Saturday, February 23, 2019

Paul Engelmayer, Buckpasser

“On December 19, 2018, the Court, on its initiative, heard live testimony of the recanting witness, Christine Holloway. The Court did so to assess Watson’s claim of actual innocence. Watson and Respondent each then filed letters assessing that testimony. 
For the reasons below…the Court denies Watson’s petition as untimely.”  (italics added)

“Holloway’s testimony does not supply credible or compelling evidence of Watson’s actual innocence so as to overcome the time bar to Watson’s petition. The Court denies Watson’s petition.”

                                    -Paul A. Engelmayer, United States District Judge
                                                February 21, 2019
                                                New York, NY 

Judge Paul Engelmayer, with an opportunity to undo a flagrant and terrible injustice by clearing the way for Shane Watson's exoneration, instead chose to pass the buck and hide behind procedural minutiae.

In a 27-page decision, Paul Engelmayer effectively denied our assertion of Shane Watson’s innocence, essentially concluding that Christine Holloway’s recantation was “incredible”. As well, Engelmayer cited a violation of the “time bar. Allow me to explain:

In July of 2012, we filed a 440.10 motion in the NY State Court.  

What is a 440 motion? This is known as a motion to vacate judgment. A defendant is able to file this motion any time after the entry of judgment. A judgment can be vacated on certain grounds. This could occur is the court did not have jurisdiction of the action or the defendant, the judgment was procured by duress, misrepresentation or fraud on the part of the court or prosecutor, material evidence at trial was false and known to be false by the prosecutor,the defendant was unable to understand the proceedings because of a mental disease or defect and improper or prejudicial conduct not appearing on the record occurred during trial.
The 440 motion we filed in July 2012 was perpetuated by our having located Christine Holloway (the coerced “eyewitness”) in Georgia, and secured her recantation in an affidavit (official legal document). Obviously, this recantation was critical to our ongoing claim of Shane’s innocence. So, what’s the problem? The problem relates to the timing of the 440 motion we filed. Section 2244(d)(1) of the United States Penal Code sets a ONE YEAR LIMITATION for filing a successive 440 motion (Shane had filed a previous motion on other grounds before Holloway’s recantation affidavit). Since our motion was filed on July 27, 2012, we exceeded the one-year time limitation by…one month. 

Why? Filing a motion takes time and money. Even though, according to what is known as “equitable tolling” (a measure of leniency regarding the one-year limitation), Engelmayer upheld a previous report stating that “Watson did not meet (it’s ) strict requirements of extraordinary circumstances and reasonable diligence throughout the relevant period. A petitioner’s limited funds to finance an investigation or suit, alone, do not establish equitable tolling.” In other words, if you can’t afford an attorney and investigator to file a 440 motion on your behalf, tough luck. 

As I understand the legalese of Engelmayer’s decision, two factors determined his decision to deny our motion:
·     The violation of the time limitation for our 2012 440 motion
·     The “incredible” recantation of Christine Holloway

I sat in the Federal courtroom on December 19 and listened carefully to Christine Holloway as she was questioned and cross-examined. Shane was represented by our attorney Robert Boyle, as well as Glenn Garber, the director of The Exoneration Initiative, and his assistant director Rebecca Freedman. Garber did the questioning of Holloway, aptly and methodically. Christine Holloway was visibly shaken during her entire testimony. I agree with Garber’s assessment, as written to Judge Engelmayer following the hearing: “The firmness of Holloway’s recantation is undeniable. Despite vacillating over the years (or being “flippy floppy”, to use her words) Holloway is steadfast that she did not get a sufficient look at the perpetrator’s face to make an identification, that she was influenced by the police to identify Watson, and that she lied at trial (Shane’s 1993 trial) about her identification.” 

As I listened to Holloway answer questions, my frustration with her fragility was, repeatedly, relieved by her conviction and absolute certainty that she 1) lied at the original trial out of fear, and that she 2) did NOT and could NOT identify the shooter of Mark Johnson on the night of October 9, 1991. I had no doubts about her sincerity, as well as her genuine remorse over her blunders. She was shaken and crying, and despite being incoherent at times, her testimony consistently reaffirmed her straightforward assertion that, in her words “I lied” (at trial). She avoided making eye contact with Shane, who was seated at the defense table just a few yards in front of the witness stand. 

