CrimProf Blog

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

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Roach on Prosecutors and Wrongful Convictions

Roach kentKent Roach (University of Toronto - Faculty of Law) has posted Prosecutors and Wrongful Convictions (In Benjamin Berger, Emma Cunliffe and James Stribopoulos eds. To Ensure that Justice is Done: Essays in Memory of Marc Rosenberg (Toronto: Thomson Reuters, Forthcoming)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The first part of this chapter examines the prosecutorial role in wrongful convictions with special attention to guilty plea wrongful convictions. Such wrongful convictions are only recently being recognized as a problem. There is still some victim blaming of innocent accused who make rational or irrational decisions to pled guilty. Justice Rosenberg’s 2008 decision in Hanemaayer was pioneering in its recognition of the guilty plea wrongful conviction, its willingness to admit error and correct injustice and its compassionate approach to an innocent accused who pled guilty. The available evidence suggests that while prosecutors play a direct role in some wrongful convictions, they more frequently play an indirect role. 

The second part provides a taxonomy of strategies to employ to improve prosecutorial behavior in correcting and preventing wrongful convictions.
It draws distinctions between “hard” or external strategies of regulation that involve attempts to impose sanctions and “soft” or internal strategies based on self-regulation including education, ethics and rewards. It argues that the optimal approach especially given the indirect role of prosecutors in many wrongful convictions will combine both external regulation and internal self-regulation.

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