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I’m sorry, what?

U.S. District Court Judge Keith Ellison:

Federal law does not recognize actual innocence as a mechanism to overturn an otherwise valid conviction.

The judge denied a motion for a new trial.

14 Responses to “I’m sorry, what?”

  1. John Smith. Says:

    That is truly amazing.

  2. nk Says:

    Federal law does recognize actual innocence, for a long time now, but the burden is on the prisoner and it’s pretty heavy. Allegations are not enough, proof is needed, and ineffective assistance of counsel no way cuts it.

    I don’t trust that blogpost for giving the whole story, even though I’m supposed to believe everything I read on the internet.

  3. Phelps Says:

    It’s true. You can’t come back on appeal and say, “the jury got it wrong.” You have to come back with some new evidence that the jury didn’t get to see.

    There’s not much justice left in the justice system.

  4. nk Says:

    You can come back on appeal and say the jury got it wrong. It’s after all your appeals have all been turned down that you go into collateral (habeas corpus/post-conviction) proceedings where you are suing the government for wrongfully imprisoning you or executing you and you are the prosecutor and have to prove your case. Which is the case here.

  5. Mike Says:

    Its a legal system, not a justice system.

  6. SPQR Says:

    What nk says.

  7. Kevin Baker Says:

    A better illustration of the fact that the U.S. has a “legal system” rather than a “justice system” has not been found.

    Aaaand Mike beat me to it.

  8. nk Says:

    I defended death penalty cases and my worst result was 80 years for a double murder with kidnapping, rape and sodomy.

    I never worked with crusaders because they were a hindrance without a clue about the laws and would destroy our credibility before the court.

  9. nk Says:

    Like it or not, the justice system is based on thousands’ of years of experience and not on adolescent ideals.

  10. Jake Says:

    Remember the mantra of the legal system: “It’s better to be consistent than to be right.”

  11. Divemedic Says:

    @nk: So innocence is an adolescent ideal? Spoken like a true lawyer.

  12. Gritsforbreakfast Says:

    nk, just saying “Federal law does recognize actual innocence, for a long time now,” doesn’t make it so. Who are we to believe, a pseudonymous commenter or the federal judge quoted who presumably studied the law and heard arguments on the subject? Antonin Scalia has said that the Constitution doesn’t prohibit executing an innocent person, but perhaps you know the case law better than him.

  13. nk Says:

    If you’re referring to In re Davis, Scalia was dissenting, along with Thomas, from the majority opinion which had remanded the case to the district court for a trial on “actual innocence” and his dissent was based on what he considered the limitations placed on habeas corpus relief by the Effective Death Penalty and Anti-Terrorism Act.

  14. nk Says:

    Because Article III of the Constitution gives plenary power to Congress over the jurisdiction of the federal courts, federal habeas is both a maze and a very steep uphill battle for a prisoner. We saw that better with the Guantanamo cases than the death penalty cases.

    But Barry Sheck’s Innocence Project (and Northwestern University Law School here in my hometown) has taken a lot of people out of death row and/or prison.

Remember, I do this to entertain me, not you.

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