One-Word Law Change Factors in Court’s Decision to Vacate Conviction

Words matter: A one-word change of “could” to “would” in Virginia’s writ of actual innocence law enacted in 2013 was cited in the Virginia Supreme Court’s unanimous opinion last week that vacated the 40-year-old rape conviction of Roy L. Watford III. 58, of Chesapeake. The state high court ruled no jury “would” have found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in the light of new evidence.
The language prior to the 2013 change was “could” have found him guilty…
From this article:
“Writing the unanimous opinion last Thursday, Justice Cleo E. Powell noted that the burden is still a heavy one for someone trying to win a writ of actual innocence.
But, Powell added that while the “could” standard required proof of innocence beyond any reasonable doubt, the “would” standard requires the court to consider if the new evidence, versus evidence of guilt, establishes such a high probability of acquittal that no rational person would have found guilt.”

One response to “One-Word Law Change Factors in Court’s Decision to Vacate Conviction

  1. How do the wrongfully convicted find help. The innocence project and others like it are so backed up that innocent people die waiting on them. 26 years served of a 3 life sentence. No crime. Why wont anybody help? Are attorneys really so much about money that it supersedes a person’s life? I hope I never lose my passion for this fight but mostly my compassion for what God calls “the least of these”. Those that spend one day in prison for something they are innocent of.

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