Is State misconduct resulting in a Southeast citizen serving a life sentence for a crime that never occurred?
The Wrongful Conviction of
Thomas Jack, Jr.
In December 2018, a local friend of David Ignell heard about his volunteer work for the California Innocence Project and told him about Mr. Jack. Mr. Ignell spoke with friends from Hoonah who felt Mr. Jack was innocent. Over the next several months, Mr. Ignell analyzed thousands of pages of court pleadings, trial and grand jury transcripts, agency records, and recorded interviews in Mr. Jack’s case. In September 2019, Mr. Ignell sent a 60 page report detailing Mr. Jack’s wrongful conviction to Alaska’s Governor and Attorney General who declined action. In December 2019, Mr. Ignell wrote a 14 page summary of that report for public review.
The “Misfiled” Report
Mr. Jack’s accuser told her teacher the allegations weren’t true. The admission was documented in a written report the State received. The prosecutors didn’t disclose this exonerating evidence to two grand juries and didn’t give the report to Mr. Jack’s attorney for almost a year. Each omission violated the Alaska Constitution.
Click here for a redacted copy of the report.
The Social Worker’s Awareness of Problems with the Allegations
The accuser’s social worker was aware of several problems with the allegations — they were made under pressure, they were made in response to leading questions, they contradicted earlier statements, and the accuser had known incentive to lie.
Click here for redacted excerpts of the social worker’s statements.
The Accuser Admits to a Friend The Charges are False
The accuser told a good friend that the allegations against Mr. Jack were not true. The friend testified under oath at trial, but the jurors rejected the reasonable doubt her testimony generated. Click here for a redacted copy of her testimony.
An Honest and Upright Man
Three months after Mr. Jack’s arrest, his accuser’s great grandparents were interviewed in Hoonah. Ms. Katherine Hanlon believed Mr. Jack was innocent and worried someone was coaching his accuser to lie. Mr. Sam Hanlon, a clan leader, called Mr. Jack, “honest and upright” and a “very conscientious person.”
Click here for a redacted copy of the interview.
The Accuser Admits to a Teacher the Charges are False
The accuser approached a teacher she was close to after class and told her that she did not have sex with Mr. Jack. The teacher testified under oath at trial but the jurors rejected the reasonable doubt her testimony generated.
Click here for a redacted copy of her testimony.
Mrs. Jack Provides Her Husband With a Solid Alibi
Mrs. Jack was in the home at all times according to the allegations yet was never interviewed by law enforcement. At trial she testified that her husband was by her side all nights and that the two girls slept together in the same bed almost every night, but the jurors rejected the reasonable doubt her testimony generated.
Click here for a redacted copy of her testimony.
Denials Didn’t Negate Guilt
During 4 hours of secretly recorded conversations, Mr. Jack consistently denied knowingly touching his accuser in any improper manner. In the view of the judge, these repeated denials did not “tend to negate his guilt”, even though the only evidence against Mr. Jack was “substantially inconsistent” allegations by his accuser.
Click here for excerpts of the Glass Warrant transcripts.
The Sister’s Interview Contradicts the Allegations
The accuser’s sister was interviewed by law enforcement prior to the Glass Warrant recordings of Mr. Jack. The sister’s answers contradicted important components of the allegations which should have alerted law enforcement that the allegations had substantial problems.
Click here for excerpts of the interview.
Leading Questions Are Used to Build the Case Against Mr. Jack
Despite being warned not to lead his accuser, law enforcement built their case against Mr. Jack through extremely leading questions, which helped mask her “substantially inconsistent” testimony.
Click here for the manner in which that warning was ignored in the initial interview and grand jury indictment.
Justice for Thomas Jack, Jr.
For more information on Mr. Jack’s wrongful conviction and to join in the effort to gain his exoneration and release, please visit the website established by his family, www.justicefortomtom.com.
If you have more information on Mr. Jack’s wrongful conviction or have other instances of injustice that you would like to see brought to light, please contact:
David Ignell | Forensic Journalist
Powered By Justice is dedicated to the memory of Ramona and Elmer Ignell who moved to Alaska in 1951. They devoted their entire adult lives to helping all Alaskans and co-founded Juneau’s Haven House and the Glory Hall. Their adopted Tlingit names are Kaa Ju Hein and Xhaak’w Eesh.