Grisham to speak on unjust convictions

Associated PressSeptember 17, 2010 

— Best-selling author John Grisham will visit Wake Forest University Tuesday to talk about wrongful convictions and the case of a man who spent nearly two decades in prison before he was found innocent.

Grisham, known for tales of legal intrigue and the workings of the criminal justice system, planned to speak to students and faculty at the law school's Innocence and Justice Clinic. Topics include the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission, the recent shake up at the state forensic lab and the case of Greg Taylor, who was wrongfully convicted in the death of Jacquetta Thomas.

A three-judge panel found Taylor innocent earlier this year based on work by the innocence commission.

The Taylor case has led to intense scrutiny of the State Bureau of Investigation's crime lab, which has a new leader. Dozens of other convictions are being reviewed.

In the Taylor case in February, an SBI agent testified at an innocence hearing that analysts did not always include the complete results of blood tests on lab reports that were submitted to court.

The testimony led Attorney General Roy Cooper to ask for a review of the lab's blood unit by two former federal law enforcement agents. The scathing review found that eight analysts omitted, overstated or falsely reported blood evidence in dozens of cases, including three that ended in executions and another where two men were imprisoned for killing Michael Jordan's father.

The report did not conclude that any innocent people were convicted.

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