National Center for Reason and Justice
January 30, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Robert B. Chatelle
Executive Director, National Center for Reason and Justice
In Unheard of Move, Court Rules to Imprison Defendants Who Were Previously Acquitted
New York, NY—January 30, 2011
In an unprecedented and unconstitutional move, an American court has ruled to send two people to prison even though they were previously acquitted.
The move has sparked outrage among supporters of the defendants, including the National Center for Reason and Justice, a legal and advisory group for the falsely accused and wrongfully convicted.
Joseph Allen and Nancy Smith were convicted of child sex-abuse in 1994 in Ohio. As in other cases during the moral panic of the 80s and 90s, the evidence against these two defendants was inherently unreliable. It included the testimony of small children who had been improperly and coercively interviewed.
Virtually all other victims of the child sex-abuse panic, such as the McMartins, Kelly Michaels, and Bernard Baran, were acquitted or freed sometimes years or even decades later on appeal, when common sense began to override irrational panic. But Smith and Allen remained in prison until 2009. During a hearing that year on a procedural matter, a judge ordered them acquitted due to lack of evidence. (For more information see http://www.ncrj.org/cases.)
But on January 27th, 2011, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the judge who acquitted them lacked the authority to do so. The court reinstated the dubious convictions and ordered Smith and Allen back to prison.
We know of no other instance in American law where a Court has attempted to imprison the acquitted —.a blatant infringement of Constitutional protection against double jeopardy, as well as the constitutional principle of Due Process of Law.
The NCRJ has sponsored Nancy Smith’s and Joseph Allen’s cases for years, and we firmly believe in their innocence. They will continue to have our full support. We will fight for them until justice is achieved.