The criminal justice system, in case anybody was wondering, is not perfect. Mistakes do occur, not only in criminal investigations, but also in the legal process and in the ultimate outcome of criminal cases. The higher the stakes are in a criminal case, the more a defendant’s freedom is on the line, and the more critical it is that things are done correctly.
The biggest miscarriages of justice often occur in murder and rape cases, where defendants may spend decades in prison on a conviction they didn’t deserve. At present, the City of Baltimore is embroiled in litigation initiated by several individuals who were wrongly convicted for murder and spent significant time in prison for it.
The city has been fighting two cases brought by men who were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned on murder charges, one for two decades and another for over three decades. A more recent case was filed by a 44-year-old man who was convicted for allegedly murdering his girlfriend in 1994. His conviction was overturned last year when, according to his complaint, the true killer came forward and confessed. In his civil suit, he seeks compensation for wrongful imprisonment and cites mishandling of evidence in his case.
The cases have in common that evidence brought to light after their convictions was enough to convince the judges that each of them deserved a new trial. In two of the cases, prosecutors simply dropped the charges, while in the other case, the man agreed to a plea deal that allowed for his immediate release.
In our next post, we’ll continue discussing the issue of wrongful conviction and the importance of working with an experienced attorney in building a strong criminal defense case.
Source: City Paper, “Lawsuits mount over wrongful murder convictions in Baltimore,” Van Smith, April 8, 2015.