Dan Riley [00:00:19]:
Mike. Well, first, thank you for letting me come in here and meet you and for the tour, and it's really good to meet you, and welcome to the show. It's nice to have you on.

Mike Ware [00:00:28]:
Well, thank you. It's good to be on.

Dan Riley [00:00:30]:
So I always like to start by kind of getting the background here. I want to go into the details, obviously, of the Innocence project and the work that you do here. But what initially got you interested in the first place in potentially doing the kind of work that gets done with the innocence project? What's the background there?

Mike Ware [00:00:49]:
Well, I think it was a process. I went to law school with the intent of becoming a criminal defense lawyer, but that was in the 80s, before there was such a thing as dna testing or actual innocence. And then I got out and clerked for a federal judge for a year in 1983 through 84, and then started my own practice doing criminal defense, taking a lot of court appointments here in Fort Worth, and did that for 23 years, whatever, up until about 2005. And I started getting interested in innocence work, which is very much related to criminal defense, but it's different. And I had a law school, budy, who wanted to start a nonprofit, which we did, and became the Innocence Project of Texas. And we started an affiliation at Texas Tech Law School and what was then Texas Wesleyan law School here in Fort Worth, and started innocence projects or innocence programs with the students at those two law schools. And we were the primary principals of the nonprofit. I became very fascinated with the work itself because, you know, the stories are so interesting.

Dan Riley [00:02:38]:

Mike Ware [00:02:38]:
And. And I'd seen, you know, having practiced criminal defense for over 20 years, I'd seen a lot of injustice and a lot of smugness on the other side. It was kind of infuriating to see. I mean, basically, there's the criminal justice system that exists in the minds of the american people, that is fed by cop shows and cop stories in the newspaper, which are basically written by, you know, Bruce Willis movies and that sort of thing. And then there's the real criminal justice system. And if you go down to the courthouse on any weekday, you'd be appalled about what goes on. And it is so far removed from the criminal justice system that exists in the typical mind of the american people. That that was infuriating.

Mike Ware [00:03:45]:
And I thought that the innocence cases, the exoneration cases, those stories, although those are not the only injustices in the system, those stories best illustrated what the system really was. They were not really outliers. They're a product of the system. All of that became very interesting to me. And of course, the DNA exonerations that started to happen were the best illustration of that because those were cases that you could look at and see this person is innocent. And then you look and you see, well, how did they get convicted? And you see the outrageous things that the system perpetrated in order to convict this innocent person. They're very much highlight all that's wrong with the system. They're not the only thing that's wrong with the system, but they're sort of the quintessential examples of the system gone wrong, and they're sort of a portal by which you can look into and see almost everything that's wrong with the system.

Dan Riley [00:05:09]:
Yeah, and I want to get into the DNA component to this as well. The two words I'd love to get your thoughts on an expansion on are the injustice and the smugness. What did you notice during that time that led you to that conclusion that both of those words are appropriate to be used?

Mike Ware [00:05:27]:
Well, certainly for the first 20 years that I practiced, almost nobody associated with the system thought that an innocent person had ever been convicted. Probably never an innocent person arrested. I mean, if anybody who walked into the courtroom or walked into a DA's office with a straight face and said, my client is innocent, they didn't do this, was going to be at best patronized and condescended to as someone who, well, this person is just stupid, or this person just is inexperienced and at worst would be openly ridiculed just by way of example. There were not innocent people in the system. If you say there are, point me to one. Until DNA, anybody you pointed to, they'd go, that's bullshit. Like you mentioned earlier. Well, what about this person in prison that says they're the ones that really did it? Well, that's bullshit.

Mike Ware [00:06:39]:
Somebody's paying them to do it or to say that, or threatening them to say that, or they're just trying to get back at the system. That's bullshit.

Dan Riley [00:06:48]:
Where culturally, though, do you think that that idea comes from? I think you're right, that there historically has been a notion in America that if you've been arrested, you did something wrong, or if you're in jail, you're a criminal. Where does that come from?

Mike Ware [00:07:02]:
Well, God, that's a real interesting question. There's probably people that are much smarter and have studied that topic much more than I have that could give a better answer. But I think it comes from a synergy of sources. It comes from popular entertainment. It comes from lazy journalists who are assigned the police beat but get their stories exclusively from the police. And so the crime story is always told. Of course, I don't know who reads mainstream newspapers anymore, but for a long time, that's all. People read and tells the story of every crime through the eyes of the police.

Mike Ware [00:07:46]:
Only get the police media liaison to write the story for you. They don't go out and interview witnesses. They don't go out and interview the family of the person who's arrested. It's an easy thing to just go to a bar, have a few drinks and write what the police tell them. And then, of course, politicians beginning, I'm not saying it began there, but most notably with the Nixon administration and the war on drugs and all the coded racist fear mongering that went on, and particularly in the Reagan years, but politicians who get elected by instilling all this false fear in people and then electing the politicians to fight all these bad criminals that are banging on their doors. Reagan. Some of the worst federal legislation that's ever been passed was passed during the Clinton administration. So it's not limited to, you know, to Republicans.

Mike Ware [00:09:05]:
Yeah, it's, it's a, it's, it's a, it's, it's something that, that politicians from both sides have made a lot of mileage on it.

Dan Riley [00:09:18]:
It strikes me as something similar to the news industry in the idea that if it bleeds, it leads. If you can scare people, it gets attention, and if you can scare people thoroughly enough, they might vote for you to protect them.

Mike Ware [00:09:30]:

Dan Riley [00:09:32]:
The smugness that you were talking about, what did you see in that regard? And who was most notably emanating that.

Mike Ware [00:09:38]:
Kind of, I'm thinking of your average line prosecutor, assistant district attorney. In any case, you go and you try to plead your case to the assistant district attorney who's handling the case and negotiate something. I mean, most cases are worked out through plea deals. And, you know, and of course, these, a lot of these people are pretty, not all of them, but a lot of them are pretty young, out of law school, don't really have a lot of experience, but all of a sudden, they've got a hell of a lot of power. I mean, the assistant district attorneys are the most powerful people in the criminal justice system. The police are pretty close behind. The judges are a distant distant third. And, of course, criminal defense lawyers don't have any power once these often young, inexperienced attorneys have all this power.

Mike Ware [00:10:45]:
And of course, they've got this whole machine and bureaucracy backing them up. They've got investigators that they can send out to arrest people or intimidate people as they interview them. They've got all this power behind them. And so any story you try to give them about your client, about why your client deserves leniency or why your client's innocent or whatever, or an explanation for why your client may have done this thing, is just met with pure cynicism and sort of a fall hardness, you know, and a smugness. Look, your client's a dirt bag, end of story. That sort of thing.

Dan Riley [00:11:50]:
Yeah, it's funny, I feel like this is something I want to touch on later in the conversation as well. That part of, I think, what the DNA evidence and a lot of these long form television docuseries are, which a lot of people are very into, and what it introduces, I think, in the mind of the viewership, is doubt.

Mike Ware [00:12:12]:

Dan Riley [00:12:13]:
And I think what you don't often see in the characters, at least in the ones that I've seen in the prosecution, is any sense of doubt.

Mike Ware [00:12:21]:

Dan Riley [00:12:21]:
And there tends to be an utter self righteousness about the work that they are doing, that they are the arbiter of the law, that they're protecting the citizenry. It also strikes me, just in thinking about this, that what is the downside risk for being wrong in their position right now to them personally? And you can tell me if you think this is incorrect. Nothing happens to them if they're wrong, but if they're blatantly wrong about the conclusions that they've made, and they're using the full force of the government and their own intelligence, and they end up putting an innocent person in jail or potentially killing them in the death penalty, what is the pushback, the social pushback or the professional pushback that would disinhibit them from pursuing that?

Mike Ware [00:13:17]:
Next to none. You were, I think, touching on a good point. Why is there so much resistance to even giving defendants the opportunity to prove their innocence? I mean, say I've got a client who wants a post conviction DNA test. Why is the DA's office resisting even giving the test? In some instances, the test will be totally dispositive, either to prove they did it or approve they didn't do it. They're not that expensive. It's not that difficult. What is the reason for such resistance to that test? And of course, the answer is they don't want to be proven to have made a mistake. Well, why do they care if it's proven they made a mistake? Nothing's going to happen to them.

Mike Ware [00:14:30]:
For the most part, they're not going to be ostracized. There are some isolated instances that are an exception to that. But in each of those Instances they brought it upon themselves through dishonest resistance that ultimately caught up with them. I don't know how to answer that other than what I see again and again. And I read about this stuff and I've had personal experience with this stuff. This is sort of another aspect of that. Say you get a DNA test back that proves your client's innocent, is to see the contortion some Das will go through to say, well, actually, here's what must have been the explanation for that. And just to lay out a totally absurd scenario, I mean, if you have time, I'll give you an example, please.

Mike Ware [00:15:35]:
Now this was not one of my cases, but I've seen very similar examples in other cases, in some that were my case. And I think I know the case. I was listening to a psychologist at a seminar talk about tunnel vision and confirmation bias.

Dan Riley [00:15:58]:
I was just thinking of that phrase.

Mike Ware [00:16:01]:
Anybody who does this works very familiar with the phenomena. And he was talking to a room, mostly criminal defense attorneys at this particular seminar, and he said, well, so let me show you an example of confirmation bias. This is a real case. This is a real case. I'm not going to name it, but it's a real case. And I think I know the case he's talking about. But some poor eleven year old girls murdered and raped, found in the woods, and they find DNA in her sex organs, in her mouth and in her anus and they do a dna test on it and it comes back to her older brother's friend. And the older brother's friend's attorney says, well, what happened is the older brother's friend spent the night over there a couple of days before and slept in the bed and masturbated and then she slept in the bed after that and that's how she got her dna on.

