NWR: discussion for our PW attorneys

Ladies,


I am an attorney in Florida--just so you know where I'm coming from.  I like to watch law shows on tv like law and order, though I sometimes disagree with what they say is the law, etc.  Last night, my husband and I watched Law and Order SVU.  I was very disturbed by the representation made to the American public by the very end of the show:


A man was in prison for a rape that the cops found out was committed by another.  The real perpetrator was caught and confessed on tape--with his lawyer present (no constitutional issues).  The real perpetrator then killed himself.  The ADA on the show stated that nothing could be done for the innocent man who was sitting in prison because no court would accept the hearsay tape as proof that the innocent man did not rape the girl.  The rules of evidence would basically make the innocent man serve another 15 years in prison.


I understand that sometimes innocents are put in jail wrongly.  What bothered me was the representation that nothing could be done to spring the innocent man.  That is not the case in Florida as we have postconviction remedies to correct illegal or incorrect sentences. 


What about in your state?  What would be the outcome of the above scenario?  Would the innocent man really serve another 15 years in prison????


TGD

Posted on September 24, 2009 at 4:06 am
tgdtobe
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11/07/2009
tgdtobe

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(25) Comments

tgdtobe
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11/07/2009
tgdtobe

tgdtobe

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tgdtobe

bump for afternoon crowd

Posted on September 24, 2009 at 7:05 am
meanyprice
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08/25/2009
meanyprice

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So, I'm not an attorney, which makes all of this just opinion only, but I agree with mh.  I think it is probably, unfortunately the case with many states.  I think it is just that the laws haven't kept up with technology.  As technology increases, so do the chances of proving another person guilty (and proving the original person not guilty), either because the evidence is better, can be processed in a more effective way, or the system of maintaining records is better.  I would think that the occurance of people being proven not guilty after being convicted has risen with technology impovements.  The laws to free those that are unfairly convicted just haven't kept up, just like many other laws that are tied to technology (either directly or indirectly). 


I really gets me how there is evidence in every case on shows like CSI and Law and Order, and how it gets processed so quickly.  I think it creates a very unrealistic expectation for victims and for potential jurors.  Makes for good TV tho.

Posted on September 24, 2009 at 9:40 am
Meowkers
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08/27/2011
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I only do civil litigation so I'm not a criminal expert by any means but I would think that you can appeal if there is new evidence that could not have reasonably been discovered before.  Or perhaps file a motion to overturn verdict, (is that possible in criminal law???).  Like I said, I know very little about criminal law.


Also I just wanted to add that these shows really create unrealistic expectations for jurors.  I know so many attorneys who constantly have to tell their jurors that no there will not be a massive amount of forenscic evidence and no they can't do that image manipulation thingamobob that CSI does.  That's not real.  It's becoming a real problem.

Posted on September 24, 2009 at 10:15 am
mscin
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05/22/2010
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i agree with meo that the new evidence should be introduced and retried since the new evidence would make a huge difference in the out come of the verdict.


like i said, i am not an attorney, but isn't the attorney who has become aware of the new evidence required to report it to the court or make it available to the other party?

Posted on September 24, 2009 at 11:06 am
tgdtobe
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11/07/2009
tgdtobe

tgdtobe

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tgdtobe

Meo, the motion to overturn verdict in criminal law is a Motion for Postconviction Relief asking for vacation of judgment and sentence (a collateral attack on the original judgment).  It is possible in Florida, though the rules are pretty strict.  What I saw on SVU last night would have qualified, I'm almost sure.  The rules are specifically designed to help those who are innocent prove it.


Mscin, those rules are true, but only applicable before the trial is over. 

Posted on September 24, 2009 at 11:33 am
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