Legislature, Supreme Court must address flaws that lead to wrongful convictions | Editorial | Kentucky.com

Posted: December 30, 2011 by scaryhouse in Uncategorized

We applaud the Kentucky Innocence Project and all those who helped exonerate Kerry Porter after almost 15 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.

But justice still has not been served.

The legislature and state Supreme Court must fix flaws in the system that led to Porter’s and other wrongful convictions. Otherwise, more such errors and injustices will be inevitable.

This should be an urgent concern, not just for public defenders, but for all of law enforcement because convicting the wrong person lets the real criminal off the hook.

As is true of most wrongful convictions, a faulty eyewitness identification was at the heart of the case against Porter. This is not surprising as a growing body of science reveals the unreliability of eyewitness IDs.

Police agencies should adopt model procedures for eyewitness identifications. Unless these procedures are scrupulously followed, the Supreme Court should exclude the use of eyewitness identifications by prosecutors.

Critical to Porter’s exoneration was DNA testing of a homemade silencer that was used on the murder weapon.

In this one respect, Porter was lucky. Kentucky law guarantees post-conviction DNA testing only to inmates facing a death sentence. A Louisville judge authorized it for Porter. But a Northern Kentucky judge denied DNA testing to another Innocence Project client, William Virgil, who is serving 70 years for a murder he says he did not commit. The Supreme Court last week refused to expedite his appeal. He will have to wait years on the Court of Appeals, unless the legislature or Supreme Court expands the right to DNA testing, as all but two states, Kentucky and Alabama, already have done.

There also should be a requirement to preserve evidence.

Finally, Kentucky owes Porter nothing for the 14 years it took from him, and that is wrong. Many states have provisions for compensating those who have been wrongly convicted and imprisoned. Kentucky should too.

via Legislature, Supreme Court must address flaws that lead to wrongful convictions | Editorial | Kentucky.com.

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