Wrongful Conviction Claims Under Section 1983
12 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2014
Date Written: 2011
During the first decade of the 21st century, a number of studies and articles were published that highlight the rising incidence of wrongful convictions. These studies identified some of the leading causes of the rise in wrongful convictions, including the mishandling of forensic evidence, false confessions, suggestive identification procedures used by the police, and misconduct by prosecutors and other law enforcement agents. Whether a victim of a wrongful conviction may recover damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 depends upon the resolution of several issues, some potentially difficult. Undoubtedly, the plaintiff's right to recover damages under § 1983 for wrongful conviction is a high-stakes issue, as evidenced by several recent significant monetary settlements and awards. Given that these § 1983 actions can involve potentially difficult questions, it is helpful to identify and analyze the various issues. The authors discuss the various issues that arise in wrongful conviction claims brought under § 1983, with a focus on applicable U.S. Supreme Court cases.
Keywords: wrongful conviction, damages for wrongful conviction claims, Section 1983, governmental immunity, forensic evidence, false confession, suggestive criminal identification procedures, police misconduct, prosecutorial misconduct
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