Prosecuting the Exonerated: Actual Innocence and the Double Jeopardy Clause
52 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2011 Last revised: 20 Jul 2015
In certain circumstances, a prisoner who challenges her conviction must convince a court that she is actually innocent in order to get relief. Unfortunately, such judicial exonerations often fail to persuade prosecutors, who are generally free to retry prisoners who successfully challenge their convictions. There have been several instances in which prisoners have convinced courts of their innocence and overturned their convictions, only to have prosecutors bring the exact same charges against them a second time. This Article argues that the Double Jeopardy Clause protects these exonerated defendants from the ordeal of a second prosecution. Permitting prosecutors to continue to pursue such individuals contradicts established Supreme Court case law, violates the policies animating the Double Jeopardy Clause, and impairs the operation of the criminal justice system.
Keywords: Habeas Corpus, Double Jeopardy, Innocence, Wrongful Convictions, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Procedural Default, Exhaustion, Actual Innocence, Federal Courts
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