| SOMERVILLE JOURNAL -- The Rodwells are buoyed by the hope that James Rodwell will one day be freed. He is a barber in prison, and hopes to one day do that same work as a free man. His brothers and sisters have all found success – as a project manager, a master technician, a secretary and a stay-at-home mother.
“When I start to lose it I say, ‘This is not going to help Jimmy,” Carolyn Rodwell said. “We always talk ‘when he gets home’; it’s never ‘if’.”
Unfortunately for Rodwell, he has one of the more difficult cases to win, according to Stephanie Hartung, an associate professor at Suffolk Law School, who teaches the Innocence Project seminar.
There is no DNA evidence; there is not even a murder weapon. Rodwell believes that the two witnesses lied in exchange for leniency for their own crimes, but appellate judges are wary to second-guess jurors’ assessment on whether a witness is credible or not.
“They heard all the evidence,” Hartung said. To an appellate judge the testimony is just words on a transcript.
Hartung said it is even difficult to overturn a conviction when DNA evidence demonstrates that the wrong person was locked up.
“There’s a hesitancy in the courts to go back and start all over,” Hartung said.