Thank goodness for science.
While the old saying goes, “justice delayed is justice denied,” society must celebrate when a governmental wrong is corrected. With the proliferation of the use of DNA evidence, wrongly convicted persons often see justice served eventually.
In 1986, a California Superior Court judge sentenced Jack Sagin to life without parole for a stabbing murder the previous year. The primary evidence against Mr. Sagin came from two Monterey County Jail inmates who reported that the defendant had confessed to the killing. In 2009, lawyers for the defendant identified evidence that could be tested for DNA and obtained an order allowing that testing pursuant to Penal Code section 1405. The evidence included DNA from the victim’s bathrobe belonging to the man with whom the victim had a dating relationship. Additionally, investigators found DNA of an ex-boyfriend on the bathrobe and in hair removed from the victim’s couch and towels. The towels also had DNA from a coworker. Lastly, the victim’s fingernail scrapings contained DNA from an unknown male.
In vacating the conviction, the Court of Appeal applied a new standard of analyzing evidence, i.e. whether the new evidence would likely have changed the trial outcome. The court held that a jury would have considered the DNA results with the rest of the evidence, including the testimony of four alibi witnesses and found Mr. Sagin not guilty.
Effective criminal defense requires the ability to coordinate many aspects of a trial practice. One crucial facet is the use of scientific evidence. At The Bruce Law Firm, we have extensive experience employing a wide array of experts ensuring our clients are portrayed in the best possible light.
See In re: Sagin, California Courts of Appeal (Sixth District), H044767. Opinion issued August 30, 2019.