Não é bom confiar só no YouTube
Qualquer vídeo no YouTube pode ser removido sob a alegação de violação
das normas de uso.
Exemplos: o vídeo da entrevista do Pastor Malafaia detonando os
abortistas foi removido, o vídeo do Pauno Bundalrelli que ele removeu
porque descobriram que ele mostrou a bunda no vídeo para todo mundo
ver, a censura de um juiz brasileiro ao vídeo da Daniela Cicarelli.
Seria uma boa diversificar, encontrar um lugar melhor para copiar do
YouTube e postar esses vídeos para que não sejam removidos assim de
uma hora para outra.
Vários concorrentes do Google/YouTube existem e que não são linkados
pelo Google. Para quem usa apenas Google, é como se não existissem.
Há vídeos conservadores em alguns desses sites também.
http://thevideobay.org (fechado, em beta)
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Não é bom confiar só no YouTube
Num de seus podcasts Diogo Mainardi explicou de quem ele herdou
intelectualmente essa postura crítica não somente aos nordestinos como
todos os demais brasileiros: Ivan Lessa, ex-parceiro de Jaguar no Pasquim.
Ele é o autor de várias frases (conhecidas como "desaforismos") como:
"Baiano não nasce, estréia."
"O brasileiro é um povo com os pés no chão - e as mãos também."
"No Brasil, morre-se muito de médico."
"A cada 15 anos os brasileiros esquecem o que aconteceu nos últimos 15
"Como tudo que se passa em português, não é a sério nem para valer."
"Se Robespierre tivesse nascido em Crato, Ceará, ele se chamaria Danton."
"Os brasileiros, para não perder a forma, devem ser montados ao menos
uma vez por semana."
"No Rio, nove entre dez favelados são quinze."
"Todo nordestino sentado num canto é um passo adiante na
"Amar é... ser a primeira a reconhecer o corpo dele no Instituto
"O Brasil tem 8.511.965 quilômetros quadrados de largura por 7 palmos
"Não se pode enganar o povo o tempo todo, mas 93% do povo 87% do tempo
Como o Ivan Lessa, o Paulo Francis também era de lascar: "Os baianos
invadiram o Rio para cantar "Ó que saudade da Bahia...". Bem se é por
falta de adeus, PT saudações."
"Os chineses só existem de vez em quando."
"Todo homem tem o direito de ser imbecil por conta própria."
"A Net é 95% feita por tolos para 98% de bobalhões."
"Intelectual não vai à praia..." (frase de Paulo Francis completada
por Ivan Lessa) "... intelectual bebe."
"Ame-o ou deixe-o." (slogan do regime militar, respondido por Ivan
Lessa) "O último a sair apague a luz."
"Se não há clima para Watergate então vamos todos para Búzios."
Papel dos EUA na contra-revolução militar de 64
BRAZIL MARKS 40th ANNIVERSARY OF MILITARY COUP
DECLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS SHED LIGHT ON U.S. ROLE
Audio tape: President Johnson urged taking "every step that we can" to
support overthrow of Joao Goulart
U.S. Ambassador Requested Pre-positioned Armaments to aid Golpistas;
Acknowledged covert operations backing street demonstrations, civic
forces and resistance groups
Edited by Peter Kornbluh
email@example.com / 202 994-7116
Washington D.C., 31 March 2004 - "I think we ought to take
every step that we can, be prepared to do everything that we need to
do," President Johnson instructed his aides regarding preparations for
a coup in Brazil on March 31, 1964. On the 40th anniversary of the
military putsch, the National Security Archive today posted recently
declassified documents on U.S. policy deliberations and operations
leading up to the overthrow of the Goulart government on April 1,
1964. The documents reveal new details on U.S. readiness to back the
The Archive's posting includes a declassified audio tape of
Lyndon Johnson being briefed by phone at his Texas ranch, as the
Brazilian military mobilized against Goulart. "I'd put everybody that
had any imagination or ingenuity…[CIA Director John] McCone…[Secretary
of Defense Robert] McNamara" on making sure the coup went forward,
Johnson is heard to instruct undersecretary of State George Ball. "We
just can't take this one," the tape records LBJ's opinion. "I'd get
right on top of it and stick my neck out a little."
Among the documents are Top Secret cables sent by U.S.
Ambassador Lincoln Gordon who forcefully pressed Washington for direct
involvement in supporting coup plotters led by Army Chief of Staff
General Humberto Castello Branco. "If our influence is to be brought
to bear to help avert a major disaster here-which might make Brazil
the China of the 1960s-this is where both I and all my senior advisors
believe our support should be placed," Gordon wrote to high State
Department, White House and CIA officials on March 27, 1964.
To assure the success of the coup, Gordon recommended "that
measures be taken soonest to prepare for a clandestine delivery of
arms of non-US origin, to be made available to Castello Branco
supporters in Sao Paulo." In a subsequent cable, declassified just
last month, Gordon suggested that these weapons be "pre-positioned
prior any outbreak of violence," to be used by paramilitary units and
"friendly military against hostile military if necessary." To conceal
the U.S. role, Gordon recommended the arms be delivered via "unmarked
submarine to be off-loaded at night in isolated shore spots in state
of Sao Paulo south of Santos."
Gordon's cables also confirm CIA covert measures "to help
strengthen resistance forces" in Brazil. These included "covert
support for pro-democracy street rallies…and encouragement [of]
democratic and anti-communist sentiment in Congress, armed forces,
friendly labor and student groups, church, and business." Four days
before the coup, Gordon informed Washington that "we may be requesting
modest supplementary funds for other covert action programs in the
near future." He also requested that the U.S. send tankers carrying
"POL"-petroleum, oil and lubricants-to facilitate the logistical
operations of the military coup plotters, and deploy a naval task
force to intimidate Goulart's backers and be in position to intervene
militarily if fighting became protracted.
Although the CIA is widely known to have been involved in
covert action against Goulart leading up to the coup, its operational
files on intervention in Brazil remain classified-to the consternation
of historians. Archive analyst Peter Kornbluh called on the Agency to
"lift the veil of secrecy off one of the most important episodes of
U.S. intervention in the history of Latin America" by completely
declassifying the record of CIA operations in Brazil. Both the Clinton
and Bush administrations conducted significant declassifications on
the military regimes in Chile and Argentina, he noted.
"Declassification of the historical record on the 1964 coup and the
military regimes that followed would advance U.S. interests in
strengthening the cause of democracy and human rights in Brazil, and
in the rest of Latin America," Kornbluh said.
On March 31, the documents show, Gordon received a secret
telegram from Secretary of State Dean Rusk stating that the
Administration had decided to immediately mobilize a naval task force
to take up position off the coast of Brazil; dispatch U.S. Navy
tankers "bearing POL" from Aruba; and assemble an airlift of 110 tons
of ammunition and other equipment including "CS agent"-a special gas
for mob control. During an emergency White House meeting on April 1,
according to a CIA memorandum of conversation, Secretary of Defense
Robert McNamara told President Johnson that the task force had already
set sail, and an Esso tanker with motor and aviation gasoline would
soon be in the vicinity of Santos. An ammunition airlift, he reported,
was being readied in New Jersey and could be sent to Brazil within 16
Such U.S. military support for the military coup proved
unnecessary; Castello Branco's forces succeeded in overthrowing
Goulart far faster and with much less armed resistance then U.S.
policy makers anticipated. On April 2, CIA agents in Brazil cabled
that "Joao Goulart, deposed president of Brazil, left Porto Alegre
about 1pm local time for Montevideo."
The documents and cables refer to the coup forces as "the
democratic rebellion." After General Castello Branco's takeover, the
military ruled Brazil until 1985.
Note: Documents are in PDF format. You will need to download
and install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.
Hear/Read the Documents
l) White House Audio Tape, President Lyndon B. Johnson
discussing the impending coup in Brazil with Undersecretary of State
George Ball, March 31, 1964
This audio clip is available in several formats:
Windows Media Audio - High bandwidth (7.11 MB)
Windows Media Audio - Low bandwidth (3.57 MB)
MP3 - (4.7 MB)
In this 5:08 minute White House tape obtained from the
Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, President Johnson is recorded speaking
on the phone from his Texas ranch with Undersecretary of State George
Ball and Assistant Secretary for Latin America, Thomas Mann. Ball
briefs Johnson on that status of military moves in Brazil to overthrow
the government of Joao Goulart who U.S. officials view as a leftist
closely associated with the Brazilian Communist Party. Johnson gives
Ball the green light to actively support the coup if U.S. backing is
needed. "I think we ought to take every step that we can, be prepared
to do everything that we need to do" he orders. In an apparent
reference to Goulart, Johnson states "we just can't take this one."
"I'd get right on top of it and stick my neck out a little," he
2) State Department, Top Secret Cable from Rio De Janiero,
March 27, 1964
Ambassador Lincoln Gordon wrote this lengthy, five part,
cable to the highest national security officers of the U.S.
government, including CIA director John McCone and the Secretaries of
Defense and State, Robert McNamara and Dean Rusk. He provides an
assessment that President Goulart is working with the Brazilian
Communist Party to "seize dictatorial power" and urges the U.S. to
support the forces of General Castello Branco. Gordon recommends "a
clandestine delivery of arms" for Branco's supporters as well as a
shipment of gas and oil to help the coup forces succeed and suggests
such support will be supplemented by CIA covert operations. He also
urges the administration to "prepare without delay against the
contingency of needed overt intervention at a second stage."
3) State Department, Top Secret Cable from Amb. Lincoln
Gordon, March 29, 1964
Ambassador Gordon updates high U.S. officials on the
deterioration of the situation in Brazil. In this cable, declassified
on February 24, 2004 by the LBJ Presidential Library, he reiterates
the "manifold" need to have a secret shipment of weapons
"pre-positioned prior any outbreak of violence" to be "used by
paramilitary units working with Democratic Military groups" and
recommends a public statement by the administration "to reassure the
large numbers of democrats in Brazil that we are not indifferent to
the danger of a Communist revolution here."
