Monday, August 16, 2010

Tabitha Pollock was sleeping when her boyfriend killed her 3-year-old daughter. For failing to anticipate that crime, Ms. Pollock was convicted of first degree murder...

LINCOLN, Ill., Nov. 20 - Tabitha Pollock was sleeping when her boyfriend killed her 3-year-old daughter. For failing to anticipate that crime, Ms. Pollock was convicted of first degree murder...

Legal experts said mothers had been held accountable for abuse by others, under various theories and often with more evidence, in hundreds of similar cases around the nation. They knew of no such cases involving fathers...

Ms. Pollock will go free only because a student plucked her letter from among the 17,000 that the law school clinic at Northwestern University receives every year, and the clinic persuaded the Supreme Court to hear an appeal filed after the deadline had passed. The court reversed the conviction outright rather than order a new trial...

She talked about her three other children. Ms. Pollock's parental rights were terminated as a result of her conviction...

"Defendant's concern for her children was too little, too late," the government wrote in its appellate papers.

When the police told her that Mr. English had confessed, she was incredulous. At trial, the prosecution produced no witness who had suspected Mr. English of earlier abuse.

"How could I have known he would murder my precious baby girl?" Ms. Pollock wrote. "I did not know, yet I received 36 years in prison for not being a mind reader."...

Jane Raley, a law professor at Northwestern and Ms. Pollock's current lawyer, said her client's conviction was one of several similar cases brought by a series of prosecutors in Henry County, in northwest Illinois. Ms. Pollock's case may force the courts to reconsider some of those convictions.

"It was very mean-spirited," Ms. Raley said. "The prosecutors were trying to send a message to these women that they should make better choices in their boyfriends."...

Illinois and many other states accept the notion that parents may be held legally accountable for the deaths of their children when they have witnessed or otherwise know of grave threats to their safety. Ms. Pollock's case differed in that she was held responsible on what lawyers call a negligence theory - that she should have known of the potential danger, even if she did not. A negligence standard is seldom used in the criminal law....

"The state has taken everything from me," she said. "I don't have a house. I don't have a car. I don't have my children."

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/27/national/27MURD.html?ex=1039403654&ei=1&en=5f1 RETURN TO TEXT

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