Mike Ware [00:17:19]:
And so all of us in the room kind of are like. He goes, yeah, and when I tell that to a room full of police officers, they out now start guff on at that point. Now let me change one fact to what the real facts are. It wasn't the defense attorney that came up with that theory. It was the prosecutors and the police that came up with that theory because they had already convicted somebody else.

Dan Riley [00:17:48]:

Mike Ware [00:17:52]:
So what's the explanation for that? Obviously they're not concerned with the public safety because they have obviously put the wrong guy in prison and they're trying to justify it and leave the dangerous guy out on the street. So they're not concerned with public safety, nothing's going to happen to them. So they're not really concerned about their own careers. Not rationally, anyway. So what is it? I analogize it. And I guess you got to be careful about saying this sort of thing, but I analogize it. It's like a religion. It's like trying to convince somebody that their religion is wrong, that their religion is ridiculous.

Mike Ware [00:18:35]:
I think it goes that deep into them.

Dan Riley [00:18:37]:
Yeah. It's funny, just in hearing you speak about this, and I remember having this thought, watching some docuseries related to people who are convicted, who are innocent, that in normal life, in an endeavor in which people are engaged in trying to determine the truth, like science, there's a convergence that eventually comes out over time about what is objectively true.

Mike Ware [00:19:04]:

Dan Riley [00:19:04]:
And I remember feeling in watching some of these shows that that was not clearly in any way where the mindset was of people who are involved in cases. Some of that is understandable in the sense that you are being hired to represent the interests of your client or the state. At the same time, I'd be interested to get your take on this. As a lawyer. The truth matters, and that is, at least on paper, the idea of the justice system is that the truth is blind. The truth will prevail. Have we lost that, or was it just never there in the first place?

Mike Ware [00:19:45]:
That's a real good question, too.

Dan Riley [00:19:52]:
Just to add one quick thing, because your comment about prosecutors not wanting. There's this new, incredible technology that gets invented that actually lends so much more insight, objective evidence about what may or may not have happened, and people are resistant to that.

Mike Ware [00:20:12]:
Oh, yeah.

Dan Riley [00:20:14]:
That fact alone just strikes me the clear conclusion is that you're not interested in what's true. You're interested in defending your own ego or your own reputation. Whether that's happening from the prosecution side or the defense side, that seems to me to be completely inexcusable and unethical.

Mike Ware [00:20:32]:
I couldn't agree more. And of course, from the defense side, we're always punching up, sure. And we have an ethical duty to represent our client's best interest, but we also have an ethical duty to the court and to the bar to pursue honest defenses and not to suborn perjury and all that sort of thing. It's not like just because we have an ethical duty to represent our clients best interest, anything goes. But the prosecution has a strict duty to the truth and justice and protecting the public, whatever. And sometimes they do. There are a new crop, for lack of a better term, of progressive prosecutors that we are seeing elected in really key places across the nation. When I say prosecutors, they're not a monolith.

Mike Ware [00:21:46]:
They're all different. And I think there is some change. I think you kind of alluded to this earlier. I think what DNA and the DNA exonerations did is change the narrative a little bit, or at least present an alternative narrative that had never really been there. It moved the needle a little bit. It didn't totally take over the narrative, and it didn't really change the narrative so much as present an alternative narrative that had some credibility to it.

Dan Riley [00:22:18]:
I'll tell you a quick story. So when I was a senior in college, I told you I went to Duke. That was when the Duke lacrosse case happened, and I will never forget that experience, because I knew some of the lacrosse guys. I used to play basketball with them. They didn't have a great reputation on campus. They were regarded as a rather bullish group.

Mike Ware [00:22:39]:
Arrogant assholes.

Dan Riley [00:22:40]:
Arrogant, rich, entitled. Yeah, and a little aggressive. And I remember hearing. I was on spring break, and I remember hearing about this story, and like everyone else on campus, I assumed it was true. And it took months of time for there to be enough evidence, I think, for that community to have a sense of actual doubt about what happened. I remember in the aftermath, there were dozens of professors. There was this media firestorm. Everybody was on campus.

Dan Riley [00:23:19]:
The Black Panthers were marching in Durham. Professors were asking our new university president, Richard Broadhead, I think, to kick the lacrosse team off campus, to immediately expel these three accused kids. And close to 100 professors, I think, signed this letter in support because there was such a certainty of what had happened right now. There were things that happened that people may have some ethical qualms with that objectively did happen. There was a party with strippers. I think optics wise, looked terrible for Duke, where you had these northeastern lacrosse kids with african american, local Durham strippers who were coming to a house, not a great look for the school. That being said, that is a completely different story than three of them gang raped a woman in their bathroom. And then I remember what ended up happening personally, just in the psychologically, like, the unfolding of my own biases, was I was dating a girl at the time who was in the sorority with the girlfriend of one of the guys who was accused.

Dan Riley [00:24:28]:
And universally, this guy was beloved and was known as this extremely ethical, very, like, a gentle, giant type character.

Mike Ware [00:24:36]:
And he's one of the three.

Dan Riley [00:24:37]:
He was one of the three, yeah. Reed Seligman was his name, and is his name. And as soon as that accusation was made. And then some of the other evidence was Reed was the guy who, there happened to be an ATM camera that night that photographed him taking out money. Exactly at the time when the assault was supposed to be taking place. Right. That over enough time, I think I eventually concluded, like, this may actually not have happened as it was told. My understanding is that Mike Naifong, who is the DA, withheld dna evidence from the defense attorneys which had indicated that this woman had something like seven different male dna on her person or inside of her.

Dan Riley [00:25:27]:
And over the course of many months, they were. I remember I would go on runs with Duke of Perilon back in Pennsylvania after I graduated. And it was like, looks of don't get. People don't like to admit when they're wrong in the first place, but.

Mike Ware [00:25:56]:

Dan Riley [00:25:57]:
Doesn'T seem to often be an about face, a mia culpa of, boy, I got that wrong. And I wonder how many other times in life I've reached potentially self righteous judgments on people that I just was completely ignorant about.

Mike Ware [00:26:10]:

Dan Riley [00:26:12]:
So that's a personal story that I think changed the way that I thought about how quick I am to make judgments, especially when there are incentives, culturally or environmentally, to do that. Anyways, I'm not sure if you're familiar.

Mike Ware [00:26:27]:
With that, because that story, the Duke lacrosse story, sort of fit in to the narrative everybody already had in their mind about these guys. It sort of nicely blended in. I'm kind of taking some liberty here. I never really followed that case that closely. I mean, you couldn't help but follow it some. You're in my profession. But there was just a whole lot about it I never really quite understood. And I thought, it looks a whole lot like something that nobody on the outside is ever going to really know for a fact.

Mike Ware [00:27:11]:
What exactly happened. I could be wrong about that. But wasn't there a long article about the New Yorker or something? That's probably where I got my information, if there was, and it seemed like Naifong, and this is not that unusual, was pretty much defended by all the local attorneys as being an ethical guy, a pretty good guy for the most part, it seems like. And of course, I guess he lost his law license.

Dan Riley [00:27:50]:
He did, yeah. And he spent one day in prison and he was an elected official. Right. I mean, that was the other component to this, is that while he was prosecuting these kids, he was also running for reelection. And I think that story played very well into his political hands. And so the incentives, just all things considered, seemed to be off in terms of, are we trying to actually get at what the truth is here.

Mike Ware [00:28:19]:

Dan Riley [00:28:20]:
And what justice could be.

Mike Ware [00:28:22]:
And I guess obviously I was not local there, so I didn't understand all this. But also I thought, well, okay, he's standing up for these african american strippers. How is that politically advantageous in North Carolina? I guess not being there, I didn't understand why it was to his political advantage to take such a hard line on this case to the point where he was bending the rules and cheating. I mean, it seems like it would have been more to his political advantage to let these well connected rich kids go and then solicit heavy donations from their daddies. Yeah, right. So that was something about it that didn't quite make sense to me.

Dan Riley [00:29:08]:
Yeah. And I'm taking liberties here as well. I don't know that I remember the demographic statistics exactly, but I think Durham at the time was more than 50% african american and that the largely white Duke community was not the majority of the population. And he was able to registered to vote, which they probably weren't. I was still registered in Pennsylvania, for example. So back to your work here in Texas, and maybe this is a good time to jump into some of the revolutionary, or the revolutionary discovery of DNA testing and how it has affected your own work. Talk, if you can, about what the discovery of DNA and its admissibility in court has done for the work that you do.

Mike Ware [00:30:00]:
Well, I guess the first post conviction DNA exoneration was 1988, I think, out of the Chicago, out of actually Lake county, just outside of Chicago. And I think it was a new technology at the time. Mostly it was seen as something that was to be used to prosecute. And then, of course, during the national Innocence Project, Barry Sheck started, you know, basically pioneered using DNA science post conviction to exonerate people who had been innocent, people had been wrongly convicted. And of course, you get a body of work of exonerated people that are unquestionably innocent. And I think probably in many cases have actually, through DNA, identified the actual perpetrator, so there shouldn't be any doubt about their innocence.

Dan Riley [00:31:10]:
Not to interrupt you, if you could, what specifically provides the clarity of the truth? Maybe in one case that comes to mind that results in an unequivocal, in your judgment, in the public's judgment, conclusion that is rendered that these people didn't do what they were accused of doing.

Mike Ware [00:31:31]:
Well, I could talk about several cases. Um, when I went, let me talk about cases I was in.

Dan Riley [00:31:44]:
Sure, I'd love to. Love to hear them.

Mike Ware [00:31:46]:
I start in 2007, Craig Watkins got elected DA in Dallas and first African American ever in Texas to be elected district attorney in Texas. But definitely first in Dallas. And it alarmed a lot of people. I mean. And anyway, I just had another thought, jumping back to things. But let me keep on this train of thought. Let me keep on this train of thought. And because practicing over here in Tarrant County, I had some cases over in Dallas, and we just hated the DA's office in Dallas County.