In the United States of America, convicting someone who is poor, black, and innocent, is a routine occurrence. There is no squabbling over “time limitations”.  Shane’s conviction was wrapped up and tidy, and his sentencing was quick and efficient. Time? When it comes to convicting and sentencing the poor, NY State has it down to an art form. It’s fast and easy, just the way we like things done in the US. 

Undoing a tragic error, on the other hand, turns the tables. We have been fighting for Shane’s exoneration for fifteen long years now, and were it not for the grace of our investigator Doug Walters coming forward to take on an investigation (without asking for or being paid a dime), it is unlikely that Shane’s case would have ever gone to court at all. No matter that Shane has lost 25 years of his life due to the incompetence and malfeasance of Detective Sevelie Jones, the Bronx DA’s office and the pathetic non-investigation that led to Shane’s conviction. Rulings like this latest one by Judge Engelmayer just perpetuate the pernicious legal maneuvering and endless procedural delays that are designed to wear down the spirit and strength of someone falsely convicted, as well as those who support him/her. The snide prosecutors from the Bronx DA’s office now are gleefully congratulating themselves on another “win”, without a thought to the monstrous truth: they locked an innocent man in a cage for 25 years. 

RETIRED DETECTIVE SEVILIE JONES: On February 18, 2019, Bronx Justice News reporter Kevin Deutsch reported that retired detective Sevelie Jones is one of three former Bronx detectives now under scrutiny for violating constitutional rights of suspects,  as well as coercing false confessions. When this article was published, my initial reaction was that of exuberance: undoubtedly, Judge Engelmayer would be made aware of this development and take it into account when making his ruling. After all, it was Detective Sevelie Jones who coerced Christine Holloway’s “identification” of Shane in the early hours of October 10, 1991, and then went on to non-investigate the crime. 

In a footnote to his ruling, Engelmayer added this blurb:

“Watson’s counsel recently alerted the Court that he has initiated an investigation into alleged misconduct by the lead detective in this case, Sevelie Jones. The court declines to stay resolution of Watson‘s pending petition on this ground”.

What is very sad, and frustrating is that Judge Engelmayer did not seem to grasp the bigger picture. For an obviously intelligent person and experienced judge, he dismissed the documented inquiry into Detective Sevelie Jone's character. He also dismissed what to me was obvious: Christine Holloway, though her testimony was erratic, was clearly manipulated by Detective Jones, and in fear of being prosecuted for not cooperating with the police, she lied at trial. Her remorse over this was blatantly obvious during her testimony in court on December 19, 2018 before Judge Engelmayer. 

Is not the overall function of any court the pursuit of justice? Sadly, procedural games and mind-numbing aesthetics cloud this basic tenet. 

I received word of Engelmayer’s decision via a text from Shane, who wrote “The fight continues.”  In the days ahead, I will confer with Robert Boyle and Glenn Garber to decide what our next move is. The system wants us to throw our hands up in disgust, but if there is one lesson we have learned its patience, and nobody knows about patience more than Shane.

Will Duchon

February 23, 2019

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

EXPOSED! Detective Sevelie Jones (retired) Under Scrutiny For Shane's Case!

Bronx Justice News  reported yesterday that retired Detective Sevelie Jones is one of three former Bronx detectives currently under scrutiny for coercing false confessions and violating constitutional rights in connection with cases they handled, including Shane Watson's case. Shane spent 25 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, and was released on parole this past October. In December of last year, we presented our case to Federal Judge Paul Engelmayer, seeking Shane's exoneration. As we await the judge's decision, we are hopeful that this "new" information (not new to us) regarding the misconduct of Detective Jones will have a positive impact on Judge Engelmayer's decision.

