Litigating Arson Cases, Old and New

Location: Continental Room
Date: Fri, March 23
Time: 4:15 PM - 5:30 PM

Arson cases have become a well-known category of innocence litigation, but they continue to present significant challenges. That the science has changed is nearly undeniable, but how to litigate that change depends greatly on nuanced differences in the time and place in which the case arose, and how exactly the science was presented at trial. Moreover, although the scientific shift in this area is sometimes seen as stale, fire science in fact continues to evolve. This session will outline a variety of approaches that can be taken to successfully litigate post-conviction innocence cases based on flawed fire science. It will draw on lessons learned in the numerous recent arson exonerations across the country, including several achieved by the Michigan Innocence Clinic. The session will also address more novel approaches and legal claims, which have recently resulted in success in all categories of “shifted science” cases.

201- Intermediate