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Successors of executed prisoners should be allowed to litigate innocence claims, says ABA House


The ABA House of Delegates has approved a resolution urging federal, state and territorial jurisdictions where capital punishment is permitted to adopt a statute or rule which would permit an executed individual’s successors to litigate a claim of actual innocence. Where no successors exist, a legal entity would also be allowed to proceed on behalf of the executed person.

Further, Resolution 110A calls for “a fair determination of actual innocence, including discovery and a standard of proof and procedures that provide a reasonable opportunity to prove innocence.” Also, that in successful challenges there be provision for a monetary award for the successors or legal entity “for the period of the wrongfully executed individual’s wrongful incarceration awaiting his or her execution and also for the specific act of wrongfully executing the individual.”

The policy was proposed by the Criminal Justice Section, and had the support of its members, who are prosecutors, defense attorneys, academics and judges.

The resolution represents an extension of concerns about wrongful convictions. In 2005, the House of Delegates adopted a policy urging statutes to adequately compensate persons wrongly convicted and incarcerated.

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