How America’s Death Penalty Murders Innocents | Common Dreams

Published on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 by The Guardian/UK

How America’s Death Penalty Murders Innocents

The evidence is in: the US criminal justice system produces wrongful convictions on an industrial scale – with fatal results by  David A. Love

The US criminal justice system is a broken machine that wrongfully convicts innocent people, sentencing thousands of people to prison or to death for the crimes of others, as a new study reveals. The University of Michigan law school and Northwestern University have compiled a new National Registry of Exonerations – a database of over 2,000 prisoners exonerated between 1989 and the present day, when DNA evidence has been widely used to clear the names of innocent people convicted of rape and murder. Of these, 885 have profiles developed for the registry’s website, exonerationregistry.org.

The details are shocking. Death row inmates were exonerated nine times more frequently than others convicted of murder. One-fourth of those exonerated of murder had received a death sentence, while half of those who had been wrongfully convicted of rape or murder faced death or a life behind bars. Ten of the inmates went to their grave before their names were cleared.

Read more at: How America’s Death Penalty Murders Innocents | Common Dreams.

Mary Cosmo

I am a 3L visiting student at Ave Maria Law School in Naples, Florida. My home school is Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, Florida.  As a Floridian who grew up in rural Pioneer Plantation in Hendry County and involved with 4-H for most of my youth, I am inspired each day by the continuity of my community.  I chose to spend my 3L year in the South West Florida area to strengthen my connection to my home community. After being away from home for my first two years of law school I am truly blessed to be able to spend my last year of law school at home. After graduation, I plan to take the Florida Bar and practice in South West Florida. As a native Floridian and future Florida attorney, I hope to serve the people of South West Florida with the legal competence and integrity Floridians have come to expect.

The first question I am often asked is “Mary, what kind of law would you like to practice?” I still have not perfected an answer to this question because I have so many interests: Land Use Planning, Real Property, Intellectual Property, Family, Consumer, and Criminal Law. Whichever path I choose I am determined to make a difference.

I was drawn to study law during my undergraduate studies at Hodges University.  It was FP&L’s proposal of a coal-fired power plant in my back yard that first sparked my interest, which would have been the largest coal power plant in the United States.  The proposed site was to be in the headwaters to the Everglades, which is already suffering clean water woes.  What began as a research project soon turned into a community standing together to protect their community.  After the Public Service Commission hearing on the impacts of the proposed site, Florida’s rail road infrastructure that would have to be upgraded, the exponential consumer funding for a plant that has yet to be built, and the additional water usage from an already strained water supply (just to mention a few issues) the commission denied FP&L’s application.  Although, I do not consider myself to be an extreme environmentalist, I did learn a great deal about our legal process.  In addition, I realized the important things in life should not be taken for granted. Especially the simple necessities of life like: drinking clean water, eating healthy foods, breathing fresh air and most of all the accessibility to information and the legal process that makes for an informed community and a strong democratic society.

My interests do not stop at environmental and Land Use planning.  I am a creative person at heart, which leads me to the study of intellectual property. Our thoughts, likeness, and creations must be protected to preserve the sense of self, integrity, and personhood.

As a single mother, I am also interested in family law.  I know how sensitive, heartbreaking, and downright important it is to have an attorney who is willing to protect parental rights.  The rights of kids are often limited, in the midst of domestic chaos, which can make a bad situation worse.  However, the right attorney can make a difference by making a bad situation better by always focusing on the best interest of the child.

Consumer and Criminal law has also been a driving force behind my studies.  I feel everyone should at least know there rights and how to protect them. On the civil side, consumers need to be protected and consumer protection laws should be enforced. These laws are enacted for the protection of consumers yet the first advice you hear in legal advertisements when a consumer is being sued for default is to file bankruptcy.  When in fact, there may be other remedies for the consumer that may be a better choice for the consumer in the end.  On the Criminal side, who doesn’t want to be protected by the laws of our society?  Victims deserve justice and the criminals deserve to have a fair trial.

At the end of the day, I am pursuing a legal career to make a difference whether it is in civil or criminal matters.  I aspire to do so with the legal competence and integrity Floridians have come to expect.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Nothing posted on this web-site is a representation of a legal opinion. Nothing on this web-site is intended to be legal advice. I am not an Attorney. I cannot give legal advice. If you need legal advice, please seek an attorney authorized to practice in your area. The hiring of an attorney is an important decision and should not be done solely based on an advertisement. For an attorney in your area you may contact your local bar association or a legal referral service.

The Florida Bar offers a Lawyer Referral Service that may be contacted at (800) 342-8011, Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. or online at http://www.floridabar.org/divpgm/lronline.nsf/wreferral6?OpenForm