New York Law School Law Review Issue Examines Systemic Changes to the Criminal Justice System to Avoid Wrongful Convictions

Media Contact: LaToya Jordan, 212.431.2191, latoya.jordan@nyls.edu

New York Law School Law Review Issue Examines Systemic Changes to the Criminal Justice System to Avoid Wrongful Convictions

New York, NY (February 28, 2012)—The New York Law School Law Review announces the publication of its latest issue, Exonerating the Innocent: Pre-Trial Innocence Procedures. The 10 articles in this issue, by 14 scholars and practitioners who have been involved in exonerating innocent criminal defendants, are unique because they examine proposals for fundamental changes and even wholesale alternatives to our adversarial criminal justice system that could address the problem of wrongful convictions,  including whether or how pre-trial “innocence procedures” or “innocence bureaus” could spare innocent defendants from long prison terms by allowing defendants to establish their innocence prior to or at trial.

“This issue of the Law Review provides an extraordinary critique of perhaps the greatest existential, but, unfortunately, real fear of any individual or society: the conviction and imprisonment, and even execution, of innocent people,” said Tim Bakken, Professor of Law at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and co-organizer of the symposium.  “The societal failure is monumental.  American prisons, at any point in time, hold thousands of innocent people, while many wonder whether the plight of the innocent is the inevitable result of an imperfect justice system.  I don’t believe any innocent person should have to live or die in prison while taking one for the team.  There is a better way, and we have to be open to finding it.  This issue of the Law Review offers a path for doing so.”

“The articles in this New York Law School Law Review issue establish that American prisons hold thousands of innocent persons convicted of serious crimes.  These articles discuss innovative ways to save these innocent victims of a failed criminal justice system from the fate of spending long years behind bars or even death, while the guilty go free to commit other crimes,” said Lewis M. Steel, Of Counsel at Outten and Golden, LLC and co-organizer of the symposium.  “Band-Aid solutions don’t work, many of these authors say.  But the approaches proposed by some of these distinguished law professors just might.  All who seek a more functional criminal justice system which exonerates the innocent and convicts the guilty will benefit from the ideas in this issue.”

The Law Review issue features the following articles, which were presented at a symposium held in November 2010 at New York Law School, co-sponsored by the West Point Center for the Rule of Law:

  • Exonerating the Innocent: Pretrial Innocence Procedures by Tim Bakken, Professor of Law at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and Lewis M. Steel, Of Counsel at Outten and Golden, LLC.
  • Models of Justice to Protect Innocent Persons by Tim Bakken, Professor of Law at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
  • Innocence Is Different: Taking Innocence into Account In Reforming Criminal Procedure by D. Michael Risinger, John J. Gibbons Professor of Law, Seton Hall University School of Law; and Lesley C. Risinger, Director, Last Resort Exoneration Project, Seton Hall University School of Law.
  • Adversarial Inquisitions: Rethinking the Search for the Truth by Keith A. Findley, Clinical Professor, University of Wisconsin Law School; Co-Director, Wisconsin Innocence Project; President, Innocence Network.
  • Convicting Lennie: Mental Retardation, Wrongful Convictions, and the Right to a Fair Trial by John H. Blume, Professor of Law, Cornell Law School, and Director, Cornell Death Penalty Project; Sheri Lynn Johnson, Professor of Law, Cornell Law School, Assistant Director, Cornell Death Penalty Project; and Susan E. Millor, Cornell Law School, Class of 2012.
  • Pretrial Procedures for Innocent People: Reforming Brady by Lisa Griffin, Professor of Law, Pace University School of Law.
  • Pretrial Incentives, Post-Conviction Review, and Sorting Criminal Prosecutions by Guilt or Innocence by Samuel R. Gross, Thomas and Mabel Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School.
  • Dallas County Conviction Integrity Unit and the Importance of Getting It Right the First Time by Mike Ware, Adjunct Professor of Law, Texas Wesleyan University School of Law; Supervising Attorney of Wesleyan Innocence Project.
  • The Problem of Convicting Innocent Persons: How Often Does It Occur and How Can It Be Prevented? by Leon Friedman, Joseph Kushner Professor of Civil Liberties Law at Hofstra Law School.
  • Freeing the Guilty Without Protecting the Innocent: Some Skeptical Observations on Proposed New “Innocence” Procedures by Paul G. Cassell, Ronald N. Boyce Presidential Professor of Criminal Law, S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah.

As part of its visual scholarship project, Law Review editors also produced Exonerating the Innocent, a 10-minute video in which the symposium’s speakers, including Innocence Project co-founder Peter Neufeld, debate the use of innocence procedures as a solution to the problem of wrongful convictions. It is available here.

To view or download the articles, visit the Law Review’s website. They are also available through LexisNexis, Westlaw, and HeinOnline. See 56 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 825-1256 (2011-12). The video Exonerating the Innocent can be viewed here. Recordings of the symposium panels are available here. Also included in this issue are essays reflecting on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, written by Joseph Armbrust, Michael Cardozo, Kenneth Feinberg, and Donna Lieberman in connection with an event titled Lawyers and the Law in New York City: Ten Years After 9/11, held on September 8, 2011 at New York Law School.

About the New York Law School Law Review
The New York Law School Law Review is a journal of legal scholarship edited and published by students at New York Law School four times a year. The Law Review is the largest law review in the United States, with 2011–2012 membership of more than 180 students, led by an editorial board assisted by staff editors, online staff editors, and members, working together with a full-time faculty publisher, to make all editorial and publication decisions. The Law Review has both a scholarly and an educational mission. It serves as an academic forum for legal scholarship by sponsoring four symposia each year and publishing the scholarship produced through those events. The Law Review also offers its students an important learning and professional development experience, providing opportunities for members to develop their writing, research, and editing skills, as well as other skills that are important for the successful practice of law, including communication, organizational, and project management skills. The Law Review is printed by Joe Christensen, Inc., in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Law Review’s editorial and general offices are located at New York Law School, 185 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013. Symposium proposals may be submitted to the Law Review by U.S. mail or via email at law_review@nyls.edu. Tel. 212-431-2109. www.nylslawreview.com.

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