Mike Ware [00:32:30]:
Tarrant county has always been. The DA's office has always been reasonable. As far as DA's offices go. They traditionally had what's called an open file policy. It was a reasonable DA's office. Dallas was a different story. They were the big city. They were the big boys.

Mike Ware [00:32:55]:
They treated you like shit when you went over there. If you wanted discovery, they said, okay, go talk to your client. Your client was there. That's how you get your discovery. They had this little joke. That's just a joke. But it's kind of indicative of what the culture was, which was anybody can convict a guilty person. It takes real talent to convict an innocent person.

Mike Ware [00:33:21]:
And we got a lot of people over here with real talent. And it's just a joke, but it's like cop humor or whatever. It's just stupid. Of course, Henry Wade had been the DA. The legendary Henry Wade had been the DA since. Was it late fifty s? I don't know. I mean, he prosecuted Jack Ruby. He's the wade in Roe versus Wade.

Mike Ware [00:33:47]:
Interesting. And he was just an old school, tough prosecutor. Almost all of his former assistants will defend him. He's no longer with us. But in my community, the Dallas DA's always had a bad reputation. Maybe the cops loved, you know, the big money interest over there. Loved, you know, to. To people who had to go practice in their courts over there.

Mike Ware [00:34:27]:
It was a bad deal. And then, of course, they started having some high profile exoneration. The Randall Dale Adams case, which was Errol Morris's first documentary, thin Blue Line, who came within 24 hours of being executed. There was a big 60 minutes expose on it, and then the book and all that. And he was ultimately exonerated. I mean, that was before DNA, but he was almost executed. And he was prosecuted by Henry Wade's first assistant. And what they did to convict that innocent man was horrible.

Mike Ware [00:35:07]:
Was horrible. And it was all exposed. Then there was a case, a man named Lionel Jeter. That was big news for a while. Most people have never heard of him now, but he was. I think he was an engineer with Texas instruments or something. That came here from one of the Carolinas, African American, falsely convicted of an aggravated robbery that he had nothing to do with. And once again, 60 minutes and the media exposed the corruption in the prosecution of him and he was exonerated.

Mike Ware [00:35:43]:
So then when DNA, Texas passed the post conviction DNA statute in 2001, Dallas started to kind of lead the nation in DNA exonerations. By that I mean they were having seven, eight, nine leading up to Craig being elected. And of course, a lot of those were the DA's office fighting, testing every step of the way. But somehow these guys getting a test and once they had the test, there was no choice but to exonerate them. So Craig got elected and scared people because he was not part of the prior administration. He beat, as a matter of fact, his opponent was the first assistant, I believe, from the prior administration. So he was basically beat the de facto incumbent. And it's when Dallas went know and all the Democrats won and he was one of them.

Mike Ware [00:36:47]:
And we were over here just enjoying what was going on in Dallas. I mean, the analogy I always thought of was the helicopters leaving Saigon, Saigon was falling, people were abandoning the office. And I think some people were afraid to abandon the office because of what might be uncovered if they. Anyway, I didn't even know Craig at the time, but I was enjoying him being elected in the reaction it was causing in the office. And he did run on whatever, reforming things. Smart on crime, right on crime. I think he was really, as far as I know, we didn't even have the term at the time, the first of what we would now call progressive prosecutors. But the whole concept of progressive prosecutor was very foreign at the time.

Mike Ware [00:37:50]:
I mean, prosecutors uniformly across the nation got elect, whether it's Los Angeles or New York City or wherever, got elected by know I'm tough on. So anyway, he hired Terry Moore, who's here in the office now to be his first assistant. And she was a criminal defense lawyer here in Fort Worth like I was, and had been a top felony prosecutor in the DA's office here. And then a top felony prosecutor with the federal system. And then she herself had run for da here in. But, you know, lost to the incumbent. She was a Democrat in Tarrant county. You don't win unless you're a Republican.

Mike Ware [00:38:35]:
But he hired her to be his first assistant. And generally the way DA's offices run, the elected DA generally is the man or the woman that goes to the Rotary Club and makes speeches and campaigns and kisses babies and generally never try a case and are not necessarily all that involved. In the day to day running of their office, they hire somebody to do that. And many times that's called the first assistant or the chief of staff or something like that. And that's what he hired Terry to do. And she had a lot of experience doing that. All the HR matters and problems, hires fires, disciplines, tries the cases, the high profile cases that need to be tried, that kind of thing. And so she really came up with the idea of starting a conviction integrity unit over there.

Mike Ware [00:39:32]:
And this is in early 2007 when he first takes office. And Craig's like, what's a conviction? What is that? Because there never had been one. People say, oh, now they were the first one. We really weren't just the first one. We invented the concept, really, because there hadn't been even that concept of a unit within a district attorney's office reinvestigating cases in which maybe the jury got it wrong. And so she asked me to come over, leave private practice and come over and start it and run it. And so I did. And that was in July of 2007, whatever, six months after Craig took office.

Mike Ware [00:40:22]:
And we didn't have a template to go by or anything. And I'd never been in a DA's office, but they gave me enough authority and power and leeway such that everybody had to do what I said. They could push back if they wanted to, but ultimately, if they wanted to keep their job, they had to fall in line. And they couldn't go over my head because Terry and Craig were going to back me up. We continued with the DNA exonerations. Let me give you one example, please. I'm sorry to ramble like that. No.

Mike Ware [00:41:06]:
There was a guy named Patrick Waller, and he had been convicted in the mid ninety s of being one of two african american men who had abducted a couple off the west end there in Dallas. The west end in Dallas used to be a happening place. Maybe it still is, I don't know. But one evening abducted a couple, a white couple, took them in their pickup truck at gunpoint, I think made them take money out of their atm and then took the couple to a house. Actually, it's just off the RL Thornton freeway. It was an abandoned house at the time and took them down in the basement. And we're going to sexually assault them or assault her. And it's kind of an OD story about that time.

Mike Ware [00:42:03]:
Another car was circling the house or something, and they went outside. It was an interesting looking house. And evidently this couple, one of them was artistic and was sort of looking at the architecture and they took this couple down to the basement, abducted them at gunpoint. And then one of the men sexually assaulted one of the women. It was the woman from the first couple. And then something happened and kind of spooked them a little bit and they ended up running off. And one of them took one of the vehicles and one of them stole the other vehicle. And so they both took off in separate vehicles.

Dan Riley [00:42:44]:
The perpetrators?

Mike Ware [00:42:45]:
The perpetrators, yeah. And so no leads. I mean, there's know, general, vague descriptions of these two men, height, weight, age. And the police, the Dallas police at the time had it in for this young man named Patrick Waller. He had narrowly escaped, I think, being arrested and charged with stealing a car or something. And this detective has, you know, you got away this time, classic deal. You got to wait this time, but I'll get you for something. And so this detective, I believe, decided that he was going to put this on Patrick Waller, and he didn't even care about getting a second person, even though two people did this.

Mike Ware [00:43:26]:
And so he did what happens often and explains a whole lot of these wrongful convictions. He put Patrick on no evidence, put Patrick Waller's photo in a photo spread, and somehow persuaded three of these four people to pick his photo. And you can do that in any number of ways. You can do it, say, that's the guy who did it right there, right? Or you can say, take a close look at number two. You can do it any number of ways.

Dan Riley [00:43:58]:
Psychological tricks.

Mike Ware [00:43:59]:
Well, strategy, it's more blatant than just a psychological trick. I mean, it's just telling them who to pick, basically guiding them who to pick. And so he gets arrested and charged. There never is a second suspect. And they take him to trial and he's identified by three of these poor people as the guy who did it. And he is the one who sexually assaulted this one. He's the one who sexually assaulted this woman. And so he gets convicted and he gets, I don't know, two life sentences or something.

Mike Ware [00:44:39]:
And so in 2002 or 2001, right after the DNA statute came out, he was the very first person in Dallas to ask for a DNA test. And the Dallas district attorney's office fought it. And they had everything to test. They successfully fought it. They fought it. This was their argument. Their argument was that, well, he was technically convicted of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery. He wasn't convicted of sexual assault.

Mike Ware [00:45:12]:
So we shouldn't have to DNA test. That shouldn't have anything to do with this case. Well, they had done primitive blood testing on the sexual assault kid and had testified that the perpetrator had the same blood type as Patrick Waller. So they had used that, that they said he was part of 13% of the african american male population that had this blood type. So they had used this. So why can't we now DNA test it? And so that was the argument. It went up on appeal. The appellate court says, yeah, it sounds good to us.

Mike Ware [00:45:46]:
No DNA test. Well, when we came back, part of what we did is go back and look at all the old rejections of requests for DNA tests. And he was one of the first ones we came across in 2007. And so I contacted his old lawyer, who's now on our board of directors, Gary Yudishen, and asked him if he thought his client would still want a DNA test. Now, five years later, six years later, he says, yeah, sure, so we got it. We got DPS to test it. Sure enough, it's not his. There's a strong foreign male DNA profile in the sexual assault kit.

Mike Ware [00:46:29]:
That is not the woman's husband or any consensual partner. It is that of the perpetrator. It's not Patrick Wallers. DPS put it, you know, the police put it into CODIS, the national database, and hit on who it was. And it was a violent offender out of Dallas. And after this had happened, he had been put in prison for a violent home invasion. He was about to parole out. He did parole out.

Dan Riley [00:47:04]:
We went and interviewed the actual perpetrator.

Mike Ware [00:47:06]:
Actual perpetrator, one of the two. We went and interviewed him at his parole office. We kind of surprised him. The DA's office. I'm not some criminal defense attorney. I'm basically, I've got a badge, I've got some authority and bureaucracy behind me. And interviewed him. And I would say within 2 hours, he confessed and named who he did it with, because that was obviously a point of interest.

