techniques. Any technique not requiring treatment of resulting injury by a licensed physician should be permitted. Defendant should be waterboarded until they surrender burial sites, weapons, and other essential, reliable, physical evidence. All interrogators should undergo these techniques to see how they work, as part of interrogator training. To protect innocent defendant from coercion, these methods should be permitted only after an indictment.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 9, 2009 2:20:34 PM

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