Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2231740
 


 



Predicting Erroneous Convictions


Jon Gould


American University - School of Public Affairs

Julia Carrano


American University

Richard A. Leo


University of San Francisco - School of Law

Katie Hail-Jares


American University

March 1, 2013

99 Iowa Law Review 471 (2014).
Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2013-19

Abstract:     
The last thirty years have seen an enormous increase not only in the exonerations of innocent defendants but also academic scholarship on erroneous convictions. This literature has identified a number of common factors that appear frequently in erroneous conviction cases, including forensic error, prosecutorial misconduct, false confessions, and eyewitness misidentification. However, without a comparison or control group of cases, researchers risk labeling these factors as “causes” of erroneous convictions when they may be merely correlates. This article reports results from the first large scale empirical research project to compare wrongful convictions with other innocence cases in which the defendant escaped conviction (so-called “near misses”). Employing statistical methods and an expert panel, the research helps us to understand how the criminal justice system identifies innocent defendants in order to prevent erroneous convictions. In another first, the research secured the cooperation of practitioners from multiple sides of the criminal justice system, including the national Innocence Project, the Police Foundation, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and the National District Attorneys Association. The results highlight ten factors that distinguish wrongful convictions from near misses, but the larger story is one of system failure in which the protections of the criminal justice system operate in a counterintuitive manner. The article closes with a series of policy reforms to address these failings.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 53

Keywords: wrongful conviction, erroneous conviction, prosecutorial misconduct, false confessions, eyewitness misidentification, criminal law, criminal procedure

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Date posted: March 12, 2013 ; Last revised: June 19, 2014

Suggested Citation

Gould, Jon and Carrano, Julia and Leo, Richard A. and Hail-Jares, Katie, Predicting Erroneous Convictions (March 1, 2013). 99 Iowa Law Review 471 (2014).; Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2013-19. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2231740

Contact Information

Jon Gould (Contact Author)
American University - School of Public Affairs ( email )
Washington, DC 20016
United States
Julia Carrano
American University ( email )
4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States
Richard A. Leo
University of San Francisco - School of Law ( email )
2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States
Katie Hail-Jares
American University ( email )
4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States
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