CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, December 5, 2005

Murder by Perjury?

If one commits perjury in a capital case, and thereby causes the wrongful conviction of an innocent person, is the perjurer guilty of murder? Maybe, according to a Texas prosecutor, who is considering charging a witness who says he lied under police pressure.  The duress defense is problematic, because in many jurisdictions, duress is not a defense to murder, and it requires an imminent threat of death or serious physical injury, with no reasonable opportunity to escape, which is not alleged in this case. [Jack Chin--Thanks to Ken Williams]

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Blackstone said in 1769 that perjury leading to the execution of an innocent man might be murder, and anciently was so punished. 4 W. Blackstone, Commentaries, pp. 136-138, 196.

Posted by: Gregory B. Jones | Dec 8, 2005 1:57:12 PM

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