In this article, Professor Hoeffel discusses the Roberts Court's obvious struggle with its actual innocence jurisprudence. It is a struggle that was only theoretical in the days before DNA exonerations. While the Court had two opportunities to clarify the role of wrongful convictions in the criminal justice system, it has declined to do so. In House v. Bell, the Court ratcheted up the standard of proof for freestanding constitutional claims of innocence to a level no petitioner could understand, much less meet. Then, in District Attorney's Office for the Third Judicial District v. Osborne, the Court held that the one manner in which a litigant might in fact meet that standard—through conclusive DNA testing of the state's evidence—was not constitutionally mandated. Through analysis of these two cases and two other cases that came before the Roberts Court, Professor Hoeffel concludes that the majority of the Court is so cowed by the power of DNA that it has exaggerated its potential impact on the criminal justice system. As a result, it has closed doors on the few men and women who can prove their innocence.
Janet C. Hoeffel,
The Roberts Court's Failed Innocence Project,
Chi.-Kent L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cklawreview/vol85/iss1/4