News 09.12.07

New North Carolina innocence inquiry panel gets to work

The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission was created last year to review possible wrongful convictions and refer cases to a three-judge panel for potential appeal. The eight-member commission is the only group of its kind in the U.S., and it has recently begun its substantative work. The group will have three full-time staff members and is currently investigating three cases, two of which may involve post-conviction DNA testing. The commission has received requests from 200 inmates seeking to have their cases reviewed.

And other major reforms aimed at preventing wrongful convictions in North Carolina are also set to take effect. At the end of August, North Carolina Governor Mike Easley signed three significant criminal justice reform bills into law. The new laws will create statewide standards for police lineups, require recording of police interrogations and strengthen the requirement the law enforcement agencies preserve biological evidence from crime scenes.

Recording interrogations has enormous benefits for both defendants and the police, said Chris Mumma, the executive director of the N.C. Center on Actual Innocence, which coordinates efforts by the state’s law schools to help the wrongfully convicted. Defendants get added protection, and police get the ability to review the interrogation tapes to get more information.

Mumma said that over 500 law-enforcement departments across the country are recording interrogations in some or all of their criminal investigations.

"They have reported that they would never go back,” she said.


Read the full story here

. (Winston-Salem Journal, 09/10/07)

Last month, Dwayne Allen Dail was released from prison in North Carolina after DNA testing proved that he did not commit the rape for which he was serving life in prison. Dail was represented by Chris Mumma at the

North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence

.

Read more about Dail’s case here

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Download the full text of the new criminal justice reform laws in North Carolina:

 

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