Governor OKs Bill Removing ‘Senseless Barriers’ to Overturning Wrongful Convictions in California

By The Vanguard Staff

SACRAMENTO, CA – California legislation that, according to author Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), “removes senseless barriers to overturning wrongful convictions,” was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom this weekend.

“Enabling innocent people to avoid unjust criminal penalties makes our justice system stronger,” said Senator Wiener. “I thank the Governor for supporting this necessary reform.”

Wiener noted California “leads the nation in exonerations for wrongfully convicted people, overturning over 200 convictions from 1989 to 2013. Despite this exceptional attention to the issue, the process to overturn a wrongful conviction remains complex and needlessly arduous.”

But, added the lawmaker, SB 97—sponsored by The California Innocence Coalition—will “correct this injustice by streamlining the process for the wrongly accused to have their convictions overturned.”

Wiener added, the bill, among other things, will “direct judges to give great weight to a prosecutor’s concession that a person has been wrongfully convicted, eliminate obstructive technical requirements to ensure that Courts can fairly and fully examine newly discovered evidence, and give an exonerated person (if tried again) the ability to have continuous counsel. SB 97 also requires that the wrongfully convicted are provided appropriate counsel throughout litigation.”

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