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Posts tagged "Wrongful Convictions"

Genetic genealogy database leads to exoneration of Idaho man

We've discussed on this blog how genealogy databases like GEDmatch warehouse the DNA results of huge numbers of people who have taken part in genetic testing for genealogy purposes.

Supreme Court: New charges require new jury trials

Once you've been found guilty of a crime, can the government just assert that you're guilty of new crimes without having to prove it to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt?

2018's exonerees lost 1,639 years to wrongful convictions

According to the National Registry of Exonerations' annual report, 151 people were exonerated in the U.S. in 2018. Together, they spent 1,639 years behind bars for crimes they didn't commit -- an average of about 11 years each.

SCOTUS: Can prosecutors withhold evidence before guilty pleas?

In 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Brady v. Maryland that police and prosecutors are legally bound to turn over so-called "exculpatory" evidence to the defense before trial. Exculpatory evidence is most anything favorable to the defense. It can be evidence that the defendant is innocent, that someone else could be guilty, or that there were mitigating circumstances. Or, it can cast doubt on the reliability of prosecution witnesses.

When will we see reforms in forensic evidence?

"Some experts extrapolate far beyond what can be supported," reads a 2009 National Academy of Sciences report about bloodstain pattern analysis. It adds, "The uncertainties associated with bloodstain-pattern analysis are enormous."

Why should sentences after trials be longer than pled sentences?

In the criminal justice world, there is something we refer to as the "trial penalty." It is a penalty, in the form of a harsher sentence, for anyone who demands a trial and is then found guilty. In almost every case, defendants convicted at trial are sentenced to far longer than people who accept plea bargains.

How common are wrongful misdemeanor convictions?

If you were charged with a misdemeanor, you might decide to plead guilty just to get out of jail and go home. By definition, the penalty for a misdemeanor must be less than a year behind bars, and most people receive far less than that. In many cases, a guilty plea results in no jail time at all.

State law enforcement works to improve eyewitness identifications

Imagine how you would feel if you were sent to prison for a crime you didn’t commit. Now, imagine how the victim would feel upon learning the wrong person was put behind bars and the real perpetrator is free.

Milwaukee to pay $3.4 million over stop-and-frisk race profiling

Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin and a law firm filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Milwaukee Police department of operating a "vast and unconstitutional stop-and-frisk program" that targeted African-Americans and Latinos. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of six plaintiffs who had been stopped, sometimes multiple times, by officers with no reasonable suspicion that they were involved in criminal behavior.

Both Johnson brothers were innocent. Why did one plead guilty?

Many people have reservations when they hear criminal defendants claim to be innocent even though they pled guilty. Some can't imagine anything that could convince them to plead guilty to a crime they didn't commit.

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