If someone has been convicted for a crime and the real perpetrator is found...

How long would it take for the guy convicted to be released from prison. Would there be a new trial (US law)?

I was watching Hawaii 5-0 and they found a dead body that had a similar MO to a serial killer who had killed 10 women. Problem was there was already someone in jail for the crimes. He had been tried and convicted for the murder of one of the women because circumstantial evidence had placed him there.

The end of the show shows him coming out of jail…surely he would have to appeal his conviction? And there would still be no guarantee he would get a new trial right?

The problem in the case you mentioned is that it could be a copy cat, or similar killer and there’s not evidence that the person convicted wasn’t guilty of those first crimes.

But if someone is being charged with the same crimes that a person is already incarcerated for then a motion can be made to retry or release the person in jail. I suspect it varies from state-to-state as to who makes the order, and where it gets heard.

That’s what I was thinking. The original guy was a drifter and could be tied by DNA evidence to the one murder he was convicted of. I got the impression that once you were convicted, you were considered guilty and it’s considerably harder to get a new trial even with overwhelming evidence (DNA especially) that you are not guilty. As far as I know there are a number of people sitting in prison right now that are asking for their cases to be reopened on the basis of new DNA testing procedures and the government is refusing point blank.

A number of jurisdictions fought the retesting of DNA once the technology became available and cheap, mainly it seems because it was revealing to many embarrassing discrepancies. You could not just automatically apply to retest the evidence, you had to have other grounds to make the claim, etc.

the law proefssion is especially sensitive to suggestions they might have made a mistake, even an understandable one. A lot of testimony may be questionable. My favourite, any time someone “confessed” to an undercover policeman or a friendly informant (Stool pigeon) in a cell, you have to think someone is desperate to manufacture extra evidence.

The Guy Paul Morin case is famous for that. The undercover policeman insisted that Morin had confessed, although the recorder messed up and there was nothing on tape, Morin insisted he had said no such thing, and the third time around with all the new evidence, they finally acquitted him.

The usual shortcut is to get the guy pardoned, if the evidence is overwhelming. Then work on a real acquittal or whatever after he’s out. Then, if the case was particularly damning, the question is how much the state is on the hook for damages for railroading the guy.

Simple: Execute both of them, and the person who brought the situation to your attention. Let justice be done, even if the heavens fall!

In De Ira (On Anger), Book I, Chapter XVIII, Seneca tells of Gnaeus Piso, a Roman governor and lawmaker, when he was angry, ordering the execution of a soldier who had returned from a leave of absence without his comrade, on the ground that if the man did not produce his companion, he had presumably killed the latter. As the condemned man was presenting his neck to the executioner’s sword, there suddenly appeared the very comrade who was supposedly murdered. The centurion overseeing the execution halted the proceedings and led the condemned man back to Piso, expecting a reprieve. But Piso mounted the tribunal in a rage, and ordered the three soldiers to be executed. He ordered the death of the man who was to have been executed, because the sentence had already been passed; he also ordered the death of the centurion who was in charge of the original execution, for failing to perform his duty; and finally, he ordered the death of the man who had been supposed to have been murdered, because he had been the cause of death of two innocent men.

Depends on what you mean by found. In the Frank Sterling case, he was convicted of murder and served nearly 10 years when another person confessed to the crime. Police didn’t believe the confession, which came from man serving a life sentence for another murder. Sterling’s lawyers pressed for DNA testing in a court battle which took several years. The DNA testing linked the confessor to the crime scene, prompting investigators to re-question him. He provided new details – which investigators initially said weren’t true, then discovered they were true when they re-examined the evidence. From that point – confession and DNA evidence in hand, it still took nearly four years for Sterling to be released from prison.

If it even needs to be said, cops and prosecutors do not enjoy stories about how they arrested and convicted the wrong man, so they tend to fight against overturning convictions, even in the face of pretty strong evidence that they got it wrong.

That was always my impression too. I guess they’re also afraid of being sued for wrongful conviction.

