Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Law Commons

Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Series

Convictions

Discipline
Institution
Publication Year
Publication

Articles 1 - 30 of 33

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 ...


Secret Conviction Programs, Meghan J. Ryan Jan 2020

Secret Conviction Programs, Meghan J. Ryan

Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Judges and juries across the country are convicting criminal defendants based on secret evidence. Although defendants have sought access to the details of this evidence—the results of computer programs and their underlying algorithms and source codes—judges have generally denied their requests. Instead, judges have prioritized the business interests of the for-profit companies that developed these “conviction programs” and which could lose market share if the secret algorithms and source codes on which the programs are based were exposed. This decision has jeopardized criminal defendants’ constitutional rights.


Convictions As Guilt, Anna Roberts Jan 2020

Convictions As Guilt, Anna Roberts

Faculty Publications

A curious tension exists in scholarly discourse about the criminal legal system. On the one hand, a copious body of work exposes a variety of facets of the system that jeopardize the reliability of convictions. These include factors whose influence is pervasive: the predominance of plea bargaining, for example, and the subordination of the defense. On the other hand, scholars often discuss people who have criminal convictions in a way that appears to assume crime commission. This apparent assumption obscures crucial failings of the system, muddies the role of academia, and, given the unequal distribution of criminal convictions, risks compounding ...


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 ...


Defense Counsel And Public Defence, Eve Brensike Primus Nov 2017

Defense Counsel And Public Defence, Eve Brensike Primus

Book Chapters

Public-defense delivery systems nationwide are grossly inadequate. Public defenders are forced to handle caseloads that no one could effectively manage. They often have no funding for investigation or expert assistance. They aren’t adequately trained, and there is little to no oversight of their work. In many jurisdictions, the public-defense function is not sufficiently independent of the judiciary or the elected branches to allow for zealous representation. The result is an assembly line into prison, mostly for poor people of color, with little check on the reliability or fairness of the process. Innocent people are convicted, precious resources are wasted ...


The Effect Of Criminal Records On Access To Employment, Amanda Agan, Sonja B. Starr May 2017

The Effect Of Criminal Records On Access To Employment, Amanda Agan, Sonja B. Starr

Articles

This paper adds to the empirical evidence that criminal records are a barrier to employment. Using data from 2,655 online applications sent on behalf of fictitious male applicants, we show that employers are 60 percent more likely to call applicants that do not have a felony conviction. We further investigate whether this effect varies based on applicant race (black versus white), crime type (drug versus property crime), industry (restaurants versus retail), jurisdiction (New Jersey versus New York City), local crime rate, and local racial composition. Although magnitudes vary somewhat, in every subsample the conviction effect is large, significant, and ...


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 ...


Reducing Wasteful Incarcerations, Christopher Robertson Jan 2016

Reducing Wasteful Incarcerations, Christopher Robertson

Faculty Scholarship

Prisons are essential to a safe and civil society. Prisons are also costly for the taxpayers whose government houses, feeds, medicates, and supervises millions of people underlock and key.This expense is compounded by errors in the u.S. legal system that produces both false guilty verdicts and overly harsh penalties. It’stime forthe united States to take a closer look at these unnecessary incarcerations. By working to release prisoners who don’t belong in prison, we can lower the costs of the prison system—not to mention restore freedom to people who are wrongly being deprived of it. unfortunately ...


Residual Impact: Resentencing Implications Of Johnson's Potential Ruling On Acca's Constitutionality, Leah Litman Apr 2015

Residual Impact: Resentencing Implications Of Johnson's Potential Ruling On Acca's Constitutionality, Leah Litman

Articles

In January 2015, the Supreme Court directed the parties to brief and argue an additional question in Johnson v. United States: “Whether the residual clause in the Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)(ii), is unconstitutionally vague.” The order represents an unusual move because the defendant had not raised the vagueness issue and the Court issued the order after it had already heard argument on the question raised in the petition for certiorari. Commentators therefore view the order as a signal that the Court will likely invalidate the residual clause. This decision ...


