Saturday, June 30, 2007

California DUI - verdicts incorrect 1 out of every 6 jury cases

Juries get verdict incorrect in 1 out of 6 criminal cases, 17% of the time, per a Northwestern University legal inaccuracy study.

When mistakes are made, both judges and juries are far more likely to send an innocent person to jail than to let a guilty person go free.

Stunning? The research shows that recent high-profile exonerations of scores of inmates on death row have undermined faith in the infallibility of the American Justice System.

These may be relative rarities given how many checks and balances exist: rules on the presumption of innocence, admissibility of evidence, the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and the appeals process.

We assume as California DUI lawyers that the system has been created in such a way to minimize the chance we'll convict the innocent.

It's better to incorrectly allow 1,000 California drunk drivers go free than it is to wrongfully convict 1 innocent California DUI defendant.

The study looked at 290 non-capital criminal cases in four major cities from 2000 to 2001. It examines the reliability of modern juries and judges in the United States.

A first of its kind, the study is not as complete as it could be. Yet its findings serve as some revelations:

  • Judges were also mistaken in their verdicts or judgments - 12 % of the cases.

  • Juries sent 25 % of innocent people to jail while the innocent had a 37 % chance of being wrongfully convicted by a judge.

  • The guilty did not have a great chance of getting off. There was only a 10% chance that a jury would let a guilty person free while the judge wrongfully acquitted a defendant in 13 % of the cases.

  • Juries convicted 70 percent of the time while the judges said they would have found the defendant guilty in 82 percent of the cases.