From the article in Bronx Justice News, written by Kevin Deutsch: (to view the article click HERE)

  • The 1993 conviction of Shane Watson, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. He was released on parole in December 2018 after serving 25 years. 
Watson was convicted largely on the strength of eyewitness testimony from Christine Holloway, a retired New York City Correction Officer who identified Watson as the man who shot and killed homicide victim Mark Johnson. Detective Sevelie Jones had administered a photo lineup to Holloway and elicited the identification.
Holloway recanted her identification of Watson in 2013, records show.
She testified that she’d told 47th Precinct detectives she couldn’t identify the shooter, after which they told her: “We’re going to show you some pictures . . . You’re going to have to pick them out of a line-up,” according to court papers filed by Watson. “She claimed detectives then presented her with a single photograph of the defendant and “told me that was the guy” and said not to “worry about it. We have other witnesses . . . we know who this is . . . we got this.”

Attorney Robert Boyle, who is representing Watson as part of a legal team that includes Glenn Garber and Rebecca Freedman of the Exoneration Initiative, said Halloway claims the detectives never told her to lie. Rather, she was “steered toward” identifying Watson as the killer.
“She just kind of played ball with the detectives,” Boyle told Bronx Justice News. “It was made very clear to her who they wanted her to pick out.”
Jones’ version of events differed from Holloway’s.
“It’s not the way it’s done,” Jones testified when asked whether he’d displayed standalone photographs of Watson, in advance of presenting the full photo lineup to Holloway. “We was [sic] never taught that way. You put the photos in a photo array and you show it to the individuals and they select it or not select it.”
Jones testified that he neither mentioned Shane Watson to Holloway, nor told her that Watson’s photograph would appear in the lineup, court records show. 
In December, U.S. District Court Judge Adam Engelmayer heard Holloway’s testimony during a hearing in the Southern District. He is expected to rule on whether a state court’s 2014 denial of a motion to vacate Watson’s conviction should be overturned, paving the way for Watson’s possible exoneration.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Stating Our Case to Judge Engelmayer (January 9, 2019)

Arguments in the form of ten-page letters were officially submitted to Federal Judge Paul A. Engelmayer on January 4, as directed by the judge following Shane’s hearing on December 19.

At the hearing on December 19, 2018 the judge heard testimony from Christine Holloway, the prime “witness” against Shane at his 1993 trial. Miss Holloway recanted her testimony in 2011, revealing that she was coerced and pressured by Detective Sevile Jones in order to identify Shane Watson as “the shooter”.  In court on December 19, 2018, Holloway was questioned by Glenn Garber on behalf of the defense team. Mr. Garber is the Director of The Exoneration Initiative in New York City. Holloway was cross-examined by prosecutors from the District Attorney’s office as well. Judge Engelmayer himself interrupted questioning by the prosecutors and asked questions of Miss Holloway directly several times during the course of the hearing. Upon the hearing’s conclusion, the judge ordered letters from both sides, defense and prosecution, laying out their respective arguments as to the credibility and validity of Holloway’s testimony at the hearing. Judge Engelmayer will rule accordingly. The question before the judge is whether or not to overturn the state court’s denial of our 2014 motion to vacate Shane’s conviction. Essentially, a ruling by Judge Engelmayer in Shane’s favor would open the door to his full exoneration. 

Excerpts from Glenn Garber’s letter to Judge Engelmayer:

January 4, 2019 
Honorable Paul A. Engelmayer U.S. District Court Judge Southern District ofNew York United States Courthouse 
40 Foley Square
York, NY I0007 

 Dear Judge Engelmayer: 

"Given the stated firmness of Ms. Holloway's recantationthe importance of her testimony to petitioner's present claimsand the gravity of the punishment imposed on petitioner,this Court sought to hear from Christine Holloway, the sole eyewitness against Petitioner Shane Watson at his State murder trial, as the last line of protection against potential manifest injustice. (Dkt Entry 58). Although Holloway is an imperfect witness mired in a complicated historywe submit that, following her testimony before thisCourt at the December 19th hearingthe record clearly and convincingly establishes that her recantation is credible and that she pe1jured herself at trial. Consequently, Watson should be permitted to pass through the Schlup gateway and have his claimconsidered on the merits. 

The firmness of Holloway's recantation is undeniable. Despite vacillating over the years (or being "flippy floppy,to use her words)Holloway is steadfast that she did not get a sufficient look at the perpetrator's face to make an identificationthat she was influenced by the police to identify Watson, and that she lied at trial about her identification. 

