Falsely accused of everything from DUII to rape, Clients have told me that there is nothing more frightening than to know they are innocent, and know that the investigating officers firmly believe that they are not. False arrests and wrongful convictions do not normally happen because a police officer intends to make a false accusation. The vast majority of injustices occur as a result of tunnel vision and confirmation bias — a phenomenon by which well-intentioned police and prosecutors jump to a conclusion about someone’s guilt, and view evidence through a distorted, “guilty” lens.
Tunnel vision is human nature, so what can be done about it, to minimize false arrests and convictions? Law Professor Brandon Garrett offers some good ideas:
(1) Require police officers and detectives to keep notes about how their thinking evolves or doesn’t during the course of an investigation.
(2) Require police and prosecutors to open their complete files to the defense.
(3) Give the defense more opportunity and resources to do their own investigations.