Several times on Law&Order the DA would have irreputable proof that another suspect had perpetrated the crime, and would start paperwork for a motion to the courts to vacate the conviction of the original defendant.

But that’s not realistic. It can take years after exonerating evidence is found (including evidence that implicates someone else), without the state doing a thing. In fact, the criminal usually needs a champion on the outside. The DA’s office doesn’t go looking for this sort of thing.

Also, in L&O they seem to conveniently ignore the fact that the full-on trial can be as much as 2 years or longer after the arrest ad charges, and almost impossible that it’s less than a Year. IIRC Casey Anthony was in prison for 3 years before her trial finished. OJ wanted to have the fastest trial he possibly could, and it was still over a year between the Bronco ride and the trial.

I don’t imagine any request for a new hearing would be any faster. That’s why the pardon is usually the shortcut to freedom if it is really obvious - although some people object to a pardon, because it basically says “You are guilty but we forgive you.”

The operative word in any legal endeavour nowadays seems to be “sssslllooooooooowwwwww…”

I recall some years ago the Florida Attorney General saying of someone on death row that even if he (the AG) had absolute proof of the prisoner’s innocence (which was close to the case, from DNA evidence), it was still his job to execute the man because he had been duly convicted and the AG had been elected to see such sentences carried out. He said this in a hearing to reopen the case.

There is nothing the law hates worse than seeing an apparently settled case reopened.

I think it is actually unconstitutional to drag out a retrial for four years in the case of the guy that was wrongly convicted and spend 10 years in prison. What about the right to a speedy trial?

What’s speedy about Casey Anthony and 3 years?

About 15 years ago, the Canadian Supreme Court decided that waiting 18 months to 2 years for a trial violated our constitutional right to a speedy trial. At that point, the provinces started dismissing cases wholesale. (A guy who stole over $100,000 of copper from where I worked had his case dismissed - then tried to get the union to claim he should get his job back, despite being caught red-handed. )

Eventually the Supreme Court had to issue a “clarification” and now it’s business as usual.

They just heard a case here from 2000. It was a drug trial (someone smuggling drugs out of Trinidad). Seriously, 12 years! A lot can happen in 12 years. The perpetrators were convicted and are now in jail.

Something like this happened here in Buffalo 5 years ago. Altemio Sanchez was arrested for the murder of 2 women. His DNA was found to match the DNA found at several other crime scenes (for rape), for which Anthony Capozzi had already served 22 years.

Sanchez was not able to be prosecuted for all the crimes due to the statute of limitations. So there was no new trial for the very old ones, but the DNA evidence was enough to exonerate Capozzi. A judge “vacated his sentence” (which is how I saw it worded in an article) and the prosecuters dropped the case against him and he was released in April 2007. Sanchez was later convicted of the more recent murders in August 2007. I believe Capozzi did sue the county for wrongful imprisonment and got a large settlement.

That, and we have an adversarial system. As an attorney you’re required to put the utmost effort to defend your clients side. Your client being the the state, and the side being the original stance of this or that person is guilty. This isn’t going over to motor vehicles and showing how they misspelled your last name.

Maybe I’ve watched too many TV shows, but I thought there was no statute of limitations on murder?

Prosecutorial ethics are, in fact, a little bit more nuanced than that. From the comment to Model Rule 3.8 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct:

Model Rule 3.8(g) would impose a duty on prosecutors to disclose exculpatory evidence to convicted defendents and do follow-up investigation, and 3.8(h) would require them to attempt to remedy an erroneous conviction. Practically speaking, the Model Rules are just models, and whether and to what extent any particular jurisdiction adopts them will vary. New York, for example, doesn’t include 3.8(g) in its version of the Rules.

Furthermore, there’s plenty of qualifiers in there that leave room for reasonable minds to differ on whether the duty would be triggered in a particular scenario.

The older crimes were just rape (the victims were still alive), so the statute of limitations was in effect. It wasn’t until more recently that he started murdering the women as well as raping them, so for the 2 recent murders he was convicted.