Mike Ware [00:47:37]:
So we did our homework on that guy, found that guy, subpoenaed him to the grand jury, and this is ten years or twelve years after all of this. And his codefendant. By now, the statute of limitations had run on this, so really they arguably didn't have any liability, but we gave his codefendant immunity so that he had no reason not to tell the truth. And he says, yeah, and he told the whole story, told know that, checked out where they abandoned the cars, which checked out all this stuff. Patrick was exonerated. And had the DA's office agreed to a DNA test back in 2002, the statute wouldn't have run yet. Really, more than theoretically, they would have been able to prosecute the actual perpetrators, had they been interested in the truth. But they were not interested in the truth.

Dan Riley [00:48:42]:
Yeah. For those people who don't know, and this is for my own education as well, when a statue of limitation expires, what does that mean? What happens?

Mike Ware [00:48:51]:
Well, it's more complicated than people make it out to be, but basically, it means that enough time has passed since the crime was committed that nobody can be prosecuted for it.

Dan Riley [00:49:03]:

Mike Ware [00:49:07]:
That'S what happened in this case. While I was there, we had case after case where people had been denied DNA testing, where we did DNA testing, and where we were able to exonerate the actual perpetrator and in many cases, identify. Excuse me, exonerate the falsely convicted individual and identify the actual perpetrator. In some of those cases, we were able to go back and prosecute that actual perpetrator.

Dan Riley [00:49:38]:
The database that you were talking about, into which it sounds like the DNA evidence was submitted, for people who don't know that acronym or that word, what is that? How does that work? Where it sounds like there's a national database of other.

Mike Ware [00:49:54]:
Once again, it's a little bit complicated, but there is a national database, CODIS, that is, there may be more than one, but basically, the FBI administered national database.

Dan Riley [00:50:09]:
What is CODIS? What does it say?

Mike Ware [00:50:11]:
Consolidated. I would have no problem. Yeah.

Dan Riley [00:50:15]:
Cotuscodisdis. Okay, got it.

Mike Ware [00:50:24]:
And then there's other databases, state databases, but the CODIS is administered by law enforcement. It tracks several things, but one of the things it tracks is if certain people. Usually it's violent offenders or whatever, or sometimes, in some states, I think anybody that goes to the penitentiary has to give a DNA sample that then goes into the repository of the DNA database such that if their DNA profile turns up at a crime scene, at some point, they can be identified from that database. It also will if a crime is unsolved or sometimes even if it is relevant, if there is a relevant DNA profile collected at a crime scene that doesn't belong to anybody that anybody knows of, either because the case is unsolved or because the police believe they know who did it. It's just they don't match the DNA profile, but they have enough other evidence. But if that profile seems to have enough relation to the crime scene, they will put that unknown into the database, and sometimes they will identify a serial killer that way. Maybe. Well, this is the same unknown profile that turned up at this other location, not that far away, where a similar murder was committed, that turned up at this other location, not that far away, where a similar murder.

Mike Ware [00:52:09]:
So we don't know who it is, but we're pretty sure it's the same person. That's a simplistic description of the database.

Dan Riley [00:52:18]:
And I do think most people now have a basic understanding of what DNA means. It's a unique, individualized marker for a specific human being.

Mike Ware [00:52:27]:
Series of markers, really?

Dan Riley [00:52:28]:
Series of markers, yeah.

Mike Ware [00:52:30]:
And where you and I may have the same marker at one particular, as they say, loci. We're not going to have the same marker at every.

Dan Riley [00:52:43]:
Let's talk Waller's first name again.

Mike Ware [00:52:46]:

Dan Riley [00:52:46]:
Patrick. To introduce some humanity here. I assume, prior to you going through the entire procedure that led to his exoneration, you met him and you got to know him as a person. Is that fair or no? Does that not happen?

Mike Ware [00:53:03]:
Well, he had his attorney. I wasn't his attorney.

Dan Riley [00:53:05]:
I see. Gotcha.

Mike Ware [00:53:06]:
I mean, obviously, I have met him and got to know him pretty well since. But we're the DA's office. We're just after the cold, hard facts. We've got no humanity. We're just there to exonerate innocent people and to convict guilty people. But we're tethered by the truth, so as a result, we end up exonerating a lot of innocent people.

Dan Riley [00:53:35]:
Tell me about him and what you had learned about him. It sounds like he spent more than a decade in prison for a crime he didn't commit.

Mike Ware [00:53:45]:
I think he was right. At 15 years.

Dan Riley [00:53:46]:
15 years. I grew up on the Shawshank redemption. Right? If public speaking is the number one fear in the country, going to jail for something you didn't do, having your name and your reputation ruined, and then sitting behind bars knowing that you didn't do what everyone said you did, it has to be, existentially, one of the biggest fears any human being can envision for themselves. Tell me about this guy. What was his mental state? How did he persevere through that? Anything that you think is relevant to him, I would love to.

Mike Ware [00:54:25]:
He was very young at the time. I forget exactly how old, but, I mean, he may have been 20, but I don't think he was much older than that. Kind of a mama's boy. Great mother. At the time we were doing this, the Discovery ID channel was following us around, and they ended up doing a six part series called Dallas DNA. And his case is one of those. Or a part of one of those. I think almost all six episodes have tell two stories.

Mike Ware [00:55:01]:
So there's about ten or twelve stories that they tell, and his is one of them. It does a good job of capturing Patrick's warmth, his devotion to his mother and his family. But at the same time, I suspect, and I've talked to him quite a bit since then. I mean, anybody would. There's been some problems with readjustment. He's got this big gap in his resume, you know, and I don't, I don't think he's bitter towards anyone, although there have been some isolated instances of the police going back and messing with him. But I think he was able to take advantage of the compensation statute in Texas, which carries with it an annuity, a monthly annuity. And I think he has decided.

Mike Ware [00:56:20]:
I think, I don't know, I don't want to speak for him, but I think he has decided he's going to spend the rest of his life staying very low profile.

Dan Riley [00:56:31]:
Yeah, I can't blame him. What happens when somebody gets exonerated? And with a recognition that it was really the state overreaching its powers that took away his liberty and his life financially, what is he given?

Mike Ware [00:56:51]:
Most of the time, nothing. It's like, we let you out of prison. You're welcome. Texas does. Not all states do. Texas does have a compensation statute, but it's very limited. Number one, it's limited to people who are, quote, found actually innocent by the court of criminal appeals. And so someone who is actually innocent is sort of at the mercy of the court and whim of the court of criminal appeals as to whether the court of criminal appeals finds it sufficient evidence to find them innocent, actually innocent.

Mike Ware [00:57:28]:
And the court of criminal appeals has described their burden as herculean. In other words, it's not enough to be actually innocent. It's not enough to prove you're actually innocent. You've got to prove your actual innocence by a herculean burden of proof. So not everybody's able to do that. And people who are not able to do that, even if they're able to obtain relief on other grounds, like, say, their attorney was ineffective or the prosecutor hid exculpatory evidence, but they're not found actually innocent. They don't get compensation. There's one exception to that, but I don't need to go into but even that, without that statute, probably none of these guys would get compensation.

Mike Ware [00:58:19]:
You read in other states in particular about these, whatever the Central park five or the exonerated five or whoever that received these sizable settlements from the entities, New York City or whatever those entities don't have to do mean, I don't know all the details of those, but it's politics and all that. Sort of thing, and perhaps just the goodwill of the people who run the city that give them that. If you go to court on one of these cases and say, go to federal court and file a civil rights claim against the city, the police department, the detective, the DA's office, in federal court, you'll be lucky to get to a jury. 99% of the time, you're going to get poured out before you even get to a jury. The way the law is, as now everybody seems to know about. But we've been dealing with for a long time, the qualified immunity that police officers have and the absolute immunity that das have. None of these big money settlements you hear about were gotten through a jury. And if you were able to get through the labyrinth to get to a jury and persuade a jury to give you that kind of money, the court of appeals or the Supreme Court will take it away from you.

Mike Ware [01:00:02]:
And there's a pretty well known case out of New Orleans. Harry Connick Sr. Was the elected DA. His son, junior, is a pretty well known musician, but Harry Connick Sr. Was the elected DA in New Orleans forever. I forget the guy's name versus. And basically the DA's office engaged in reprehensible conduct to get this guy convicted. And he was ultimately exonerated and won a big verdict in federal court in the very conservative Fifth Circuit court of appeals, actually upheld it, but Supreme Court took it away from him, and he's lucky he got that far.

Mike Ware [01:00:50]:
Although you read a lot about so and so got $13 million or whatever, that's just through the benevolence of somebody. That's not because they were able to go to court and win. And so if you're in a jurisdiction where the city council or the police say, fuck you, take us to court, you're not going to recover.

Dan Riley [01:01:17]:
Yeah. So is it fair to say that most of the people that you have personally worked with who have been exonerated have not been compensated for their time in prison?

Mike Ware [01:01:27]:
Well, a fair amount have because they've been found actually innocent. Yeah. Or they've gotten relief on multiple grounds, including actual innocence. We were able to meet the herculean burden. There is one other way in Texas that came later but now applies, and that is if your conviction is vacated on some other ground other than actual innocence, like, say, prosecutorial. So the case comes back to the district court for mean. That's true of an actual innocence finding as well. It seems crazy, but somebody can be found actually innocent and then retried.

Mike Ware [01:02:08]:
Jeopardy doesn't attach under Texas law. I've never seen that. If, when it comes back, if the elected DA files a motion saying even though they were not found actually innocent by the court of criminal appeals, I find that they're actually innocent, they can file a motion stating that. And if the judge signs off on that, also finding that they're actually innocent, then they can receive compensation that way as well.

Dan Riley [01:02:33]:
Okay. And if compensation is given, if the herculean burden has been met in Texas.

Mike Ware [01:02:41]:
I hate that term, by the way, but I didn't invent kind of.

