Thursday, April 19, 2007

Kerry Cook's Five Flaws in the American Justice System

Kerry Max Cook gave a keynote address at a luncheon held by The Texas Journal of Civil Liberties and Civil Rights on April 17. Texas Moratorium Network was also a financial sponsor helping to bring Kerry to Austin for the event. The Daily Texan says that Kerry listed five flaws in the American justice system that lead to innocent people being wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death as he was.

Cook made the opening address at an annual symposium on civil rights held at the UT School of Law Tuesday. The symposium focused on prison systems in Texas and across the U.S.

"These flaws send innocent men and women to their deaths," said Cook, who wrote a book called "Chasing Justice," addressing his experiences with the legal system.

The first flaw is an error of mistaken identification, and the second is the use of weak inmate testimony by the prosecution, he said. The third flaw is "junk sciences." Cook said this is when the prosecution calls expert witnesses who essentially tailor their findings to remove reasonable doubt and ensure conviction.

The fourth flaw, prosecutorial misconduct, Cook deems the most critical in regards to his own false conviction, he said.

"The reason for that degree of prosecutorial misconduct is that prosecutors enjoy qualified immunity, and in the wrong hands, it becomes nothing short of a license to lie and cheat," he said.

The fifth flaw is ineffective assistance counseling, Cook said, using a comparison between Kmart and Saks Fifth Avenue shoppers to show what having the money to hire the best lawyers can do for someone.

"Money is what determines who lives and dies in this country. The death penalty is not racist; the death penalty targets the poor," Cook said.

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