Advanced Criminal Law: Convicting the Innocent
Professor James R. Elkins College of Law
West Virginia University|Fall|2016|

   

 

Introduction: Faces|Voices|Stories of the Wrongfully Convicted

Assigned Reading: Meghan J. Ryan & John Adams, Cultivating Judgment on the Tools of Wrongful Conviction, 68 SMU L. Rev. 1073 (2015)

Class Viewing: Selected films from One.For.Ten, an online series of films produced and broadcast over a five week period, April-May, 2013. The films were created by a four-member team who interviewed individuals freed from death row. Each of the films profiles a major issue in wrongful convictions highlighted through an individual case. On the film crew and the project: One.For.Ten

Juan Melendez: Juan Melendez: Snitch Testimony
[6:00 mins.][[OneForTen Films narrated by Damien Echols] [jailhouse snitch testimony]

Damon Thibodeau: Damon Thibodeaux: False Confession
[6:18 mins.] [OneForTen Films]

Additional Damon Thibodeaux video: Man on death for 15 years exonerated due to DNA [10:38 mins.] [TV news coverage]

John Thompson: John Thompson: Prosecutorial Misconduct
[5:50 mins.] [OneForTen Films]

Delbert Tibbs: Delibert Tibbs
[6:27 mins.] [OneForTen Films] [jailhouse snitch; eyewitness identification] [[Delbert Tibbs died on November 23, 2013. He was 74. The play and movie The Exonerated tells his story.]

Clarence Brandley: Clarence Brandley: Racism
[5:58 mins.]
[OneForTen Films] [authorities destroy evidence; witness intimidation]

Sabrina Butler: Sabrina Butler: Expert Witness Testimony
[6:05 mins.] [OneForTen Films] [inadequate autopsy; coercive police interrogation]

Additional Sabrina Butler videos: Sabrina Butler: Exonerated from Death Row [2:13 mins.] Witness to Innocence [6:22 mins.] [a documentary by Brian Bullock] Sabrina Butler Porter talks about death row [1:04:45 mins.]

Kirk Bloodsworth: Kirk Bloodsworth: DNA Evidence [5:26 mins.] [OneForTen Films]

Joe D'Ambrosio: Joe D'Ambrosio: Life After Death Row
[5:32 mins.] [OneForTen Films] [narrated by Damien Echols] [police misconduct; prosecutorial misconduct; failure to disclose exculpatory material in police, prosecutor, and coroner's files; ineffective assistance of counsel]

Supplemental: Introductory Readings

The Staggering Number of Wrongful Convictions in America
Samuel R. Gross, editor of the National Registry of Exonerations

Convicting the Innocent
James McCloskey, Director of Centurion Ministries

Judging Innocence
Brandon L. Garrett, 108 Colum. L. Rev. 55 (2008)

[For a video of Professor Garret discussing his book Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong, see: video [3:55 mins.] [NY Times book review]]

Convicting the Innocent Redux
Brandon L. Garett, 2015

Supplemental: Reading (Book): Brandon L. Garrett, Convicting the Innocent: Where Prosecutions Go Wrong (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2011)

Supplemental Videos: Exonerees Featured in the OneForTen videos viewed in class

Juan Melendez

Witness to Innocence
[4:25 mins.]

Juan Melendez: 6446
[47:42 mins.[documentary; English with Spanish subtitles] [alternative site] [alternative site]

Juan Melendez Speaks
[12:35 mins.] [Metro Hall, Toronto] Pt2 [12:29 mins.]

Witness to Innocence at Texas Capitol
[4:25 mins.]

Voices of Hope, Agents of Change
[45:49 mins.]

Web Resources: Innocent on Death Row | Wikipedia | A dead man walking toward freedom?

Damon Thibodeau

Damon Thibodeau
[42:13 mins.] [48 Hours]

Man on death for 15 years exonerated due to DNA
[10:38 mins.] [TV news coverage]

Last Chance
[42:23 mins.] [48 Hours] [false confession]

Man on death for 15 years exonerated due to DNA
[10:38 mins.]