Dan Riley [01:02:45]:
What are we talking about here?

Mike Ware [01:02:47]:
You never hear them talk about the herculean burden of proving somebody guilty to begin with.

Dan Riley [01:02:51]:
Sure, yeah.

Mike Ware [01:02:53]:
I'm sorry. Go ahead.

Dan Riley [01:02:54]:
Well, is it a per day spend in prison compensation? What does that look like?

Mike Ware [01:03:00]:
It's per year, prorated for months and days and such. It's 80,000 a year for every year. It's more than that. If you're on death row, I forget, maybe 100 or something. If you're on death row a year, for every year that you're in, and that is figured in a lump sum, and then an annuity that begins one year after you get your lump sum, a monthly annuity, and that is figured, say you were in prison for ten years, that's 80,000 a year, $800,000. Then you get an annuity valued at $800,000. That kicks in a year after you get the lump sum, and then you get the monthly stipend.

Dan Riley [01:03:57]:
I see.

Mike Ware [01:03:58]:
For life, unless you get convicted of a felony, in which case it cuts off.

Dan Riley [01:04:04]:
And that's specific to Texas. Yeah.

Mike Ware [01:04:07]:
And if you only live another year, your family doesn't get it.

Dan Riley [01:04:11]:
It's unique to you.

Mike Ware [01:04:12]:
It's unique to you. Now, we've tinkered with that some, and they can elect to have secondary beneficiaries and that sort of thing. But the money ends with your death, basically. It also ends if you get convicted of a felony.

Dan Riley [01:04:37]:
Got you. I think something like the program for prosecutorial integrity or something like that. The name of the program that you ended up heading up, that seems to be an example of an institution reforming itself from within, or at least attempting to. You invented it, or your team seemed to just basically come up with the template of how to try to do this. Has that taken off as a model among, in other cities? Where are we right now in terms of your judgment as to the ethical nature of the way we are handling our own ignorance, our own historic mistakes in the legal world?

Mike Ware [01:05:27]:
Yeah, it has. I don't know if you're familiar with the National Registry of Exonerations, but it was founded by a law professor out of University of Michigan named Sam Gross, and who still runs it, I believe. And we actually did a lot of work with him when I was in Dallas. He's actually the one that brought the San Antonio Ford case to me. But they do this intensive, or have this intensive database about every exoneration known since, I think, 1984 in the nation, and they break it down. They have a lot of academics working for them, and they break it down every which way, by state, by crime, analyzing the cause of the wrongful conviction. Anyway, this came out March 30, 2021, and the 2020 annual report. And he talks about, and they often talk about now and here, it's the importance of professional exonerators.

Mike Ware [01:06:52]:
Professional exonerators, in other words, innocence organizations and conviction integrity units. Cius played a central role in 84 exonerations, 61% of the total in 2020. So what happened? Craig started getting a lot of good publicity because there were all these stories. I mean, people were getting exonerated, and it was all this. The successes were so spectacular. I mean, Patrick Wallers, I could go on and on. Um, I mean, I think there were, you know, close to 2025 men that we did while. While I was there.

Mike Ware [01:07:41]:
Thomas McGowan, the case I mentioned earlier that involved Ashtabula Das being the politicians that they are sort of taking notice and like, wait a minute, this guy's becoming a rock star. Doing what? Maybe we need to find out what his trick is so that we know, institute that same trick and maybe it'll help us politically. And so Craig and really me, sometimes we're invited to go to these. We went, I kid you not, we went to the DA's office. That's what's the mountain range, what county is. We went, they flew us up there to talk to them about what we were know. Of course, Craig went on speaking circuits and that sort of thing, and he was reluctant to do it. He was concerned about the political know, but he did do know.

Mike Ware [01:08:56]:
Terry talked him into doing it, and he did do it, and it was the smartest thing, ironically, the smartest thing politically he ever did. And I think he would say this because he's faced very stiff opposition when he ran for reelection in four years, and this was probably the thing that got him reelected, that pushed him over the top. But now, and I can't tell you exactly how all this happened. I just know it. They, most of them call them conviction integrity units in Los Angeles. And of course, a very progressive DA was recently elected out there in Manhattan, in Brooklyn, in, I think, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, all over Texas. I mean, of course, Dallas still has one.

Mike Ware [01:09:54]:
There's one in Tarrant County, Travis County, Bear County, Harris county. So they're all over Texas and they're all know, and I think they all have different procedures and processes and all of them, I think, have a little bit different missions. And I think some of them, honestly, their mission is the same mission as everybody else in the DA's office. Protect the institution.

Dan Riley [01:10:23]:
It's all optics.

Mike Ware [01:10:24]:
Yeah, it's all optics, but there are some that are for real. The fact is, if you really get into the nitty gritty of a wrongful conviction, some people are going to be hurt and some people are going to be pissed off and it might be people that you have to work with. And so as a result, a lot of times it just doesn't get done. I think.

Dan Riley [01:10:52]:
Yeah. What do you think can be done in those circumstances, right? I mean, it seems like any sober minded, reasonable person would want, any ethical citizen would want an integrity program like this in every city in the country and shouldn't really stand for anything less than that. If we're going to aspire to be a country that lives up to its principles, what can be done to fight back against the mere optics creation of a program like that or just complete abdication of responsibility altogether and not even considering creating a program like that? What can we do there?

Mike Ware [01:11:41]:
Well, yeah, once again, that's a real good question. One thing is to elect the right people into office. And of course, the elected district attorney is a very powerful position. Traditionally, all over the country, in a county like Tarrant county there may be 15, 1620 criminal judges. There's only one district attorney. And that district attorney has the power to indict those judges. And that district attorney has the power to decide who even gets charged with an offense and who doesn't even get charged with an offense. And once the decision is made to charge somebody with an offense, their life has changed forever.

Mike Ware [01:12:31]:
And even if they're acquitted or exonerated, their life has changed forever. So they're very powerful. So one thing is to elect the right people into those powerful positions and the other thing is to call attention when the district attorneys and the police are abusing their power, acting dishonestly, acting for their own short sighted political gain at the cost of truth and justice. Thank God there's a free press and a first amendment to cause as much exposure to that as possible.

Dan Riley [01:13:24]:
Yeah, I'm looking now at the exoneration pamphlet or compilation that you have in front of you right now, what's the total? How many people are we talking about that have been exonerated in the last, it sounds like, since 1984. So 36, 37 years.

Mike Ware [01:13:41]:
I forget what the figure is.

Dan Riley [01:13:43]:
Looks like it probably thousands.

Mike Ware [01:13:45]:
Thousands? Yeah. This is just for 2020. But what's important to keep in mind, though, is that when you look at every one of those and you see what they had to go through to become exonerated, and you see the luck they had and you see the kind of individuals many of them were and had to be in order to persevere through all this. You realize that the number of exonerations is only a small fraction of the number of innocent people who've been wrongly convicted, because there has to be 20 fold that many people who have not, never been identified or exonerated. When you see the extraordinary circumstances surrounding every one of these exonerations.

Dan Riley [01:14:34]:
Yeah, that was one of the things I wanted to touch on is what the number. Undoubtedly, this is not all the people that are in prison wrongly.

Mike Ware [01:14:45]:
And I would say undoubtedly, it's only a very small fraction.

Dan Riley [01:14:48]:

Mike Ware [01:14:49]:
I mean, it has to be.

Dan Riley [01:14:50]:
Yeah. What would you guess the number is now, right? I mean, if something like 100 people a year are getting out of prison, how many people in total would you guess fit into the category of absolutely innocent are in there? Tough to know.

Mike Ware [01:15:08]:
Yeah, it's tough to know. And people get hung up on numbers. And if I say a number, even though with all the disclaimers that I'm just guessing, then all of a sudden that becomes gospel or that gets attacked.

Dan Riley [01:15:25]:
What seems to matter moving forward is that we just get better and we do things that we implement programs and procedures that will help blunt some of this or most of it, or maybe all of it, or close to all of it in the future as time moves forward. We've talked about DNA and that DNA is one of the best tools for exonerating people who have been wrongly convicted. What else is available? What else might be available in the future to help shed light on the truth and exonerate people who are in prison wrongfully?

Mike Ware [01:16:00]:
Well, what DNA did and has done and continues to do is, like I said, it identifies a body of work which you can look at and go, okay, all of these people have been exonerated. All these people are innocent. What do they have in common besides the fact that there happened to be DNA? I think almost to a person they are in some shape, form or fashion, part of a marginalized, traditionally marginalized community, even if it's just that they're poor. I mean, every once in a while, a rich white guy will get convicted of something, but you don't ever see a rich white guy falsely convicted. An innocent rich white guy falsely convicted of something. What it has done is it's identified, I think, in a lot of ways, how they get wrongfully convicted. I mean, they're innocent, so there's no real evidence that they did it. I mean, that's a contradiction almost.

Mike Ware [01:17:09]:
So any evidence they did it is generally manufactured some way or another by the police or whatever. And maybe it's done with good intent. Maybe it's done because the police way they've always done it, the police think they've got the right guy. So it's okay to tell the eyewitness, to help the eyewitness pick the right guy. And if it is the right guy, nobody's ever going to be the wiser. They just cheated to get a guilty guy convicted. But if it's the wrong guy, it makes a huge difference. But it shows that this report confirms this.

Mike Ware [01:17:47]:
The biggest factor in all of these wrongful convictions that have been identified because they're exonerations is official misconduct. People say eyewitness id, wrongful. It's not really mistaken eyewitness id, it's official misconduct, which includes police misconduct and prosecutorial misconduct. That is the most common, biggest factor. And of course, every wrongful conviction may have several factors, but that's the most common factor in all of these.

Dan Riley [01:18:19]:
What are examples of professional misconduct?

Mike Ware [01:18:22]:
The police telling somebody who to pick in a photo spread. Sometimes that gets mislabeled as mistaken eyewitness identification, but it's not really. It's official misconduct.

