1-Hour Program

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Scheduled for October 3, to immediately follow Wrongful Conviction Day, an international day to raise awareness of the causes and remedies of wrongful conviction, this Briefing will focus on the role forensic pathology has played in both exposing and contributing to wrongful convictions.  Experienced practitioners in litigating on behalf of the innocent will discuss the issue of cognitive bias in forensic pathology decisions and highlight post-conviction litigation strategies in cases involving child deaths and cases in which time of death was central to the prosecution's theory.  Misapplication of forensic science is the second most common contributing factor to wrongful convictions.  As forensic science in general continues to undergo scrutiny in wrongful conviction cases, with more attention also being paid to the role of forensic pathology, examination of faulty pathology cases illustrates how post-conviction litigation efforts by advocates can help the innocent. 

Vanessa Potkin is the Director of Special Litigation at the Innocence Project and joined the Project in 2000 as its first staff attorney.   Jane Pucher is Senior Staff Attorney with the Innocence Project.  The Innocence Project works to free the innocent, prevent wrongful convictions, and create fair, compassionate, and equitable systems of justice for everyone.  Both Ms. Potkin and Ms. Pucher have litigated numerous cases involving forensic pathology.

 After completing this briefing, participants will be able to: 

  • Review at a high level the leading causes of wrongful convictions (10 minutes)
  • Identify potential evidentiary challenges and signs of wrongful conviction in child death cases (20 minutes)
  • Identify potential evidentiary challenges and signs of wrongful conviction in homicide cases reliant on time of death estimates (10 minutes)
  • Understand the role that bias can plays in a medical examiner's assessment and identify signs of bias at play (10 minutes)
  • Understand the role of pro bono attorneys in advocating for the innocent in cases involving faulty pathology (10 minutes)

Program Level: Overview

Prerequisites: None

Advanced Preparation: None




Vanessa Potkin

Innocence Project


Jane Pucher

Innocence Project


Credit Details