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University of Michigan Law School

Series

Criminal Law

Exonerations

Articles 1 - 13 of 13

Full-Text Articles in Law

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 ...


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 ...


Race And Wrongful Convictions In The United States, Samuel R. Gross, Maurice Possley, Klara Stephens Mar 2017

Race And Wrongful Convictions In The United States, Samuel R. Gross, Maurice Possley, Klara Stephens

Other Publications

African Americans are only 13% of the American population but a majority of innocent defendants wrongfully convicted of crimes and later exonerated. They constitute 47% of the 1,900 exonerations listed in the National Registry of Exonerations (as of October 2016), and the great majority of more than 1,800 additional innocent defendants who were framed and convicted of crimes in 15 large-scale police scandals and later cleared in “group exonerations.” We see this racial disparity for all major crime categories, but we examine it in this report in the context of the three types of crime that produce the ...


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 ...


Witness Recantation Study: Preliminary Findings, Alexandra E. Gross, Samuel R. Gross Jan 2013

Witness Recantation Study: Preliminary Findings, Alexandra E. Gross, Samuel R. Gross

Other Publications

In September 2012, the National Registry of Exonerations began a research study of all the cases in our database that involve post-conviction recantations by witnesses or victims. This is the first systematic study of recantations ever conducted. Its purpose is to identify patterns and trends among these cases, with a particular focus on the circumstances that first elicit the false testimony, and on the official reactions to the recantations by judges and other authorities. Our data set includes all the cases in the Registry as of February 28, 2013 – a total of 1,068 cases, 250 of which involve recantations ...


Exonerations In The United States, 1989-2012: Report By The National Registry Of Exonerations, Samuel R. Gross, Michael Shaffer Jan 2012

Exonerations In The United States, 1989-2012: Report By The National Registry Of Exonerations, Samuel R. Gross, Michael Shaffer

Other Publications

This report is about 873 exonerations in the United States, from January 1989 through February 2012. Behind each is a story, and almost all are tragedies. The tragedies are not limited to the exonerated defendants themselves, or to their families and friends. In most cases they were convicted of vicious crimes in which other innocent victims were killed or brutalized. Many of the victims who survived were traumatized all over again, years later, when they learned that the criminal who had attacked them had not been caught and punished after all, and that they themselves may have played a role ...


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


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 ...


Souter Passant, Scalia Rampant: Combat In The Marsh, Samuel R. Gross Jan 2006

Souter Passant, Scalia Rampant: Combat In The Marsh, Samuel R. Gross

Articles

Kansas law provides that unless a capital sentencing jury concludes that the mitigating factors that apply to the defendant’s crime outweigh the aggravating factors, it must sentence the defendant to death. The Kansas Supreme Court held that this law violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments because it “impermissibly mandates the death penalty when the jury finds that the mitigating and aggravating circumstances are in equipoise.” On June 26, in Kansas v. Marsh, the Supreme Court reversed in a 5 to 4 opinion by Justice Thomas.


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 ...


What They Say At The End: Capital Victims' Families And The Press, Samuel R. Gross, Daniel J. Matheson Jan 2003

What They Say At The End: Capital Victims' Families And The Press, Samuel R. Gross, Daniel J. Matheson

Articles

Perhaps the most common complaint by American crime victims and their families is that they are ignored-by the police, by the prosecutors, by the courts and by the press. However true that may be for capital cases in general, there is at least one consistent exception: the great majority of newspaper accounts of executions include at least some description of the reactions of the victims' families and of any surviving victims. It seems to have become an item on the checklist, part of the "who, what, where, when, why, and how" of execution stories. When no family members are available ...


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.