4) CIA, Intelligence Information Cable on "Plans of
Revolutionary Plotters in Minas Gerias," March 30, 1964
The CIA station in Brazil transmitted this field report
from intelligence sources in Belo Horizonte that bluntly stated "a
revolution by anti-Goulart forces will definitely get under way this
week, probably in the next few days. The cable transmits intelligence
on military plans to "march toward Rio." The "revolution," the
intelligence source predicted, "will not be resolved quickly and will
5) State Department, Secret Cable to Amb. Lincoln Gordon in
Rio, March 31, 1964
Secretary of State Dean Rusk sends Gordon a list of the
White House decisions "taken in order [to] be in a position to render
assistance at appropriate time to anti-Goulart forces if it is decided
this should be done." The decisions include sending US naval tankers
loaded with petroleum, oil and lubricants from Aruba to Santos,
Brazil; assembling 110 tons of ammunition and other equipment for
pro-coup forces; and dispatching a naval brigade including an aircraft
carrier, several destroyers and escorts to conduct be positioned off
the coast of Brazil. Several hours later, a second cable is sent
amending the number of ships, and dates they will be arriving off the
6) CIA, Secret Memorandum of Conversation on "Meeting at the
White House 1 April 1964 Subject-Brazil," April 1, 1964
This memorandum of conversation records a high level
meeting, held in the White House, between President Johnson and his
top national security aides on Brazil. CIA deputy chief of Western
Hemisphere operations, Desmond Fitzgerald recorded the briefing given
to Johnson and the discussion on the progress of the coup. Defense
Secretary reported on the movements of the naval task force sailing
towad Brazil, and the arms and ammunition being assembled in New
Jersey to resupply the coup plotters if necessary.
7) CIA, Intelligence Information Cable on "Departure of
Goulart from Porto Alegre for Montevideo," April 2, 1964
The CIA station in Brazil reports that the deposed
president, Joao Goulart, left Brazil for exile in Uruguay at l pm, on
April 2. His departure marks the success of the military coup in Brazil.
|Realidade das editoras no Brasil|| |
Aos ESCRITORES (Leiam com atenção!)
Galera, sem querer jogar um balde de água fria nos sonhos de cada um
de vcs (e nos meus, inclusive), sinto que tenho que compartilhar o que
li em outros blogs e comunidades da rede mundial de computadores.
Aqui temos a reprodução de um e-mail/resposta enviado a um autor que
enviou um e-mail de apresentação a fim de submeter seus escritos (uma
TRILOGIA de fantasia para o público infanto-juvenil) à Editora
SARAIVA. O e-mail/resposta foi enviado por uma funcionária de lá.
É muito duro ler o que ela escreveu, mas é a realidade com a qual ela
convive dentro da editora onde trabalha e no país em que vivemos.
Infelizmente não somos um país culto...
Eu já trabalhei em editora e conheço as cartas padrões enviadas aos
novos autores. Gostei da honestidade desta moça e achei que vcs
deveriam tomar conhecimento.
*Obs.: O autor já publicou seu livro de forma independente.
Gostei do seu e-mail. Entendo perfeitamente a sua situação e gostaria
de expor a você o que eu aprendi com a minha experiência na área de
Como as editoras se comportam neste segmento? Elas dependem das
escolas. Nenhuma sobrevive vendendo livros juvenis em livrarias,
porque os jovens no nosso país não lêem. A minoria abastada, que
aprendeu o hábito de
leitura em casa, lê. Mas é minoria. A massa, a grande consumidora de
livros juvenis, são os alunos das escolas públicas e particulares do
Brasil. Esses jovens lêem os livros adotados pelos professores deles,
o "livro que a professora mandou ler". É dessa venda que as editoras
sobrevivem nesse segmento.
O grande comprador de livros juvenis é o governo. Ele adquire tiragens
grandes de determinados títulos para distribuí-los nas escolas
públicas. Por isso as editoras se matam de tanto trabalhar quando
surgem programas de governo, porque esta é a oportunidade de vender.
Elas precisam ganhar a concorrência com outras editoras.
Não são todos os títulos do catálogo que o governo compra. São alguns.
Os outros é preciso divulgar nas escolas. As editoras grandes têm
equipes de divulgadores pelo Brasil que visitam escolas, conversam com
professores, distribuem catálogos, enfim, fazem esse trabalho de
formiguinha para conseguir que o livro seja adotado. É da adoção em
escolas que o segmento juvenil sobrevive. A exceção é Harry Potter e
Deltora Quest, livros traduzidos e com forte apelo comercial.
Outra coisa a ser considerada: LIVROS SÃO CAROS! A maioria dos alunos
não pode despender muito mais que R$ 25,00 em um livro para-didático,
como chamamos os de literatura juvenil. Então, a maioria dos livros
para essa faixa etária não pode ser caro, nem é colorido (o que
encarece a impressão). O que eles precisam ter é material de apoio ao
professor, encarte para o professor, suplemento de leitura para o
aluno. Infelizmente, os professores querem receber tudo mastigado, não
querem ter trabalho. Há aqueles que adotam um título sem sequer tê-lo
lido. É uma realidade avassaladoramente triste.
Você conhece bem a realidade do ensino no Brasil. Desnecessário eu
dizer qualquer coisa. Então, livros mais complexos, literatura de
verdade, com trabalho de linguagem, bem escrito, com enredo que exige
mais do leitor, que requer que ele interprete, esses não têm apelo
junto às escolas. Porque nem professores nem alunos estão prontos para
trabalhá-los. Os livros juvenis mais vendidos, pode comprovar, beiram
ao óbvio e não requerem grandes esforços dos leitores em questões mais
complexas. Eles precisam abordar os "temas transversais" impostos
pelos professores (Meio Ambiente, Pluralidade Cultural, Trabalho e
Consumo, Ética, Orientação Sexual e Saúde). Aliás, esses mesmos
professores escolhem livros por esses temas, sabia? Os autores
"escolados" no ramo juvenil já
escrevem pensando nisso. Afastam-se, a meu ver, cada vez mais da
literatura, digo a verdadeira literatura.
É assim que as editoras grandes vêem os livros juvenis. Precisam levar
em conta as chances de ele ser adotado em escolas. Não adianta você
colocá-lo em destaque na prateleira da livraria. Não adianta PAGAR
para colocá-lo nos sites de venda on line. Se quiser vender para
leitores fora da escola, precisa de MUITO MARKETING, precisa se fazer
aparecer, o que não acontece apenas estando na livraria. Você precisa
conquistar os professores, porque, no Brasil, é só por meio deles que
o livro chega aos jovens.
Entre em uma livraria grande. Na parte de infantis, você vê crianças
folheando livros. Procure adolescentes. Veja se você encontra algum
folheando algum livro. Você encontrará ADULTOS e CRIANÇAS. Aliás, vou
além: procure nas grandes livrarias uma seção destinada aos jovens.
Não existe. Os livros juvenis estão na mesma seção dos infantis! Neste
país, jovens leitores não freqüentam livrarias. Os próprios livreiros
não colocam muitos títulos juvenis nas lojas. Colocam os mais vendidos
e olhe lá.
O que funciona para vender fora da escola? Propaganda boca a boca. Foi
assim com HARRY POTTER, ERAGON, foi assim com DESVENTURAS EM SÉRIE e
por aí vai.
Então, quando uma editora avalia o seu livro, independentemente da
excelente literatura que ele carrega, do projeto gráfico legal e da
originalidade da abordagem, SEU LIVRO PRECISA TER PERFIL PARA ADOÇÃO
EM ESCOLAS, para compra pelo governo. A produção que ele requer
precisa culminar em um produto com preço acessível. Ele não pode ter
um número grande de páginas. Essa é a realidade do país, não adianta
Um lançamento de autor consagrado no ramo juvenil tem tiragem de 5000
exemplares. Desses, 2000 são distribuídos aos professores. Sim, de
graça. A editora PAGA para eles conhecerem o livro. Ela tira do
próprio bolso visando uma adoção futura. Apenas 3000 vão ser
destinados à venda. É absurdo, mas é assim.
Outra coisa que também está condicionada à realidade do país: a
economia não deixa as editoras ousarem, porque livro não é produto de
primeira necessidade no Brasil. Na primeira crise, as pessoas deixam
de consumir livros. Elas consomem comida, roupa, mas não livros. Isso
impede as grandes editoras de "experimentar" o mercado, aquela coisa
do "vamos ver no que vai dar, estamos arriscando essa novidade". Elas
têm a fórmula de como funciona, de como vende. Se está dando certo
assim, por que colocar tudo a perder? Entende?
Quando avaliamos um original lá na editora e o aprovamos para
publicação, seja ele qual for e de que autor for, novato ou figurão, é
feito um projeto de investimento junto com uma pesquisa de mercado. A
gente analisa a concorrência, vê se tem espaço no mercado para esse
título, o que ele tem de diferente etc. É feito um estudo estimando
quanto a editora gastará para produzir, imprimir e distribuir o livro.
Esse projeto é apresentado à diretoria, e é ela quem decide se o
título vai ou não ser publicado. Nesse estudo, é colocada uma previsão de
quando o livro vai começar a dar lucro, porque a primeira edição
SEMPRE é prejuízo. É investimento. A editora começa a lucrar na
terceira edição, se tiver sorte de o título chegar lá.
Se o título não atingir o que o projeto previa, o editor precisa se
explicar. Ele precisa dar um jeito de fazer aquele livro dar lucro ou
precisa lançar algum outro que compense esse prejuízo.
As coisas não são tão simples como parecem. As editoras não são
gráficas. Elas editam. Há pessoal que está sendo pago para ler,
avaliar, ilustrar, diagramar, revisar e editar o livro. São meses de
preparo antes de o livro sair impresso. O autor não paga um tostão.
Assim, as pessoas têm uma idéia errônea das editoras. Acham que elas
estão de má vontade, mas não é assim.
Eu trabalho em uma grande editora e asseguro a você que nenhum
original que recebemos é jogado fora. Nós devolvemos TODOS sempre que
possível. Ainda que seja cópia. Nós escrevemos uma carta explicando o
recusa e devolvemos os originais. Não incineramos nada. Não vendemos
aquele monte de papel como aparas.
Por que não recebemos CDs? Porque imagine você se cada pessoa do
Brasil que decide enviar um original a nós o faça com CD e não em
papel... Nós não lemos no computador. Os livros são enviados a
pareceristas, são lidos por vários avaliadores, e isso precisa ser
feito em papel. A editora não pode imprimir cada disquete, cada CD que
ela recebe, do contrário não faria mais nada além de imprimir o dia todo.
Tudo isso dificulta muito a entrada de novos autores no mercado. O
nicho juvenil tem esse senão da adoção escolar. Isso, aqui no Brasil,
porque nosso país é deficiente em educação e cultura, as pessoas não
têm hábito de leitura e são analfabetas funcionais, não entendem o que
Vá a uma livraria. Folheie os livros juvenis. Olhe as principais
coleções de cada editora (dificilmente as editoras publicam livros
avulsos de literatura juvenil, fora de coleções). Isso também conta.
