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53 U.S.F. L. Rev. 145 (2019)
American Criminal Justice Reform: Human Factor Analysis in Wrongful Convictions and the Need for an Independent Commission

handle is hein.journals/usflr53 and id is 151 raw text is: 







American Criminal Justice Reform:

Human Factor Analysis in Wrongful

Convictions and the Need for an

Independent Commission


                                            By BRurrANY L. WALTER*


 All humans err frequently. Systems that rely on error-free perform-
 ance are doomed  to fail .... Error is an inevitable accompaniment of
 the human  condition, even  among  conscientious professionals with
 high standards. Errors must be accepted as evidence of system flaws
 not character flaws.]

 AN   OFT  CITED  REFERENCE to the American criminal justice sys-
 tem pronounces  that it is better if ten guilty go free than one innocent
 suffer.2 Indeed, from a young age we are instructed that defendants
 are innocent until proven guilty, forming the presumption that our
 system is set up to err on the side of innocence. We must begin with
 the critical recognition that the American criminal justice system is
just that, a system comprised of  multiple components,   layers, and
people.
     Like an airplane crash or an accidental death produced through
medical  error, the conviction of the innocent is a human catastrophe.
Yet, unlike the aviation and medical industries, thus far, the American
criminal justice system exempts  itself from self-examination.3 In-
stead, once a wrongful conviction is ruled, often no further inquiry is

    * J.D., University of San Francisco School of Law (2018); B.S., Political Science and
Foreign Area Studies, United States Air Force Academy (2005). The author would like to
thank Professor Richard Leo for his guidance and encouragement throughout the
development of this paper. Also, endless gratitude to Madeleine Patton and the University
of San Francisco Law Review for all of their hard work in preparing this piece for
publication. Most importantly, the author thanks her spouse and children for their loving
support.
    1. Lucian L. Leape, Error in Medicine, 272 JAMA 1851, 1852, 1857 (1994).
    2. 2. See Danielle L. Coffey, Guilty Until Proven Innocent: What Constitutes New and
Reliable Evidence for the Actual Innocence Gateway?, 50 CRIM. L. BULL., no. 3, ART 5 (2014).
    3. BARRY SCHECK ET AL., ACrUAL INNOCENCE: FIVE DAYS TO EXECUTION AND OTHER
DISPATCHES FROM THE WRONGLY CONVICTED 246 (2000).


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