Reversing the murder conviction of George Michael Leniart, the Connecticut Court of Appeals ruled that it was error to exclude expert evidence on testimony by jailhouse informants, given the “growing recognition of the inherent unreliability" of such witnesses. In 133 exonerations in the Registry, jailhouse informants testified that the exonerees admitted committing the crimes for which they were wrongfully convicted.
In 1978 Kerry Max Cook was sentenced to death for the murder of Linda Jo Edwards in Tyler, Texas. In 1999, Cook - whose conviction had been reversed for egregious misconduct - agreed to plead no contest to second degree murder and be released. Soon after, DNA tests determined that semen from the victim's clothing came from her married lover, James Mayfield. This April, Mayfield admitted that he committed perjury at Cook's trial. On June 7, the charges were dismissed. Under Texas procedure, Cook will be officially exonerated after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals formally grants his petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
A New York Times op ed examines compensation laws across the nation, highlighting the case of exoneree Mark Schand, who is struggling to rebuild his life after twenty-six years in prison. The Registry's Senior Researcher, Maurice Possley, explains why some states balk at passing compensation laws for the wrongfully convicted.
In the wake of yet another Massachusetts state investigation into misconduct by a crime lab technician, the Pacific Standard looks at systemic problems in crime labs across the country, how thousands of cases may have been affected and how these scandals could be prevented.
In 1954, Tommy Lee Walker, a 19-year old African American, was prosecuted by notorious Dallas DA Henry Wade for the rape-murder of a young white mother. He was convicted and sentenced to death, and executed two years later. Dallas reporter Mary Mapes now writes: "Sixty years ago this month, Tommy Lee Walker died in the [Texas] electric chair for a crime he could not have committed."
Despite the fact that 95% of criminal convictions are based on plea bargains - including 275 exonerations to date and probably the overwhelming majority of all false convictions - the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that exonerated defendants who entered guilty pleas may not be compensated for wrongful imprisonment. (Shown: Bobby Johnson, a Connecticut exoneree who falsely plead guilty to murder).
Our new mobile app makes it easy to read about exonerations seconds after they are added to the Registry! You can find it in the App Store for iPhones and in Google Play for Androids by searching "exonerations." It's free and includes an exoneration counter, recently posted exoneration stories, and a notification each time a new exoneration is added.
In its first year, the District Attorney's Conviction Integrity Unit in Los Angeles County (the most populous in the country) has been flooded by more than 700 requests to review potential wrongful convictions. Meanwhile, in Fort Worth, Texas, the Tarrant County unit is getting underway. (Tarrant County DA Sharen Wilson pictured)
A recent study from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law found that the state of California paid at least $282 million for 692 wrongful convictions between 1989 and 2012. That total includes the costs of imprisoning the innocent defendants, compensating them for their imprisonment, settling lawsuits and paying for unnecessary trials and appeals.
Exoneree Ricky Jackson, who was sentenced to death and spent 39 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit, asked Hillary Clinton about her support for the death penalty at a recent Democratic town hall.
We welcome new information from any source about the exonerations
that are already on our list and about new cases that might
be exonerations. And we will be happy to respond to inquiries
about the Registry.
The National Registry of Exonerations is a project of
the University of Michigan Law School