Talk:Actual innocence

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I've placed three templates on this article. One of them calls attention to the lack of sourcing in keeping with WP:Attribution. Another calls attention to the related principle of WP:NOR, a principle recently integrated into WP:Attribution. The third disputes the factual accuracy of the article. Although I don't have adequate time to dig into extensive editing of the article at present, I should point out that "actual innocence" is primarily a term used in the appellate stage of proceedings, i.e., after a guilty verdict has already been rendered. ... Kenosis 15:01, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

Deletion proposed[edit]

This page is a bit confused. There is no "defense" of actual innocence, not even in America! You have a presumption of innocence which may be rebutted by a properly conducted prosecution. You are then convicted. Subsequently if new evidence comes to light, e.g. B who is dead is shown to have killed C, meaning A couldn't have, then that may show that A is "actually innocent". But this is a matter of criminal procedure, and in the case linked to above, it's about the relationship between state and federal jurisdictions as well. Showing you are "actually innocent" has nothing therefore to do with a "defence" which operates at the time of the initial trial - either because it excuses or mitigates a potential sentence. The whole discussion on this page is therefore confused and it misleads readers. It is unreferenced and uninformative. It should be deleted. Wikidea 10:00, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

I'd rather see it improved than deleted. The fact that there is a presumption of innocence does not detract from the fact that this is a defense to the assertion by the state that the defendant is guilty of a crime. The problem is that this is so taken for granted that criminal law courses don't address the most frequently pled claim that the defendant had no involvement whatsoever in the alleged criminal activity. In law school, the cases are all about "yes, buts" - "yes, I took the car, but I was going to return it" or "yes, we had sex, but she consented" or "yes, I hit him, but he hit me first" or "yes, I shot him, but the voices in my head made me do it." However, this leaves untouched the bulk of cases in which the defendant's assertion is that they were somewhere else entirely when the crime was committed, that the witness saw someone else who only looked like the defendant, that the police or some other party planted whatever incriminating evidence was to be found, or that the confession was false and was coerced. We have articles on alibi, mistaken identity, frame-up and false confession, actual innocence is merely the header under which each of these topics is properly covered. bd2412 T 15:27, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
I'd rather keep both this and Alibi, and work to improve both. Bearian 21:31, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
But I wonder, can alibi ever have enough substance to survive as a separate article? bd2412 T 22:28, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

Although mistaken identity is not a substantive defence (and the article should not suggest it is), there are plenty of particular rules which apply when mistaken identity is alleged in a criminal trial (at least in England: R v. Turnball). I suspect alibi can have enough substance to survive as a separate article: there are certain procedural rules (notifications of alibis, etc) which might be worth including. I would rather see this article merged with eyewitness identification, preferably under the heading of mistaken identity.Dubitante 11:03, 21 October 2007 (UTC)


Look at HERRERA V. COLLINS, 506 U.S. 390 (1993),and make another run at this article. I think that the phrase "actual innocence" has as much and probably more currency in habeas law than in trial procedure. Mrees1997 20:45, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

Substantive Rights vs. Procedure[edit]

2-11-09 I added two paragraphs under the first two paragraphs. I don't know who wrote the original entry but it is not current and fails to recognize that Substantive Rights of an Individual trump the Procedural Rights of the State (government, State or Federal). See 28 USC 2071. Thus, relief from a conviction by presenting proof of actual innocence, due to previously unavailable evidence or misconduct of court officials, including the defendants attorney as well as the prosecuting attorney, Judge, or Jury, is a substantive right that bars utilizing a law of procedure close the court. I have cited Ex Parte Elizondo, Texas, but have many more that support the technical definition of the word phrase 'actual innocence'. Signed, Layofthelaw-Texas —Preceding unsigned comment added by LayoftheLaw-Texas (talkcontribs) 23:05, 11 February 2009 (UTC)

True, but proof of actual innocence predicated on evidence that was previously available, and was withheld at trial based on the good-faith judgment of defense counsel, will not free a convicted person. Of course, it could be argued that the failure to introduce such evidence is always misconduct on the part of defense counsel (or at least incompetence). bd2412 T 18:11, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

Freestanding innocence[edit]

I'm assuming Freestanding innocence is the same thing and have redirected that page here. -- Kendrick7talk 21:38, 27 February 2009 (UTC)

"Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution, and Other Dispatches From the Wrongly Convicted"[edit]

Contributors ought to invest the time to read the book "Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution, and Other Dispatches From the Wrongly Convicted" as it moves the discussion beyond clean law school framework discussion to the dirt and grime of wrong convictions by trials due to police and prosecutor misconduct which happens 20%-30% of the time according to their investigations which spawned Innocence Projects in law schools around the USA. Their emperical figure also corresponds to generic decision research reported in Harvard Business Review, June 2001 where 70%-80% of all decisions made with 90% confidence are correct, proving legal decisions are wrong 20%-30% of the time. Further, the adversarial system in trials provides legal immunity to the DA who are then free to lie constantly during the trial, which some do even about events that occurred in the trial, removing trials from honest evaluations of evidence to vaudville acts intended to fool a jury into conviction. One trial I observed like that was State v. Thomas Michael Kelly, Astoria OR (2008). (talk) 01:45, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

"Supreme Court Mentions "Actual Innocence"[edit]

"This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is “actually” innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged “actual innocence” is constitutionally cognizable."

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in an dissenting opion published here:

sherpajohn (talk) 19:03, 18 August 2009 (UTC)


The focus of the actual innoncence projects is on people who had no criminal responsibility for what occurred. However, what of the person who is convicted of first degree murder when in fact he is guity of second degree murder. Is he not just as innocent of first degree murder as a person who had nothing to do with the crime? As a matter of fact most people who are charged with a crime actually are guilty. The question is what offense they are guilty of. Jgard5000 (talk) 09:30, 4 October 2009 (UTC)Jgard5000

Actual innocence in the sense of complete innocence of the charges brought (due to mistaken identity, false confession, or the like) can always be pleaded in the alternative - e.g., "I didn't kill 'X' at all, and if I did it was in self defense". bd2412 T 14:13, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

Factual Correction[edit]

"The UK, like all 47 Member States of the Council of Europe, is a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights,[3] and is prohibited by Article 3 from using the death penalty; so there is no longer the fear that an innocent man may be executed."

The actual provision is Protocol No. 6, Article 1 with an exception created by Article 2 during "time of war or of imminent threat of war."

Protocol No. 6 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms concerning the abolition of the death penalty — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:57, 25 December 2012 (UTC)