To be sureevaluating Holloway'credibility is not merelyan exercise in tallying her inconsistent statements or looking for holes in her narrative. A characteristic of most (if not all) recanting witnesses is their inconsistencyand by their nature they are difficultless than ideal, witnesses. Rather, to get to the truth ofrecantation it is necessary to observe the witness in person, as this Court did, and assess their differing accounts in the context in which they were made. Doing that here and especially considering Holloway'responses to this Court's nonleadingneutral questions - there can be no doubt that despite her shortfalls,Holloway was telling the truth. 

Far from the "elusive and combativewitness described by the State court, Holloway was thoughtful, contrite, and often tearful. She genuinely triedhowever painful it wasto answer questions about her motivations and to untangle the confusion she createdespecially when queried by the Court. She was also unshakable under rigorous cross examination about the core truths that lie at the heart of her recantation. 
Having been promised nothing, not having been intimidated or coerced by the defense, having no relationship to Watson or his familyand facing down her fear of a pe1jury prosecution, the only reasonable explanation for Holloway'hearintestimony affirming her recantation when disavowing the recantation is the far easier course - is that she is telling the truth.  

The State court found Holloway's recantation incredible based on her demeanor, purp01ted influence by the defenseand inconsistencies in her account.(Report & Recommendation at 30, 31)(Dkt. Entry 53). But at the hearing before this Court, she came across as honest, even earnest, in her sometimes-jumbled effort to effectively explain herself and set the record straight. Not only did Holloway settle any concerns about defense influence, she placed into context her prior inconsistencies stemming from the 2013 interview. Indeed, it was primarily questioning by thisCourt and Holloway's unflappable adherence to her recantation on cross-examination without significant impeachment which established the credibility of the recantation. The State court's factual determination that Holloway's recantation was not credible has therefore been rebutted by clear and convincing evidence.   

Because Holloway was the only eyewitness to identify Watson at trial and was the key to his conviction, her recantation constitutes new evidence that makes it "more likely than not that no reasonable juror would convict." Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298, 324, 327-28 (1995); House vBell, 547 U.S. 518,538 (2006)McQuiggin v. Perkins, 569 U.S. 383 (2013); Rivas vFischer, 687 F.3d 514, 543 (2d Cir. 2012) ("it may be enough for the petitioner to introduce credible new evidence that thoroughly undermines the evidence supporting the jury's verdict"). He should therefore be permitted to pass through the gateway, enabling this Court to consider his federal habeas claims on the merits. 
Thank you for your consideration. Respectfully submitted

Glenn A. Garber
233 Broadway, Suite 2370New YorkNY 10279

Robert J. Boyle277 BroadwaySuite 1501 New YorkNY 10007 

We now await the judge’s ruling. For the defense team and those of us who have supported Shane this wait will seem lengthy, but then again Shane has waited twenty-five years in prison for what is hopefully the right result. 

Will Duchon
Stratford, CT

Monday, December 24, 2018

Speaking Truth at Christmas

“… and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
John 8:32 (RSV)

In the Christian narrative, the premise of the Advent message is about light overcoming the darkness. Specifically, Light, embodied in the gift of Jesus, enters the world’s “darkness” in a humble way, which in and of itself conveys another central concept of the Christian narrative: Jesus’ presence (and later, his teachings) “cast down the proud”, as the English carol “Masters In This Hall” puts it. The “lowly”, meaning the poor, the marginalized, the outcast, are “exalted” through God’s gift of Jesus. This peculiar “exaltation” of the poor and the marginalized has never translated into worldly definitions and representations. The poor, as Jesus once prophesied, “will always be with us.” Except for the con artists of the Christian-right who perniciously comingle and corrupt the Christian message in order to create obscene personal wealth and bathe in narcissism, the poor, who follow Jesus’ teaching, will remain poor. This is more certain in 2018 than in Jesus’ day. In the United States in particular, our government and the corporate oligarchy which controls American society goes to great lengths to make sure that the poor remain poor. 

