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SPOILER ALERT: UPDATES PROVIDED
on November 14, 2011
Spoiler Alert: I'm a trial lawyer in Cal., and have some information for those looking for updates. First, as to the book, it's very well written, and you feel like you are at the trial. My quibble might be that it is clear that the author just personally liked the prosecutor better than the defense lawyer, and put her performance and the descriptions of her in a much better light than the defense, even though objectively, as a trial lawyer, from my reading, the defense attorney did the best he could with a biased judge.
For those interested, I think you can Google Franklin vs. Duncan to find the federal court decision overturning the conviction in 1995. The federal appeals court agreed in overturning the conviction, and the prosecutors decided not to retry the case. My take is that the father was a horrible, abusive, depraved person, but that the evidence he committed this particular crime was flimsy to non-existent. The book does a good job in showing how the cops, prosecutor and jury believe what they want to believe, and how they can twist the evidence to fit what they want to believe.
The grounds were that the trial judge was wrong to let the prosecutor argue that the defendant's silence when his daughter asked him whether he did it when he was in jail indicated guilt, because a criminal defendant has the right to remain silent and that cannot be used against him. The trial court also was in error by refusing to let the defense present evidence that every single detail of the crime that the daughter came up with had been published in newspapers and mentioned on TV. The prosecutor argued that the details the daughter gave could only be known by someone who had witnessed the crime, and they all matched up with the actual scene and body, but then the judge wouldn't let the defense show she could have read the stuff in the paper. The federal court was also very disturbed by the prosecutor implying to the jury that the information wasn't publicly known, when she knew that it was known, and the court thought the prosecutor may have induced perjured testimony. The trial court also indicated there was evidence the daughter committed perjury in testifying that she didn't discuss the facts of the case with her family, that she didn't watch press reports and that the memory was not induced by hypnosis. Her mom and sister, who backed her up in the trial, now claim that she was lying. The conviction was thrown out only on the jailhouse silence and the refusal to permit evidence of the press coverage, but the court was clearly disturbed by the other issues.
The father, after his release, sued the cops, the prosecutor, his daughter and the state's expert witnesses for conspiring to violate his rights. In 2002, the federal appeals court held that the witnesses had immunity from suit for various reasons. I think an Internet search of Franklin vs. Terr may turn that up.