Monday, July 23, 2007

Study reviews data from DNA exonerations

This study, to be published in the Columbia Law Review, provides some surprising and useful information for criminal defense attorneys. UVA Professor Brandon L. Garrett reviewed the first 200 cases in which DNA evidence exonerated wrongfully convicted defendants. The study is full of disturbing conclusions, but among them are these: 79% of the wrongful convictions were based upon eyewitness identification; "One hundred and ten cases (55%), involved introduction of forensic evidence at trial, with serology analysis of blood or semen the most common (76 cases) followed by expert comparison of hair evidence (42 cases), fingerprint evidence (3 cases), DNA tests (3 cases), bite mark evidence (3 cases), spectrographic voice evidence (1 case), shoe prints (1 case) and fibers (1 case);" and "In thirty-five cases (18%), an informant, jailhouse informant, or cooperating alleged co-perpetrator provided testimony that was false." This study can be an important source to investigate ways in which the criminal justice system can improve.