Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Florida Has a Good Idea--Let's Figure Out Why We are Jailing Innocent Floridians?

The Orlando Sentinel has an encouraging report on the steps taken by the Florida Supreme Court in response to Florida's justice system failures resulting in the prosecutions and incarceration of many innocent Floridians.  Florida is convening a commission and providing funding to look at processes and procedures for a top to bottom look at the Florida criminal justice system.  A Bad Lawyer might think that it makes sense as a matter of due process, social justice, maybe even morality, that 49 other jurisdictions follow suit.


  1. As a nuclear engineer before I went to law school, I attended a talk by one of the founders of the Innocence Project. Afterwards, during the Q&A, I asked why the legal establishment hadn't adopted the kind of troubleshooting investigation and root-cause analysis that every other high-stakes discipline (nuclear power, aviation, for just two examples) uses.

    Now, a decade later and a lawyer, I have learned that almost nobody in the criminal justice system has the slightest interest or incentive in quality improvement. The adversarial nature of the process means that each side is delighted when the system malfunctions in its favor and, therefore, to have malfunctions built right in. You couldn't design a better error-generating machine than the elected prosecutors and trial judges added to police-run forensics labs and "experts."

    I'm thrilled to see any state admit that there's a problem. I can't say I'm optimistic -- I hope they prove me wrong and that the Commission looks at other efforts to reduce systematic errors in complex systems (such as hospital acquired infections, malpractice, etc.) and figures out that the law could benefit a lot by entering the 20th Century (much less the 21st).

  2. Walker--

    You comment could not be more appropriate and pointed. Thank you for adding your ideas.