As a child growing up in the 1960’s in the United States, I received the standard indoctrination that millions of other elementary school children were subjected to. Each morning when class started, we were instructed to stand, place our hand on our heart, and recite the “pledge of allegiance.” In my third-grade class at Eastview Elementary School in White Plains, NY, our teacher, Mrs. Greenwich, played “God Bless America” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” on the little Kimball upright piano in our classroom, as we all sang together, not really thinking too much about phrases like “through the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air”. When we concluded the pledge by saying “with liberty and justice for all” we, at the tender age of eight years old, believed that we truly did live in a country that valued “liberty” and “justice for all”. We believed that America was one of very few countries on the planet that was “free”. No teacher ever told us differently. The apartment building in which I lived and had grown up still had some faded “Fallout Shelter” signs hanging near the stairwells, remnants of the red scare of the 1950’s. I remember some vague notions floating around the schoolyard and in conversations with friends  about “the Russians” who were “commies” and were intent on taking over our country. A few short years later when resistance to the “war” (invasion) in Vietnam grew white hot, these imbedded conceptions about “America the Good” became confusing and complicated.

On Christmas Eve, 2018, I find myself preparing for a full evening of services at the Congregational church in Connecticut where I serve as music director. We will once again retell the old story of Jesus’ birth, enhanced by beautiful choral and instrumental music, by lessons and carols, and wordlessly reinforced by a spirit of community and fellowship. While the inflated congregation is singing about “peace on earth”, the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan that our government orchestrated, manipulated and lied about continues, now in its seventeenth year, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of human lives. This invasion has created obscene wealth for private companies all connected to the war machine that is the United States military, through juicy contracts to companies like Haliburton and their ilk. Nobody knows, or cares, what the “war” is about any longer. The lie about “spreading democracy” in Iraq and Afghanistan has long been revealed, and forgotten, as absurd as it was to begin with. Despite all of this, and our governments clear history of supporting ugly and destructive dictatorships in Central America, the Middle East and beyond, many Americans continue to sleep peacefully under the delusion that these acts of genocide were “necessary” in order to “protect our freedom” from “those that hate us”. 

While my church choir concludes tonight’s late service with a gentle piece set to the words “All Is Well”,  more than two million citizens will be toiling in United States prisons. Two thirds of these prisoners did not commit violent crimes. Thanks to the neoliberal policies of Bill Clinton, in particular the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, the prison population has exploded since the mid 1990’s. Not everyone in the United States is upset by this, however. Thanks to Clinton’s policies, and thanks to Barack Obama’s  NDAA Act (National Defense Authorization Act) of 2013 which essentially destroyed the protection of habeas corpus and militarized police forces throughout the US, an insanely high prison population is insured for the time being. Who benefits? Companies like Corcraft, and the hundreds of other private interests that make money off of the backs of prison labor. Virtually everything in prison: the food services, health care, phone services, uniforms, is controlled by corporate interests, and makes healthy profits for these companies while prisoners are paid on a scale of zero to perhaps $1.10 an hour, with no pension or benefits, naturally. In fact, many prisoners in the United States leave prison in debt to the commissaries, which charge inflated prices for basic necessities. In The United States, a large prison population is in “the national interest”. In fact, the labor force within the walls of US prisons is in effect a system of slavery. Again, more than two-thirds of U.S prisoners did not (if they committed a crime at all) commit violent crimes. Conspicuously absent from prison: corporate CEO’s, and heads of huge financial houses that cheated investors and customers of billions of dollars leading up to the crash of 2008, for example. Instead of prison terms, these criminals were allowed to loot the U.S. Treasury, and given bailouts, real and ethereal, to the tune of over twenty trillion dollars. 

The United States was founded on two principles: genocide and slavery. This is our legacy.  The fifty-five signers of the Declaration of Independence were wealthy white landowners and slave owners, who sought above all to protect their capital interests and ensure that these interests would be protected going forward. “We the People” never included poor whites, blacks, slaves, women, nor Indians, of course. From 1776 until today, December 24, 2018, the ideology of the United States government has been consistent in its quest to protect the elites and the wealthy, discourage democracy at all costs, and wage bloody and merciless invasions anywhere necessary (Theodore Roosevelt gleefully described the US invasion of the Philippines which massacred over 300,000 natives in 1899 as “a splendid little war”). While the US government was not invading foreign lands, supporting merciless regimes (see Augusto Pinochet, Chile, 1973) and bombing tiny nations into eternity (see Vietnam and Cambodia), it was lynching blacks at home, fighting union organizers with military and sub-military force, and today, surrendering society to the corporate oligarchies that control everything, including both major political parties. The genocide and allegiance to corporate power seamlessly has been passed from the hands of Reagan to every president since, all of which have blood on their hands, all of which can be considered war criminals according to the rules of the Geneva Convention. Our flags are currently set to “half-mast” in honor of George H.W. Bush, a genocidal criminal like his son (see Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan). 

