Ken Strutin has written extensively for LLRX.com on criminal law issues. He argues that false confessions, bad eyewitness identifications, and faulty forensics, among other problems, have shown that seemingly iron clad adjudications can reach the wrong result. A ‘guilty’ verdict only indicates that the government has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed each and every element of the crime, and not that the defendant actually committed the crime. A freestanding claim of actual innocence is a potentially powerful tool to assail a verdict that points to the wrong person. Still, courts have made only small gains in recognizing actual innocence generally as a basis for contesting a wrongful conviction. This article collects selected scholarship on “actual innocence” and litigating post-conviction claims that go beyond the procedural metrics of the trial process.
The media’s popularization of certain types of evidence may be inspiring a “CSI effect” on decision makers according to Ken Strutin. There is a question about whether impressions created by the media in its treatment and portrayal of forensic proof as either irrefutable or absolutely necessary for conviction is truly impacting the outcome of criminal cases. Ken’s guide is a collection of select legal scholarship and media studies that illuminates the extent of the phenomenon and whether it needs to be addressed and how.
In criminal cases, there have been challenges on sufficiency grounds and concerns over the use of forensic DNA evidence as the sole or primary proof of guilt. Uncorroborated DNA matching might not be enough to satisfy the burden of establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The reliability of forensic DNA testing results might be questioned for any number of reasons, e.g., laboratory error, cross-contamination, interpretive bias or fraud, etc. Ken Strutin’s essay provides an overview of nuclear DNA typing, a sampling of the kinds of discretionary decisions that analysts often confront when interpreting crime scene samples, and concludes with with remarks about current disputes in forensic DNA typing, and how recognition of its inherent subjectivity might inform and illuminate these debates.
Interpreting Rule 1.6(b)(1) of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct in the context of wrongful convictions is complicated by evidentiary and practical considerations surrounding the potential use of such information. This article by Ken Strutin examines resources about several notable cases and the scholarly literature analyzing different approaches to resolving this dilemma.
Ken Strutin’s article examines key sources for surveys and public polling concerning the criminal justice system. In addition to overview studies about the application of surveys to criminal justice, the selected topics include: crime, criminal histories, death penalty, public defense, sentencing, sex offenses, treatment, and reentry.
The activities of users and the information being posted on social networking sites are having wide ranging effects on the administration of justice, law enforcement investigation, prosecution and defense. Ken Strutin’s guide provides a snapshot of many of the novel and varied uses of social networking evidence in the field of criminal justice.
Ken Strutin’s article highlights selected recent publications, news sources and other online materials concerning the applications of cognitive research to criminal law as well as basic information on the science and technology involved.
Ken Strutin’s article includes a collection of recent and representative web-based materials concerning DNA technology developments and legal research on the impact of wrongful convictions and DNA exonerations on the justice system.
Ken Strutin’s guide collects recent court decisions, research papers and reports that have addressed the efficacy of exclusionary zoning laws and the impact of these restrictions on sex offenders reentering their communities.
LLRX Book Review by Heather A. Phillips – Tabloid Justice: Criminal Justice in an Age of Media Frenzy and The Star Chamber: How Celebrities Go Free and their Lawyers Become Famous
Heather A. Phillips reviews a new book whose main focus is on uses on six major criminal cases of the 1990s, as well as one that concentrates on the details of what really happens when the media circus invades the courthouse, and the effect it has on both the trial participants and the verdict.