The Special Master hearing to review the Reggie Clemons case was halted on Thursday, but with more testimony and legal filings to come. In fact, the Special Master process looks to continue well into next year. Given what’s at stake, and given the troubling nature of the case, taking more time is not a bad thing.
The allegations of police brutality and prosecutorial misconduct which feature prominently in Amnesty International’s report on the case were highlighted during the hearing. The alleged police abuse of Clemons, and the similar abuse of the state’s star witness Tom Cummins – acknowledged by a $150,000 settlement – are particularly disturbing and call into question the fairness of the investigation and prosecution in this case.
DNA testing, which the state argued connected one of the co-defendants to the crime, took center stage on Thursday, while Monday and Wednesday (there were no witnesses heard on Tuesday), the treatment of Reggie Clemons in police custody, and the prosecutor’s apparent editing of Tom Cummins’ statement to police, were featured.
As this process moves forward, with depositions and legal briefs, and perhaps closing arguments later this year, this review of the problematic investigation and prosecution of Reggie Clemons, and the doubt and confusion those problems have caused, will continue to provide a good example of why the irreversible punishment of death should have no place in our imperfect criminal justice system.