Posts Tagged wrongful convictions

Florida Innocence Commission Moves Forward in Making Interrogation Recordings Mandatory

by Kristen Pavón

On July 2, 2010, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles T. Canady established the Florida Innocence Commission to offer solutions to the Florida Supreme Court for decreasing wrongful convictions.

The commission met on October 10 to discuss recommending mandatory recording of interrogations in serious cases.

Ultimately, the group voted on recommending a mandate that Florida law enforcement investigators electronically record custodial interrogations of suspects in cases of serious felonies, with a cautionary jury instruction as the sanction for failing to record interrogations.

Opponents of the recommendation took issue with the light sanction attached to the mandate.

Florida International University College of Law Dean Alex Acosta, along with University of Florida Levin College of Law professor Kenneth Nunn and Senator Joe Negron, R-Palm City, argued that excluding statements should be the sanction for failing to record interrogations.

“I believe if you mandate something and the sanctions are relatively meaningless, you haven’t mandated anything,” said Jacksonville criminal defense attorney Hank Coxe. . . .

Kenneth Nunn, a University of Florida law professor, said: “What I am concerned about here is whether or not this jury instruction is the big bad junkyard dog with teeth that everybody says it is.” . . .

“Why not say to a police agency — if they can’t say they had good cause not to record that statement, that it wasn’t in a location where it was appropriate to do so, that the suspect said he didn’t want it recorded, or there was equipment failure — why not say you can’t use the statement? To me, that seems to be the biggest sanction you can have,” Nunn said.

Nunn joined Acosta and Coxe in asking whether the commission’s job is to come up with the strongest recommendations on best practices to prevent wrongful convictions — or to compromise on what is politically feasible.

Interesting. I have the same concern as Professor Nunn, will the jury instructions have enough bite to get law enforcement officials to record interrogations? You can read more here.


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Job o’ the Day: Address Wrongful Convictions with the Innocence Project in NY

The Innocence Project is a nonprofit pro bono legal clinic founded in 1992 by Prof. Barry Scheck and civil rights lawyer Peter Neufeld at the Cardozo School of Law/Yeshiva University. Innocence Project is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to avoid future injustice.

The Innocence Project has established the position of Joseph Flom Special Counsel, a new senior-level staff position that will significantly increase the clinic’s capacity to address the leading causes of wrongful convictions through strategic litigation. This is a new capacity being developed at the Innocence Project. We are seeking candidates with established litigation and leadership skills, necessary for structuring and implementing our strategic litigation reform work.

The Joseph Flom Special Counsel will initially identify and litigate cases.  In the course of the first four years, the Special Counsel will develop and lead a small cadre of strategic litigators that will enable the Innocence Project to increase its ability to free the innocent and reform the criminal justice system.

In the first two years, the strategic litigation will focus on supporting the organization’s efforts to reform forensic sciences to make them more scientific.  Over time, the Special Counsel will evolve the organization’s capacity to shape strategic litigation efforts on the leading causes of wrongful conviction, including eyewitness misidentification, false confessions, and incentivized witness testimony.

The Innocence Project’s strategic litigation will serve three primary purposes:  1)  to support legislative and policy reform efforts; 2) to change the ways that courts consider evidence that has historically brought about wrongful convictions; and 3) to provide support to litigators across the country who litigate post-conviction claims of innocence in strategically chosen cases.

If you’re interested in working with the Innocence Project to advance reform in criminal justice policies, find out how to apply at PSLawNet!

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