Dan Riley [01:18:32]:

Mike Ware [01:18:35]:
Somebody else comes up and says that's not the guy who did it. In hiding that testimony, hiding that witness, not disclosing that evidence.

Dan Riley [01:18:45]:
Yeah. The system essentially working against the defendant in some capacity.

Mike Ware [01:18:50]:
Yeah. Well, in a way that breaks the rules.

Dan Riley [01:18:54]:
Yeah. How so? Because all evidence by law needs to be presented to both sides.

Mike Ware [01:19:03]:
All exculpatory or mitigating or impeaching information or evidence that is in the hands of the police or the district attorney should be disclosed to the defense. And if they are aware of such evidence and they fail to disclose it to the defense, then that's official misconduct. Who knows how often that happens? But sometimes it happens and it is discovered. And if it is discovered after the conviction, if a court agrees, and the court doesn't always agree, if the court agrees, that that evidence that should have been disclosed, that wasn't disclosed. If had it been disclosed, it would have made a difference in the case, or likely would have made a difference in the case. Then they vacate the conviction. That's a Brady violation, a form of.

Dan Riley [01:19:58]:
Official misconduct, and that's mandated by law turning over that kind of exculpatory evidence.

Mike Ware [01:20:03]:
Well, as the constitution has been interpreted by the supreme Court, there's not necessarily a specific statute that says Texas now has the Michael Morton act that mandates it by statute. But prior to that, it was just more or less case law out of the Supreme Court. Initially the Brady case, Brady versus Maryland, that said that. But that was in the early sixty s. And so then of course, there's been hundreds of thousands of cases interpreting that since. And really, I think the DNA exonerations have changed us a little bit. But for the most part, what you found when Brady violations were discovered was the appellate court saying, yeah, but they look pretty guilty anyway. They probably would have been found guilty anyway.

Mike Ware [01:21:06]:
So we're going to find that this Brady violation, while reprehensible, is not material, and so we're not going to vacate the conviction. And I think the DNA exonerations have changed that narrative a little bit. I think the courts are more likely, once a Brady violation has been identified, the courts are slightly more likely now to find that the violation was a material violation and would have made a difference in trial.

Dan Riley [01:21:32]:
Got you. It sounds like you must at some point have transitioned from that role in the integrity unit to what you do now full time, I assume. Talk to me about those years. It sounds like you began your work in the integrity unit around 2007, 2008. What's happened to you between then and now, and what led you to do this type of work with the innocence project more definitively or consistently or day to day?

Mike Ware [01:22:11]:
I did it for four years. Terry and I both left. We both started 2007 and we both left in 2011. That was almost exactly four years for me, more like four and a half for her, and went back into private practice doing criminal defense and went back. I had to leave the Innocence project at Texas, which I co founded in 2006, to go to the DA's office. I had to leave that organization. So I rejoined as a board member for Innocence Project of Texas when I left. And then one of the first cases that came to me was a San Antonio for case when I got.

Mike Ware [01:22:57]:
So I devoted a whole lot of time to that case while maintaining a private practice. I still maintain a private practice, and then we had sort of an administrative turnover in 2015, and I became the executive director. So actually, rather than actually on staff running the innocence project at Texas, really at the end of 2015.

Dan Riley [01:23:35]:
Okay, you've mentioned the San Antonio four a couple of times. For people who are completely unfamiliar with that, you can go into whatever detail you feel comfortable doing. What happened there? What was the case?

Mike Ware [01:23:49]:
Well, it was four young women in San Antonio, Texas, in 1994 who had just come out or fairly recently come out as gay. And to keep in mind, this is San Antonio, 1994, and they're 1819 years old. None of them had ever been in any trouble. I think two of them had gone to high school together and were high school athletes together, and they were working. Christie was working towards going to veterinary school, I think, started college, had to drop out, had to discontinue, take a hiatus because of money, I think, and was working at a restaurant, I believe, and aspired to be a nurse. Or at one point, I think she said she even aspired to be a police officer. And all of them very close with their families, although at that time, I think there was maybe some disagreement or some tension, tension with their coming out. But one of them had two nieces that came to visit, and she was pretty close to them.

Mike Ware [01:25:30]:
I think they were a very close family and stayed with them for a week or two. Her sister and their father were either in the middle of a divorce or had recently gotten a divorce, and I guess I should say were already divorced by that time. And that's a whole nother story. But they came. These four women were friends. Liz lived at the apartment complex where the nieces stayed for, I think a week, maybe a little over a week. And it was a normal by all counts. And the other three were coming in and dropping by and visiting with the nieces as well.

Mike Ware [01:26:15]:
And by all counts was very normal. This occurred in and around August of 1994. And then all of a sudden, evidently, and you never know what children say in these instances. People say, well, the child said this. Well, the child said that. Well, you don't really know what the child, all you know is what some crazy adult says, the child said. And then ultimately, you know what the child comes to say, but you really never know. But supposedly one of the children said, with some prodding, said that something inappropriate had happened when they were at their gay aunt's apartment, and that was milked into something that people started calling outcry.

Mike Ware [01:27:09]:
And once you call something an outcry in that situation, then whoever becomes the target is screwed because they've been named in an outcry. And so this, they, they took them to this pediatrician, well known, well respected pediatrician. I mean, she was part of the courthouse machine. She was well known at the courthouse. She always testified for the state and for the police, and she was a doctor, and the judges liked her and all that sort of thing. But she always testified that, yes, this is proof that a sexual assault took place. And so they were examined by her, and she claimed to have found physical evidence of a sexual assault in her sexual assault examination and ultimately came to court and testified to that. And then the two little girls, the women were charged.

Mike Ware [01:28:20]:
There were two different trials. Liz, the aunt, went to trial by herself in 1997. The other three went to trial as a group. And Liz was convicted and given 37 and a half years or something. The second trial was the other three, and they were convicted and given 15 years. And, and the, the children's testimony was contradicted each other. It couldn't have been. Parts of it couldn't have been true.

Mike Ware [01:28:50]:
They contradicted themselves, one trial to the next trial in significant ways. But what was consistent is this doctor getting on the stand and saying, well, somebody sexually assaulted that child because there's physical evidence. And she'd draw a picture as if that was some kind of proof, draw a picture of what the physical evidence was.

Dan Riley [01:29:14]:
What was it specifically that she was getting?

Mike Ware [01:29:16]:
She said that one of the little girls had a scarred hymen at 03:00, a healed scar on her hymen at 03:00 which, this was all new to me, but turns out, maybe before I get into the spoiler alert stuff, they're convicted, they maintain their innocence. And the documentary tells the story pretty well. In the documentary, so much of it's done in real time, which makes it extraordinary, because at the time the documentarian approached me, I had just pretty much started the case, and she asked my permission, would I give her access and all that. So a lot of the footage is while the women are in prison still, and we don't know what's going to happen. We're searching for some way to overturn their convictions. And it turns out by now, the two girls are young adults, and one of them recants and apparently had been doing so for a while. And she says none of this ever happened. Our father pressured us into this.

Mike Ware [01:30:44]:
Turns out Liz, the aunt, had turned down his advances at one. And, no, it didn't happen. All my memories of my aunt are good things. And so that was interesting. Now, if you do this work at all, you understand that recantations are never enough because the smug prosecutors and judges say, well, you can't believe recantations. You just can't. Well, why are they less believable than the initial? I mean, there's no data that backs that up. They just say, well, you can't believe them just because we say you can't.

Mike Ware [01:31:24]:
But about that time, it started coming to my attention that other people had done the research. We learned that what the doctor had testified to at trial was scientifically absolute bullshit. Unfortunately, when she did the initial examinations, she did it with an instrument called a culposcope. And she took photographs. And so through the cooperation of the DA's office and they were very cooperative with us throughout this process, we were able to get copies of those photographs and get them to, well, a nationally known expert, Astrid Hager, who, coincidentally, I talked to yesterday about this case. And she's nationally known expert in the area. And she looks at the photographs and she goes, there's absolutely no evidence, physical evidence of sexual assault here. These are normal.

Mike Ware [01:32:26]:
And I'm like, well, what is it at 03:00 that she thought, there's nothing. There's nothing. We had a sane nurse from Corpus Christi look at them as well. She said the same thing. She said, I don't know what she was taught because there is absolutely nothing here. I mean, I don't know what, looking at the photographs, I don't. And Furnamore, they both agreed that they now know that sounds like I'm mansplaining stuff, but that hymens do not heal with a scar. In other words, what she said couldn't have been.

Mike Ware [01:33:12]:
So ultimately, Astrid Hager, the nationally known expert, knew this physician that testified at trial. Her name is Nancy Kellogg's no know expert to expert, scientist to scientists know. You really need to retract that testimony because you and I both know it's bullshit. And our words to that effect. And she did. She gave an affidavit recanting her testimony. And plus we had these other experts chiming in. Now we've got not only a recantation, we've got physical scientific evidence corroborating the recantation.

Mike Ware [01:34:01]:
And so we did other work. I mean, they all passed polygraphs with flying colors. And people say, well, polygraphs aren't reliable. Will the police use them? Are they just not reliable when it turns out they didn't do it? And they all passed polygraphs with flying colors. They were all evaluated for, were they sexual predators or whatever? And all those tests, all those evaluations turned out very favorable. And we presented all that in a hearing and at the district court level, as the documentary shows. The district judge said, well, I find that the science was faulty. And under this new statute that we helped get passed, the innocence project of Texas helped get passed that they deserve a new trial, but I'm not going to find them, actually.

Mike Ware [01:35:03]:
So under Texas procedure, that goes straight to the court of criminal appeals for them to evaluate it independently. And I guess about a year later, they came out with their decision that we just won across the board. They just exonerated them across the board. Great opinion. Long. You know, that's in a nutshell, their story.

