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defense lawyer to fail to investigate possible mitigation evidence, changed when, 16 years later in Williams v. Taylor , the court ruled that a strikingly similar case fell below the standard of “reasonably effective assistance” (see 529 U.S. 362, 395–96 [2000]). The court then reaffi rmed this more rigorous standard to investigate mitigation evidence in Wiggins v. Smith , 539 U.S. 510, 524 (2003), which held that defense counsel must make attempts to obtain all reasonably available mitigating evidence.

Racial Bias

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The issue of racial discrimination has long played an essential component in the debate over the death penalty. For instance, “nearly 90 percent of those executed for rape since 1930 were black” (Wolf- gang & Riedel, 1976, p. 105). More recent studies have continued to indicate that racial discrimina- tion continues in the application of the death penalty (Baldus, Woodworth, & Pulaski, 1990; Baldus, Woodworth, Zuckerman, Weiner, & Broffi tt, 1998; Keil & Vito, 1995; Radelet & Pierce, 1991).

Much of the prior research on the relationship between racial discrimination and innocence has focused on the role of the race of the defendant in contributing to a wrongful conviction. Studies on wrongful convictions have reached the conclusion that the race of the offender is a signifi cant factor leading to errors (Bedau & Radelet, 1987; Huff, Rattner & Sagarin, 1996; Radelet, Lofquist & Bedau, 1996; Dwyer, Neufeld, & Scheck, Neufeld, & Dwyer, 2000). Numerous exoneration cases establish the link between racism and wrongful convictions (see Clarence Brandley & Walter McMillian (cases summarized in Harmon, 2004). Moreover, quantitative studies suggest that the combination of the race of the defendant and victim are important predictors of wrongful capital convictions (Harmon, 2001a, 2004). These innocence studies support the conclusion that cases involving minority defen- dants and white victims are more likely to result in a death sentence than any other racial combina- tion, thus supporting the persistence of racial bias in the application of the death penalty as a leading factor in contributing to wrongful capital convictions.

Forensic Evidence

Fabricant and Carrington (2016) deconstruct the jurisprudence of two forensic disciplines that have been implicated in a number of wrongful convictions. They examined forensic odontology (bite mark evidence) and forensic hair microscopy and describe in detail the many fl aws in the specifi cs of the two aforementioned forensic sciences. In regard to odontology, a number of overturned cases have found that scientifi cally invalid evidence and erroneous jurisprudence led to those convictions. The courts precluded legitimate claims of innocence in dozens of cases, including capital convictions. Fabricant and Carrington suggest that forensic science attributed to bite marks is not as sound as was once believed, and there are many convictions that were based on bite mark evidence, yet the science has not been empirical validated in its entirety. The authors argue for the requirement of a pretrial reliability screening prior to allowing bite mark evidence at trial.

Garrett and Neufeld (2009) explored forensic science testimony by prosecution experts in the trial of wrongful felony convictions that were exonerated by postconviction DNA testing. This study found that in the bulk of the trials, 82 cases, or 60%, of forensic analysts called by the prosecution provided invalid testimony at trial. This was discovered by examining trial transcripts of previously exonerated individuals who had forensic analysts testimony used at their trials. The study found the testimony wrought with errors. The research found the outcome cannot be attributed to a small percentage of analysts. In fact, these cases were widespread and included invalid testimony by 72 forensic analysts called by the prosecution and employed by 52 laboratories, practices, or hospitals from 25 states.

Giannelli (2007) examined the failures of crime labs in a number of different states and the FBI lab. He argued that if all the forensics sciences applied the same level of scrutiny and standards as DNA lab analysis, wrongful convictions w

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