Judge Kozinski — ‘He saved my life.’

Great interview with Federal Judge Alex Kozinski with Leslie Stahl of 60 Minutes on the Debra Milke case.

Here’s the gist of the story.  Milke was interrogated by a police detective.  The officer emerges from the room saying Milke confessed to murder.  Milke denies it and maintains her innocence.

There is a trial and that’s the sum total of the evidence against her.  The officer says she confessed to him.  No recording.  No signed confession.  Other men that were connected to the killing said she was not involved.

On the basis of that one officer’s testimony, Milke not only lost her liberty, she almost lost her life–as it was a death penalty case.

When Milke’s lawyers dug into the crucial detective’s background, they found evidence of lying and misconduct in other cases.  That’s when Judge Kozinski issued his ruling saying the government’s case was so weak that it could not stand.  Milke was released from prison.

I am presently editing a collection of Judge Kozinski’s superb opinions and the Milke case is among them.  It will be a great book.

Go here to see Judge Kozinski debate another federal judge on problems with the American criminal justice system.