Churches remain afraid to speak the truth about our government and its evil policies. In 2003, prior to the illegal and unfounded invasion of Afghanistan, the National Council of Churches sent President George W. Bush a tepid, lame letter, asking the President to “please avoid war”. In our churches we “pray for peace”, as if “positive thinking” and the codified act of responsive prayer in and of itself will magically create an epiphany in the minds and hearts of the corporatists who live large off the profits of war. In several Christmas concerts I have accompanied during the weeks leading up to Christmas, there were teary-eyed tributes to veterans, who “fought to keep us free”, and were cheered by the crowds. Veterans and soldiers have been used and discarded by this government perniciously, yet the national myth and the deification of the military is still tied into the Christmas message, wrongly, as if Christmas were something uniquely “American” and “patriotic”.  

The United States of America is a republic (not a democracy) of hundreds of thousands, millions, of fascinating people, many caring people, many highly intelligent, creative, gifted, and generous, governed by a mendacious and destructive corporate state. We cannot sing of Jesus as the Prince of Peace in a candlelit Christmas Eve sanctuary, and then not have the courage to speak the truth about our national legacy of oppression and genocide. To pretend that what we were taught in elementary school is reality is to be guilty by association. “The truth shall set you free”, Jesus said (supposedly), but this truth can only impact and transform life if it is uttered and shared, and revealed. Otherwise, the words of John’s gospel will have to be rewritten to reflect the national delusion that government and the corporate state want us to continue to believe in, like a child’s belief in Santa Claus. In this case, the “light” has surrendered to the darkness, and the darkness continues to overcome it. This is hypocrisy. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Today's Hearing in Federal Court: A Summary

This morning in Courtroom 1035 of the US District Court, Southern District of New York, I witnessed a profound scene as I entered the courtroom at 9:20 AM. Seated at the defense table was our attorney Robert Boyle, attorney Glenn Garber, Director of The Exoneration Initiative, attorney Rebecca Freedman, Assistant Director of The Exoneration Initiative, and Shane Watson, seated between Robert and Rebecca. This was the first time I’ve seen Shane seated at the defense table dressed in street clothes; a shirt and tie. The last time I saw Shane in court was in the state appellate court in 2014, before sleepy Judge Richard Price. In those hearings Shane was outfitted in prison garb, and led into the courtroom in chains. The atmosphere this morning in Federal Court was markedly different. Today Shane sat as a (almost) free citizen, and was just a short distance away from the witness stand, where Miss Christine Holloway testified for over two hours. Miss Holloway, who resides in Georgia, was brought to New York at the request of Judge Paul Engelmayer, the presiding judge in this hearing, in order to essentially measure her credibility as a witness who has recanted her testimony. 

On Wednesday October 9,  1991, Christine Holloway, a former Corrections Officer for the City of New York with over 5 years of experience, was parking her car late at night off of Schieffelin Avenue in the Bronx, when she saw a person walk past the front of her car, dressed in dark clothing, wearing a hoodie tightly drawn over her/his head. Miss Holloway was thinking about her brother during those moments. She had just returned from signing a “DNR” (Do Not Resuscitate) release, as her brother was suffering from AIDS and terminally ill. While seated in her car attempting to park, Miss Holloway heard gunshots, and saw a person running after another person on the street, some 60-70 feet away. A homicide had been committed, and Miss Holloway was questioned by  NYC Detective Sevile Jones as to what she had seen. This questioning went into the early hours of the next morning. In essence, Detective Jones’ questioning was designed to coerce Miss Holloway into identifying Shane Watson as the shooter. A photo of Shane Watson was shown to Miss Holloway, who was told “This is the guy” and “We have other witnesses who have ID’d him.” Jones was playing on the fact that Holloway, a corrections officer, would consider the police to be “comrades” (her term). After relentless questioning and coercion, Holloway changed her position from declaring that she had not seen the face of the person wearing the dark clothes and hoodie (the truth), and complying with Detective Jones’ insistence that Shane Watson “was the bad guy”.  The inherent flaws in Detective Jones’ questioning is described here by our investigator Doug Walters:

