2019年12月26日 星期四

Prosecutors’ New Role: Helping Those Wrongly Convicted 檢察官的新角色 幫助冤獄犯

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2019/12/27 第291期 訂閱/退訂看歷史報份
紐時周報精選 Prosecutors' New Role: Helping Those Wrongly Convicted 檢察官的新角色 幫助冤獄犯
In Amsterdam, Floating Homes That Only Look Like Ships 荷蘭阿姆斯特丹 「船屋」當道
Prosecutors' New Role: Helping Those Wrongly Convicted 檢察官的新角色 幫助冤獄犯
文/Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Fa

After Aaron Salter was convicted of murdering a man he had never met, he immediately began trying to track down the real killer from behind bars. When another inmate described the crime in detail, Salter began investigating him. Eventually that other man signed an affidavit swearing that Salter was innocent.


Yet appeals courts refused to grant him a new trial.


Then, last year, his lawyers sent his file back to the Wayne County prosecutor in Detroit — the same office that had sent him away for life without parole in 2004. This time, the file landed in the hands of the office's new conviction integrity unit, which determined that the case against Salter had been based on mistaken identification by the prosecution's only witness.


"Three months later, I was free," Salter said.


The unit that exonerated him is part of a major shift in the role of some of the nation's district attorneys, who have traditionally focused on sending people to prison. Now, a growing number of prosecutors are also working to get wrongly convicted people out.


Their efforts have provided an unflattering look at a system focused on winning convictions, sometimes with little apparent regard for a suspect's actual guilt. In some instances, re-examining old cases has forced prosecutors to go up against their predecessors or their city's police force, accusing them of wrongdoing or negligence.


Almost 60 local prosecutors across the country have created special units like the one in Detroit to review questionable convictions, including the state's attorney in Baltimore, Marilyn Mosby, who last month persuaded a judge to exonerate three men convicted of murdering a fellow student when they were teenagers. They had spent 36 years behind bars.


The units have helped clear almost 400 people over the past dozen years, and they helped win releases in more than a third of the 165 exonerations recorded in 2018, according to a national registry maintained by three universities. The exonerated were largely African American men convicted of crimes like murder, robbery and drug offenses. Their prosecutions were found in many cases to have been marred by perjury, false accusations or misconduct by police officers or prosecutors.


Mosby has won exonerations for nine people since she took office in Baltimore in 2015 but not without criticism from some former prosecutors and police officers who consider it a rebuke of their work.


The unit in the Detroit prosecutor's office that secured the release of Salter was established two years ago. It has helped free 11 people, including five who were determined to be innocent and six whose prosecutions were profoundly flawed.



本文可視為基本的法律專業術語表(Legal Terms Glossary),許多單字常在新聞出現。以convict來說,名詞是遭定罪的已決犯(既決犯),1997年好萊塢電影《Con Air》描述用飛機將一票重刑犯移監的過程,乃是Convict Airlines的縮寫,本地片名譯為《空中監獄》,頗為傳神。注意別跟air conditioning(空調系統)的縮寫air con搞混。

Convict當動詞指「定罪」,be convicted of罪名或罪行;to get wrongly convicted是「冤獄」,原因可能是檢警調的違法失職(wrongdoing or negligence):judicial misconduct是「法官失職」:或因perjury(偽證,「教唆偽證」則是subornation of perjury)、false accusation(栽贓)、誣告(malicious accusation)。

本文主角是檢察官(prosecutor),職司起訴,負責審判的是法官(judge),美國聯邦最高法院大法官是Supreme Court Justices,中華民國的大法官不隸屬於最高法院, 而是在司法院組憲法法庭,英文用Constitutional Court Justices。

In Amsterdam, Floating Homes That Only Look Like Ships 荷蘭阿姆斯特丹 「船屋」當道
文/Christopher F. Schuetze


When Karen Bosma first moved her boat to the Borneokade, northeast of Amsterdam's bustling city center, in 1999, the neighborhood was barely more than a cluster of commercial docks and underused warehouses.


"It was for poor people — a lot of artists lived on boats," she said, sitting in her neat, cozy living room just below the waterline.


In the quarter century since, Bosma, a 62-year-old social worker, and her husband have raised two sons on the Distel, a 1912 82-foot freighter, which — stripped of its engine, fuel tanks and cargo hold — is one of Amsterdam's iconic houseboats, with a seagoing hull, wheelhouse and curtained windows.


Three boats down lies the B18, an elegant 131-foot, 2 1/2-story floating mansion (with more than 3,000 square feet of interior space) that shows just how perfectly the soul of a luxury yacht combines with open-space living and elegant living quarters.


"It has to be a ship on the outside and a house on the inside," said Gijs Haverkate, 53, who created the vessel and lives on it with his family.


In the Dutch capital, houseboats have gone upmarket. The new owners are wealthy and discerning, interested in new designs, upgraded comfort and sustainability.


Haverkate, a designer by trade, hopes his boat will inspire others to build on the water. He runs UrbanShips, a company that builds customized houseboats designed to look like ships.


After years of serving as a relatively cheap place to live in an expensive city, Amsterdam's houseboats — or rather the spaces they float — have become popular and expensive, with prices increasing 30% to 40% over the past five years alone, according to Jon Kok, one of the city's best known houseboat real estate agents.


The whale's share of the price increase comes from the value of the berth, not the ship.


A typical Amsterdam canal berth might be worth close to a half-million dollars, depending on its location and how big a ship it will allow; some of the older, unrenovated ships in those berths might be worth only $20,000 (building a new ship, of course, is much more expensive).


But in this gentrification debate, the cost of new berths is less important than the architecture of the ship — and whether they ever served as actual commercial ships.


Once populated by converted working boats, the canal now holds an increasing number of floating houses designed to look like oceangoing vessels but with hardly any of the working features of a real boat.



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