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Legal Issues

There are at least four broad areas concerning Jake's trial that should lead to a reversal of his conviction:

1. Jake's illegal interrogation by Detective Wilson at the Waco Police Department:

Juveniles may not be interrogated in a normal interrogation room in Texas. See Texas Family Law section 52.02(b) etc.

2. Jake being questioned by D.A. Long concerning prior bad acts (juvenile arrests): This is contrary to the Texas Rules of Evidence section 609(a).

3. No change of venue asked for:

Waco is a Baylor town. The judge, the juvenile judge, the D.A. and his lawyer were all Baylor graduates as was the victim.

4. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel:

Lies or half-truths were not contested by his lawyer. See the Echols testimony section on the Trial page. See the Bill Logue testimony (coming).
Jake did not match the description of the shooter. Why didn't his lawyer call the man Jake said was the shooter to the stand as he was available so the jury could see how Jake didn't fit the description and the other man did?
Why didn't Jake's lawyer call Jake to the stand to rebut Echols' testimony (see Trial page)?
Why didn't Jake's lawyer explain in detail about false confessions?
Why didn't Jake's lawyer object when D.A. Long questioned Jake about his juvenile arrests? The judge, in a pretrial motion, agreed these juvenile arrests were not to be mentioned, yet no one said anything.
Why didn't Jake's lawyer asks the jurors during voir dire about secondary relationships with Baylor?
   The jurors were only asked if they worked or had worked for Baylor. Not whether their spouses, parents, friends, or children had or have a relationship to Baylor?

I am not a lawyer. Yet these things were easy to find out for me; some took only a few minutes. When you see the almost completely passive defense provided Jacob you will agree that basically Jacob had two D.A.s against him: Long and his lawyer.

When you read the sections below and on the Trial pages, remember: Jacob was convicted based on no direct evidence, no eye witness testimony, and two recanted testimonies. His brother paid dearly for recanting by serving 10 years for it. That is unlike many other exonerations where witnesses recant with no cost to themselves. That should mean something but perhaps in Texas it doesn't. The only independent eye witness described another person, not Jacob, not even close.

Violations of Texas Family Code 52.02(a) and 52.025(a)

Jacob's treatment at the hands of Detective Wilson was an even more egregious violation of the Texas Family Code section concerning juvenile interrogation.

Here I will quote extensively from "Violations of Family Code requirements regarding police interactions with juvenile, including non compliance with juvenile processing office and parental presence requirements deemed juvenile statement inadmissible.[In the Matter of D.J.C.](09-4-5B)"

In this case, a juvenile known as "D.J.C" was questioned by a police officer in a interwiew room used for interviewing adults. DJC's grandmother brought DJC to the police station and asked to be present during the interrogation; her request was denied. The interview was videotaped:

Opinion: Appellant contends that his custodial statement was inadmissible because it failed to fulfill several requirements of the Family Code. See Tex. Fam.Code Ann. § 54.03(e). Specifically, appellant contends that (1) his statement was not taken in a designated juvenile processing center, as required by sections 52.02(a) and 52.025(a) of the Family Code; (2) his grandmother was excluded from the interview room despite her request to be present, in violation of section 52.025(c) of the Code; and (3) his video-recorded statement did not comply with section 52.025(b)(5) of the Code, which requires that an electronically recorded statement of a juvenile received in a designated juvenile processing center comply with Family Code sections 51.095(a)(1), (2), (3) or (5), because it did not comply with sections 51.095(a)(1)(A) and (a)(5), governing the warnings to be given a juvenile prior to the taking of his statement.

The case against DJC was reversed and remanded due to these violations.

Comparison between Jacob's situation and that of DJC
Like DJC Jacob was taken to the police station. There he was led to an adult interrogation room and interrogated by Detective Wilson (note that Judge Logue lied on the stand when asked about setting up a room for juvenile interrogations; see his testimony on the trial pages). Jake's parents, unknown to Jake, were at the police station also trying to see him and like with DJC they were not allowed to be present during his interrogation. Unlike with DJC, Jake's parents were lied to and told no one knew where Jake was. Unlike with DJC, for unknown reasons, Jake's interrogation was not recorded. Detective Wilson said it was (a) due to the recorder being broken or (b) it was not "their practice" to record interrogations.

