Florida won't create innocence commission - yet

03/25/10 Lisa Marzilli
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

Back in December, Former American Bar Association President and Tallahassee attorney Sandy D’Alemberte filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court asking it to establish a commission to address the numerous cases of wrongful conviction that plague the state. It was signed by 68 lawyers including three former justices.

The innocence commission would be modeled after the North Carolina Actual Innocence Commission established in 2003, consisting of a panel that includes judges, attorneys, law enforcement representatives, professors and victim advocates. It would examine cases where people were wrongly accused and convicted to see what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening in the future.

This week the Florida Supreme Court decided against creating the innocence commission by “rule” although it doesn’t mean the issue is off the table. It could still be done by “administrative order”. In a letter sent yesterday to D’Alemberte, Chief Justice Peggy Quince said the high court is very interested in the cases of actual innocence and wants to work with his group on the issue.

Seth Miller is Executive Director of the Innocence Project of Florida, which helps find and free innocent people locked away in Florida prisons. He spoke to WMNF today about the Supreme Court ruling.

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Former Prosecutor

I have seen over and over again the State of Florida prosecuting very weak, often times circumstantial evidence cases, or cases with discredited witnesses.Yet when I say "you might be prosecuting an innocent person", the response is "I can get it to a jury, so 6 jurors will need to decide".The best way to stop innocent people from being convicted is to stop prosecuting people when there is a real possibility of the person being innocent.Thankfully most of these types of cases the people are found not guilty, but that is not always the case.