One of the biggest challenges facing the criminal justice system is dealing with the growing tide of post-conviction petitions claiming wrongful conviction. Each year, the number of exonerees grows. In 2014, the United States recorded an unprecedented 125 exonerations. In analyzing how post-conviction matters are handled, it becomes apparent that one of the key roadblocks to remedying these injustices is not, as some have suggested, the attitude of young prosecutors. Rather, senior prosecutors become cynical about innocence claims and form a cognitive bias that impairs their ability to play a constructive role in the exoneration process. This article discusses the role of prosecutors in the post-conviction process, analyzes current studies of prosecutorial attitudes, and proposes reforms to ensure that meritorious post-conviction challenges are handled properly.
Laurie L. Levenson,
The Problem With Cynical Prosecutor's Syndrome: Rethinking A Prosecutor's Role in Post-Conviction Cases,
20 Berkeley J. Crim. L.