Beyond Unreliable: How Snitches Contribute to Wrongful Convictions

Golden Gate University Law Review, 2006

Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2006-17

25 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2006  

Alexandra Natapoff

Loyola Law School Los Angeles

Abstract

There is increasing evidence that our criminal system often convicts the innocent. Criminal informants, or "snitches," play a prominent role in this wrongful conviction phenomenon. The criminal system, however, is heavily dependent on snitches, particularly in connection with the investigation and prosecution of drug offenses, and police and prosecutors are often not well-positioned to know when their informants are lying. This Comment, which was prepared in connection with the ACLU of Northern California's conference on wrongful convictions, describes the institutional relationships between snitches, police, and prosecutors that makes snitch falsehoods so pervasive and difficult to discern with the traditional tools of the adversarial process. It offers a litigation suggestion for providing a judicial check on the use of unreliable informant witnesses, namely, a Daubert-style pre-trial reliability hearing. The Appendix provides a sample motion requesting and justifying such a hearing.

Suggested Citation

Natapoff, Alexandra, Beyond Unreliable: How Snitches Contribute to Wrongful Convictions. Golden Gate University Law Review, 2006; Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2006-17. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=905864

Alexandra Natapoff (Contact Author)

Loyola Law School Los Angeles ( email )

919 Albany Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-1211
United States
213-736-8397 (Phone)
213-380-3769 (Fax)

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