Exonerations Change Judicial Views on Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Criminal Justice, Vol. 18, p. 37, 2003
6 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2009
Date Written: 2003
Law evolves more slowly than pop culture or public attitude. Because most exonerations have not resulted in written legal opinions, their impact is slowly seeping into case law. However, courts are influenced by the same news that sways the rest of us. Even without explicitly referring to innocence or wrongful convictions, modern trial courts are undoubtedly more likely to admit expert testimony on the question of eyewitness identification because they are painfully aware of just how easily such witnesses - no matter how honest or passionate - can be wrong. They are certainly more inclined to view confessions suspiciously, especially when it involves the very young, and to consider whether and to what extent police slant evidence. Finally, the fact that innocent people are routinely convicted - despite a full-blown jury trial at which they were represented by defense counsel - suggests that courts should play a more active role in supervising the quality of criminal defense services.
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