Apr 02

North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission in jeopardy of losing resources

“It wasn’t doing anybody any satisfactory to be innocent.” The first innocent man Taylor filed a claim with the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, a nonprofit agency that investigates claims of innocence & recommends legislative reform. His application sat in a stack of more than 900 cases waiting to be read. Christine Mumma, director of the Center on Actual Innocence, helped write legislation establishing the Innocence Inquiry Commission. Unlike a court of appeals, the commission may review new evidence such as DNA samples & updated testimony. The commission has the authority to exonerate individuals based on proof of innocence. Mumma heard approximately Taylor’s case & felt compelled to investigate. The Center on Actual Innocence handled the case for two years before turning it over to the Innocence Inquiry Commission as one of its first cases. First, the commission’s staff presents the case under review to an eight-member panel, which determines whether the case is strong enough to move on to a three-judge panel. The panel hears the case & determines whether there is “clear & convincing evidence of innocence” to exonerate. The proof of innocence standard is unique to the Innocence Inquiry Commission. …

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