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University of Baltimore Law

Criminal Law

2008

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Death And Harmless Error: A Rhetorical Response To Judging Innocence, Colin Starger Feb 2008

Death And Harmless Error: A Rhetorical Response To Judging Innocence, Colin Starger

All Faculty Scholarship

Professor Garrett’s impressive empirical analysis of the first 200 post conviction DNA exonerations in the United States (“Garrett Study”) has the potential to affect contemporary debates surrounding our nation’s criminal justice system. This Response explores this potential by harnessing the Study’s data in support of arguments for and against a contested doctrinal proposition — that guilt-based harmless error rules should never apply in death penalty appeals. My analysis starts with the premise that the Study’s real world impact will necessarily depend on how jurists, politicians, and scholars extrapolate the explanatory power of the data beyond the 200 ...