SEU LIVRO É QUE TEM QUE SE ADEQUAR AOS CATÁLOGOS DA EDITORA E NÃO O
CONTRÁRIO. Ninguém vai criar uma nova coleção por sua causa, por
melhor que o seu livro seja.
Esse é o erro dos autores. Eles acreditam tanto no produto que criaram
(com razão, claro!) que se esquecem de que:
1) não são os únicos a apresentarem originais às editoras, elas
recebem quase uma centena por mês;
2) eles é que precisam das editoras, não elas deles; então, eles é que
precisam se adequar, não o contrário;
3) não há demanda suficiente para a quantidade de livros bons que as
editoras recebem para publicar. Não adianta lançar um monte de títulos
se eles não saem dos estoques;
4) livro caro não vende muito;
5) livro muito grosso assusta os jovens leitores e são caros de
produzir, o que, conseqüentemente, se reflete no preço final do produto.
Eu falo tudo isso com uma tristeza profunda, acredite. Eu sou formada
em Letras, eu amo a literatura de verdade, embora eu ajude a produzir,
na maioria das vezes, uma literatura medíocre. Porque O PAÍS É
MEDÍOCRE. Essa é a realidade, volto a afirmar. Não adianta sermos
utópicos, sonharmos com jovens devorando livros. Eles devoram a mídia
(HARRY POTTER, por exemplo). Muitos dos que compraram HARRY POTTER,
sequer o leram.
Das duas, uma: ou você analisa bem como o mercado funciona e adeqüa o
seu livro a ele (ou mesmo o adapta ou escreve outro que se encaixe no
que expus); ou vai viver nessa luta insana, remando contra uma maré
Você disse que o seu se trata de uma trilogia. Isso já é um problema.
DIFICILMENTE ALGUMA EDITORA VAI SE COMPROMETER A PUBLICAR UMA TRILOGIA
INTEIRA DE UM AUTOR DESCONHECIDO. Ela vai publicar um livro só. Ele
precisa dar muito, mas muito certo para, aí sim, a editora publicar o
segundo volume. Trilogias não se enquadram em coleções. Isso é outro
problema. Como eu disse, é difícil abrir espaço no catálogo para
títulos avulsos. E, pelo que percebi, seu livro é literatura pra
valer, trabalha o texto em sua estrutura profunda. Isso restringe o
público-alvo. Outro problema.
Avalie bem o seu livro como PRODUTO, não como sua criação. Se, ainda
assim, você achar que ele satisfaz todos os senões que expliquei a
você, então você pode me mandar seu livro, que ficarei feliz em dar
Em relação ao apadrinhamento, isso existe, sim, infelizmente. Não é
tão freqüente e não ocorre muito no segmento juvenil, mais eu já
presenciei alguns casos. O livro empaca no estoque do mesmo jeito. O
pseudo-autor que teve de se valer desse artifício só queria mesmo era
publicar por publicar, sem compromisso nenhum com a cultura, com a
educação, com a literatura.
Só status, só para dizer que já escreveu um livro. Para quem produz
literatura de verdade, isso não basta, acredito eu.
Mesmo há 8 anos trabalhando nesse mercado e estando consciente de como
ele é, não concordo com ele, não o acho justo e acho, sim, que está
longe do ideal. Mas se é ele que temos e não conseguimos mudá-lo,
temos de estudá-lo como ele é e encontrar uma forma de nos adequar a
ele. É a única solução num país que não se mexe e que caminha cada vez
mais para a ignorância, concorda?
Desculpe não poder fazer mais. E desculpe também pela extensão do e-mail.
It stocks your grocery store, schedules your favorite team's games,
and helps plan your vacation. A primer on the most influential
academic discipline you've never heard of.
By Virginia Postrel
The Boston Globe, June 27, 2004
TO THE CONSTERNATION of his colleagues, Mark Eisner once told a
reporter that his discipline "is probably the most important field
nobody's ever heard of." Indeed, it's not one that's likely to come up
at dinner parties.
"I've been explaining for 40 years what operations research is," says
Eisner, who is associate director of the school of operations research
and industrial engineering at Cornell University. He defines O.R. as
"the effective use of scarce resources under dynamic and uncertain
That may sound arcane, but it's pretty much the problem of living --
and certainly the central problem of economic life. O.R. isn't
economics, however, though most economists have some O.R. training.
It's applied mathematics. Since its origins in World War II to its
recent resurgence fueled by the explosion in raw computing power, O.R.
has developed analytical models of the tradeoffs and uncertainties
involved in problems ranging from inventory management to police
deployment, from scheduling sports leagues to determining how many
people to call for jury duty.
Taking the kids to Disney World this summer? Operations research will
be your invisible companion, scheduling the crews and aircraft,
pricing the plane tickets and hotel rooms, even helping to design
capacities on the theme park rides. If you use Orbitz to book your
flights, an O.R. engine sifts among millions of options to find the
cheapest fares. If you get directions to the hotel from MapQuest,
another O.R. engine spits out the most direct route. If you ship
souvenirs home, O.R. tells UPS which truck to put the packages on,
exactly where on the truck the packages should go to make them fastest
to load and unload, and what route the driver should follow to make
his deliveries most efficiently.
At the park, O.R. can even let you skip the lines for the most popular
rides. For Epcot's new Mission Space ride, for instance, you can join
a "virtual queue" using the FastPass system introduced in 1999. A
computer issues a pass that tells you when to claim your spot at the
front of the line. But it doesn't just tell you to come back after an
arbitrary length of time, say, an hour and 15 minutes. Rather, to
calculate a return time for each guest in the face of constantly
shifting waiting times, the virtual queue's software takes into
account how many people are standing in the real line, how many are
already in the virtual queue, and how many of each group the park
wants to admit each time the ride opens up.
"That's the O.R. piece," says Irv Lustig, manager of technical
services for ILOG Direct, a software and O.R. consulting company
headquartered in Gentilly, France, and Mountain View, Calif. He
visited the parks in February to see how Disney uses O.R. and woo the
company as an ILOG client.
After decades in which the field's progress was mostly theoretical,
computers have finally gotten powerful enough to collect the data and
deliver the problem-solving solutions that O.R. has been promising
since the heady days of the New Frontier. Beginning in the 1980s, when
American Airlines demonstrated that airlines could save billions of
dollars using O.R. techniques to design their schedules, O.R. has
become an increasingly important, though largely invisible,
contributor to rising productivity.
"What we talked about when I was a young graduate student are still
the things that we talk about now, except then we could only talk
about them," says Jack Muckstadt, a Cornell professor who entered the
field in the early 1960s. "Now we can actually do them."
Indeed, when Irv Lustig got his doctorate in operations research from
Stanford in 1987, his thesis was controversial. Although it had the
obligatory theorems and proofs, it also included computational work
that some members of Stanford's O.R. department (now its department of
management science and engineering) thought too lowbrow.
By contrast, he says, today O.R. students who want to just do theory
have a hard time. "Everybody wants to know, `What does it mean on a
computer?"' says Lustig, whose work has included creating the National
Football League's schedule. "That's a big culture change."
. . .
O.R. started as a way of bringing scientific thinking to the complex
problems of warfare: How do you find enemy submarines? How many
bombers do you need to make sure a critical target is destroyed? When,
where, and with how many troops and what equipment should you make an
In World War II, scientists from a wide range of fields attacked
military problems with a potent combination of empiricism and
mathematical models. When airplanes came back riddled with holes from
enemy attacks, for instance, the intuitive response was to reinforce
the armor where the holes were. But, noted the scientists, those were
the planes that made it back. They didn't need more armor where they
were hit. The real challenge was to figure out the places that had
been hit in the planes that went down.
"It was a lively, informal, paradoxical exchange of ideas between
amateur and professional war makers and it produced some brilliant
successes," wrote James R. Newman in The World of Mathematics,
published in 1956, which cited O.R.'s role in simplifying supply
lines, providing a quantitative basis for weapons evaluation, and so on.
But O.R. didn't live up to its postwar hype, its implicit promise to
"solve everything." Militarily, it could attack certain tactical
problems but, as the Vietnam War illustrated, O.R. wasn't the right
tool for addressing strategic issues of where, or why, to fight. Even
for mundane business questions, like how to design sales routes or
what inventories to hold, O.R. specialists often lacked the data and
computing power to turn their models into practical results. By the
1970s, the Vietnam War had made O.R.'s military applications and
Pentagon funding suspect in universities, and businesses were
gradually disbanding their O.R. groups.
For decades, the academic discipline retreated to theory. Scholars
built their reputations on mathematical proofs, largely abandoning
empiricism or real-world problem solving. Some O.R. veterans blame the
pure-math imperialism common to many theory-based fields for this retreat.
"Some time in the 1970s or 1980s, O.R. was in a sense hijacked by
mathematicians who insisted on imposing their view of rigorous
mathematics onto the field. This placed much less emphasis on modeling
and empirical work," says Richard C. Larson, a professor of civil and
environmental engineering and engineering systems at MIT and for 15
years the codirector of the institute's Operations Research Center,
which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. "In some OR journals
today, the only empirical data are, `Date of submission' and `date of
Other O.R. scholars argue that theory was the only way to advance the
field in a world of scarce data. "A paper would start, `Here is an
interesting problem. If I had all these data, this is what I could
have done.' So the problem was challenging, but the focus was on
theory, because the data to support it did not exist," says David
Simchi-Levi, a professor of engineering systems at MIT.
But in the 1990s, the data became available. Now corporate information
technology systems collect unprecedented amounts of data -- on costs,
sales, and inventories, in itemized detail and real time. Wal-Mart and
Procter & Gamble, for instance, know exactly how many 200-ounce
bottles of liquid Tide Free have sold in which stores today. That
information in turn determines how many new bottles are shipped from
which warehouse tomorrow.
. . .
Simchi-Levi exemplifies the new generation of O.R.
scholar-practitioners. He entered the discipline as a theoretical
mathematician "focusing on algorithms and the theory behind different
logistics problems," but was drawn into applications in 1992 when the
New York City school district called, looking for help with its bus
Intrigued by the enormous potential of applying O.R. techniques to
logistics problems, in 1995 he and his wife Edith, a software
developer, started a Chicago-based company called Logic Tools to apply
O.R. techniques to supply-chain problems. Tweaking such mundane but
strategically critical decisions as where to site plants, when to
restock, and so on, can provide enormous productivity boosts.
