How One Person Managed To Thwart And Delay The Death Penalty For Years Thru Her Lies
Private eye gets five years for fake documents in death row cases
By DON THOMPSON Associated Press Writer
08/16/2007 06:41:59 PM PDT
SACRAMENTO—Death penalty investigator Kathleen Culhane said she recognized from the start that she was breaking the law when she systematically faked more than two dozen documents in an attempt to derail fast-approaching executions.
Her goal was to buy the condemned inmates more time. And in that she succeeded, prosecutors said, forcing attorneys to retrace her steps to make sure she didn’t do more to undermine the state’s legal system.
Culhane, 40, smiled slightly Thursday as she was led away in handcuffs to begin serving a five-year prison term for two counts of forgery and single counts of perjury and filing false documents. Her attorney said she is likely to actually serve about two years and eight months.
Under a plea agreement, the former San Francisco-based investigator avoided a possible 19 years in prison on 45 counts. She originally was charged with filing false documents under the names of 11 jurors, two witnesses, two court interpreters and one police officer.
“I definitely knew the seriousness of what I was doing and what was at stake,” Culhane told the Associated Press in a courthouse interview moments before she was sentenced. “For many years I worked legally and really strived to uphold truth in our justice system. But I think part of the truth of this is we have a very dysfunctional defense system in terms of the death penalty,”
She said she grew frustrated that most death penalty appeals ultimately were rejected and the inmates executed.
“I think it got to the point where although I knew these acts were wrong, I believed they were necessary in order to try to prevent, or delay, executions,” she said.


  1. Claire
    What a wonderful story,and also what a wonderful reply from you about the IIlinois governor. I’ve just finished watching the video of Malala being intervewed, and her incredible courage, intelligence, vision, brought me to tears.
    Your story is just as uplifting, and your sentence that the governor ‘ transcended an entire culture and tradition and responded to his own humanity’ was so beautiful that I felt near to tears again with the wonder of both him and you.
    My heart is full, and these stories keep my courage high, that ‘we will overcome some day.’..


    1. Valerie, thanks.
      Your heart is so big, It seems to have room for everybody. I feel grateful that we can identify with similiar perspectives about the same things.
      Thanks for your hope. I need to borrow it –
      I just can;t find any. if I could, I sure would.

      But the CIA has already been caught trying to organize a military takeovert in Venezuela

      Facism! Oh we can work with that. Facists get us the oil we consider our right – and they deliver it on time!


  2. This is what courage looks like. I would also add solitary housing units to the house of horrors the criminal justice system has devised. Men and women have been held months, years and even decades completely isolated from human contact and forgotten by society. It’s good to know there are people willing to throw a wrench into the cogs that makes the wheels of the empire go round and round. Great article, Claire.


  3. Thank you Claire for posting this.

    While I was reading it I thought: sometimes all you can do is just to scream.

    Why and how did mankind go so wrong that this can happen. How come this is where the “free world” ended up – with those on the top who actually OBJECTIVELY are the lowest of all? How come these lowest criminals are making the laws, they sit in all legal positions and keep this cruel mediaeval “justice” system in place? Who are these “people” to claim the right to put someone into jail just because she tried to save lives?

    In this context I often refer to this point: those who used to fight in the resistance against the Nazi and Stalinist regimes were all considered villains. When the lawmakers enforce unlawful laws, they leave us no other choice than to break them.
    (I am aware you and your readers know all this…sorry for the rant …)


    1. It’s a great rant and thank-you for expressing it, Sky.
      You know, the United States is one of the most violent nations in the world. It’s history is based on violence, and violence is deeply embedded in our culture.
      What’s heartening is that most of the world does NOT follow us – in this regard at least. Europe, Latin America, tons of little countries everywhere regard our death penalty and criminal justice system with horror. No one locks up and kills as many people as we do – no one. That’s why other countries refuse to extradite people back here when the question of the death penalty is involved.
      I think it was six or seven years ago when DNA tests proved such a majority of prisoners on death row in Illinois were/had been innocent that the governor pardoned every single one. He said he couldn’t trust the state’s criminal justice system and refused to have any more deaths on his conscience. He couldn’t change the law, so he just pardoned everyone.
      He was just a regular corrupt Chicago politician, but in that moment, he transcended an entire culture and tradition and responded to his own humanity.
      That’s what this woman did too,
      I hope I can be worthy of her sacrifice someday.
      Thanks for your own wonderful, passionate heart, Sky. You can rant right here any time, hermana


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