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90 Wash. U. L. Rev. 1133 (2012-2013)
Police Misconduct as a Cause of Wrongful Convictions

handle is hein.journals/walq90 and id is 1157 raw text is: POLICE MISCONDUCT AS A CAUSE OF
This study gathers data from two mass exonerations resulting from
major police scandals, one involving the Rampart division of the L.A.P.D.,
and the other occurring in Tulia, Texas. To date, these cases have received
little systematic attention by wrongful convictions scholars. Study of these
cases, however, reveals important differences among subgroups of
wrongful convictions. Whereas eyewitness misidentification, faulty
forensic evidence, jailhouse informants, and false confessions have been
identified as the main contributing factors leading to many wrongful
convictions, the Rampart and Tulia exonerees were wrongfully convicted
almost exclusively as a result of police perjury. In addition, unlike other
exonerated persons, actually innocent individuals charged as a result of
police wrongdoing in Rampart or Tulia only rarely contested their guilt at
trial. As is the case in the justice system generally, the great majority
pleaded guilty. Accordingly, these cases stand in sharp contrast to the
conventional wrongful conviction story. Study of these groups of wrongful
convictions sheds new light on the mechanisms that lead to the conviction
of actually innocent individuals.
Police misconduct causes wrongful convictions. Although that fact has
long been known, little else occupies this corner of the wrongful
convictions universe. When is police misconduct most likely to result in
wrongful convictions? How do victims of police misconduct respond to
false allegations of wrongdoing or to police lies about the circumstances
surrounding an arrest or seizure? How often do victims of police
misconduct contest false charges at trial? How often do they resolve
charges through plea bargaining? While definitive answers to these
questions must await further research, this study seeks to begin the
* Professor of Law, Georgia State University College of Law. Special thanks are owed to Eric
Coffelt, who worked hard and traveled far to help me collect data for this study. I also wish to thank
Brandon Garrett and Sam Gross for their excellent comments on earlier drafts, and to Max Compton
for his research assistance.


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