WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS CLASS - Winter 2004

Class Syllabus 

Except for the first three weeks and the last  three weeks, the order in which the topics for weeks 4 through 11 are actually covered, and assignments made, is subject to change

Week 1: Introduction Introduction to wrongful convictions and The Midwestern Innocence Project Where are we today Overview of process used to date How the class will be conducted What will be required of students Review "questionnaire" 

Week 2: Eyewitness Identification The law How memory works and the weaknesses of identification testimony Admissibility of expert testimony Investigating cases involving eyewitness testimony

Week 3: Investigation of wrongful conviction claims

Week 4:  Snitches and Informers  How use of informers and snitches contributes to wrongful convictions What needs to be done How to investigate cases involving informer testimony Safeguards for the future

In the second hour, cases will be distributed and students will meet with their Teams.

Week 5:  Police and Prosecutorial Misconduct Nondisclosure of discoverable materials by police or prosecutor Nondisclosure of exonerating evidence How to look for missing material in case files Improperly induced guilty pleas. 

We will also discuss progress on cases and determine whether eyewitness identification, snitch testimony or police or prosecutorial misconduct appears as a factor in any of the cases under review.

Week 6:  Ineffective Assistance of Counsel How does bad lawyering contribute to wrongful convictions? -- What is legal ineffectiveness (the law) How to spot a failure of competency in cases examined -- Assess whether ineffective assistance of counsel is likely a factor in any of the cases under review

Week 7:  False Confessions and Evidentiary Barriers - The causes and effects of false confessions   How to identify false confessions   Evidentiary restrictions on the defense that contribute to wrongful convictions --  -- Assess whether either false confessions or evidentiary limitations were likely a factor in any of the cases under review

Week 8:  DNA Evidence What can it do? What can it NOT do? Difference from traditional serology Right of access to DNA testing Privacy issues   

Week 9: Junk Science How to tell junk science from emerging science and "good" science Weaknesses inherent in even respectable crime laboratory techniques What does Daubert and Kumho Tire require? How to obtain experts for the defense? How to evaluate cases --  Assess whether DNA or junk science is a factor in the cases under review and, if so, what avenues should be pursued

Week 10: A Primer On Post Conviction Remedies - Challenges of and strategies for obtaining judicial release of innocent individuals  -- Assess what avenues of relief may be open to inmates in cases under review

Week 11: Meet a Wrongfully Convicted Person

Week 12: Catch Up

Week 13: Case Conferencing

Week 14: Case Conferencing