In 2011 we located Christine Holloway in Georgia. Another investigator employed by our attorney Robert Boyle succeeded in speaking with her and she stated that her conscience had troubled her for many years and that she was willing to execute an affidavit with Mr. Boyle, which she did. In the affidavit she confirmed that she never saw the shooter well enough to identify him, and that she did identify Shane Watson only because the police and District Attorney told her “he was the shooter” and “a bad man” and they needed her to help them. She further stated that the police showed her a photo of Shane Watson BEFORE showing her the photo array and instructed her that he was the killer. This alone would have resulted in dismissal of the charges had the court known of it. Ms. Holloway also stated in her affidavit that many of the details of her testimony at the trial were total fabrications suggested to her by the prosecution in an attempt to make her story seem plausible. 

Twenty-seven years later, Christine Holloway sat on the witness stand this morning, holding firm to her initial statements to the police and Detective Jones that she did notsee the face of the shooter, in factcould nothave seen this person’s face given the brief time span (3-5 seconds according to her statements) during which this person crossed in front of her car in the dark of night. This morning in court Miss Holloway seemed weary at times, but was adamant about two things: 1) she never saw the face of the shooter, and 2) she lied at Shane’s 1993 trial about being able to identify him BECAUSE she thought that Detective Jones (and the police) “told me they had the right guy”. She went on to explain that she was afraid of “getting into trouble” or “going to jail” if she changed her story. These fears stayed with her even in 2013, when the Bronx District Attorney’s Office brought her to New York for questioning. During this meeting (interrogation), the Assistant DA and his colleagues intimidated Holloway enough to make her stand by her false trial testimony. 
Where does the case now stand? The facts are this: Christine Holloway recanted her false trial testimony to our defense team in 2011. In court this morning she withstood intense cross examination by the prosecutors and held firm to her conviction that she never could identify Shane Watson, or anyone, on the basis of what she saw on October 9, 1991, and was told repeatedly by Detective Jones that “(Shane) was the bad guy”. 

Judge Paul Engelmayer was actively engaged in this morning’s hearings. Several times, during the prosecutor’s questioning of Holloway, the judge interrupted the questioning and calmly asked Holloway direct questions himself, respectfully and patiently. Glenn Garber led the questioning for the defense, purposely refocusing the questions toward what was most important: the truth, and the fact that Christine Holloway was here to admit (again) that her 1993 trial testimony was false.

 Listening to Christine Holloway became frustrating at times, in part because of the prosecutors aggressive and pointed attempts to unnerve her. Despite this, Miss Holloway spoke with obvious passion, credibility and remorse each time she proclaimed to the prosecutor “I lied!” (at trial). 

Judge Engelmayer concluded the hearing with a directive to the defense team and the prosecution. The judge requested that each side provide a letter, 10 pages maximum, in which the respective sides would express their arguments regarding the credibility of Christine Holloway’s recantation.This issue alone, in fact, is what Judge Engelmayer’s ultimate decision will be based upon, under the parameters of the law. Letters are due by January 4, 2019.

Following the formal hearing, the judge asked Shane (through Robert Boyle) what his life was like now. Mr. Boyle informed the judge that Shane is back with his family and working full time, an admirable achievement, since Shane was released on parole only nine weeks ago. The judge congratulated Shane and concluded today’s hearing. Following this, we gathered in the hallway outside the courtroom: Shane, Paula, Shane’s mother Joan and brother Clayton, Glenn, Rebecca, Robert and me. Glenn remarked that “you have to be in it to win it”, and “although it will be very difficult to prove the legal standard required for Judge Engelmayer to rule in Shane’s favor, today went about as well as it could have.” 

Paul Engelmayer, Buckpasser

“On December 19, 2018, the Court, on its initiative, heard live testimony of the recanting witness, Christine Holloway. The Court did so to...