WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

McDonnell Signs Bill Easing Standard For Challenging Wrongful Convictions

Play associated audio
The wrongfully-convicted in Virginia may now have a better chance at exoneration.
The wrongfully-convicted in Virginia may now have a better chance at exoneration.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed a bill into law that makes it a bit easier for wrongly-convicted inmates to win exoneration.

Under previous revisions to the law, new biological and non-biological evidence could be submitted later than 21 days after a conviction. Del. Joe Morrissey says the language was still too strict.

"The old Writ of Actual Innocence law was a draconian measure that made it almost impossible for an innocent person to get a new trial or to be acquitted," Morrissey says.

Morrissey says the law's changes include revising one word. That alone makes it easier for the Court of Appeals or state Supreme Court to find that with this previously unknown evidence, no rational trier of fact would have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

"The language said that no rational trier of fact could find that the person was guilty," Morrissey says. "That's like saying, 'Well, a meteorite could hit you. But would it?' No. So, changing it to from could to would makes it easier for an innocent man."

And while an attorney general s role has been to defend the prosecutor's case and stress proof of guilt, the new law will permit him to provide evidence of innocence.


'Weiner' Offers A Riveting, Close-Up View Of A Scandal In Progress

In 2013, a documentary team followed former Congressman Anthony Weiner in his bid to become mayor of New York. When a scandal hit, the cameras kept rolling. Film critic David Edelstein reviews Weiner.

Chef Eddie Huang On Cultural Identity And 'Intestine Sticky Rice Hot Dog'

Huang and his brothers, Evan and Emery, headed to China to reconnect with their culture, to eat lots and lots of food — and to cook. He's documented his travels in his new book, Double Cup Love.

Late-Night Host Jimmy Kimmel Is Negotiating A Presidential Debate. It Makes Sense

Just after Bernie Sanders thanked Kimmel for possibly securing the debate last night, Kimmel made a Batman vs. Superman joke about Democratic superdelegates.

Hokule'a, The Hawaiian Canoe Traveling The World By A Map Of The Stars

A voyaging canoe built to revive the centuries-old tradition of Hawaiian exploration is circumnavigating the globe. Its crew has already traveled 26,000 miles navigating with the sun, stars and waves.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.