A Justice System Overwhelmed, Colin Starger Feb 2015

A Justice System Overwhelmed, Colin Starger

All Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


The Prosecutor’S Contribution To Wrongful Convictions, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 2014

The Prosecutor’S Contribution To Wrongful Convictions, Bennett L. Gershman

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

A prosecutor is viewed by the public as a powerful law enforcement official whose responsibility is to convict guilty people of crimes. But not everybody understands that a prosecutor’s function is not only to win convictions of law-breakers. A prosecutor is a quasi-judicial official who has a duty to promote justice to the entire community, including those people charged with crimes. Indeed, an overriding function of a prosecutor is to ensure that innocent people not get convicted and punished.

A prosecutor is constitutionally and ethically mandated to promote justice. The prosecutor is even considered a "Minister of Justice" who ...


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 ...


The Innocence Effect, Avishalom Tor, Oren Gazal-Ayal Jan 2012

The Innocence Effect, Avishalom Tor, Oren Gazal-Ayal

Journal Articles

Nearly all felony convictions - about 95 percent - follow guilty pleas, suggesting that plea offers are very attractive to defendants compared to trials. Some scholars argue that plea bargains are too attractive and should be curtailed because they facilitate the wrongful conviction of innocents. Others contend that plea bargains only benefit innocent defendants, providing an alternative to the risk of a harsher sentence at trial. Hence, even while heatedly disputing their desirability, both camps in the debate believe that plea bargains commonly lead innocents to plead guilty. This Article shows, however, that the belief that innocents routinely plead guilty is overstated ...


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 ...


A Crisis In Federal Habeas Law, Eve Brensike Primus Jan 2012

A Crisis In Federal Habeas Law, Eve Brensike Primus

Reviews

Everyone recognizes that federal habeas doctrine is a mess. Despite repeated calls for reform, federal judges continue to waste countless hours reviewing habeas petitions only to dismiss the vast majority of them on procedural grounds. Broad change is necessary, but to be effective, such change must be animated by an overarching theory that explains when federal courts should exercise habeas jurisdiction. In Habeas for the Twenty-First Century: Uses, Abuses, and the Future of the Great Writ, Professors Nancy King and Joseph Hoffmann offer such a theory. Drawing on history, current practice, and empirical data, King and Hoffmann find unifying themes ...


Our Broken Misdemeanor Justice System: Its Problems And Some Potential Solutions, Eve Brensike Primus Jan 2012

Our Broken Misdemeanor Justice System: Its Problems And Some Potential Solutions, Eve Brensike Primus

Reviews

Although misdemeanors comprise an overwhelming majority of state criminal court cases, little judicial and scholarly attention has been focused on how misdemeanor courts actually operate. In her article, Misdemeanors, Alexandra Natapoff rights this wrong and explains how the low-visibility, highly discretionary decisions made by actors at the misdemeanor level often result in rampant discrimination, incredible inefficiency, and vast miscarriages of justice. Misdemeanors makes a significant contribution to the literature by refocusing attention on the importance of misdemeanor offenses and beginning an important dialogue about what steps should be taken going forward to fix our broken misdemeanor justice system.


The Illusory Right To Counsel, Eve Brensike Primus Jan 2011

The Illusory Right To Counsel, Eve Brensike Primus

Articles

Imagine a woman wrongly accused of murdering her fianc6. She is arrested and charged with first-degree murder. If convicted, she faces a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Her family scrapes together enough money to hire two attorneys to represent her at trial. There is no physical evidence connecting her to the murder, but the prosecution builds its case on circumstantial inferences. Her trial attorneys admit that they were so cocky and confident that she would be acquitted that they did not bother to investigate her case or file a single pre-trial motion. Rather, they waived the ...


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


A Structural Vision Of Habeas Corpus, Eve Brensike Primus Jan 2010

A Structural Vision Of Habeas Corpus, Eve Brensike Primus

Articles

As scholars have recognized elsewhere in public law, there is no hermetic separation between individual rights and structural or systemic processes of governance. To be sure, it is often helpful to focus on a question as primarily implicating one or the other of those categories. But a full appreciation of a structural rule includes an understanding of its relationship to individuals, and individual rights can both derive from and help shape larger systemic practices. The separation of powers principle, for example, is clearly a matter of structure, but much of its virtue rests on its promise to help protect the ...


