Wrongful Convictions to be Examined at Southwestern Symposium
Wrongful conviction of the innocent not only destroys the lives of those found guilty and their families, it allows the criminals who actually perpetrated the crimes to go unpunished and free to commit additional offenses. Southwestern will present Wrongful Convictions: Causes and Cures on Friday, February 8, 2008, a symposium dedicated to exploring the causes of wrongful conviction, the media's role in these cases and the ways to reduce their occurrence.
Recent developments in DNA testing have confirmed the long-standing fear that individuals can be convicted of crimes they did not commit. There have been more than 200 DNA exonerations in the United States that have typically involved serious violent felonies, some of which were capital crimes. A number of exonerations have also occurred in cases not involving scientific evidence.
"It is no longer surprising to see media accounts of individuals who have been wrongfully convicted and exonerated after serving lengthy sentences, sometimes on death row," said Southwestern Professor Myrna Raeder, a nationally recognized expert on evidence and procedure who is a co-organizer of the event. "This symposium will focus on many of the recognized causes of wrongful convictions, and the ways that jurisdictions can become more effective in ensuring the integrity of the criminal justice system."
The symposium will feature legal scholars, law enforcement officials, prosecutors, defense attorneys, journalists, and other experts who will discuss the causes of wrongful convictions, such as mistaken eyewitness testimony, faulty forensic evidence, unreliable informants and false confessions, among other issues. Approaches to reducing the occurrence of wrongful convictions and providing compensation, such as those suggested by recently adopted American Bar Association (ABA) policies, will be also be discussed, as well as the media's role in these matters. The program is being co-sponsored by the ABA Criminal Justice Section, the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association.
In addition to featured luncheon speaker Peter Neufeld, co-director of the Innocence Project, panelists will include: Dino Amoroso, formerly Kings County District Attorney's Office; Professor Rory Little, University of California, Hastings College of the Law; Professor Laurie Levenson, William M. Rains Fellow and Director of the Center for Ethical Advocacy, Loyola Law School; Barry Fisher, Director, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Crime Laboratory; Professor Paul Giannelli, Case Western Reserve University School of Law; Professor Jennifer Mnookin, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law; Professor William Thompson, Chair, Department of Criminology, Law & Society, School of Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine; Professor Margaret Berger, Brooklyn Law School; Hon. Arthur L. Burnett, Sr., Executive Director, National African-American Drug Policy Coalition; Professor Andrew Taslitz, Howard University School of Law; Gigi Gordon, Directing Attorney, Post Conviction Assistance Center; Professor Gerald Uelmen, Director, Edwin A. Heafey Jr. Center for Trial and Appellate Advocacy, Santa Clara University School of Law and Reporter, California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice; Henry Weinstein, Legal Affairs Reporter for the Los Angeles Times; and Professor Kenneth Williams, Southwestern Law School. Southwestern professors Isabelle Gunning, Jonathan Miller and Karen Smith will serve as moderators.
Articles written in coordination with the Wrongful Convictions symposium will be published in the Southwestern University Law Review, a student-edited quarterly journal that publishes scholarly articles and commentary on the law contributed by prominent jurists, practitioners, law professors, and student members of the Law Review staff. In addition to publishing the writings of the participants, the Law Review has received permission to reprint the ABA Criminal Justice Section's report "Achieving Justice: Freeing the Innocent, Convicting the Guilty." For further information, contact the Law Review Office.
The symposium will take place from 8:45 a.m. (check in begins at 8 a.m.) to 5:30 p.m. in the historic Bullocks Wilshire Building on Southwestern's campus, 3050 Wilshire Boulevard, in Los Angeles. The cost, including lunch, is $75 for non-Southwestern Alumni seeking 7.5 hours of CLE credit; $50 for Southwestern Alumni seeking 7.5 hours of CLE credit; $40 for those not seeking CLE credit (lunch included); $38 for one-year Law Review subscription. Information on registering for the event can be found online. For a map and directions, click here.
Media interested in attending the symposium should contact Southwestern's Public Information Office.