Prof. Eric Freedman Asserts Process of Reversing Death Penalty Convictions Places a High Bar in Front of Defendants

Eric M. Freedman, Maurice A. Deane Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law

In Death-Penalty Debate, Execution Offers Little Closure

By John Schwartz

The New York Times

September 22, 2011



To Eric M. Freedman, a professor at Hofstra Law School and an expert on the death penalty, the desire for finality is “understandable in some respects,” but the process of reversing convictions places too high a bar in front of defendants. At trial, he said, the state has the burden of proving them guilty, and if “one reasonable juror would have had a reasonable doubt, that would have gotten you acquittal.”

“After conviction,” Professor Freedman said, “the burden shifts to them.”

Thus, he said, the process “allows error to justify error” through its efforts to respect the decisions of juries.

“The system does bury its mistakes,” he said.

Read the full article at nytimes.com.

Eric M. Freedman also discussed the Troy Davis case and the issue of capital punishment on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “At Issue with Ben Merens” on September 22.