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University of Michigan Law School

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Criminal Law

Convictions

Articles 1 - 13 of 13

Full-Text Articles in Law

Expungement Of Criminal Convictions: An Empirical Study, J.J. Prescott, Sonja B. Starr May 2020

Expungement Of Criminal Convictions: An Empirical Study, J.J. Prescott, Sonja B. Starr

Articles

Laws permitting the expungement of criminal convictions are a key component of modern criminal justice reform efforts and have been the subject of a recent upsurge in legislative activity. This debate has been almost entirely devoid of evidence about the laws’ effects, in part because the necessary data (such as sealed records themselves) have been unavailable. We were able to obtain access to de-identified data that overcome that problem, and we use it to carry out a comprehensive statewide study of expungement recipients and comparable nonrecipients in Michigan. We offer three key sets of empirical findings. First, among those legally ...


Government Misconduct And Convicting The Innocent: The Role Of Prosecutors, Police And Other Law Enforcement, Samuel R. Gross, Maurice J. Possley, Kaitlin Jackson Roll, Klara Huber Stephens Jan 2020

Government Misconduct And Convicting The Innocent: The Role Of Prosecutors, Police And Other Law Enforcement, Samuel R. Gross, Maurice J. Possley, Kaitlin Jackson Roll, Klara Huber Stephens

Other Publications

This is a report about the role of official misconduct in the conviction of innocent people. We discuss cases that are listed in the National Registry of Exonerations, an ongoing online archive that includes all known exonerations in the United States since 1989, 2,663 as of this writing. This Report describes official misconduct in the first 2,400 exonerations in the Registry, those posted by February 27, 2019.

In general, we classify a case as an “exoneration” if a person who was convicted of a crime is officially and completely cleared based on new evidence of innocence.

The Report ...


Equitable Gateways: Toward Expanded Federal Habeas Corpus Review Of State Court Criminal Convictions, Eve Brensike Primus Apr 2019

Equitable Gateways: Toward Expanded Federal Habeas Corpus Review Of State Court Criminal Convictions, Eve Brensike Primus

Articles

State prisoners who file federal habeas corpus petitions face a maze of procedural and substantive restrictions that effectively prevent almost all prisoners from obtaining meaningful review of their convictions. But it is a mistake to think that habeas litigation is just a Kafkaesque nightmare with no constructive potential. Federal courts do sometimes cut through the doctrinal morass to consider state prisoners’ claims, relying on what this Articleterms "equitable gateways" to federal habeas relief. Litigants and courts generally underestimate the potential these gateways offer, with the result that habeas litigation does not focus on them as often as it should. Here ...


Errors In Misdemeanor Adjudication, Samuel R. Gross May 2018

Errors In Misdemeanor Adjudication, Samuel R. Gross

Articles

Millions of defendants are convicted of misdemeanors in the United States each year but almost none obtain exonerations, primarily because ordinarily exoneration is far too costly and time consuming to pursue for anything less than years of imprisonment. The National Registry of Exonerations lists all known exonerations in the United States since 1989 — 2,145 cases, as of the end of 2017; only 85 are misdemeanors, 4%. In all but one of these misdemeanor exonerations the defendants were convicted of crimes that never happened; by comparison, more than three-quarters of felony exonerees were convicted of actual crimes that other people ...


What We Think, What We Know And What We Think We Know About False Convictions, Samuel Gross Jan 2017

What We Think, What We Know And What We Think We Know About False Convictions, Samuel Gross

Articles

False convictions are notoriously difficult to study because they can neither be observed when they occur nor identified after the fact by any plausible research strategy. Our best shot is to collect data on those that come to light in legal proceedings that result in the exoneration of the convicted defendants. In May 2012, the National Registry of Exonerations released its first report, covering 873 exonerations from January 1989 through February 2012. By October 15, 2016, we had added 1,027 cases: 599 exonerations since March 1, 2012, and 428 that had already happened when we issued our initial report ...


Rate Of False Conviction Of Criminal Defendants Who Are Sentenced To Death, Samuel R. Gross, Barbara O'Brien, Chen Hu, Edward H. Kennedy Jan 2014

Rate Of False Conviction Of Criminal Defendants Who Are Sentenced To Death, Samuel R. Gross, Barbara O'Brien, Chen Hu, Edward H. Kennedy

Articles

The rate of erroneous conviction of innocent criminal defendants is often described as not merely unknown but unknowable. There is no systematic method to determine the accuracy of a criminal conviction; if there were, these errors would not occur in the first place. As a result, very few false convictions are ever discovered, and those that are discovered are not representative of the group as a whole. In the United States, however, a high proportion of false convictions that do come to light and produce exonerations are concentrated among the tiny minority of cases in which defendants are sentenced to ...