After Innocence
[3:45 mins.]

Thibodeaux Exoneration
[2:12 mins.] [cooperation of prosecutors in securing exoneration]

Damon Thibodeaux Testimony Before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights
[5:35 mins.] [testimony on his solitary confinement]

Damon Thibodeaux seeks wrongful conviction compensation
[1:38 mins.] [New Orleans attorney Herbert Larson discusses his view of the roadblocks that the attorney general's office has placed in his client Damon Thibodeaux's attempts to have a judge order the state of Louisiana to financially compensate him for the 16 years he spent in prison based on what he says was a false confession to raping and killing 14-year-old Crystal Champagne in Bridge City in 1996. Thibodeaux was released from Death Row, where he spent 15 years, in September 2012, after Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick Jr., concluded that the confession was unreliable. The attorney general's office says Connick's actions don't exonerate Thibodeaux and argued that the former prisoner must prove he is factually innocent.]

Web Resources: Innocence Project | Life After Death Row: The Resurrection of Damon Thibodeaux | Damon Thibodeaux shares his story in ‘Stolen Years' | National Registry of Exonerations |

John Thompson

Prosecutorial Oversight: John Thompson and His Fight for Justice
[6:51 mins.]

After Innocence
[2:38 mins.]

The Story: John Thompson
[4:34 mins.] [audio]

After Exoneration: What Happens?
[7:41 mins.] [prosecutorial misconduct] [Death row exonerees John Thompson and Ryan Matthews tell their stories of wrongful conviction in the state of Louisiana, and life after release. John Thompson is the founder of Resurrection After Exoneration, the country's first exoneree-led service and public education non-profit determined to helping others who were wrongfully convicted.]

John Thompson on Life After Death Row
[21:38 mins.]

Launch of the Prosecutorial Oversight Tour
[1:11:32 mins.] [John Thompson talks about his case]

An 18-year Odyssey from Death Row to Freedom
[1:31:33 mins.] [Thompson speaking at Vanderbilt University]

Web Resources: Connick v. Thompson , 563 U.S. ___ (2011) | Holding Prosecutors Accountable | Civil Rights Complaint of Exonoree John Thompson |

Delbert Tibbs

Witness to Innocence
[3:29 mins.] [eyewitness identification]

Poems by Delbert Tibbs
[4:24 mins.]

Poetry Reading
[3:40 mins.]

Delbert Tibbs Talkback at Next Act Theatre
[30:13 mins.]

Delbert Tibbs North Carolina, June 2010
[9:55 mins.]

Web Resources: Wikipedia | Delbert Tibbs, Who Left Death Row and Fought Against It, Dies at 74, NY Times | Center on Wrongful Convictions |

Clarence Brandley

Exonerated Death-row Inmate Fights Back after State Denies Compensation
[1:48 mins.]

Innocent People Victimized Twice? Clarence Brandley
[4:ll mins.]

Web Resources: Wikipedia | National Registry of Exonerations | Guilty Until Proven Innocent, Texas Monthly | Man convicted of murder in error denied compensation by Texas | The Brandley case is profiled in Nick Davies, White Lies |

Sabrina Butler

Sabrina Butler: Exonerated from Death Row
[2:13 mins.]

Witness to Innocence
[6:22 mins.] [a documentary by Brian Bullock]

Sabrina Butler Porter talks about death row
[1:04:45 mins.]

Web Resources: Wikipedia | National Registry of Exonerations |

Joe D'Ambrosio

CNN
[1:05 mins.]

Joe D'Ambrosio Exonerated from Death Row
[1:29 mins.]

Priest Helped Free Death Row Inmate
[4:20 mins.]

The Death Penalty in our Penal System
[48:25 mins.] [Fr. Neil Kookoothe and Joe D'Ambrosio] [D'Ambrosio's comments begin at 4:15 mins.]

 

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