Remedying Wrongful Execution

53 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2011 Last revised: 17 Jan 2013

See all articles by Meghan J. Ryan

Meghan J. Ryan

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law

Date Written: August 1, 2011


The first legal determination of wrongful execution in the United States may very well be in the making in Texas. One of the state’s district courts is in the midst of investigating whether Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004, was actually innocent. The court’s investigation has been interrupted by objections from Texas prosecutors, but if the court proceeds, this may very well become a bona fide case of wrongful execution. Texas, just like other jurisdictions, is ill equipped to provide any relief for such an egregious wrong, however. This Article identifies the difficulties that the heirs, families, and friends of wrongfully executed individuals face in attempting to obtain compensation for this wrong. The Article highlights that statutory compensation schemes overlook the issue of wrongful execution and the greater injustice it entails and urges that the statutes be amended in light of this grievous wrong that has come to the fore of American criminal justice systems.

Keywords: Wrongful Execution, Willingham, Cameron Todd Willingham, Todd Willingham, Execution, Texas, Judge Baird, Arson, Compensation Statutes, Compensation Statute, Forensic Evidence

Suggested Citation

Ryan, Meghan J., Remedying Wrongful Execution (August 1, 2011). University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, Vol. 45, No. 2, 2012, SMU Dedman School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 110, Available at SSRN:

Meghan J. Ryan (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 750116
Dallas, TX 75275
United States


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