Question: If DJC's conviction was reversed why shouldn't Jake's be reversed? Both were interrogated in violation of the same Texas Family Code law.

Prior Bad Acts As you will see on the Trial pages, Jake was questioned extensively about his prior acts as a juvenile, yet such questions were not challenged by Jake's lawyer.

Jake's Lawyer did not seek a change of venue The victim in Jake's case, Christopher Schumacher, was a Baylor University student. The judge, George Allen, was a graduate of Baylor Law (1962); Jake's lawyer John Hurley was a graduate of Baylor Law (1983) whose parents had a $2 million endowment at Baylor; D.A. Crawford Long was a graduate of Baylor Law (1973), Judge Billy Logue was a graduate of Baylor (1949). Given that Baylor University dominates Waco, it would be expected many of the jurors were related to or socialized with people from Baylor University yet they were not asked about that. They were only asked if they worked at Baylor or are retired from Baylor. Not if their spouse worked at Baylor, any relatives worked at Baylor; if they themselves went to Baylor (or were currently students at Baylor); or they socialize with people who are related to Baylor. The only one here that didn't belong was Jacob Blackmon. There should have been a change of venue, yet none was sought.

False Testimony As you will see on the Trial pages, several witnesses gave either false or seriously misleading testimony, yet it was never challenged by Jacob's lawyer, who apparently never investigated anything about his case.

Like juvenile victims of many aggressive police interrogations, Jacob was threatened, he was told his mother would be charged with a capital offense, he was offered food to make him feel grateful to the detective, was not allowed to see a lawyer or his parents who were only a few feet away in the police station. He was alone with the detective who for some unaccountable reason could not find a working tape recorder. It was "broken." Was there a record of that? Was there a work order to fix it? Was there another recorder at the police station? When was the recorder used during that time period? You'd think, and this is just a non-lawyer who probably watched too many Law and Orders, you'd think these are the obvious questions a good and committed defense lawyer who is upholding his sworn oath to provide his client with a zealous defense would ask about and independently verify. But none of these questions was asked and the recorder was not investigated (to my knowledge). The detective's statement was taken at face value.

The jury was told of Jacob's recantation but left to wonder why someone would falsely confess to a murder. It is indeed a difficult concept even these days. But apart from saying the Jake recanted his statement, Jake's lawyer offered the jury nothing about false confessions or how easily juveniles falsely confess to crimes.

There are many articles and many examples of false confessions:

  1. New Study Finds False Confessions More Likely Among Juveniles

  2. Teens and Children Twice as Likely to Falsely Confess to Crimes When Questioned

  3. Juveniles prone to false confessions, experts say

  4. Wrongful Convictions of Youth

  5. Four Englewood men won't be retried for 1994 rape and murder

  6. 60 Minutes: Teens Confess to Crimes They Didn't Commit

  7. Ruling: DNA could have changed outcome of 1993 murder trial

Check out the The Natonal Registry of Exonerations. You would be shocked at how common convictions based on false confessions are. What Jacob needs is someone versed in exonerations based on false confessions to join the fight to free this innocent man.

Jacob has heatedly contested his legal representation. The same lawyer who, he says did a poor job at trial was the same lawyer who mounted his only appeal, which you can read at the sole appeal in Jake's name.. This was not Jake's appeal but one by the same lawyer he says failed him at trial.

See Trial Transcript: Echols' Testimony for how Hurley's failure to call Jake to rebut this probably manufactured testimony was the final nail in Jake's coffin.

It's Just My Opinion
I am not a lawyer. I have had paralegal training but, to repeat, I am not a lawyer. The opinions here are just mine, based on what I've read. If I am wrong (and this is directed to you, lawyers), please please please use the Contact link to let me know. Thanks.