Voices on Innocence

25 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2016 Last revised: 4 Apr 2018

Lucian E. Dervan

Belmont University School of Law

Richard A. Leo

University of San Francisco - School of Law

Meghan J. Ryan

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law

Valena Elizabeth Beety

West Virginia University - College of Law

Gregory M. Gilchrist

University of Toledo College of Law

William W. Berry

University of Mississippi School of Law

Date Written: March 14, 2016

Abstract

In the summer of 2015, experts gathered from around the country to sit together and discuss one of the most pressing and important issues facing the American criminal justice system – innocence. Innocence is an issue that pervades various areas of research and influences numerous topics of discussion. What does innocence mean, particularly in a system that differentiates between innocence and acquittal at sentencing? What is the impact of innocence during plea bargaining? How should we respond to growing numbers of exonerations? What forces lead to the incarceration of innocents? Has an innocent person been put to death and, if so, what does this mean for capital punishment? As these and other examples demonstrate, the importance and influence of the innocence issue is boundless. As the group, representing various perspectives, disciplines, and areas of research, discussed these and other questions, it also considered the role of innocence in the criminal justice system more broadly and examined where the innocence issue might take us in the future.

This article is a collection of short essays from some of those in attendance - essays upon which we might reflect as we continue to consider the varying sides and differing answers to the issue of innocence. Through these diverse and innovative essays, the reader is able to glimpse the larger innocence discussion that occurred in the summer of 2015. As was the case at the roundtable event, the ideas expressed in these pages begins a journey into an issue with many faces and many paths forward for discussion, research, and reform.

Keywords: innocence, plea bargain, factual innocence, exoneration, wrongful conviction, evidence, experts, prosecutors, accountability, punishment, restorative justice

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Dervan, Lucian E. and Leo, Richard A. and Ryan, Meghan J. and Beety, Valena Elizabeth and Gilchrist, Gregory M. and Berry, William W., Voices on Innocence (March 14, 2016). Florida Law Review, Forthcoming; WVU Law Research Paper No. 2016-6. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2747604

Lucian E. Dervan (Contact Author)

Belmont University School of Law ( email )

1900 Belmont Boulevard
Nashville, TN 37212
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.belmont.edu/law/

Richard A. Leo

University of San Francisco - School of Law ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States

Meghan J. Ryan

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law ( email )

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

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.smu.edu/professor-profiles/ryan

Valena Elizabeth Beety

West Virginia University - College of Law ( email )

Box 6130
Morgantown, WV West Virginia 26506
United States

Gregory M. Gilchrist

University of Toledo College of Law ( email )

2801 W Bancroft
MS 507
Toledo, OH 43606
United States
419-530-2712 (Phone)

William W. Berry

University of Mississippi School of Law ( email )

481 Chucky Mullins Drive
P.O. Box 1848
University, MS 38677
United States
6629156859 (Phone)

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