This summer was a busy and exciting time at MTIP with three favorable court decisions being handed down in a row. These complicated areas of the law were made more clear and just by MTIP's commitment to our mission and our clients. Not only do these decisions benefit our clients, they also usher in a more clear path towards justice in the state of Montana.
Federal Appeals Court
In July, A decision from the Ninth Curcuit Court of Appeals in the case for our client, Bill Watson came back in our favor. This is a DNA testing case and the court concluded that DNA samples never tested in the case at the time of trial because the technology was not advanced enough, should be treated as new evidence and tested now. Beyond being excellent news for this case, this is a victory for many current and future wrongful conviction cases around the COUNTRY. Below find the superb conclusion from the Opinion:
"Consistent with our tradition, Congress has created a device to end the suffering of the innocent, where their innocence is scientifically demonstrable by DNA evidence, even after their convictions have become final. The most hallowed principle of our criminal law, protecting the innocent, requires us to eschew a crabbed, restricted construction of the statute. Watson moved in timely fashion for previously unperformed DNA testing, based on newly discovered evidence - the results of DNA testing not possible at the time of trial - that could very well prove his actual innocence and mistaken identity. His motion should have been granted.
REVERSED AND REMANDED."
To read more about this case and the decision's nationwide implications, check out this article from AllGov.com
Montana Supreme Court
In August, two decisions from the Montana Supreme Court reversed decisions made by the district court in the cases of our clients, Cody Marble and Robert Wilkes. This will send these cases back to the district court to be considered under a new standard for post conviction relief which could set the stage for a new trial for both of our clients. These decisions will have a great impact on cases moving forward through the Montana courts and we are so pleased to have ushered in these new standards.
Read about the decision from the Supreme Court in the case of Robert Wilkes in this article from The Washington Times
UM Law Student and MTIP volunteer, Lars Phillips with MTIP Pro Bono Attorney, Colin Stephens prior to Oral Arguments being held in the Cody Marble case before the Montana Supreme Court