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February 24, 2003

Who Cares if He's Innocent?

From the New York Times:

A prosecutor was trying to block a death row inmate from having his conviction reopened on the basis of new evidence, and Judge Stith, of the Missouri Supreme Court, was getting exasperated. "Are you suggesting," she asked the prosecutor, that "even if we find Mr. Amrine is actually innocent, he should be executed?"

Frank A. Jung, an assistant state attorney general, replied, "That's correct, your honor."

That exchange was, legal experts say, unusual only for its frankness.

After a trial and appeal, many prosecutors say, new evidence of claimed innocence should generally not be considered by the courts.

The basic gist of the idea is that even where DNA evidence might prove beyond doubt a death row inmate's innocence, they should not be allowed the test. Or be allowed to enter the evidence to ask for a new trial.

Such is the legal terrain in America that needs to maintain the illusion that we ourselves as a society are only murdering the guilty. Better not to know and bury our mistakes than bring them to light.

Posted by Nathan at February 24, 2003 06:56 AM

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