U.S. Supreme Court

SCOTUS appears to back defendants seeking fine repayment after reversed conviction

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday appeared ready to rule for two criminal defendants in Colorado who say they are entitled to a refund of fees and penalties because their convictions were overturned.

At issue is a Colorado law that bars a refund unless the defendants can show actual innocence by clear and convincing evidence, report the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today and SCOTUSblog. Virtually no other jurisdiction requires proof of actual innocence for the refund.

According to USA Today, “a clear majority” of the justices appeared to side with the criminal defendants during the oral arguments on Monday. The only question, the publication says, is whether the Colorado approach should be struck down “because of the Constitution, common law, or tradition.”

Stuart Banner, a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, argued the case on behalf of the two defendants. He said defendants who want a refund have to foot the costs of a lawsuit. The state’s approach, he said, is “tantamount to charging people money for the privilege of trying them unlawfully.”

The case is Nelson v. Colorado.

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