What Does Innocence Have to Do with it? A Commentary on Wrongful Convictions and Rationality

22 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2008

See all articles by Myrna Raeder

Myrna Raeder

Southwestern Law School (deceased)


This essay explores the interplay between rationality and wrongful convictions in light of presentations made at a symposium on Visions of Rationality and Evidence Law held at Michigan State University College of Law. The motivation for this inquiry arose from the author's role as co-chair of an American Bar Association (ABA) Criminal Justice Section Committee, which was developing policies to strengthen the integrity of the criminal trial process in light of the DNA exonerations.

Questions are raised about how to present probabilistic and forensic evidence at trial so that jurors understand, but do not overvalue expert testimony, and whether the pro admissibility approach of the federal rules of evidence can have an unintended negative effect on jury decision-making. The author recognizes that rationality does not imply empirical accuracy, since one can reason from incorrect premises. Finally, a number of other evidentiary issues are addressed in the context of suggesting how we can lessen the possibility of wrongful convictions.

Keywords: wrongful convictions, evidence, innocence, criminal justice

JEL Classification: K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Raeder, Myrna, What Does Innocence Have to Do with it? A Commentary on Wrongful Convictions and Rationality. Michigan State Law Review 1315, Winter 2003, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1089994

Myrna Raeder (Contact Author)

Southwestern Law School (deceased) ( email )

3050 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics