The Instigator
iq_two
Pro (for)
Losing
12 Points
The Contender
cody30228
Con (against)
Winning
15 Points

Should people convicted of a crime be able to appeal on grounds of actual innocence?

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Pro Tied Con
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/13/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,586 times Debate No: 1764
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (9)

 

iq_two

Pro

I had this idea for my bill for Youth & Government next year. The law would allow convicted criminals to appeal on the grounds of actual innocence, but to file such an appeal they would have to swear under penalty of perjury that they are innocent, and any lawyer who knowingly representes a guilty client on such an appeal would be guilty of suborning perjury.

As it is now, a criminal cannot appeal just because they are innocent. So say your lover was murdered. Your DNA is on them because you had sex, you were seen having an argument with them earlier that day- everyone argues sometimes, and a witness saw someone approximately your shape and size leaving the victim's house at the time of the murder. You are innocent, but the prosecution has a strong case and a jury convicts you. There was no error in the trial- your lawyer didn't do anything wrong, the prosecution didn't do anything wrong, the judge didn't do anything worng- although you are innocent, you have no grounds on which to appeal.

With this bill, you would be able to appeal on the grounds that you are innocent if you swear under penalty of perjury that you are innocent. This condition is so that the appeals system will not be overrun by such appeals. Although it might not deter the criminals, lawyers woud not want to be convicted of suborning perjury and most would not file appeals on the grounds of actual innocence if they know their client is guilty, as they would then be guilty of suborning perjury and could be disbarred.
cody30228

Con

I agree with the premise and rational to your bill , but no offense, it has many flaws
1. Guilty can claim innocence
2. Hurts due process
3. Lawyers would not take the case
4. Innocent still charged as guilty

1. Guilty can claim innocence
You are a murderer. You have been convicted on shaky evidence. You are charged guilty. You are sentenced to death. You decide to appeal and swear you are innocent. Why? Because if you have nothing to lose, why not lie on the bible? The jury sees you as innocent. The judge sees you as innocent. The shaky grounds fail to prove you in the wrong for a one reason. Since you swore you were innocent, you partially convince everyone you ARE innocent.

2. Hurts due process
Let me try to explain your bill, and please correct me if I'm wrong.
Someone who is guilty can call for an appeal and have the case over again.
Currently, someone can only hold an appeal if the believe the judge misinterpreted the law. So you want to make it that anyone can appeal for any reason.
There are a few problems with this
a) violates 5th amendment
5th amendment states
"...nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb..."
in your system, a party is subject for the same offense twice, a clear violation of the 5th amendment.
b) delays courts
in this case, anyone can appeal, and we could have twice as many court cases. The threat of perjury is not sufficient enough to deter guilty parties. Anyone sentenced to life would risk perjury. So we now have many more trials and a flooding of our court system.

3. Lawyers would not take the case.
You are innocent. You are convicted guilty. You appeal. What lawyer would take you on? You have already been charged guilty once! Obviously the other party has enough evidence to convict you. A lawyer would have to be stupid to pick up this case, when they have so many other cases. And what happens if the person can not afford a lawyer? The 6th amendment guarantees a lawyer. What if the state force a lawyer to take up the appeal? And what if the party is guilty, and the lawyer is found guilty too? Your bill hurts innocent lawyers.

4. Innocent still charged guilty
Let me ask you a question in your hypothetical situation. Why would the person be cleared of charges? What new evidence could help them? If they have been charged guilty once, they will be charged guilty again, and this time, charged with perjury. Imagine if you ARE innocent. You get wrongly convicted, you appeal, nothing changes, you are now charged with perjury.

Your bill helps the guilty, hurts the law, hurts lawyers, and hurts innocents. And the final outcome? Little change.
Debate Round No. 1
iq_two

Pro

Thank you for debating me and no offense taken on the statement that my bill has many flaws. That's why I'm debating this here, to find the flaws and fix them before I use it.

In response to your points:
I'll address your points 1) Guilty can claim innocence and 2b) delays courts because the threat of perjury is not enough to deter criminals together. Of course the guilty can claim innocence, and many would, because as you said, the threat of perjury would not be enough to deter most criminals. However, it would be enough to deter most lawyers (I'll get to your point about lawyers being deterred anyway later). The other part of your point is that everyone will assume the defendant is innocent because they swear under oath that they are. I don't think people are that gullible. For the most part, they will assume that despite swearing under oath, the convicted criminal is guilty. This mindset is show in the fact that for the first hundred or so years of American history and before, the accused was not even allowed to testify in their own defense because they had such a great motive to lie. It is highly unlikely that people will assume someone is innocent just because they say they are- were that the case, all criminals would have to do to not get convicted in the first place would be to testify under oath that they are innocent.

The other part of your argument 2) that it hurts the process is invalid. The fifth amendment states "...nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb..." However, since the person has already been convicted, it is not double jeopardy for them to be tried again, since they can't be any worse off than before. This is the same with all appeals. Say the judge eers in instructing the jury and the defendant is convicted and appeals they can be granted a new trial. I am sure there is some court decision somewhere that says this is not a violation of the fifth amendment but I'm not sure what.

Another flaw in you argument is that you said "Someone who is guilty can call for an appeal and have the case over again." This is not exactly accurate. Someone who is guilty may call for a appeal, have their arguments heard by a panel of judges, who then decide whether to grant a new trial. The judges will only rat a new trial if there is a good reason to.

Your third argument is that no lawyer would take the case. You said that, "You are innocent. You are convicted guilty. You appeal. What lawyer would take you on? You have already been charged guilty once! Obviously the other party has enough evidence to convict you." First of all, lawyers tae appellate cases all the time. Secondly, in some states, in California at least, your original trial lawyer will usually be appointed to handle your appeal unless someone, either you or your attorney, files a motion not to. Secondly, if you are paying the attorney, in a criminal case you are almost certainly not paying by the verdict, therefore, they get paid anyway, so why not tae the case? As to your argument about the inability to pay, that is why there are public defenders and court appointed lawyers. None of this is any different than with any other appeal. The part that is different is the lawyer possibly facing charges on suborning perjury. However, it is not that if you lose you will automatically charged, it is only if it can be proved that you knowingly represented a guilty client. You had to know that although your client swore they were innocent, they were actually guilty. It is the same as if a lawyer put their client on the stand and the defendant claimed they didn't do it. Just because the client is found guilty, it doesn't mean the lawyer will be charged with perjury.

Your fourth point, why would the outcome of a second trial be any different, is a good point, ad I will think about it more. My rebuttal is that often, even if new evidence is found, it is not enough to overturn the verdict on appeal. There have even been cases where someone else confessed to the crime but there was no legal reason to overturn the trial on appeal. This is the kind of case that most likely would be sent back for another trial- where the appellant claims to actually be innocent, and there is new evidence to suggest that it may be true. After all, if there is no change, a judge most likely would not overturn the conviction.
cody30228

Con

Yes, I hope this is a good debate. Good luck!

1. When someone is put on the bench, they swear on the bible to tell the truth. After than. The jury is supposed to interpret everything the person says as truth. So if a party claims they are innocent in the same process, the jury would see this as more honest than simply saying I didn't do it. And since your punishment of perjury is meant to deter false appeals, the jury would assume that the person is most likely innocent. If you punishment is not meant to deter, than it is not a punishment.

2. They can be worse off than before. They can be slapped on perjury charges! This can be mush worse. Besides, since your bill makes them, as you said, innocent again, they are faced with double jeopardy. The current appeals system is not because you are wrongly convicted, but the LAW is interpreted wrong. That is why your appeals trial is at a higher level than you start at.

So you are claiming that this bill would not be a right of all but up to the discretion of a judge. This makes no sense. And here is why. Someone is always considered innocent before proven guilty, and the jury is supposed to vote guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If there is no reasonable doubt that someone is guilty, why would the judge find a reason for an appeal? IF this bill isn't a right, wouldn't many innocents still be harmed?

3. I was not aware that the lawyer would not be convicted if they were kept in the dark. So you win that argument. But I will attack the first part of this argument. Lawyers take appeals all the time, because an appeal is an appeal OF THE LAW, not of the conviction. So this is a whole NEW type of appeal. If the person keeps the same lawyer, then why would the lawyer be any better? What factor would make the same lawyer defend the case better? So let me combine this argument with my fourth argument below. If the lawyer is the same, why would the outcome be different?

4. So all you say here is that an appeal will only take place if new evidence is found.
So here are some examples
a)You are innocent. You are charged guilty. You will be sentenced to life. You appeal. You lose
b)You are innocent. You are charged guilty. You find new evidence. You appeal. Evidence is not substantial. You lose
c)You are innocent. You are charged guilty. You find new evidence. You appeal. Evidence is substantial. You still MIGHT lose.
d)You are innocent. You are charged guilty. You find no evidence. You lose.
In these four scenarios, new evidence can still lead to wrong convictions. If we take your example, what evidence could you find to disprove your guilt? Witnesses against you, there is a motive, there is no alibi. You are still guilty.
My main problem with this bill is that it does not solve the problem. It does not save the innocent. It can save the guilty.
Debate Round No. 2
iq_two

Pro

1. It's an appeal. There is no jury. Judges, for the most part, are not gullible enough to believe anything just because it's said under oath.

2. The bill does not make them innocent again. The bill is so that they can appeal, saying that they are innocent. In other words, they are still guilty, but they can appeal to prove their innocence (yes, this seems contrary to innocent until proven guilty, but they have already been proven guilty. In appeals, the burden of proof lies on the appellant, who was the defendant in the trial.)

And appeals are always decided by a judge, or panel of judges. You said, "Someone is always considered innocent before proven guilty, and the jury is supposed to vote guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If there is no reasonable doubt that someone is guilty, why would the judge find a reason for an appeal?" Juries ARE SUPPOSED TO find guilty beyond reasonable doubt. SUPPOSED TO. The standard of reasonable doubt is subjective, juries are not necessarily all that smart, and they want to be done with the whole thing and go home.

3. No, appeals are always appealing the conviction. They are just appealing the conviction on the grounds that the law was wrong. In this case, they are appealing the conviction on the grouts that the jury was wrong. It's not different.

4. Of course the outcome is not guaranteed to be better. However, you forget a possible outcome: e) You are innocent. You are charged guilty. You find new evidence. The verdict is overturned. You win at your new trial. This possibility is enough to make it worth passing this law. The American justice system is founded on the belief that it is better to let ten guilty people go free than to imprison one innocent person, and this bill gives an innocent person falsely convicted a chance, however slim. That makes it worth it.

You said, "If we take your example, what evidence could you find to disprove your guilt? Witnesses against you, there is a motive, there is no alibi. You are still guilty." There are many possibilities of evidence that you could find that would overturn the conviction. What if someone else confesses? What if several incredibly similar murders are committed, showing that it is a serial killer? What if you didn't have an alibi because you were out for a walk by yourself, and someone realizes they saw you? What if you find out the eyewitness had a motive to lie? What if you find out he had bad vision? What if you find out that someone else had a very strong motive?
An example of a case where this law would be great is from the Law & Order episode "Bronx Cheer." In it, a man was convicted, in the Bronx, of murdering a nightclub bouncer because he had been fighting with the victim, several eyewitnesses saw him, and he confessed to the murder to his girlfriend. And his alibi is his mother. Sounds lie an open and shut case, right? Well, several years later, another man is arrested for some other crime in NYC, and he confesses to the other crime. Or maybe he said he witnessed it and his friend did it, something like that. They talk to the convicted man's lawyer and some other people and find out that he confessed to his girlfriend to impress her, that the two suspects look very similar and that the eyewitnesses hoped for reward money. So the New York prosecutors realize the Bronx prosecutors convicted the wrong man, but the Bronx prosecutor, who got elected based on that case, disagrees and refuses to do anything. The New York prosecutors convict the actual killer, but the Bronx prosecutor still refuses to admit he was wrong. They manage to appeal because the other man was convicted, and win, barely. However, what if the other man hadn't been convicted? Yes, that's fiction, but innocent people really are convicted of crimes they didn't commit, and this bill gives them a second chance. You said your main problem with this bill is that it does not save the innocent, it can save the guilty. However, I've shown that it can save the innocent too, and that makes it worthwhile.
cody30228

Con

Appeals have no juries because they are simply to protest a law, not the juries verdict. If you want to make it possible for someone to appeal for innocence, they should have juries. And, if the judge is gullible enough, since some are, then are murderer or rapist or what ever is set free.

So this bill violates Habeas Corpus? Another violation of due process. Anyways…
"The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides, "No person shall … be subject for the same offence [sic] to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb." This provision, known as the Double Jeopardy Clause, prohibits state and federal governments from prosecuting individuals for the same crime on more than one occasion, or imposing more than one punishment for a single offense
http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com...
your bill puts two punishments (perjury and first offense) which is double jeopardy.
Ok, if juries are supposed to, we must take for granted they do. Why? If not, we could say that judges are supposed to be fair. SUPPOSED TO, but not always. Then a=our whole legal system is thrown into chaos.

Yes, if they are appealing that the jury is wrong, they are appealing that they are innocent. When someone appeals the law, they say it was interpreted wrong. You can't say the juries vote was interpreted wrong! Completely different type of case.

This bill gives almost NO chance anything would change. Like I said before, same lawyer, same case, different outcome? If new evidence is found, they can be released from jail. I read it somewhere in the Houston Chronicle that X amount of people are taken out of death row after new evidence shows up. So this is an appeal with no new evidence.

You have not proven that innocent people will be set free. You have not proven this is not in violation of the law.

What I would suggest would be this:
(this is off debate but just some suggestion)
-Bill that allows someone who is convicted as innocent to have a re-held case. This is case puts them in position of the innocent again. A different jury. Perjury still enforced. The previous conviction becomes ignored. Only allowed in cases when judge states he or she believes there is a chance that guilty party is innocent.
Just a suggestion
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Einstein 9 years ago
Einstein
The reason you can't appeal on grounds of "innocence" is that the system essentially believes in its infallibility. If your trial was completely fair and you were found guilty, then the judicial system worked properly, and there is no justification for an appeal. In theory, a re-trial would return the same results given the same evidence. And it is necessary that the system assumes its correctness; otherwise, it all falls to pieces.
Posted by GBretz 9 years ago
GBretz
Textbook debate. I liked reading it, the issues was interesting and the arguments were comprehensive.
Posted by iq_two 9 years ago
iq_two
Thank you for debating me, I enjoyed this debate.
9 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Vote Placed by solo 9 years ago
solo
iq_twocody30228Tied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by Tatarize 9 years ago
Tatarize
iq_twocody30228Tied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by mtbaird5687 9 years ago
mtbaird5687
iq_twocody30228Tied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by SportsGuru 9 years ago
SportsGuru
iq_twocody30228Tied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by GBretz 9 years ago
GBretz
iq_twocody30228Tied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by NSG 9 years ago
NSG
iq_twocody30228Tied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by stevster 9 years ago
stevster
iq_twocody30228Tied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by iq_two 9 years ago
iq_two
iq_twocody30228Tied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by cody30228 9 years ago
cody30228
iq_twocody30228Tied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03