Friday, August 04, 2006

North Carolina passes "innocence commission" law

North Carolina has passed a law creating a “state innocence commission,”-- modeled after that in Great Britain, but being the first of its kind in the United States – through which inmates claiming to have been wrongly convicted & being able to produce new evidence a new venue of appeal. (Article)

An eight-member commission -- comprised of a superior court judge, prosecuting attorney, a victim advocate, a criminal defense lawyer, a sheriff, a member of the public, not an attorney or officer of the judicial department, and two other individuals “the vocations of whom shall be at the discretion of the Chief Justice”-- will begin accepting claims in November, and if five or more of those commission members agree that there is enough evidence to suggest an inmate’s innocence, the case will be sent to a panel of three Superior Court judges. All three of them would have to agree in overturning a conviction.

Additional information about “innocence commissions,” including the British counterpart and efforts by the Innocence Commission of Virgina project here in the U.S., is available on a site posting by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

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