Now what is this all about.
A message from Lew
Weinstein, author of A Good Conviction.
Most Americans are comfortable in the belief
that if they don't commit any crime, they have no risk of going to
Unfortunately, that's just not true.
Wrongful prosecution of a young man for a murder he did not commit is
the core of my new novel, A Good Conviction. I explore what my
fictional prosecutor did to suppress evidence, why he did it, and how
Josh Blake, struggling to survive amidst the horrors of Sing Sing
prison, tries to understand how his life was destroyed.
My recently posted Listmania
on amazon.com, "Lew Weinstein's best books about good
and bad prosecutors," will direct you to many of the sources cited
below and to others which describe the pressures on prosecutors, and
how some crumble under that pressure.
While most prosecutors are honest and try to do justice which allows
all defendants the fair trial to which they are entitled, too many
prosecutors fail to uphold this sacred obligation.
There is considerable evidence, from many jurisdictions, that
conviction of the innocent, in violation of the laws which are supposed
to protect all of us, is not as rare in America as we might like to
Why is this so? Well, sometimes it's not easy for a prosecutor to build
a case which will convince a jury `beyond a reasonable doubt,' even if
the prosecutor believes in his or her heart that the defendant is
No prosecutor wants to be embarrassed by losing a case. No prosecutor
who has ambitions can afford to lose too many cases. Faced with the
possibility of losing, some prosecutors are tempted to break the law.
So they cheat to get a conviction.
Most often, they do this by suppressing evidence that goes against
their case, evidence that would produce `reasonable doubt' in a juror's
Sometimes, they conspire to make up evidence which alleges guilt, for
instance by planting "stoolies" who then testify about admissions by
the defendant which never happened.
Don't believe it? Think it can't happen in America, the land of justice
for all? Consider these serious reports by very credible organizations
How likely is it there are many more such cases that have
never come to significant public attention?
- The Chicago Tribune reported that 381 murder
convictions were reversed because of police or prosecutorial misconduct.
- Columbia Law School documented "chronic
prosecutorial suppression of evidence of innocence."
- Barry Scheck et al (in Actual Innocence) report numerous
cases of prosecutorial misconduct, usually by suppression of evidence
that would have proven innocence.
- The website of the organization Truth in Justice
cites prosecutorial misconduct as a factor in at least 2,017 cases.
- The book In Spite
of Innocence, published by Northeastern University Press, cites
400 wrongful convictions in murder cases.
- The powerful play The
Exonerated presents the terrible stories, in their own words, of
seven persons who were wrongfully convicted
- The Sam Sheppard and Jeffrey MacDonald cases
are just two of many famous cases where it is now clear that mountains
of evidence supporting innocence never reached a jury.
Is it possible that what we do know is but the tip of the iceberg?
Wrongful prosecution could happen to anyone. It could happen to you.