In his work, says Simchi-Levi, mathematical theory and business
applications complement each other. "When I go to a company, or when
we develop a new product," he says, "I am familiar with the state of
the art in terms of engines and algorithms. For instance, the
inventory positioning technology is very, very recent, even in academia."
As ubiquitous as it is invisible, O.R. is a crucial ingredient in the
productivity surge often credited to information technology. "The real
driver of the productivity resurgence that we've had since 1995 has
been the way the technology has allowed changes in business processes
and the reorganization of work," says Erik Brynjolfsson, an MIT
economist. "For every dollar of [information technology] there are 9
to 10 dollars of organizational change, human capital, and other
O.R. is only part of that story, since companies often have to make
major organizational changes to reap its benefits. But without O.R.
problem-solving, many management innovations couldn't take place.
"Having data doesn't give you productivity. Having better decisions
gives you productivity. So if O.R. is all about the science of making
better decisions, then this is clearly an area in which we'd like to
claim preeminence," says Michael Trick, a professor at the Tepper
School of Business at Carnegie-Mellon and the former president of the
professional society INFORMS, the Institute for Operations Research
and the Management Sciences.
Trick's consulting projects include designing each year's Atlantic
Coast Conference men's and women's basketball schedules. Arranging 16
games among the nine men's teams may sound easy, but it requires
systematically sorting through hundreds of millions of possible
combinations looking for the best way to satisfy dozens of conflicting
"You don't want to play too many consecutive home games. You don't
want to play too many consecutive away games. You have to make sure
that every team has the same number of weekend home games," explains
Trick. "There are various games that have to be played -- Duke-North
Carolina is always played on the same day. And then the TV networks,
who are paying for all this, have strong views on how they would like
games to line up, so they can create a successful TV schedule. You
don't want to have all the good games on the same weekend. You want to
spread them out, so that every weekend there's a hot ACC game. All
those things go into play."
Thomas L. Magnanti, the dean of engineering at MIT and previously the
codirector of the institute's Operations Research Center, is
optimistic about the field's future. Until recently, most O.R.
scholars worked either in business schools, where the field is usually
called management science, or in departments of O.R. or industrial
engineering. Now, he says, departments like mechanical engineering and
electrical engineering are hiring O.R. specialists.
Magnanti calls O.R. "a liberal education in a technological world."
Just as a classical education once prepared students for a wide range
of endeavors, from theology and science to diplomacy and warfare, he
argues, so the habits and tools of O.R. are widely applicable to
"You can do finance today, manufacturing tomorrow, telecommunications
the day after. You can move from field to field and make contributions
that have impact on all those fields," says Magnanti. "We do health
care. We do criminal justice. You name it, we do it."
Virginia Postrel (www.dynamist.com) is author of The Substance of
Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture,
and Consciousness (HarperCollins).
GOÓC: FILOSOFIA VIETNAMITA E CORAÇÃO BRASILEIRO
* Naísa Modesto
No final dos anos 70, Thai Q. Nghia chegou ao Brasil sem falar uma
palavra de português, sem dinheiro ou parentes. Com grande
determinação, construiu a Goóc - empresa que cresceu 300% desde o
início, em 2004, tem 5 mil pontos-de-venda espalhados pelo Brasil, 15
lojas próprias e exporta a linha de bolsas, calçados e roupas para
mais de 20 países.
Com uma fábrica em São Paulo (SP) e outra em Feira de Santana (BA), a
empresa já reciclou o equivalente a 400 km de pneus usados –
matéria-prima para a confecção dos solados das sandálias.
"Cada cidadão brasileiro terá um par de chinelos Goóc", projeta o
vietnamita, que quer comercializar 210 milhões de pares até 2014.
Com jeito bastante simples e sotaque indiscutível, Thai Q. Nghia
recebeu na unidade paulista da empresa o jornal Carreira & Sucesso e
contou detalhes de sua incrível trajetória de vida:
Newsletter Carreira & Sucesso: Como você chegou ao Brasil?
Thai Q. Nghia: Fugi do Vietnã em 1978 e fui recolhido por um navio
petroleiro brasileiro. Quando cheguei ao Brasil, no Rio de Janeiro
(RJ), fiquei numa pensão com outros refugiados com ajuda da ONU
(Organização das Nações Unidas). Fiquei sob os cuidados da Cruz
Vermelha por 40 dias e depois fui para São Paulo. Fiquei na Igreja
Nossa Senhora da Paz, no Glicério (bairro da capital paulista), com
outros imigrantes. Naquele alojamento, tinha de ficar fora o dia todo
e só voltava à noite. Em algum momento, acabava perambulando pela rua.
Como sempre gostei muito de estudar, com o primeiro dinheiro que
consegui juntar comprei um dicionário para começar a me
profissionalizar e estudar a linguagem. No começo foi muito difícil,
não entendia nada, não conhecia ninguém. Vim sozinho para o Brasil,
não tinha parentes aqui. Passei muito frio também, até usava jornal
embaixo das roupas, comia macarrão instantâneo todos os dias, à noite,
e durante o dia comia pão com mortadela.
C&S: Quais são as outras dificuldades de adaptação que enfrentou?
Nghia: Não foram só as dificuldades tangíveis, mas também as
intangíveis - como a saudade. Isso mata a gente. Você se sente
anestesiado, perdido, desmotivado. Mas aquele momento em que saí do
Vietnã já mentalizava que estava à procura de liberdade. Isso eu
conquistei, mas em condições muito precárias. Mesmo assim, senti que
isso era uma necessidade para mim, tinha de fazer a minha vida. Essa
sensação de enfrentar as dificuldades é muito maior do que qualquer
outro problema que você pode enfrentar.
C&S: Qual foi seu primeiro emprego no País?
Nghia: Comecei tirando fotocópias. Ficava lendo para aprender,
traduzir e acabei acostumando com a língua. As coisas melhoraram e
três anos depois eu passei no curso de Matemática da USP (Universidade
de São Paulo). Em 1986, estava estudando e trabalhando quando
emprestei dinheiro a um amigo. Era o final do Plano Cruzado, ele
quebrou e fez o pagamento do empréstimo com bolsas. Fui obrigado a
sair na rua para vendê-las para recuperar o dinheiro. Vendia as bolsas
em Cotia (SP) e Itapevi (SP) e comecei a ganhar dinheiro com isso.
Pensei: "isso é legal!". Passei a comprar mais bolsas e continuei
vendendo. Um tempo depois, achei melhor parar de trabalhar e pedi
demissão. Não me deixaram sair. Em vez disso, queriam me promover. Saí
assim mesmo e decidi montar meu negócio. O trabalho foi tomando tanto
meu tempo que não conseguia me concentrar nos estudos e abandonei o
curso no terceiro ano.
C&S: Como surgiu a Goóc?
Nghia: Visitava meus parentes em outros países – Estados Unidos,
Austrália, Vietnã, França – e, quando estava em Paris, fui a um museu
em que, entre outras peças, havia um tambor. Percebi que por trás do
instrumento havia uma longa história, uma resistência. Além disso,
existe uma concepção artística muito forte e marcou todas as
atividades antigas, como caça, cerimônias, funerais. Resolvi divulgar
minha cultura. No Vietnã, as pessoas usam chinelo, aqueles da época da
guerra, com sola de pneu. Trouxe isso para o Brasil porque achava que
era uma ótima idéia e um bonito projeto. Comecei a pesquisar sobre o
solado de pneu reciclado e ofereci ao mercado. No começo, os lojistas
não aceitaram muito bem porque julgavam que os chinelos tinham uma
concepção estética muito estranha. Mas o jovem entendeu o escopo,
conseguiu se identificar com o produto e passou a procurar a marca.
Aí, sim, os lojistas começaram a nos procurar para querer comprar o
C&S: O que quer dizer Goóc?
C&S: A que o senhor atribui o crescimento da marca?
Nghia: Primeira coisa: acho que tivemos coragem de sermos diferentes e
de quebrar paradigmas. Temos outro padrão estético. Consegui criar
alguma coisa que se alinha com a mentalidade do País. Os brasileiros
são pessoas boas, que aceitam a diversidade e celebram as diferenças.
As pessoas que têm afinidade com a marca conseguiram captar isso.
C&S: E essa preocupação com o meio ambiente, de onde vem?
Nghia: O que mais importa para mim não é a questão ambiental em si,
mas ser diferente, ter liberdade, escolher seu caminho. Também é
importante a inclusão, aceitar o que as outras pessoas não aceitam,
como o lixo. Trabalhar com um material que ninguém quer mais - neste
ponto entram as questões ambientais. Espero do meu produto não somente
que ele dê conforto para as pessoas, nem que dê status a elas, mas que
passe uma mensagem de questionar, provocar, pensar de uma maneira
diferente. Quero mostrar que passamos por muitas dificuldades para
alcançar nossos objetivos, nossos sonhos.
C&S: Durante minha visita pela fábrica, percebi que em todos os
lugares encontramos faixas com mensagens motivacionais. Uma delas
dizia que é preciso identificar as nuvens, beber a água da fonte e
pedir ajuda. O que isso quer dizer?
Nghia: Beber água da fonte é porque na comunicação costumamos ouvir
interpretação em cima de interpretação, e não pegamos a informação
direto da fonte. Isso gera vários desentendimentos. Por isso, não
pegue a interpretação, beba na fonte. A outra frase fala sobre
identificar nuvens: acho que a função de qualquer gerência é prever e
identificar ameaças, se são temporárias ou prolongadas. Cabe ao
coordenador identificar que tipo de crise é essa que está chegando.
Além disso, é importante pedir ajuda, dizer "não sei, por favor, me
ajude". Há muitas pessoas que não estão dispostas a ajudar e outras
que não têm coragem de pedir ajuda.
C&S: Depois de ter conquistado tantas coisas importantes, ainda tem
algum sonho a ser alcançado?
Nghia: Quero voltar a estudar. Para os próximos anos, queremos atingir
210 milhões de produtos para o povo brasileiro. Estamos exportando
muito bem, crescemos bastante com as exportações, mas nosso foco é o
Brasil. A longo prazo, quero descansar e cuidar da minha vida.
C&S: Já que o senhor mencionou as exportações, como foi decidido levar
os negócios para fora do Brasil?
Nghia: Participamos de uma feira no Anhembi (centro de exposições em
São Paulo) e lá tivemos contato com muitos compradores que gostaram do
produto. Eles entenderam rapidamente o propósito da nossa marca, viram
as diferenças no nosso conceito, a simbologia. Talvez os estrangeiros
dêem mais valor a isso. Os compradores vieram ao nosso encontro, não o
contrário. Mas, volto a dizer, nosso foco não é fora do País, é aqui!
C&S: Se tivesse que eleger um produto que fosse o carro-chefe da
empresa, qual seria?
Nghia: O primeiro projeto a gente nunca esquece (risos)! O nome do
produto é Yepp. O modelo tem a história do povo vietnamita, de luta,
de identidade. Temos outro produto que tem uma cara mais brasileira, o
K-Zero. É bem simples, despojado. Acho muito bonito. São poucos
produtos que me deixam plenamente satisfeitos, mas este tem uma
harmonia muito legal.
C&S: Quais características pessoais o senhor julga determinantes para
Nghia: A primeira coisa é gostar de ler. Quando eu sentia que estava
perdido, que estava faltando alguma coisa, recorria aos livros.
Tentava procurar respostas, não uma, mas várias. Foi isso que me
ajudou. Não digo que isso leva ao sucesso, acho que é uma vantagem que
tenho com relação a outras pessoas. Outra coisa: gosto muito de
desafios. Quando eu acredito em uma coisa, pode me machucar ou me
fazer sofrer, mas eu sigo em frente. Muitas vezes estou errado, mas
quando isso acontece, tenho que mudar rapidamente de estratégia.
C&S: Da sua cultura vietnamita, o que trouxe para o Brasil?
Nghia: Muito legal a sua pergunta. Sabe, eu não sabia que minha vida
era assim. Eu não enxergava tudo desse jeito. Depois que passei a
conversar com os jornalistas, escutar as perguntas e pensar nas
respostas, fui montando um filme da minha vida. Achava que era uma
vida como qualquer outra, mas depois passei a perceber que tinha
algumas diferenças mesmo. Com essa pergunta, você me ajuda a
fundamentar os acontecimentos. No Vietnã, havia um poeta muito famoso
que teve uma vida que eu admiro muito. Foi uma pessoa que não se
apegava à glória ou renome, uma pessoa muito independente. Ele tentou
por mais de 20 anos entrar para o exército, conseguiu pertencer ao
alto escalão e depois foi rebaixado a soldado. Quando perguntaram para
ele como via aquela situação, ele disse: "Quando eu era general, não
achava que isso era a glória. Por isso, agora que sou soldado, não
acho que sou mais humilde". Ele provou ser assim ao longo da vida.
Essa simplicidade me inspira muito. Aqui na empresa, não acho que
status é uma coisa importante. Sempre sento com os funcionários - eu
não tenho sala. Hoje sento em uma mesa, amanhã em outra... Converso
com todos, estou sempre andando pela fábrica. Só vejo meus e-mails à
noite. Acho que essas coisas eu aprendi com a cultura do Vietnã. Tento
passar isso para as pessoas. Você não é chefe para ter status, mas
para ensinar e transmitir conhecimento, isso é o mais importante.
C&S: Se pudesse resumir com uma palavra sua trajetória, qual seria?
Nghia: Pode parecer incrível, mas resumiria em "fé".
* Naísa Modesto é jornalista da Catho Online. Tel.: (11) 3177-0700
Chains of Evidence
How did Dallas convict so many innocents? With faulty eyewitnesses,
sloppy police work and overzealous prosecutors.
By Glenna Whitley
Published: August 2, 2007
Veteran defense attorney Michael Ware is working with Texas
Wesleyan School of Law students to review requests for DNA tests from
400 people convicted in Dallas County.
Veteran defense attorney Michael Ware is working with Texas
Wesleyan School of Law students to review requests for DNA tests from
400 people convicted in Dallas County.
Since he was innocent, Gregory Wallis thought he didn't have
anything to worry about when police arrested him for rape. Eighteen
years in prison taught him otherwise.
Since he was innocent, Gregory Wallis thought he didn't have
anything to worry about when police arrested him for rape. Eighteen
years in prison taught him otherwise.
A rape victim told police her attacker was 6-foot-3 and weighed
at least 200 pounds, but she positively identified Andrew Gossett, who
was 5-foot-8 and weighed 140 pounds at the time.
A rape victim told police her attacker was 6-foot-3 and weighed
at least 200 pounds, but she positively identified Andrew Gossett, who
was 5-foot-8 and weighed 140 pounds at the time.
Billy Smith served 19 years, 11 months and 7 days for a rape he
didn't commit. He's never been compensated for it.
Billy Smith served 19 years, 11 months and 7 days for a rape he
didn't commit. He's never been compensated for it.
Subject(s): The Innocence Project, wrongful imprisonment, eyewitness
reliability, rape, DNA exonerees
A half-hour after her boyfriend left her Irving condo on an icy night
in January 1988, Marilyn M. heard pounding on her door. Thinking her
boyfriend might have had car trouble, Marilyn opened the door and
confronted a stranger who pushed his way into her home and dragged her
to the bedroom, dousing the lights as he went. From 8:45 p.m. until
1:20 a.m., the man sexually assaulted Marilyn in the darkened bedroom,
leaving only after she feigned sleep.
Marilyn later described her attacker as 5-foot-8 and stocky with a
light complexion, sandy-brown hair, a scraggly beard, a scar on his
cheek and several tattoos. He chain-smoked Marlboro Reds. During a
brief period in the lighted bathroom, Marilyn studied a tattoo on his
shoulder blade that depicted a woman with large eyes and cascading
hair. The day after the assault, Marilyn worked with police to create
a composite picture of her rapist and the tattoo.
Five months later, Gregory Wallis was buttering a piece of toast when
Irving police came to his door and arrested him for aggravated sexual
assault and burglary.
"You're crazy," Wallis said. At his arraignment, Wallis was baffled.
"I was carefree," he says. "I thought I didn't have anything to worry
about. They couldn't make it stick. [Rape] is just not in my nature."
At trial Wallis learned that Irving police had shown Marilyn five
different photo lineups with no success. Then an informant in the jail
saw a photo of the tattoo and identified Wallis.
Marilyn picked Wallis out of the last photo array and then identified
the tattoo on his arm as that of her attacker. Wallis' tattoo showed a
woman with long hair, but it was on his arm, not his shoulder blade.
The scar on his face was not on his cheek but on his forehead. No
physical evidence linked him to the crime.
"The only time I had seen this lady was when I went to court," Wallis
says. The trial lasted three days; the jury took an hour to convict him.
Sentenced to 50 years in prison, Wallis left his wife and 2-year-old
son behind. He had served 16 years when he learned from another inmate
of a new law that would allow Wallis to seek a DNA test.
It took nearly three years, but a judge finally assigned a public
defender to his case. A sophisticated DNA test on Marlboro cigarette
butts at the scene proved that Wallis could not have been the rapist.
After serving 18 years for a crime he didn't commit, Wallis was released.
Since 2001, when the option of discretionary DNA testing became
available to inmates, 13 men in Dallas County have been exonerated.
Given sentences as long as 50 years to life, these innocent men
struggle with lost years and the legacy of prison etched on their souls.
Around the country, DNA testing has exonerated more than 200 people so
far, and Dallas County has far more exonerations than any other county
in the nation.
"Dallas is ground zero for criminal justice change," says Jeff
Blackburn, an activist lawyer, founder and director of the Innocence
Project of Texas, a nonprofit consortium of attorneys and law students
who aid those who claim they have been falsely convicted. It's modeled
after the Innocence Project founded by lawyer Barry Scheck at Benjamin
N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York.
"[Dallas County's] small enough to make it work but big enough to make
a difference," Blackburn says. "The only thing that's rare about
Dallas is we have this objective benchmark."
The benchmark is the result of two factors: The county's private lab,
the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences, had to preserve the
evidence to maintain its accreditation, Blackburn says. And in case an
appeals court gave a convicted felon a new trial, the Dallas District
Attorney's Office wanted to maintain evidence to try to convict the
"This is a perfect storm of accidental facts," Blackburn says. "I can
tell you, if 20 years ago the Dallas DA's Office thought those
convictions would be endangered they would never have gotten into this
system of saving samples."
Blackburn says wrongful convictions happen for three reasons:
eyewitness misidentification because police do not use objective
procedures; failure of prosecutors and police to turn over exculpatory
evidence, which he calls "pervasive"; and bad defense attorneys.
But the problem goes much further than Dallas County.
A study of 290 non-capital cases tried in four cities in 2000 and 2001
was released this spring by Northwestern University. It concluded that
juries got the verdict wrong in one out of six criminal cases.
One-fourth of those defendants pronounced guilty by juries were
actually innocent. Judges had an even higher rate of false
convictions; 37 percent of those deemed guilty by judges after "bench
trials" were actually innocent. The study also found that judges and
juries agreed on the outcome in only 77 percent of the cases.
In 35 Dallas DNA cases approved for tests so far, 13 men were found
innocent. What happened in the trials of these men? (One, Eugene
Henton, pleaded guilty and received a four-year sentence rather than
go to trial.) How did the system go so horribly wrong? The Dallas
Observer obtained the trial transcripts of 10 cases—all sexual
assaults—and combed through the proceedings to see what they have in
Knowing in hindsight that the man on trial is innocent adds to the
shock when one sees how little evidence was needed to convict him. In
most cases identification of the defendant by the victim was all it
took for juries to overcome reasonable doubt. How could the victim be
wrong about who attacked her?
In years past, the Dallas District Attorney's Office earned a
reputation for caring more about convictions than justice. Many of the
DNA exonerations date to the 1980s when legendary District Attorney
Henry Wade still reigned. The county's chief prosecutor from 1951 to
1986, Wade hired top attorneys and set them loose to get the bad guys.
Former Judge Manny Alvarez was a prosecutor from 1985 to 1989. "As a
prosecutor I never lost a case," says Alvarez, now a defense attorney.
"It's not like we maliciously prosecuted people. I pled the ones that
were weak and tried the high-profile cases." But he could win in those
days taking the first 12 people who showed up for jury duty.
"These people wanted to believe you," Alvarez says. "All they needed
was a leader to take them down this road. It's white hat versus black
hat, good versus evil."
Black and white played a different role earlier in Wade's tenure. In
1986, The Dallas Morning News exposed a 1963 memo advising Dallas
County prosecutors on picking juries: "Do not take Jews, Negroes,
Dagos, Mexicans or members of any minority race on a jury, no matter
how rich or well-educated."
Though the majority of prosecutors and police officers were honest,
Alvarez says, a pattern would emerge over time with certain people who
prevaricated or fudged the rules. "Yeah, it happens," Alvarez says.
"Sure it does."
In 1984, a black engineer named Lenell Jeter won his freedom after
being convicted of armed robbery by a Dallas jury. His co-workers
insisted he hadn't done it and national publicity led the District
Attorney's Office to reopen and ultimately dismiss his case.
That was followed by the 1989 exoneration of a black woman named Joyce
Ann Brown. Convicted for armed robbery, Brown was released after the
District Attorney's Office admitted it made a mistake and a key
prosecution witness had lied on the stand.
The office's reputation took a national hit with the 1988 release of
Errol Morris' documentary The Thin Blue Line, about the conviction and
death sentence of Randall Dale Adams for the 1976 murder of a police
officer. Three days before he was to be executed, Adams' sentence was
commuted to life.
The documentary alleged that Wade's first assistant, Doug Mulder,
withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense. Adams' attorney
maintained Mulder manipulated key witnesses. Mulder denied that and
said he'd simply "forgotten" to turn over a witness statement pointing
to another man.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered Dallas County to grant a
new trial, and then-District Attorney John Vance dropped the charges.
Then came the '90s. Under District Attorney Bill Hill, more than a
dozen innocent people were sent to prison by the Dallas County
District Attorney's Office during a fake drug scandal in which
confidential informants planted billiard chalk on innocent people and
testified they were dealing cocaine. The District Attorney's Office
had a policy of not testing the evidence unless asked by defense
attorneys and withheld or "missed" tests that showed the chalk was not
Jeter, Brown, Adams, several dozen victims of the fake drug scandal
and now 13 DNA-exonerated convicts and more expected—can it be
"I think it was a win-at-all-costs mentality," says a criminal defense
attorney who worked several years as a prosecutor under Wade. He asked
not to be named. "It was a culture built around Doug Mulder. He was a
very powerful first assistant. It was an environment of 'anybody can
convict the guilty; it takes real talent to convict the innocent.'
People actually said that laughing like 'yuk, yuk, yuk,' but it's
nothing to yuk about."
He does not blame Dallas police for wrongful convictions.
"The prosecutors would take control of making it all come out right,"
he says. "The police were just foot soldiers. They bring a case, and
then it's like, 'This asshole deserves to be hammered. What needs to
be said or done that's going to lead to a conviction?' The masterminds
on that were the prosecutors, but they had willing witnesses to work
with. I think it's just Dallas. That's just the way it works."
The mindset and practices put in place years ago, like not testing
drugs unless the case goes to trial, were still affecting the process
in 2000. He calls it ironic that the DNA evidence, originally
preserved in part just in case an appeal led to a retrial, is now
exposing the truth.
Defense attorney Peter Lesser calls the conviction of innocent
defendants "a combination of errors," including pressure on law
enforcement to solve and punish heinous crimes. He believes there are
far more innocent people convicted than guilty people acquitted.
"I'm not ready to say the reason we have all these exonerations is
that the DA was looking to convict innocent people," Lesser says.
"Some didn't have good lawyers. Sometimes you need better judges. The
police get away with a lot of unethical stuff. For the system to work
as it should work, everybody should be operating in good faith, and
that's not always happening."
Lesser puts much of the blame on the district attorney's "closed file"
system, in which prosecutors limit what information they give to the
defense. The rules require that "exculpatory evidence" be turned over,
but that's at the discretion of the prosecutor.
"When I walk into the District Attorney's Office in Hunt County,
there's a package with all the discovery, all the reports," Lesser
says. "They give me complete access to their files. If they don't give
you the information you need, bad things happen. There may be
something that, had a jury heard it, they might not have found him
guilty in the first place. The problem is judges don't throw cases out
and teach law enforcement a lesson. Things are better now, but back
then, Dallas prosecutors liked to play trial by ambush."
Current District Attorney Craig Watkins has instituted an open-file
policy, but Lesser says it comes with a 40-page explanation. "Now they
are saying we can't do this, we're going to have to black out names,"
Lesser says. "The rules are stupid. There's one way to avoid the problem."
Open the files.
Lesser was involved in the '90s in an effort to help James Curtis
Giles, convicted in the 1983 gang rape of a Dallas woman. He served a
decade in prison before being released on parole. His appeals went
nowhere. The District Attorney's Office blocked his efforts to get a
Then the Innocence Project of New York unearthed evidence the
prosecution had failed to disclose, that another man, James Earl
Giles, lived near the victim. Prosecutors had failed to disclose that
he was implicated in the crime and police had confused him with the
While DNA can be a silver bullet that rips the guts out of a jury
conviction in a sexual assault, what about cases in which DNA is not a
factor, where there's no silver bullet? It's a haunting question: How
many of those defendants are innocent?
On January 15, 1986, pregnant hospital worker Felicia W. left her home
near Fair Park at 6:25 a.m. to catch her bus to work. Felicia heard
steps behind her and glanced back to see a man striding toward her.
The man grabbed her and put a knife to her throat. He pulled Felicia
down the street, then pushed her to the ground on the driveway in
front of a car. He kissed her breasts for five or so minutes before
raping her. Then the man was gone as quickly as he had appeared.
Crying, Felicia ran to her apartment and told her husband what
happened. They called police.
Felicia described her attacker as black, about 5-foot-7, 145 pounds,
with short hair, wearing a light-colored jogging suit, black shoes and
a dark hat over a stocking cap or plastic bag. Felicia was confident
she would recognize him again. Although it was dark, Felicia claimed
she had a good look at her assailant in the light of a streetlamp.
By 10:30 a.m., police arrested a 30-year-old parolee named Wiley Fountain.
That afternoon, Officer T.L. Pettiet showed Felicia a photo lineup:
six men, all black, all supposedly matching the description given by
Felicia within a couple of hours of the assault. She picked Fountain.
Fountain went to trial on September 8, 1986, in the court of Judge
Faith Johnson. The lead prosecutor was Lana McDaniel, who would go on
to become a judge. Defense attorney Mike Rodgers represented Fountain.
As per the "closed file" policy of District Attorney Wade, the defense
had no prior access to important evidence like police reports, but
Rodgers did learn before trial that there were no fingerprints,
footprints or other physical evidence that tied Fountain to the rape.
During jury selection, the prosecutor asked potential jurors a key
question: Could you convict a defendant on the basis of one witness?
Those who said they could not were stricken from the jury.
On the stand, McDaniel queried Officer Pettiet about his search for
the rapist. Pettiet described driving around the corner to another
apartment complex looking for a man wearing a light jogging or warm-up
suit and a blue baseball cap over a plastic bag or stocking cap.
Within minutes, he'd found Fountain.
Q: Officer Pettiet, what went through your mind when you saw this man
standing there on the sidewalk of these apartments on Junction Street?
A: That's got to be the suspect.
One of the other men standing with Fountain on the sidewalk, Ralph
Dobbins, told the officer that earlier that morning he'd seen Fountain
walking from his mother's house in Pleasant Grove, about five miles
away, and had given him a ride. But Pettiet said Fountain seemed
nervous and gave the officer a fake name and birth date.
Dobbins allowed Pettiet to search his vehicle, but Pettiet didn't find
a knife or anything else that implicated Fountain. On
cross-examination Rodgers asked Pettiet if he had looked for anyone
else after he saw Fountain.
Q: Is it unusual for black males to wear stocking caps or shower caps
or whatever it is you're talking about?
A: No, they wear it quite often.
Q: And of course, jogging outfits or sweat suits aren't anything
unusual, are they?
Pettiet testified that he didn't bother to obtain a search warrant for
Fountain's home. He didn't take pictures of the other men. He didn't
ascertain whether Fountain had a driver's license or access to a
vehicle. (Fountain had neither.)
The afternoon after the attack, a detective came to Felicia's
apartment to show her photographs of six men and told her she didn't
have to pick anyone, but to let him know if her rapist was among them.
McDaniel: Is there any doubt in your mind that this man over here that
you identified in court is the same man who raped you on January 15?
But under Rodgers' cross-examination, Felicia testified that she never
noticed Fountain had a mustache, even though he supposedly kissed her
mouth and nuzzled her breasts. In fact she had told police her
assailant had no facial hair.
Rodgers also pointed out that Fountain was the only man in the
six-photo lineup dressed in a light jogging suit and cap.
Q: OK. So it wasn't just because of his face that you picked him out,
it was because of his clothes too, right?
The lineup was flawed even under standards used in 1986, tainting
Felicia's memory of her attacker.
Rodgers got a detective to testify to all the ways Fountain did not
match the description of Felicia. He wasn't wearing jeans under his
sweat suit, as she had described. The sweatpants had a black stripe;
Felicia had told police the rapist's pants had none. Fountain had no
knife; she said he put a knife in his pocket but also described it as
a butcher knife. Police didn't test Fountain's pants to see if they
had seminal fluid on them.
Though Felicia told police she had talked to a woman immediately after
the attack, the detective had made no effort to find the potential
Because Felicia was pregnant, which created a "hostile environment"
for sperm, the results of other blood tests that might have linked
Fountain to the assault were negated. (DNA testing was not available.)
Fountain testified that at the time of the rape, he was home in bed.
His cousin Fredrick Williams had woken him up that morning, and
Fountain got out of bed about 7:30 a.m., when the teenager left for
school. He left the house about 8:45 a.m. on foot.
As he was walking to the bus stop about a mile from his house, Dobbins
offered him a ride. They went to a car wash, a convenience store to
buy beer and then the apartments on Junction Street to get another friend.
Fountain said Pettiet arrived and "asked me my name and told me I
looked like somebody he had been looking for." He gave the cop a fake
name because "I had a fine downtown [for public intoxication] and I
didn't have the money at the time to pay it."
Fountain testified that Pettiet never attempted to take a statement
Fountain's mother, Florence Fountain, said her son had been home that
evening when she went to bed. His cousin and Dobbins backed up
Fountain's alibi, but their credibility was undermined because they
both had criminal records.
"Come on, what's the theory here?" Rodgers asked. "Is the theory that
Wiley Fountain got up from his house over here and took a taxi? In the
middle of the night? Because I don't think the buses run then. How did
he get home? Where are the blue jeans? Where's the knife?"
The prosecution didn't have a theory. They had an eyewitness, the
victim. Fountain was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison. He
served 16 years before a DNA test unlocked the door to his prison cell
Prosecutor Lana McDaniel was later elected to a state district court
bench; she's now Judge Lana Myers. She remembers how shocked she felt
on learning about Fountain's exoneration.
"I really couldn't believe it," Myers says. "I wasn't convinced the
DNA test was even correct. The victim was very good and very credible
and she had no doubt."
She had no concerns about the police lineup. "I guess at the time it
wasn't unusual to me," Myers says, adding that victims often would
forget to mention a significant physical feature like facial hair.
Are they forgetting? Is it possible to make a positive identification
when such a salient fact is left out?
Myers has never talked to Fountain, but she has apologized to two
others exonerated by DNA. After her election to the bench, Myers
presided over their trials. As she pronounced their sentences, the
judge had harbored no doubt about their guilt.
The conviction of Entre Nax Karage, sent to prison in 1994 and
exonerated in 2005 for the murder of his 14-year-old girlfriend, was
based on false testimony by police investigators. But in the dozen
other exoneree cases, juries put their faith in the victims who
identified their attackers.
Though experts have long understood the fallibility of witness
identification, the system still operates much as it did decades ago.
"We know that eyewitness identification is unreliable, especially
under stress," Lesser says. He calls that the single most common
denominator in all wrongful convictions. "We know that techniques that
police use for lineups can be suggestive. It's awfully hard for a jury
when the witness can say, 'That's the man who raped me. His face is
ingrained in my memory.'"
Eyewitness memory is "trace evidence, malleable and contaminatable,
like blood on the ground," says Professor Roy Malpass of the
University of Texas-El Paso. "Some of the procedures that law
enforcement uses actually contaminate the memory."
Each time the victim or witness is shown a suspect's photograph, it
destroys the usefulness of any subsequent pictures, Malpass says. Does
the victim remember the suspect from memory, from the photo, from the
lineup, a pretrial hearing, at trial?
Gary Wells, professor of psychology at Iowa University, has studied
eyewitness identification for more than 30 years. "It has two
properties," Wells says. "It's readily believed by judges and juries,
especially if the witness indicates they are confident or certain of
their ID. But it's also highly unreliable. Even without DNA, we could
have predicted about three out of every four [false convictions],
maybe a bit higher, would be cases with mistaken identification."
Once convicted, except for DNA evidence these men had virtually no
hope of being freed.
"I don't see courts doing very much about [witness
misidentification]," Wells says. "They are not sure what to do. I
think courts could be more critical, more demanding of the standards
that this kind of evidence needs to pass before it's admitted at
trial. In the long run, the solution is going to be in reforming
police practices and how they do these lineups."
Wells has been pressing police departments to use only double-blind
lineups, shown to the victim by an officer who doesn't know who is the
suspect and who are fillers. That eliminates unconscious cues from
The filler photos should be chosen by an officer of the same race,
since such an officer is likely more sensitive to differences in
features, Malpass says, and the strength of the witness' response
should be recorded.
Wells says the police should never do a photo lineup until they have
developed enough other evidence that indicates they are on the right
track. "They should have pretty good evidence before they put an
innocent person in jeopardy," Wells says.
Wells has met with the Dallas Police Department and says they are
"eager" to set up a double-blind system. "I don't think they want this
[false convictions] to repeat itself."
On July 24, 1985, Sharon L., 38, was shaken awake about 6 a.m. by a
stranger standing over her, his exposed penis thrust in her face and
one of her own steak knives at her throat. He had slipped in through
an unlocked sliding door on the balcony of her second-floor apartment
The man raped Sharon and shut her in a closet. She waited a few
minutes and, hearing nothing, opened the door.
Police arrived by 6:35 a.m. Sharon described the man as white, about
5-foot-8, 140 pounds, athletic, tanned and with very blond hair. He'd
been wearing no shirt, just light-colored or white jeans.
While she was talking to the officer, Sharon's phone rang. "Who is
there with you?" She recognized the rapist's voice.
That began a bizarre series of phone calls from the rapist, who said
he lived in her complex and had been watching her from his apartment.
He told Sharon that about 1 a.m., he had climbed a tree to her
second-floor balcony and entered the apartment sliding door, which she
had left open.
"I am sorry of the way it happened, the way I did it. I love you very
much. Will you see me again?" But he also said if she went to police
he'd kill her.
Sharon did a composite sketch and, at the encouragement of police,
taped his phone calls, which continued for a month.
In late August, a Garland detective showed Sharon six photos. She
didn't pick out any of the men. Later that afternoon, Sharon was shown
a live lineup with the same six people. This time Sharon picked out
24-year-old David Shawn Pope.
Pope, who had no criminal background, went to trial on February 4,
1986. Officer William David Thurman testified that he had been on
patrol at 6:30 a.m. on August 28 when he saw Pope on foot in the
A house painter, Pope had been evicted from the apartment complex for
not paying rent. On August 28, Pope told Thurman he was living off and
on with a friend and out of his car and had taken a shower at the
complex gym that morning.
Thurman called another officer, who thought Pope resembled the
description of the rape suspect. When Pope consented to a search of
his vehicle, police found a pair of white pants, a knife and other
things in the trunk.
At first, Sharon didn't pick Pope out of the photo array, which all
but screamed he was the suspect: Five men were photographed in front
of blue backdrop wearing white overalls. Pope was photographed in a
T-shirt, standing in front of a tile wall at the jail. But Sharon said
she wasn't sure.
When she viewed the live lineup a few hours later, Sharon realized it
was the same six people. She asked if she could hear them speak. She
picked out Pope, the only one with a tan and blond hair.
Sharon testified that she was "shaking because, you know, I recognized
him and I felt all the fear and the death as when I was standing right
next to him."
But as defense attorney Curtis Glover would point out, the detectives,
feeling her identification was tentative, put Sharon in a room and
told her she needed to make a "definitive statement."
After being alone for a half-hour, Sharon emerged to say she was
"positive" he was the rapist.
At trial, Larry Howe Williams, an officer with the Houston Police
Department, presented "spectrographic" comparisons of the defendant's
voice reading into a tape recorder and the tapes made of the rapist's
Williams had no college degree but had taken a two-week training
course. He showed how the recordings made similar zigzags on a paper
drum and testified that the tapes of the "unknown" matched David Pope.
There was no possibility of inaccuracy.
The prosecution also offered a pioneer in voice identification, who
likened voiceprints to fingerprints.
The defense called an expert on voice analysis who testified that
voice spectrographic analysis was "useless" because it had never been
scientifically proven. But the jury was left with the impression that
the match was "scientific."
After he was evicted, Pope lived with Craig Furche and his parents in
Garland. Both father and son Furche were painting contractors. Pope
worked for the son.
The night before the rape, Furche and Pope had gone to see the newly
released movie Back to the Future. Furche remembered it because Pope
had already seen the movie and liked it so much he wanted to see it
again; he had to borrow money from his boss until payday. Then the two
went home, went to bed and got up the next day to work. Pope couldn't
have been in Sharon's apartment.
Pope testified in his own defense, saying that he'd bought the white
pants found in the truck at a garage sale without trying them on,
thinking they'd be good painter's pants. They turned out to be much
too small for him, as he demonstrated to the jury. The steak knife in
the trunk was with a bunch of other utensils and household goods from
Prosecutor Kimberley Gilles connected the personal data the rapist had
given Sharon on the tape recordings: that he was 24 and went to
Eastfield Community College, just like Pope. But the rapist had also
said he was 20 and several other ages. And Pope went to Richland
Community College, not Eastfield. Gilles waved away that discrepancy
by saying the two schools were in the same community college system.
The jury took little time to convict. Sentenced to 45 years in prison,
Pope was pardoned in 2001.
Spectrographic analysis still is not considered reliable enough for
court. Instead of comparing the defendant's voice to the tape, Wells
says, police should have provided the expert with recordings of five
other male voices and asked which voice matched the perpetrator's
"Police say, 'We know this guy did it,'" Wells says. "'What we need is
for somebody to throw some electronic measurements on this so you can
come into court and say it's the same guy.'"
Wells calls this the "CSI effect," in which juries regard forensic
evidence such as bite marks, hair and fiber samples, and other
techniques as more scientific than they really are.
DNA is the only forensic tool that came from scientists, Wells points
out. "It's not scientists actually doing the work," he says. "It may
be a cop with a biology degree, but it's a cop. The co-opting of
forensic science has played well in the courtroom."
The TV show CSI has had one positive impact, says Judge Myers, by
raising jurors' expectations about the thoroughness of police
investigations. In the 13 Dallas DNA exonerations, once the victims
identified suspects, little effort was expended to gather more
"As a judge, I've seen in the last five years that police are doing a
lot more than what they had done in the past as to collection of
physical evidence," Myers says. "Jurors expect it in light of CSI.
They are more skeptical."
Prosecutors still query potential jurors: If it comes down to the
testimony of one witness, could you convict? Myers says more jurors
are saying no.
On the morning of Saturday, April 26, 1981, Carol C. woke to being
rolled over and straddled by a man with a knife. She struggled for the
knife but after her attacker cut her several times, Carol stopped. He
raped her and within five minutes disappeared.
The police arrived at her Oak Lawn apartment within 10 minutes to find
Carol covered with blood.
At Parkland hospital, a doctor stitched up Carol's hand and gave her a
rape exam. Carol, who was white, described the man to police as black,
average build, in his 20s, with a short Afro and regular features.
Though the room was dark, she'd seen him with the light from a clock
Her attacker had removed a screen, broken a pane and unlocked a
window. He left muddy footprints on the carpet near the window but no
Two days later, an officer came to her apartment with a photo array of
six black males. She studied the photographs and after about 10
minutes picked one: Larry Charles Fuller, who lived about a mile from
Carol's apartment and had a criminal record for an armed robbery. He'd
done his time and had been released in 1978.
Carol then asked if she could see a more recent picture.
A week later, a detective went to the home of Fuller and his
girlfriend. He asked Fuller if he could take his picture. The
detective didn't explain what the charges were; he simply said the
picture could exclude Fuller. Fuller agreed.
The detective showed Carol another photo array. Both arrays included
Fuller. She again picked Fuller.
"I was very slow in identifying him," Carol said at an examining
trial, "because I didn't want to identify an innocent man."
Carol had told police she didn't remember her rapist having facial
hair; Fuller had a beard.
An artist, Fuller, 32, went to trial before Judge McDaniel, now Myers.
Fuller's girlfriend, a bank teller, testified they'd gone to bed about
1:30 a.m., then woke and had sex early in the morning. There was no
physical evidence against him. Tests of the rapist's semen showed that
the rapist could have been Fuller and 20 percent of the black male
Fuller took the stand in his own defense and insisted he wasn't
guilty. None of that overcame Carol's identification. Fuller was
convicted. Prosecutor Jim Jacks asked for a maximum sentence.
