Justinian Lane

Another question about the value of human life

The New York Times has an article about the compensation for people who were wrongfully convicted.  The article raises a very tough question:

Of the more than 200 people released from prison since 1989 on the basis of new DNA evidence, 38 percent have received nothing for the years they spent behind bars.

What are those lost years worth?

Putting a Price on a Wrongful Conviction - New York Times

Any thoughts from the crowd?

I'll open the discussion by suggesting that if the conviction was brought about by fraud or intentional misconduct,there should be no fixed formula for compensation - let the jury dole out the punitives as needed.

Justinian Lane: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 1:00 PM, Dec 03, 2007 in Civil Justice
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In medicine, if you do all you can and get a bad outcome you can face a lawsuit where a jury can decide that yes it is bad that something happened and someone should pay.

Why can't this be applied to the defense attorneys? After all, you can always find someone who would say that they should have instructed the witness this was or that, or tried this approach in the case. Call in the professional witnesses and try the attorney for the loss of consort, earnings and emotional damages "for not doing their job". In fact also sue for the damages to their loved ones, those who saw the event happen and then the racial and social injustices inflicted upon those who need cash.

Posted by: throckmorton | December 3, 2007 2:37 PM

What a way to put it: the "injustices inflicted upon those who need cash." I would amend that to say "those who lost years of their lives," but I guess I'm a quibbler.

I don't know how one would calculate the compensation owed for this tremendous loss.

But while it's the defendant's atty's job to represent the defendant's interests, it's also the prosecutor's job to ensure that justice is served. So I'd focus on prosecutors as well as well as defenders, for pursuing charges against someone despite a dearth of evidence, or in spite of evidence suggesting the defendant's innocence. I bet both would incentivize actually caring about these cases and the fate of the people in them.

If you are a subscriber, you should check out this article in the NY Times from a couple weeks ago. It catalogues the compensation that wrongfully convicted people exonerated by DNA evidence received. Everywhere between $0 (there are lots of those) to $2.6 million per year imprisoned.

Posted by: Kia | December 3, 2007 3:29 PM

I support this tort liability. The judge, the employer of the judge, are the responsible parties. All judges should carry liability coverage, new statutes should mandate.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | December 3, 2007 9:07 PM