August 2002

Jennifer Harbury lost her case in the United States Supreme Court. The Court ruled that her claim that she could have instituted a lawsuit to save her husband’s life if the government had been honest with her about his capture by CIA operatives was too speculative for a denial of access to courts claim. For the opinion, check out Jennifer’s web page.

Another case where an innocent person spends years in prison for the crime he didn’t commit. In this one, the mentally ill defendant confessed to raping and strangling a young girl. Defense attorneys claim that the Detroit police department fed the man details of the crime which only the true killer would know, that he then worked into his confession. This case demonstrates not only the glaring fallability of the system, but the problem of confessions, a form of evidence that lay people find very persuasive, but which is actually highly unreliable. For more information on the phenomenon of false confessions, see Richard Ofshe’s article. There was also a great New Yorker article on this a few months back.