Dan Riley [01:35:28]:
How long were these women in prison?

Mike Ware [01:35:30]:
Well, Liz was in prison from the time of her trial because her sentence was so lengthy, she was not eligible for an appeal bond. So she was in prison from. She was charged in 95, so out on bond, which is, of course, not in prison, but still no picnic. Out on bond until her trial in 97. And then right as she was convicted, she was taken into custody and then released again on bond after we filed the writ in 2013. The others were convicted in 98 because their sentence was only 15 years. They were allowed to make appeal bonds, and so they lost their appeals. And the appellate courts and their written opinions said, because their appellate lawyers had raised insufficiency, the evidence.

Mike Ware [01:36:32]:
The appellate courts and their written opinions said, well, we agree that this testimony is unreliable and all over the map, but what about this physical evidence? How do you explain how this physical evidence got there? And so that really assisted us in arguing how harmful the mistaken scientific testimony was. They all made bail after we filed the writ in 2013. Now, Cassie and Christie were in from, like, I guess, 2001, when their appeals came back, affirmed, and had to turn themselves in, which is also part of the documentary, until they made bail in 2013 when we filed the writ. Now, Anna paroled in 2011, I think. And so she was out on parole for a couple of years when we got the writ filed. And the others made it out on bond.

Dan Riley [01:37:42]:
Yeah. The expert, Kathleen, you said her name.

Mike Ware [01:37:47]:
Nancy Kellogg.

Dan Riley [01:37:47]:
Sorry. Nancy Kellogg. The inaccurate.

Mike Ware [01:37:50]:
Dr. Nancy Kellogg.

Dan Riley [01:37:51]:
Dr. Nancy Kellogg. Right. I think incentives can explain a lot of human behavior and a lot of virtuous and unethical human behavior. What is the downside? Risk. Risk for a doctor to get on the stand and present with great self confidence, a bullshit story that they've made up, but they're so eloquent and well credentialed that people who are on a jury who know no better but know that this person is intelligent, and has an MD is telling the truth. In other words, what's the incentive for people? Or the blowback, the downside risk for being completely wrong about the story they're presenting to the jurors.

Mike Ware [01:38:35]:
Really none. It's back to what we were talking about before. Ego, whatever. She still testifies to this very day, as far as I know. And, you know, I mean, we gave her an opportunity to come clean, and she took it. So I think she minimized what damage it could have caused. But.

Dan Riley [01:39:17]:
Do you think there was.

Mike Ware [01:39:19]:
The thing is, I don't think she would have ever come clean had we not filed a writ and called her out, even though she would have known that her testimony was in error. Because by all accounts, the science changed with these sea change tests, data collection, um, tests with. With young girls. That was done in 2007.

Dan Riley [01:39:47]:
Yeah. I think this is reminding me of the Mark Twain quote, which I'm going to butcher, which is. It isn't what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

Mike Ware [01:39:55]:

Dan Riley [01:39:55]:
Yeah, something like that.

Mike Ware [01:39:58]:
It's exactly like.

Dan Riley [01:40:05]:
I guess, when you look at where we are now versus where we were when. When you started doing this work and where we can potentially take this direction, we've talked about some reforms, some programs that can help mitigate some of these issues. I guess maybe before I go into that, I want to maybe in closing, talk more about you and the work you do and what you would like people to know. The work you do seems to be utterly quixotic to me. You're fighting such an uphill battle, but it's obvious how much you care about this. There's no way you would have stayed in this for this long if you didn't really care. Where does that come from with you? What's that story that keeps you fighting these battles, where you're fighting against these institutions, you're fighting against people you think are entitled, oftentimes in smug. What keeps you in the fight?

Mike Ware [01:41:12]:
I don't know. That's a good question. And this is not really a fair answer or an answer, but it's not a complete cop out, either. The successes. Yeah, the successes can be. Are so spectacular and so rewarding that that's what keeps me in it.

Dan Riley [01:41:44]:
Yeah. You are a savior to some of these people. Right. Without your work and your organization's work, a lot of these people would be sitting behind bars.

Mike Ware [01:41:56]:
Gosh, I'm real hesitant to agree with that term. It's possible of savior. But, yeah, I think through our team efforts, a lot of people who would be innocent people would be sitting behind bars who have become exonerated and had a. And I was in the DA's office doing the conviction integrity unit when we were working on the case. And so I wasn't Richard Miles's attorney, but we were very much involved in helping him get exonerated. And that was a murder case in Dallas. No DNA that he was completely innocent of. And just seeing what he has done with his was.

Mike Ware [01:42:50]:
He was a good kid when he got convicted. It's not like he had to do a big turnaround or anything. I think he was 19 and came from a good family and was wrongly convicted of a murder he had nothing to do with. And we were able to help get him exonerated. While I was in DA's office and seeing the nonprofit he started, miles of freedom, seeing the family he started, his wonderful wife and kids. That's. Excuse me.

Dan Riley [01:43:33]:
No, I go.

Mike Ware [01:43:38]:
Now. Seeing what he's done with his life since he got out.

Dan Riley [01:43:44]:
Yeah. I can only imagine how moving that must be for you to know that and to see him do what he's done.

Mike Ware [01:43:56]:
He's just a wonderful person, a CNN hero. He's gotten now started to get some national attention because of what he's done with his nonprofit. And still, if I ask him to come speak to my class, he comes and speaks to my class.

Dan Riley [01:44:15]:
Something I think about a lot, or I try to think about, is the areas in which we're storytelling animals and people who get accused of something. It's like a witch hunt. A lot of times, people who are accused with a label, it often does stick to them whether or not there's any truth to it.

Mike Ware [01:44:37]:

Dan Riley [01:44:38]:
And we have a hard time. So much of this comes back to just human nature and combating human nature. And the system is supposed to be designed to fight back against some of our psychological worst tendencies, like assuming people are guilty who are. Who someone says is guilty. That's the whole idea behind.

Mike Ware [01:45:00]:
Or assuming somebody's guilty because they look different than us.

Dan Riley [01:45:03]:
Absolutely. Yeah. That you're supposed to be innocent until you're proven guilty. That is a hell of a hard thing to do when someone doesn't look like you and someone has been accused of something heinous that has happened, and there's uncertainty around what happened, and you don't know, and there's someone that you can lay blame it off on. Yeah. And have some sort of emotional catharsis believing that you've done so. But one thing. Just as a person growing up in this world, it is astonishing to me how ignorant we are about almost everything.

Dan Riley [01:45:40]:
And that doubt really should be. That's the healthy approach to any strong conviction that I have ever held, because time and experience has just taught me often that with few exceptions, life is just far more complicated than I understand.

Mike Ware [01:45:57]:

Dan Riley [01:45:57]:
And what I would be curious to know, from your perspective. We look back in history at horrific things that people used to do in history, burning witches, slavery, Jim Crow. And we regard those people. How could they ever live in a system like that? Right? And we have, I think, modern self righteousness of thinking, well, we're so much better. And in some ways, society has improved. But the question I like to come back to is, what are we doing right now that our great grandchildren will look at us and say, what the hell were you doing? How could you just walk around the world knowing that this was happening and not have just an utter sense of injustice? I have to imagine the criminal justice system at large would be on your.

Mike Ware [01:46:53]:
Shortlist, front and center.

Dan Riley [01:46:55]:
Front and center, yeah. And so what are the pieces of ignorance that we can remove from our collective social assessment of what's going on that can, for people who are listening to this, are potential jurists. Our lawyers could be judges someday. What can help readjust the way we approach these subjects that could help improve things?

Mike Ware [01:47:22]:
Gosh, this sounds kind of negative, but I'd say never believe the police. Never believe the police. I mean, the police unions in particular are so responsible for this false narrative that has been driven, this self serving, false narrative that has been driven about what crime is all about and what policing is all about. Because I think about what you're just talking about a lot people visit Auschwitz and come back with those horrible stories. What are we doing now? That's not that different. But I think what people are going to look at is the mass incarceration and why. What was the purpose of that and what did it accomplish and who benefited from it? And it's all shameful, you know? Guess. I guess that, honestly, the last four years have just blown my mind and highlighted this.

Mike Ware [01:48:51]:
I just wish people would engage in critical thinking, you know? You know, I. This is going to sound terrible, but I just. I just never realized such a large percentage of Americans were so stupid. That's not going to make me any friends to say that, but so many people were able to buy into these totally ludicrous belief systems and maybe, to some extent, always will. But I. I don't know if those people are incorrigible or what? Yeah, you know, I don't know if they're ever going to see it. Yeah, if they don't see it now, and I'm kind of talking in code here, but if you storm the Capitol or sympathize with the people who storm the Capitol, I just don't know that you're ever going to see it.

Dan Riley [01:50:02]:
And for people who do want to help, let's say, speaking about mass incarceration, specifically people from all walks of life, normal people who just want to volunteer, lawyers who are interested in getting involved in the work, how can people help? What can be done from a citizen's perspective to try to combat some of these injustices? From your perspective?

Mike Ware [01:50:30]:
I wish I was better at answering that question because we get a lot of people who want to help and want to volunteer, and I'm not real good at being able to put them to work. That's definitely something I need to work on because there's a lot of well intentioned people out there that really do want to help. And the legal aspect of this work is so specialized, it's hard to plug them in. We do a lot of policy work, too, particularly with the legislature that's in session now. Whenever it's in session. We've got our featured bill, really is the jailhouse informant bill, where we're asking that a law be passed where before a jailhouse informant can testify against a defendant, that the judge has to hold a hearing and determine whether this person is really credible and reliable before the jury gets to hear them. Because as it is now, the judge may think they're the biggest liar in the world, but that doesn't give the judge the power to keep them off the stand. And jurors don't know.

