On November 8, 2013, the Los Angeles Times had a headline that read, “34 year wait for justice is over”. The defendant, Kash Register, was convicted of murder in 1979 on the testimony of a woman named Brenda Anderson. Register spent 34 years in State Prison maintaining his innocence. He couldn’t be paroled because he always maintained his innocence. He refused to admit to a murder he didn’t commit. The Parole Board is programmed to deny parole to those inmates who don’t admit their crime because without an admission, how can the inmate be rehabilitated?
So, Register languished in prison, denied his freedom, the basic human rights of American citizens, but not the love of his family, who believed in him from the beginning. Along came Loyola Law School who diligently sought out the truth.
What truth were they seeking? The truth that the prosecution had failed to disclose to Register’s defense attorneys that Brenda Anderson’s sister had told LAPD before trial that her sister was lying. Brenda Anderson’s sister told the police in 1979 that the man she had seen commit the murder was not Register.
According to the LA Times story, the prosecutors, not just the police, suppressed the exonerating evidence. The prosecution consciously chose to be the judge, the jury and the prosecution.
Convict an innocent man? No problem, because the decision had been made. They had their man. That’s all that mattered. Only they were wrong.
Where is the justice in a system where Mr. Register maintains his innocence for 34 years and the LA Times proclaims “34 wait for justice is over”?
Where is the justice in the prosecution hiding exonerating evidence from the defense team despite the law of the land, which requires prosecutors to disclose materially exculpatory evidence in the government’s possession to the defense, as stated in Brady v. Maryland? Who gives Mr. Register his 34 years back? How does he go to prison as a 19 year old young man and come out a 53 year old shell of his youthful self?
Where is the justice in that? Should we read the LA Times and say that this is a “feel good” story? We can proclaim now, “the system works!” Well, it doesn’t work. Just ask Kash Register.