Convicting the Innocent
BackgroundAs background, we will discuss the difference between inquisitorial and adversarial systems, the meaning of truth in criminal adjudication, and the distinction between procedural and factual matters (and thus between procedural errors and factual errors).
- Damaska, The Presentation of Evidence and Fact Finding Precision (article)
- Damaska, Truth in Adjudication (article)
- People v. Goetz (1986) (opinion)
DefinitionsWe will see there are different types of wrongful convictions, paying particular attention to the distinction between procedurally and factually wrongful convictions.
- Hypothetical scenarios (handout)
EstimatesWe will read the most importance academic paper on how many (factually) wrongful convictions are committed. The article gives estimates based on exhoneration data from the Innocence Project.
- Risinger, Innocents Convicted (article)
CausesWe will discuss the main causes of (factually) wrongful convictions, which include, among others, eyewitness misidentification, false confessions, bad forensics. We will also discuss more systemic causes, such as cognitive biases and the architecture of the trial itself.
- Innocence Project, Causes (link)
- Selective attention (videos)
- Simon, Limited Diagnosticity of Criminal Trials (article)
- Zabell, Fingerprint Evidence (article)
RemediesWe will discuss proposals for reducing the rate of wrongful convictions. These proposals may consist in pointed policy reccomendations (for example, recordings of police interrogations) or systemic reforms of the criminal trial (for example, changes in the rules of procedure).
- Innocence Project, Policy (link)
- Sangero & Halpert, Why a Conviction Should Not Be Based on a Single Piece of Evidence (article)
- Findley , Adversarial Inquisitions (article)
ModelingIn thinking about wrongful convictions, we will discuss how probability and statistical decision theory, and economic modeling more generally, can help us understand the relationship between different values and goals, such as the truth, fairness and efficiency of trial decisions.
- Hamer, Probabilistic Standards of Proof, (article)
- Kaplow, Information and the Aim of Adjudication (article)