Up the River Without a Procedure: Innocent Prisoners and Newly Discovered Non-DNA Evidence in State Courts

Non-DNA cases are difficult for defendants to overturn given the subjectivity involved in assessing most forms of new evidence and the absence of a method to prove innocence to a scientific certainty. This inherent difficulty, however, is exacerbated by the fact that inmates typically must resort to burdensome state court procedures that remain little-changed from their ancient British roots and that ultimately fail to provide potentially innocent defendants with adequate access to the courts. To improve such access, this Article recommends that states revamp their procedures in this area by, among other reforms, abandoning statutes of limitations, directing each submission to a judge other than the original trial judge, and adopting a de novo standard of appellate review for summary denials of innocence claims.