Joe Bryan has not been exonerated, but there is good reason to believe he was wrongfully convicted of the 1985 murder of his wife, Mickey. Bryan was convicted twice despite having been at a conference 120 miles away at the time of the murder. He has served 33 years in prison.
According to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, evidence from eyewitnesses is "a unique threat to the fairness of trial." She cited research that found eyewitness misidentifications to be the "single greatest cause" of wrongful convictions in the United States.
"Theophalis Wilson, you are free to go," said a Philadelphia judge recently. She was releasing a man who has been exonerated of the three 1989 killings he was convicted of as a teenager.
It's a controversial subject, but we live in a harsh world. Some police officers lie. Some have a documented history of misconduct, including lying or other acts that call their truthfulness into question. If they do, this history should be available to the defense so that the officer's credibility can be tested in court.
In February 2013, a house in the small town of Quincy, Wisconsin, burned nearly to the ground. Its owner was Brenda Jones, a 51-year-old woman with cancer. She was legally disabled and disability insurance was her only source of income. She wasn't home at the time of the fire, which was electrical in origin.
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.
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?
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.
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.
"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."