Friday, August 7, 2009

Norfolk sailors receive partial pardons

Remember the case of the Norfolk 4, which I've blogged about before? That's the 1997 rape-murder case that has become an exemplar of wrongful convictions, the topic of a book by confession scholar Richard Leo and an upcoming screenplay by bestselling author John Grisham.

Yesterday, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine issued partial pardons to three of the four sailors, paving the way for their imminent releases. The fourth sailor was released in 2005. In his statement, the governor noted that the men's confessions contradicted forensic evidence, that no physical evidence linked the men to the crime scene, and that another man had confessed and asserted that he acted alone. That man's DNA matched evidence found at the scene.

The case was highly unusual in that even a group of former FBI agents was lobbying for the pardon.

But guess what? The pardons are only "partial" rather than full vindications. That means the men's convictions will stand, and they will be required to register as sex offenders. And all of you readers know what that means: Even though most intelligent people know they were innocent, they will have a hard time finding anywhere to live, and very few employers will have the courage to hire them.

The New York Times has the story.

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