Wrongly Convicted Database Record

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Jeffrey Rodriguez


Years Imprisoned:

5

Charge:

Robbery (includes armed robbery)

Sentence:

25 years to life

Year Convicted:

2002

Year Cleared:

2007

Location of Trial:

California

Result:

Judicially Exonerated Released

Summary of Case:

Jeffrey Rodriguez was wrongly convicted in 2002 of a December 2001 robbery of a San Jose auto parts employee based on the victim's identification of Rodriguez, and a crime lab technician's testimony that a stain on Rodriguez's pants was from oil. Jeffrey Rodriguez was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. California's Sixth District Court of Appeal vacated the conviction and ordered a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel. After Rodriguez's first trial resulted in a hung jury that voted 11-1 to acquit, he ran out of money and his lawyer didn't call any witnesses at his retrial. Those witnesses included an expert who had determined Rodriguez was a victim of mistaken identity, and alibi witnesses. After Rodriguez's conviction, his trial lawyer was suspended from practicing law on September 16, 2004 by the California Bar Association for reasons unrelated to Rodriguez's case. In April 2006 an arrest warrant for the lawyer, Paul Raj Gideon, was issued by Santa Clara County, after Gideon failed to appear for his trial on charges of practicing law without a license and drug possession. On January 5, 2008 the California Supreme Court disbarred Paul Raj Gideon from practicing law in California. The victim of the robbery and sole eyewitness signed a statement claiming the police and prosecutors pressured him to fit his narrative of the crime to fit the evidence, and an independent lab discovered that the stain on Rodriguez's pants was not oil. With no evidence Rodriguez was the robber, the charges against Rodriguez were dismissed by the San Jose District Attorney's Office on February 5, 2007, and Rodriguez was released after more than five years of wrongful imprisonment. In April 2009 California's Attorney General filed a 16-page brief with the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board opposing Rodriguez's claim for $138,000 under California's wrongful compensation statute. In August 2009 Santa Clara County agreed to pay Rodriguez $1 million to settle his federal civil rights lawsuit against Santa Clara County.

Conviction Caused By:

Erroneous eyewitness identification and unreliable crime lab technician testimony that a stain on Rodriguez's pants was from oil.

Innocence Proved By:

California's Sixth District Court of Appeal vacated the conviction and ordered a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel. Chargles dismissed by the San Jose District Attorney's Office on February 5, 2007, and Rodriguez was released the same day.

Defendant Aided By:

Northern California Innocence Project

Compensation Awarded:

$1 million (Aug 2009)

Was Perpetrator Found?

Age When Imprisoned:

23

Age When Released:

29

Information Source 1:

People v. Rodriguez, No. H027433 (Cal.App. Dist.6 06-14-2006) [U]

Information Location 1:

Information Source 2:

Freed prisoner `I just thank god', by Fredric Tulsky, San Jose Mercury-News, February 6, 2007

Information Location 2:

Information Source 3:

Appeals Court Awards SJ Man New Trial, by Fredric Tulsky (staff), San Jose Mercury News, June 15, 2006

Information Location 3:

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/special_packages/stolenjustice/14823189.htm

Information Source 4:

DA'S Office Drops Charges Amid Signs of a Wrongful Conviction, By Fredric Tulsky, San Jose Mercury-News, February 6, 2007

Information Location 4:

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/16632868.htm

Information Source 5:

Wrongfully convicted San Jose man to receive $1 million settlement from Santa Clara County, By Tracey Kaplan (staff writer), San Jose Mercury News, August 15, 2009

Information Location 5:

http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_13118342?source=most_viewed

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Innocents Database Created and Maintained by Hans Sherrer innocents@forejustice.org