Making The River : LATEST EVENTS

September 7, 2007

Oregon Innocence Project

Filed under: Making The River — makingtheriver @ 6:13 am

What fate could be worse than spending your life in prison because you were found guilty of a crime you didn’t commit? That is almost what happened to Jimi Simmons and that is what The Innocence Project was created to prevent.
The advent of DNA testing has proved the innocence of many prisoners who had been sentenced to life in prison. But this doesn’t happen automatically. Often, even with new DNA evidence, it has taken years of volunteer labor and thousands of donated dollars for the system to admit its mistakes and set a prisoner free. When I read about these cases, I wonder about all of the other innocent people who are in prison in cases where there was no DNA evidence. How do they deal with their fate?

In Jimi’s case, the prosecution “lost” a critical early witness interview. This interview directly contradicted what the prosecution’s witness said on the stand. The early interview showed that Jimi did not own the murder weapon. Later, after forensic testing identified the murder weapon, suddenly the witness declared that it belonged to Jimi. Why did the witness change his testimony and why wasn’t the defense told that there had been a change? Luckily for Jimi, he had many volunteers helping his attorneys. One of them, Allen Rudolph, found original notes of the “lost” interview. So the jury was able to hear this evidence and decide who was lying.

A few years ago, The Oregon Innocence Project, invited Jimi Simmons to sit on a panel with an Oregon State Supreme Court Justice. The Justice told a story from when he was a young lawyer. In that case, a Mexican man had been found guilty of first degree murder. During the trial, the court had provided a Spanish language translator. Unfortunately, the defendant didn’t speak Spanish, he only spoke a Native American language and couldn’t communicate with his lawyer. He was found guilty. Years later another man confessed to the crime.

There are many cases where the state appointed attorneys are expected to fight for justice without enough time, resources, training or experience. The Innocence Project is doing the work that the criminal justice system is supposed to do: making sure that innocent people aren’t doing time.

4 Comments »

  1. I did time with Jimi in Walla Walla.

    Comment by Mr. Pink — August 7, 2007 @ 6:13 am | Reply

  2. I met Jimi in a class he gave a lecture at.
    The class was with Barrie Del Buono.
    I would like to interview him.
    I met his wife at a fund raising event for Vietnam with Mai Le.
    I was impressed with his frankness concerning his subject and life.
    I spent several years on the run from the FBI,and RCMP
    I was subsequently released after 5 deportations from Canada,
    and one extradition charge from the United States.
    I would like to be involved in what ever way I can.

    Albert B. Eggen

    Comment by Albert B. Egen — November 1, 2007 @ 1:07 pm | Reply

  3. Thanks for information.
    many interesting things
    Celpjefscylc

    Comment by celpjefscycle — January 12, 2008 @ 12:04 am | Reply

  4. I AM REALLY PROUD OF ALL YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS UNCLE AND AUNTY. YOU GUYS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A GREAT ASSETT TO THE FAMILY AND I CAN NOT WAIT TO SEE YOU GUYS AGAIN. V. SIMMONS (MUCKLESHOOT-GRAND RHONDE)

    Comment by vanessa — February 12, 2008 @ 4:31 am | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: