News - August 2005
U-M Law School's "Roberts" compilation becomes U.S. Library of Congress resource
August 25, 2005
The U.S. Library of Congress - the largest library in the world - this week has chosen part of the University of Michigan Law School Library's Web site for inclusion in its Internet collection.
The Law Library Reference Department staff collected the information and posted it two weeks ago, adding links to new information as it became available. Officials at the Library of Congress came upon the Web site, contacted the Law School and received permission to add the web link to its collection of Internet materials related to the Supreme Court.
With more than 230 entries, the "Roberts" web link includes biographical information, opinions, articles he wrote and newspaper stories about him. The Library will continue to add new material until Roberts' nomination process is complete.
"As an attorney myself, I especially appreciate the thoroughness of the materials. Whether visitors to the site are simply curious citizens, interested attorneys, news persons, or people directly involved in the nomination process, this site is an outstanding resource," says Evan Caminker, dean of the University of Michigan Law School. "I am honored and pleased that the Library of Congress has chosen to archive the information on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, collected by our Law Library Reference Department staff and located on its Web site."
Margaret Leary, director and librarian at the Law School, said the U.S. Library of Congress’ request – a first received by the Law School – means visitors can review material about Roberts that might not be found through a Google search, for example.
“The value of what we have done lies in collecting all the information in one place in a timely fashion,” Leary said.
This is the Law School Library’s second major project this summer. Earlier this month, it introduced its new Web site, www.law.umich.edu/library/facultybib/, of faculty publications, with more than 7,000 entries dating back to the Law School’s founding in 1859. The site is a comprehensive historical compilation of the published books, articles, book chapters, essays, introductions, forewords and book reviews written or edited by the U-M Law faculty.
The Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress. It is the largest library in the world, with more than 130 million items on approximately 530 miles of bookshelves. The collections include more than 29 million books and other printed materials, 2.7 million recordings, 12 million photographs, 4.8 million maps and 58 million manuscripts.
U-M Law Library Faculty Bibliography largest in country
August 15, 2005
The University of Michigan Law Library has introduced its new Web site: Publications of the University of Michigan Law School Faculty, 1859–. The site is a comprehensive historical compilation of the published books, articles, book chapters, essays, introductions, forewords, and book reviews written or edited by the University of Michigan Law faculty and published during each faculty member’s appointment at the Law School, according to Barbara Garavaglia, head of the Law Library's Reference Department, who not only directed the project but was integrally involved in each step of its development and implementation.
"The University of Michigan's Faculty Publications Web site, www.law.umich.edu/library/facultybib/ , is the first complete bibliographic record of the intellectual history of a major law school on the Internet," says Law Library Director Margaret Leary. "It contains over 7,000 entries, from the Law School's founding in 1859 through forthcoming publications."
"We have always known that our faculty consistently produces an incredible array of cutting-edge scholarship for the legal and academic community," says U-M Law School Dean Evan Caminker. "This bibliography shows the depth and history of this tradition."
Garavaglia explains that the bibliography is intended to reflect the rich and varied intellectual history of the Law School, demonstrated by the published works of its faculty. The bibliography was originally published in 1995 as the University of Michigan Law School Faculty Bibliography, 1859-1993. Now that the information is on the Internet, it will be continuously edited and newly published and forthcoming material will be added as it is found, identified, and confirmed.
U-M prof insists wrong man executed for 1980 murder
Inconsistencies prompt Sam Gross to persuade St. Louis prosecutor to revisit the case
Thursday, August 4, 2005
By Dave Gershman , Ann Arbor News
2005, The Ann Arbor News. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
When University of Michigan law professor Sam Gross agreed to lead an investigation of a 25-year-old murder case in Missouri, he knew little more than that the attorney who defended Larry Griffin still maintained he was innocent, despite Griffin's conviction.
Quickly, his inquiry found that many in the St. Louis community where the murder took place agreed that Griffin wasn't the killer.
Then, investigators working with Gross turned up an eyewitness who offered new information. They spoke to the police officer who testified at the trial, and he changed his story.
In writing his report, Gross had no doubt that an innocent man had been convicted. Earlier this summer, a coalition that included a congressman and the murder victim's family used the report to convince the top prosecutor in St. Louis to reopen the official investigation of the murder.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, through a spokesperson, said Gross's report and the coalition's concerns prompted her to review the case independently. That review is under way. There are no new developments, the spokesperson said.
But whatever happens will come too late for Griffin; he was given a death sentence and executed in 1995.
Gross said he's hopeful that the prosecutor's willingness to look at the case with a fresh perspective will lead to a greater understanding of what went wrong, so lessons can be learned.
"The most important thing to take away from it is that we make mistakes,'' he said. "It happens.''
At the same time, Gross said, the mistakes in this case were avoidable.
"If a more careful job had been done, Larry Griffin would not have been convicted, let alone executed,'' Gross added. "What's more important is to be willing to admit that mistakes may happen and to look at all the cases where there's new evidence.''
After joining the U-M faculty in 1987, Gross has studied the subject of false convictions and exonerations. Last year, he finished a comprehensive study of exonerations in the United States, which was recently published.
His study found exonerations of defendants convicted of serious crimes tripled in the past 15 years. Between 1989 through 2003, 328 defendants have been exonerated, with DNA testing playing a big role.
Evan Caminker, dean of the law school, called Gross a "careful empiricist'' who works from the ground up to develop his conclusions. Legal observers like Caminker say the Griffin case, which also is interesting because it doesn't rely on DNA testing, is significant because it puts a face and a name to the tragic problem of wrongful executions.
"I think it necessarily suggests we have to take a more careful look at how mistakes get made and what further efforts police officers, or prosecutors, or justices can do to continue to minimize the risks of such mistakes,'' Caminker said.
Gross previously had worked with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, which decided to probe the 1980 killing. Ted Shaw, the organization's director-counsel and president, is a former U-M Law School faculty member.
"Our goal was to find out what happened,'' Gross said. "When we started it, we didn't know what we'd find out.''
Griffin had been convicted of the drive-by shooting of a 19-year-old drug dealer, Quintin Moss, on a notorious corner in St. Louis called "The Stroll.'' Moss was hit by 13 shots fired by two men from a slow-moving car.
At the time, Griffin was 25 years old. His brother allegedly had been killed by Moss six months earlier.
A single eyewitness tied Griffin to the murder scene. Robert Fitzgerald, a Boston man with a long criminal record, was stuck near the corner after his car broke down. He identified Griffin as a shooter.
But Gross' report questions Fitzgerald's credibility. Fitzgerald, who was in the federal witness protection program, had several felony fraud charges pending against him in St. Louis. On the day Griffin was convicted, Fitzgerald was formally released from custody.
Quoting Fitzgerald's testimony during Griffin's unsuccessful appeal of his case, Gross' report suggests that Fitzgerald identified Griffin after a detective told him the police knew who committed the crime and displayed a single photograph of the suspect, who was Griffin.
Fitzgerald died before Gross' investigators could interview him.
But they did track down two men who raised questions about Fitzgerald's account. One was the first police officer who arrived at the scene, Michael Ruggeri. Contradicting his testimony at trial, Ruggeri told the investigators that Fitzgerald wasn't at the scene of the shooting when he arrived.
The second man, Wallace Conners, was wounded by a stray bullet but was never called by the prosecution or defense to testify at the trial. Conners also told the investigators that Fitzgerald didn't witness the shooting. Conners said he knew Griffin at the time, and he saw the shooters. Neither was Griffin, he said.
When a press conference was held in St. Louis calling for the case to be reopened in July, attorneys for the Moss family stood with other interested parties in the case to say that Griffin was never treated fairly.
The original prosecutor, who is now in private practice, still stands by Griffin's conviction.
As for Gross, he says Griffin was not the only person to be executed for something he didn't do.
"I don't think there's any doubt that it happens,'' Gross said. "There's no doubt that innocent people have been executed. You have to believe in the tooth fairy to think otherwise. We have a system in which it's well-known that over 100 people who were sentenced to death were exonerated and released from death row while they were still alive.''
Dave Gershman can be reached at (734) 994-6818 or email@example.com.