Symposium: Examining Shaken Baby Syndrome Convictions In Light Of New Medical And Scientific Research, David A. Moran Jan 2012

Symposium: Examining Shaken Baby Syndrome Convictions In Light Of New Medical And Scientific Research, David A. Moran

Articles

I've been asked to react to Professor Findley's talk, and I just wanted to try to put this in a concrete format that we can understand. In the summer of 2001, when my oldest daughter was about six months old, I put her in a backpack (the kind that you strap to your back) to go for a hike. In trying to get her out of that backpack after the walk, I dropped her, and she landed on her head, and she very briefly lost consciousness. So I rushed her to the University of Michigan Medical Center in ...


Reply To Richard A. Leo And Jon B. Gould, Samuel R. Gross, Barbara O'Brien Jan 2010

Reply To Richard A. Leo And Jon B. Gould, Samuel R. Gross, Barbara O'Brien

Articles

The following is a letter to the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law received from Professors Samuel Gross and Barbara O'Brien, responding to an article published in the Journal in Fall 2009 by Professors Richard Leo and Jon Gould. This letter is followed by a reply from Professors Leo and Gould. Professors Gross and O'Brien did not see the reply prior to the Journal going to press. As we have indicated before, we welcome letters to the Journal from readers on any topic covered in a prior issue. - Editors


Sentence Reduction As A Remedy For Prosecutorial Misconduct, Sonja B. Starr Jan 2009

Sentence Reduction As A Remedy For Prosecutorial Misconduct, Sonja B. Starr

Articles

Current remedies for prosecutorial misconduct, such as reversal of conviction or dismissal of charges, are rarely granted by courts and thus do not deter prosecutors effectively. Further, such all-or-nothing remedial schemes are often problematic from corrective and expressive perspectives, especially when misconduct has not affected the trial verdict. When granted, these remedies produce windfalls to guilty defendants and provoke public resentment, undermining their expressive value in condemning misconduct. To avoid these windfalls, courts refuse to grant any remedy at all, either refusing to recognize violations or deeming them harmless. This often leaves significant non-conviction-related harms unremedied and egregious prosecutorial misconduct ...


Frequency And Predictors Of False Conviction: Why We Know So Little, And New Data On Capital Cases, Samuel R. Gross, Barbara O'Brien Jan 2008

Frequency And Predictors Of False Conviction: Why We Know So Little, And New Data On Capital Cases, Samuel R. Gross, Barbara O'Brien

Articles

In the first part of this article, we address the problems inherent in studying wrongful convictions: our pervasive ignorance and the extreme difficulty of obtaining the data that we need to answer even basic questions. The main reason that we know so little about false convictions is that, by definition, they are hidden from view. As a result, it is nearly impossible to gather reliable data on the characteristics or even the frequency of false convictions. In addition, we have very limited data on criminal investigations and prosecutions in general, so even if we could somehow obtain data on cases ...


Exonerations In The United States 1989 Through 2003, Samuel R. Gross, Kriten Jacoby, Daniel J. Matheson, Nicholas Montgomery, Sujata Patil Jan 2005

Exonerations In The United States 1989 Through 2003, Samuel R. Gross, Kriten Jacoby, Daniel J. Matheson, Nicholas Montgomery, Sujata Patil

Articles

On August 14, 1989, the Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, Illinois, vacated Gary Dotson's 1979 rape conviction and dismissed the charges.1 Mr. Dotson-who had spent ten years in and out of prison and on parole for this conviction-was not the first innocent prisoner to be exonerated and released in America. But his case was a breakthrough nonetheless: he was the first who was cleared by DNA identification technology. It was the beginning of a revolution in the American criminal justice system. Until then, exonerations of falsely convicted defendants were seen as aberrational. Since 1989, these once-rare events ...


Lost Lives: Miscarriages Of Justice In Capital Cases, Samuel R. Gross Jan 1999

Lost Lives: Miscarriages Of Justice In Capital Cases, Samuel R. Gross

Articles

In case after case, erroneous conviction for capital murder has been proven. I contend that these are not disconnected accidents, but systematic consequences of the nature of homicice prosecution in the general and capital prosecution in particular - that in this respect, as in others, death distorts and undermines the course of the law.


The Romance Of Revenge: An Alternative History Of Jeffrey Dahmer's Trial, Samuel R. Gross Jan 1995

The Romance Of Revenge: An Alternative History Of Jeffrey Dahmer's Trial, Samuel R. Gross

Articles

On Feb. 17, 1992, Jeffrey Dahmer was sentenced to fifteen consecutive terms of life imprisonment for killing and dismembering fifteen young men and boys. Dahmer had been arrested six months earlier, on July 22, 1991. On Jan. 13 he pled guilty to the fifteen murder counts against him, leaving open only the issue of his sanity. Jury selection began two weeks later, and the trial proper started on Jan. 30. The jury heard two weeks of horrifying testimony about murder, mutilation and necrophilia; they deliberated for five hours before finding that Dahmer was sane when he committed thos crimes. After ...