Litigation Strategies For Dealing With The Indigent Defense Crisis, Eve Brensike Primus Jan 2010

Litigation Strategies For Dealing With The Indigent Defense Crisis, Eve Brensike Primus

Articles

The indigent defense delivery system in the United States is in a state of crisis. Public defenders routinely handle well over 1,000 cases a year, more than three times the number of cases that the American Bar Association says one attorney can handle effectively. As a result, many defendants sit in jail for months before even speaking to their court-appointed lawyers. And when defendants do meet their attorneys, they are often disappointed to learn that these lawyers are too overwhelmed to provide adequate representation. With public defenders or assigned counsel representing more than 80% of criminal defendants nationwide, the ...


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 ...


Procedural Obstacles To Reviewing Ineffective Assistance Of Trial Counsel Claims In State And Federal Postconviction Proceedings., Eve Brensike Primus Jan 2009

Procedural Obstacles To Reviewing Ineffective Assistance Of Trial Counsel Claims In State And Federal Postconviction Proceedings., Eve Brensike Primus

Articles

Ineffective assistance of trial counsel is one of the most frequently raised claims in state and federal postconviction petitions. This is hardly surprising given reports of trial attorneys who refuse to investigate their cases before trial, never meet with their clients before the day of trial, and fail to file any motions or object to inadmissible evidence offered at trial. Unfortunately, the current structure of indigent defense funding makes it impossible for many public defenders to provide effective representation to their clients.


Wrongly Accused Redux: How Race Contributes To Convicting The Innocent: The Informants Example, Andrew E. Taslitz Jan 2008

Wrongly Accused Redux: How Race Contributes To Convicting The Innocent: The Informants Example, Andrew E. Taslitz

School of Law Faculty Publications

This article analyzes five forces that may raise the risk of convicting the innocent based upon the suspect's race: the selection, ratchet, procedural justice, bystanders, and aggressive-suspicion effects. In other words, subconscious forces press police to focus more attention on racial minorites, the ratchet makes this focus every-increasing, the resulting sense by the community of unfair treatment raises its involvment in crime while lowering its willingness to aid the police in resisting crime, innocent persons suffer when their skin color becomes associated with criminality, and the police use more aggressive techniques on racial minorities in a way that raises ...


Brief Of Amici Curiae In Support Of Petitioner, Juan Rivera V. State Of Maryland, No. 08-80, Maureen A. Sweeney Jan 2008

Brief Of Amici Curiae In Support Of Petitioner, Juan Rivera V. State Of Maryland, No. 08-80, Maureen A. Sweeney

Court Briefs

The petitioner requested the Maryland Court of Appeals to reverse a decision that his criminal plea of guilty was voluntary. The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland had ruled it voluntary. Law professors at the University of Maryland and the University of Baltimore filed this amicus brief in support of the petitioner.

The brief presents the issue of whether a guilty plea is voluntary and knowingly given when it is based on affirmative misinformation about the direct immigration consequences of such a plea. The amici argue that the petitioner’s plea was unconstitutionally involuntary and unknowing because his attorney, the ...


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 ...


Structural Reform In Criminal Defense: Relocating Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel Claims, Eve Brensike Primus Jan 2007

Structural Reform In Criminal Defense: Relocating Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel Claims, Eve Brensike Primus

Articles

This Article suggests a structural reform that could solve two different problems in criminal defense representation. The first problem is that the right to effective trial counsel lacks a meaningful remedy. Defendants are generally not permitted to raise ineffective assistance of counsel claims until collateral review. Given that collateral review typically occurs years after trial, most convicted defendants have completed their sentences by that time and therefore have little incentive to pursue ineffectiveness claims. Moreover, there is no right to counsel on collateral review, and it is unrealistic to expect defendants to navigate the complicated terrain of an ineffectiveness claim ...


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 ...


Harmonizing Rules 609 And 608 (B) Of The Federal Rules Of Evidence, Donald H. Zeigler Jan 2003

Harmonizing Rules 609 And 608 (B) Of The Federal Rules Of Evidence, Donald H. Zeigler

Articles & Chapters

No abstract provided.