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Causes of Wrongful Convicitons

Justice Department to Review Use of Forensic Evidence in Thousands of Cases (2)

The U.S. Justice Department has decided to review the use of forensics in thousands of cases because of flawed work that has been done by FBI laboratories since 1985.  Although the Justice Department has known about these problems for years, they only released those findings to the prosecutors. One man was executed because of this flawed work.

For more information, please read David Greenwald's story on Vanguard Court Watch of Yolo County. 

The Crisis with Coroners and Medical Examiners

An investigation by ProPublica, Frontline and NPR shows that the United States' 2,300 coroners and medical examiners often put innocent people in prison, allowing guilty people to go free. 
 
Click here to read the story.

 

New Jersey Warns Juries in Eyewitness Identification (2)

Beginning September 4, 2012 a new law in the state of New Jersey will warn juries that human memory is not foolproof and eyewitness testimony must be carefully scrutinized. The new eyewitness instructions should help influence other states to change their instructions too.

Click here for the full story in ABAJournal

The Problem with Forensic Science

The popularity of television crime dramas like CSI and Law and Order lead us to believe that forensic science is an exact science. Unfortunately, not all forensic science is scientific. Here is an eye-opening story everyone should read from Frontline in partnership with ProPublica and other news organizations. Their report looks into the lack of standards dealing in both autopsies and forensic evidence. One of the stunning revelations from this in-depth investigation shows how easy it is to obtain a certificate to be a "Forensic Consultant".

Click here for the link to "No Forensic Background? No Problem"

Eyewitness Misidentification

eyewitness misidentificationThe United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, admits that statistically 8 to 12% of all state prisoners are either actually or factually innocent. If this statement alone isn’t harrowing enough, consider this quick statistical delineation. As of January 1, 2010, there were 1,404,053 total inmates in American state prisons, according to Prison Count 2010. If the Bureau of Justice’s mean statistic of falsely imprisoned people is used (10%), then in 2010 there were approximately 140,405 falsely imprisoned people in our country.

Eyewitness testimony is an integral part of the judicial process, but often can be described as a chronic ailment of the American judicial system and one that contributes to wrongful convictions. The evidence is plain to see. Search any credible study or media source, and it will invariably display the same thing. Reliance on the memory of witnesses is, after all, not reliable.

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Make Believe Memories

Elizabeth F. Loftus has been researching memory for almost four decades. Her research in creating false memory has earned her both respect and awards in the field of psychology.

Click here to listen to here speech.

Click here to hear more from Elizabeth F. Loftus on You Tube

Are Eyewitness Accounts Wrong A Quarter Of The Time?

This is an article on the Vanguard Court Watch of Yolo County by David Greenwald discussing the problems with eyewitness testimony.  This article recounts the case of Franky Carillo who was exonerated after serving 20 years.  Public Defender Ellen Eggers convinced the judge to come to the crime scene where an eye witness specialist reenacted the crime scene to illustrate that the eye witness’s story could not be true.  To read the full article click here