"He cannot be rehabilitated, because the first step to being
rehabilitated is to admit that you have made a mistake and that you
need help," Jacks said. "He has not done that. He will not do that,
apparently." Sentence: 50 years.
Fuller maintained his innocence. Finally Myers granted his petition
for a DNA test but was stunned when it showed he was not guilty.
Announcing the dismissal of the case against him in 2006, Myers
apologized to Fuller from the bench.
"I expected bitterness from him," Myers says. "And he didn't have
that. He came back with forgiveness. He said God had a plan, and he
never lost his faith. It had made him strong, and he held no grudges.
I was really having a hard time trying to conduct the hearing."
Crying, Myers got down from the bench and hugged him.
The knock woke 35-year-old Billy Smith from sleep on the couch in his
sister's apartment in 1986. At the door, the apartment manager asked
to talk to Smith, so he stepped out on the second-floor walkway. The
manager asked Smith if he'd heard anything unusual that night. Smith
said no and went back to bed, only to be awakened by police pounding
on the door and shouting, "Open up!"
They arrested Smith for aggravated sexual assault, taking with them
some of Smith's clothes and a kitchen knife.
The manager's common-law wife had been standing below to identify
Smith, who had just moved in. She would testify that Smith confronted
her in the complex's laundry room, dragged her to a vacant field and
As a young man, Smith had used drugs, stolen a car and served time for
robbery. But he'd started going to Alcoholics Anonymous and church and
was getting a job the next day.
Even Smith's parole officer testified on his behalf, saying he didn't
find the accuser credible and that the manager's statements didn't
match the accuser's. Only the victim's identification linked him to
Smith says his court-appointed attorney did little for him.
"He never once went to the scene of the crime to get any information,"
Smith says. "My attorney never talked to my sister or alibi witnesses.
"The day I got my verdict he had some kind of doctor's appointment,"
Smith says. Nor did the attorney attend court when Smith was sentenced
to life in prison.
Smith served "19 years, 11 months and 7 days" in prison. His mother
and six other close family members died while he sat in a cell. Even
after a DNA test proved Smith had not deposited the semen in the
victim, Dallas prosecutors fought his release, saying they needed
another sample from the victim to be sure.
Smith now is 55, a muscular man with a close-cropped head and beard
showing flecks of gray. A leather eyeglass case in the pocket of his
blue shirt is tooled with the name Al-Amin, the name Smith took after
converting to Islam in prison in order to survive the anger, the gangs
and his own bitterness.
"After the first two years, I contemplated suicide at least once a
year," Smith says.
When he was released in July 2006, Smith didn't have bus fare. No one
would give him a job; he still has received no monetary compensation.
Smith isn't bitter at the loss of 20 years of his life, but he can't
get excited about being out of prison.
"Something has been taken from you," Smith says. "I know now how easy
it is to be accused of something."
Poor legal representation is a major reason the innocent get
convicted, says Blackburn of the Innocence Project of Texas. In many
cases the defendants are indigent and can't afford experienced lawyers.
"Every lawyer who practices at the courthouse knows this dirty little
secret," Blackburn says. "You don't get appointed [to represent
indigent clients] if you aggressively defend clients. You won't be
paid enough to fight aggressively. Judges are typically byproducts of
the prosecutor's office, and no judge ever got re-elected acquitting
Blackburn is on a crusade for Texas to build up a strong public
defender system. "These are horrible human stories we are talking
about. Being in prison for something you didn't do is hell on earth.
All these DNA cases do is show us how wrong the whole system is."
Moments after Sharon G. stopped her minivan at a Garland stoplight on
February 23, 1999, a strange man opened the door, pointed a gun and
told her to drive. It was about 9:30 p.m., and Sharon G. was on her
way to visit a friend.
The man directed her to a vacant lot. He forced her to give him oral
sex, then pushed Sharon G. to the ground and raped her.
The stranger then told her to drive back to the area where he'd gotten
into the car, climbed out and disappeared on foot.
Sharon G. described her attacker as white, about 6-foot-3 and on the
heavy side, 200 pounds at least. He had been wearing a dark T-shirt
under a brown tweed-type sport coat, dark baggy jeans and black tennis
shoes. He had not been wearing glasses, had a large scar on the right
side of his face and smelled bad. He had rough hands and had been
wearing a distinctive ring in the shape of Texas.
A Garland police officer heard about the assault as he started his
shift that night. He drove around the area and about 2 a.m. slowed
down when he saw a man rummaging in a vehicle at an apartment complex.
The man looked up "like a deer in the headlights," the officer said,
then shut the door and entered one of the apartments.
The next morning, Garland police talked to the man, Andrew Gossett,
39. The apartment belonged to his girlfriend's daughter. Gossett lived
with his parents.
After Gossett's parents gave police permission to search their home,
they confiscated a dark T-shirt, baggy camouflage pants, a blue plaid
flannel shirt, black tennis shoes and a brown winter coat.
A Wal-Mart stocker who had just gotten into the company's management
training program, Gossett gave a voluntary statement, saying he'd
spent the night with his girlfriend.
No physical evidence linked Gossett to the crime: no fingerprints on
the car, no seminal fluid. Police found no tweed coat, Texas-shaped
ring or gun. But a detective handling his first sexual assault put
together a photo array. Sharon G. picked out Gossett, who had five
DWIs and a conviction for methamphetamine distribution.
His defense attorney located a surveillance tape from a nearby
convenience store that showed Gossett entering about 10:15 p.m.
wearing a white T-shirt, glasses and camouflage pants, not jeans. He
stood all of 5-foot-8 and weighed 140 pounds. He was wearing glasses;
Sharon G. said her attacker didn't have on spectacles.
But Sharon G. insisted Gossett was her rapist.
On February 10, 2000, Gossett was convicted and sentenced to 50 years
Over breakfast at a Garland diner, Gossett looks small and pensive.
He says talking to police led to his own destruction. "It hurt me more
than it helped me," Gossett says. "They put words in my mouth. I
didn't ask for an attorney."
Gossett passed a polygraph and voluntarily gave police a DNA sample,
but the test was "inconclusive."
In 2001, Gossett wrote to the Innocence Project in New York. One of
their attorneys told Gossett a more sophisticated test was available.
On an icy day in January, Gossett went to the Dallas County courthouse
and learned that the test cleared him. New District Attorney Craig
Watkins was there to shake his hand and apologize.
Watkins has since apologized to more exonerees. He lobbied the Dallas
County Commissioners Court to get funds to hire veteran defense
attorney Michael Ware to focus on the 400 people who have petitioned
his office for post-conviction DNA tests. Ware is teaming with 30
students from Texas Wesleyan School of Law, under the aegis of the
Innocence Project of Texas, to examine each case to see if testing
could confirm or deny their guilt.
Gossett has still received no compensation or a pardon.
Though Gossett has reunited with his girlfriend, they have no money
and no place to live. He can't get hired because his pardon hasn't
come through. Blackburn sent him $1,000, but a doctor's bill took $500.
"Seems like I'm still paying for it," Gossett says.
Greg Wallis spent 18 years in prison as a result of his wrongful
conviction for the rape of Marilyn M.. "I missed my boy growing up,"
he says. "I lost my wife, my first love." They managed to reconcile
and are now back together, but like all the exonerees, Wallis carries
with him the memory of harrowing experiences in prison.
So does Keith Edward Turner, who went to prison in 1983 at age 22 for
rape after the victim swore she would never forget his face.
Ten years after he was paroled, in 1999, Turner was told he'd have to
wear a monitor, register as a sex offender and put a sign in his yard.
A sign, a label of "monster," even though he was innocent.
After seeing a story on post-conviction DNA exonerations on Court TV,
Turner began writing letters. The Innocence Project said his case was
too old. Finally, in 2005, Turner marched into the courtroom of the
judge who had sentenced him.
"I told him that they were listing me as a sex offender and a rapist
and I wasn't guilty," Turner says. "The judge told me I needed to get
Turner said he had four kids and no money to hire a lawyer, so the
judge appointed an attorney and an investigator.
After Turner passed a polygraph, which cost him $250, prosecutors
agreed to the DNA test. Then the amazing news: "They had kept the
evidence in the same spot for 21 years," Turner says. "That was just
the Lord. When he got ready to do it, he preserved it for everything
to be possible."
The Lord or Henry Wade.
Turner got the news of his exoneration on December 23, 2005. Turner's
mother had died six months after he went to the penitentiary. After he
got the report that the DNA didn't match, he took it to her grave. "I
told her she didn't need to worry about me," Turner says.
Judge Manny Alvarez tried to right the wrongful conviction of a woman
for child abuse in a trial that happened in his own court. It cost him
In March 2006, Alvarez had gone to the courthouse and talked to Greg
Wallis—the exoneree he had prosecuted—and apologized. Wallis told him
he had no hard feelings, he understood Alvarez had a job to do.
Now a defense attorney, Alvarez says lawyers today have more tools to
ensure the right suspect is charged, but not every case can be solved
When he presided over the 2005 child abuse trial of Maria Hurtado, 26,
in a "shaken baby" case, Alvarez says, he kept expecting her attorney
John Read to present a defense, to answer obvious questions, to rebut
the prosecution's evidence.
"He did no cross-examination," Alvarez says. "There were no witnesses
called. There were CPS records that favored her. Read is a good
lawyer, but in this trial he wasn't worth a damn."
At the end of the two-day trial, Alvarez had serious doubts about
Hurtado's guilt. But the jury convicted her and sentenced her to eight
years in prison. So Alvarez began looking into the case himself.
"The evidence showed the baby had acute over-hemorrhaging," Alvarez
says, "meaning there was new blood over old blood," indicating
long-term problems. The baby had had seizures and convulsions in her
first two months. "What was so convincing to me, if she had been
shaken, there would have been bruising or broken ribs. There was
nothing along those lines."
Alvarez was accused of overstepping his bounds as a judge for
investigating and releasing Hurtado on her own recognizance. He lost
his race for re-election. But Hurtado got a new trial. "They worked
the case and presented it as it should have been, and she was
acquitted," Alvarez says. "Do I say something and take the heat? There
was no better feeling than when that jury came back with a 'not
Maybe more prosecutors should be willing to fade the heat, he says.
When the fake drugs were resulting in convictions, someone should have
screamed, Wait a minute!
"I was part of the system. Every time I go to a conference, that's the
first thing out of their mouths," Alvarez says. "When all this stuff
was happening, nobody said, 'Hey, this is bullshit.' As a prosecutor,
your job is to seek justice, not convict people. It starts from the
top and works its way down."
Posted by PBR at 2:25 AM