Mike Ware [01:51:41]:
Jurors think, well, if the judge let them on the stand, he must believe them. We do a lot of policy work, frankly, who we're often fighting are the police unions who, whatever we want, they don't want, it seems like. And the politicians are much more scared of the police unions than they are of the innocence project.

Dan Riley [01:52:11]:
Does the innocence project generally have enough legal resources to meet the demand from inmates who are clamoring for your assistance and help? No.

Mike Ware [01:52:23]:
It is such a tedious and long process to identify the right cases because we're pretty narrow in our mission and our focus, because there's a whole lot of injustices out there that are not necessarily tied to an innocent person being convicted. But that's what we limit ourselves to. I mean, that's what we do is innocent people who are convicted. And so a lot of times, by the time so much bullshit is piled up that they're in prison, it's a very lengthy process to decide who really is factually and objectively innocent. There's certainly a lot of inmates who got screwed by the system and shouldn't be in prison, perhaps, but maybe they really did what they are accused of doing. Maybe they really did possess an ounce of cocaine. Maybe they're not really innocent of that. And that doesn't mean they should be serving life in prison, but that's not what we do.

Mike Ware [01:53:37]:
And so it is pretty tedious and time consuming to identify people who are factually innocent, because that's what we do.

Dan Riley [01:53:50]:
What's the ideal client for you?

Mike Ware [01:53:52]:

Dan Riley [01:53:53]:
Like I'm thinking of, if somebody is listening to this who might be in prison, what are the circumstances or specifics of a case that would be right in the sweet spot of, like, you've sifted through a lot of potential clients who are interested in your services. This one really lights you up as the real deal, as something that you actually might be able to work.

Mike Ware [01:54:17]:
You know, ideally, in my mind. And of course, there's exceptions. I mean, the San Antonio four was an exception, but ideally, it's a case where it's a clear scenario either they did it or they didn't. Somebody did this crime, and either it was the person who got convicted or it was somebody completely different. So that the lines are drawn. So many cases, you look at them, you go, I don't know what happened. Nobody's ever going to know what happened. In that case, we can wade in, but there's just never going to be any clear answers.

Mike Ware [01:55:06]:
But the cases where there is the potential for a clear answer, and then there are ways by which you can test different hypotheses almost scientifically, really test different hypotheses, and not only is there a clear answer, but there is a credible narrative of innocence. It's not simply, well, all their witnesses were full of shit. Well, there is a clear narrative of innocence that can be tested and corroborated and presented in court, and that makes more sense than the state's narrative of guilt.

Dan Riley [01:55:52]:
Does that almost always need to involve DNA evidence or a new DNA evidence?

Mike Ware [01:55:56]:
No, obviously, it almost never does anymore. But obviously it's helpful if there is DNA evidence, but it doesn't have to involve DNA evidence. No. And there's always things you have to overcome in those cases, and most often it's eyewitness identification. This case, we're expecting, knock on wood, a favorable outcome from the court of criminal appeals any day now. But this case out of Harris county, that six eyewitnesses say that my client committed this murder. And, of course, none of them knew him. None of them knew either the victim or the murderer.

Mike Ware [01:56:59]:
But fortunately, years later, we were able to get hold of the raw DNA data that was collected from the victim's fingernails, who was stabbed and beaten to death. And we were able to identify the profile of the foreign donor there. In other words, the murderer. And it was not our guy. And we were able to put it into CODIS, and it identified the actual murderer, who has since confessed. But that was six eyewitnesses, and he's still not exonerated. The other guy has been indicted in his awaiting trial for this murder. And the court of criminal appeals has delayed exonerating our guy.

Mike Ware [01:57:53]:
I mean, it's been well over a year now. Long story, but we're expecting a favorable outcome on that. But fortunately, that did involve DNA. But not all of them do. And of course, he had an alibi. He said, this is who I was with during that time. I wasn't murdering anybody. And he put the alibi witness on the stand.

Mike Ware [01:58:18]:
So, no, he was with me. Jurors never, ever believe an alibi defense. I've never seen it. So many of these DNA exonerations, these guys put on alibi defenses, because what else are you going to know? It wasn't me. I wasn't there. I don't know anything about the case. Luckily, I can tell you where I was. And they put that.

Mike Ware [01:58:38]:
Patrick Waller put on a security guard that gave him an alibi defense. Jurors never believe it. If the police say bullshit, jurors believe the police, not the alibi.

Dan Riley [01:58:52]:
Last question I want to ask you is we've touched on the future and how we as a society can get better at rendering justice more frequently, and maybe more so, ensuring that we limit injustice as much as possible. You've spoken to this a little bit, but I just want to give you one last opportunity to brainstorm or talk through ideas that we collectively can consider or initiatives we can adopt or new mentalities that we can keep in mind that make that possibility more likely in the future. If there's anything we want to add there.

Mike Ware [01:59:39]:
Well, I wish I could answer that. I know this is kind of your second run at me, trying to get me to answer that very tough question. And I, you know, the best I can come up with is to put better people in positions of power. I mean, and this last election shows that we can do that. We put a better person in the White House. We elected two better senators out of, or somebody did elected two better senators out of know. And I expect that's going to make a lot of difference, particularly when juxtaposed to what would have happened had Biden not won, had the two senators from Georgia not know. And I see this in know, it's dangerous to get off into politics, but I see the idiots who are in charge in know, the clown car of politicians that are in charge in Texas, and it affects the work I do.

Mike Ware [02:01:02]:
And it doesn't have to be like that. I've dealt with attorney generals and governors from other states who are so much better than what we have here.

Dan Riley [02:01:21]:
Specifically how.

Mike Ware [02:01:26]:
I was fortunate enough to be on a panel that examined this case out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Mayon Burrell, that started getting a lot of publicity because Amy Klovishar started talking about that case as one of her successes when she was the county attorney for Hennepin county in Minneapolis. It's a long, long story, but it turns out he's almost certainly wrongly convicted.

Dan Riley [02:02:00]:
She convicted him or she helped to convict him?

Mike Ware [02:02:02]:
Well, she was in office. She was the head, they call him county attorneys there, I think. But what we'd call a district attorney when he was convicted the first time, he was a juvenile. And then I think she'd gone on to us Senate when he was convicted the second time. His first trial was reversed. But she was using that on the campaign trail as one of the positive things she'd accomplished while she was county attorney or district attorney. And so the media started scrutinizing it, and it turned out he's almost certainly wrongfully convicted. I was asked to be on and did serve on a national panel to review that case that apparently she fully and endorsed, et cetera.

Mike Ware [02:02:54]:
And in doing so, I got to see, and maybe this is not a full, fair cross section, but I got to see the attorney general of Minnesota and the governor of Minnesota and the former mayor of Minneapolis in action. I mean, we interviewed the former mayor, the mayor who was the mayor at the time of mean, I'm as cynical as the next person, and these people are politicians, but these people really cared about this mean, I can mean they were good people who really cared about this stuff and were trying to do the right thing. And ultimately they did do the right thing. I mean, the case is still ongoing to some extent, but they did commute his and the head. Politicians in Texas aren't even in that class, they're busy perpetrating conspiracy theories or whatever. And of course, that's the fault of the people from Texas. I mean, you know, who elect these morons.

Dan Riley [02:04:05]:

Mike Ware [02:04:12]:
And it hits me because I've got to deal with them in getting justice done. My idea of justice, anyway. It makes me see it doesn't have to be that way. Good people can run for powerful positions and get elected, and it makes a huge difference when that happens.

Dan Riley [02:04:42]:
So much of this culturally just resonates. I mean, I grew up in the northeast, and there is still a strong puritan undercurrent in the culture there of being, if one is accused people being very reputationally conscious, and if you are labeled with some unwanted word, it being tragic for your reputation and your standing in the community. I don't know if this is exactly what you're referring to in terms of the people you've dealt with in Texas, but it strikes me that just the overconfidence in opinions and kind of falling in line with some cultural narratives know potentially the police or how likely one is to be guilty of something that they're accused of adopting a mentality of greater humility and allowing thinking more like a scientist or like an objective, self aware person.

Mike Ware [02:05:49]:
Well, yes, kind of, like I was saying a little bit earlier, critical thinking. Yes.

Dan Riley [02:05:56]:
And I think what can help with that? Right. I told you the story earlier about my certainty about what happened in the Duke lacrosse case. Right. And that really changed my mind moving forward as to how I was really fooling myself that I also was and am susceptible to being fooled and fooled by people who are giving me, people who I respect, the media, professors giving me a story that. I guess what I'm saying is it's possible for there to be a madness of crowds or mass delusion that most people can be wrong, even people who you respect. That's a very hard thing to fight back against. But I don't know. I have to think better.

Dan Riley [02:06:48]:
Evidence and experience, at least personally, I think has been helpful. I don't know if you have any additional thoughts on that, but I feel like that can help at least an individual begin to humble oneself about how certain you are about what you say.

Mike Ware [02:07:01]:
Absolutely, yes. I couldn't have said it better.

Dan Riley [02:07:13]:
I've taken up a bunch of your time.

Mike Ware [02:07:15]:
Well, I've taken up a bunch of yours. Thank you.

Dan Riley [02:07:18]:
I want to just close personally by thanking you. I know I have such admiration for people who fight uphill battles, for people who have no power and have no voice and have, through just circumstance, and tragedy been put into a situation that they'd never deserved. And those people are mostly invisible in our society. And I guess I just want to say in addition to thank you that I do feel just as someone from my own generation that there is a lot of interest in what you do and a lot of gratitude for what you do. And my hope is over time that the resources and respect and just cultural humility that we've been talking about gets more pronounced. And thanks for sharing your story and thanks for all the, the work that you do. And I know I'm very lucky for never having needed your services, but the people that have, I'm sure, are also forever grateful. So I wish you guys the best of luck with everything you do.

Mike Ware [02:08:37]:
Well, thank you very much. It just reminds me of my standard line when I give somebody my card, I say, you'll never need this, but you may know.