“It used to be that almost all the exonerations we knew about were murder and rape cases. We’re finally beginning to see beyond that. This is a sea change,” said Gross.
Exonerations often take place with no public fanfare and the 106-page report that coincides with the opening of the registry explains why.
On TV, an exoneration looks like a singular victory for a criminal defense attorney, “but there’s usually someone to blame for the underlying tragedy, often more than one person, and the common culprits include defense lawyers as well as police officers, prosecutors and judges. In many cases, everybody involved has egg on their face,” according to the report.
Despite a claim of wrongful conviction that was widely publicized last week, a Texas convict executed two decades ago is not in the database because he has not been officially exonerated. Carlos deLuna was executed for the fatal stabbing of a Corpus Christi convenience store clerk. A team headed by a Columbia University law professor just published a 400-page report that contends DeLuna didn’t kill the clerk, Wanda Jean Lopez.