Management Resources principles Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin were honored to be included in Penn State’s online course, Presumed Innocent? The Social Science of Wrongful Conviction. Interviewed extensively about the wrongful conviction and exoneration of Jonathan Fleming, many questions arose from the class. Kim Anklin has been answering questions from students in the forum, “Ask Kim Anything.” Although the class is complete we are reprinting some of the general entries with the hope that readers will learn more about these types of investigations.
How many system variables influenced the wrongful conviction? How could someone be convicted without physical evidence? You mentioned that the prosecution violated the “Brady.” Clearly there was exculpatory evidence available pointing to the defendant’s exoneration. Why did the defense lawyer not ask for this evidence, witness testimony? This guy had a terrible lawyer; one who was not willing to go the extra mile to prove his client’s innocence. This was a horrible case and illustrates how one develops a distrust for the judicial process.
In this case there were multiple variables that resulted in Mr. Fleming being convicted. Mr. Fleming was convicted on the testimony of one eye witness who was intimidated into making a deal with the police and prosecutor, two additional witness that were also intimidated and provided deals, and of course the misconduct of the prosecutor. The entire criminal justice system failed him. Yes, is it a horrible case and unfortunately there are many others with similar circumstances.
As to all of the system variables that could be pointed out in this case, I’ll just briefly comment on the few below:
- Flawed police work and tunnel vision – The detectives conducting the investigation failed to properly follow up on the information provided to them by the witness who provided them with the names and physical description of three men who should have been considered logical suspects.
- Witness intimidation by the police – according to several people we spoke to, shortly after the homicide the police were literally picking up people off the street and taking them back to the precinct to try and coerce them into being witnesses, even though the majority of them did not see what had happened. Multiple people told us they had come to the scene after the police arrived to see what was going on only to get taken away as witnesses.
- Prosecutorial Misconduct – this variable came in the form of making deals with witnesses in exchange for their testimony, failing to disclose those deals to defense counsel, hiding the phone receipt and letter from the Orlando PD which would have corroborated Mr. Fleming’s alibi. The District Attorney’s Office also intimidated witnesses by threatening them with perjury if they tried to recant. In our opinion, we feel even the Judge that presided over the post-conviction hearing was duped by the prosecutor. The eye witness was trying to recant stating she had lied about the identification. The judge found her recantation unbelievable, because the DA’s office never disclosed to him that the witness had made a deal with them in exchange for her testimony. Any one of these acts if committed by a defense attorney would have resulted in severe consequences up to and including possible disbarment.
- Ineffective Counsel – Mr. Fleming’s defense attorney at the time was a young, new attorney who had never handled a homicide case before. He would eventually tell us that he thought this was a “slam dunk” because of the Florida alibi, and therefore over confident that the jury would never convict Mr. Fleming.
Management Resources Ltd of New York is a professional investigative firm licensed in New York and New Jersey. . Management Resources is a member of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Associated Licensed Detectives of New York, and Founding Members and Regional Directors of Investigating Innocence.
Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin are available for interviews or speaking engagements. Contact ImaginePublicity at 843-808-08509 or email firstname.lastname@example.org