Monday, August 29, 2011

Steven Woods

On September 13 2011, Steven Woods (31) is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection by the state of Texas after being wrongfully convicted and confined 24 hours a day for the past 9 years of his life.

Woods maintained his innocence since he was arrested, and he swears that he will keep doing so until he dies.

The evidence supporting Steven Woods' wrongful conviction is overwhelming; provided below is more information that I hope will help you better understand Woods' case:

- In 2002, Steven Woods was convicted for shooting & killing a young couple in Denton County, Texas

- Woods was 21 at the time and had no prior arrests or warrants.
- 3 months after Steven was wrongfully convicted/sentenced to death, 24 year old Marcus Rhodes took responsibility for knowingly and intentionally shooting and killing both of the murder victims, in a Denton County court.
- Rhodes didn't insinuate that Steven in any way, participated/plotted/played any role in the murders.
- There is NO physical evidence or confession that ties Steven Woods to the murder scene.
- No one has reported or testified to having eye-witnessed these murders.
- The murders were committed with Marcus Rhodes' own firearms. (Both registered under Rhodes' name)
- The firearms were found under Rhodes' bed when Police searched his parents' home.
- The weapons only had Rhodes' fingerprints on them.
- The victims' backpacks & their belongings were found in Rhodes' car a few days after the murders.
- The only "evidence" used against Woods were friends of Marcus Rhodes who took the stand, claiming that they heard Woods brag about the murder. This is called "hearsay" & is usually inadmissible in court.
- One "witness", a habitual heroin user & friend of Rhodes' was paid 1000 dollars for his testimony.
-Another "witness" signed a sworn affidavit stating that her testimony was coerced with threats.
-The state tried to use DNA found on a latex glove to convict Woods. The jury was told that the DNA on the glove was Woods', but later in the trial Steven demanded that the glove be tested. The DNA did NOT match Woods'. The glove was stricken from the protocol by Denton County Judge, Lee Gabriels - so that Woods could not use it to prove his innocence in his appeals process.
- The prosecution accused Woods of numerous erroneous claims to which they had no basis. Example: The prosecution lied to the jury claiming that Woods (who they did not know was of Armenian heritage), was a "white supremacist".
-The man who confessed to killing the couple, also confessed to carrying out an additional murder in CA that occurred 2 months prior to the Denton murders. Steven did not participate in that murder, nor did he witness it or get indicted in association with it.
-The actual murderer, Rhodes got a punishment of life in prison with parole.
-Steven Woods got sentenced to death and will be executed on Sept. 13 2011.

More info can be found at and we can be reached at

Saturday, August 27, 2011

In Unique Move, Charlie Baird Asks Voters What They Think

August 18, 2011

CONTACT: Charlie Baird Campaign,
Press Office

In Unique Move, Charlie Baird Asks Voters What They Think

Says Citizens’ Opinions Should Matter To Politicians

AUSTIN—A month after launching an exploratory committee to consider a run for Travis County District Attorney, former state district judge Charlie Baird’s campaign has taken an unusual step in local politics: asking voters what they think.

Today, Baird launched a large-scale effort to solicit voter opinion on the state of the criminal justice system in Travis County. The launch incudes a full page advertisement in the Austin Chronicle, an online ad buy, ad buys in other Travis County publications such as The Villager and Nokoa, and a web page people can use to submit reform ideas to his campaign.

“In all the years I’ve been involved in Travis County politics, nothing like this has ever been done,” Baird said. “I really want to hear their ideas for making justice work for everyone in Travis County.”

Baird says his unique effort is a serious attempt to reach beyond traditional resources and to get fresh ideas.

“Our political system is one that thrives on new ideas for reform and change. When you have the same people in charge of one office for more than three decades, you don’t really have access to fresh ideas,” Baird said. “In our system, individuals considering a run for office should ask voters about their concerns and for their ideasl for reform,” he said.

“Politicians need to remember that in a democracy the people are in charge, not focus groups. A lot can be learned by listening to the people,” Baird said.

He noted that everyone is encouraged to visit to submit their ideas or innovations for the justice system in Travis County.

Baird, a former state district judge and former judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, has indicated he would have an announcement concerning whether he will make an official run for the post sometime after Labor Day.

Baird, his wife, Kristin, and their two children, make their home in Austin. He is head of the Criminal Law Section at The Fowler Law Firm in Austin.

- 30 -

Tell Charlie from Charlie Baird on Vimeo.

Petition to Texas Governor Rick Perry to Acknowledge Cameron Todd Willingham was Wrongfully Executed

We will deliver the signatures and comments on this petition to Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is running for president of the United States. A lot of people already signed and we delivered those signatures to Perry in 2009, but we wanted to repost it on the day that Rick Perry announces he is running for president so that more people can sign. It also allows you to leave a comment when you sign.

View Signatures.

(Note: If you navigate away from this page and return to it, the submit button may disappear, just reload the page if that happens and the submit button will re-appear.)

This petition was created and written by Texas Moratorium Network. If you have questions, call TMN at 512-961-6389. If you are shocked to learn that Texas has executed an innocent person, please attend the 12th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty on October 22, 2011 in Austin, Texas at the Capitol.

Texas AG and the TFSC

The following are recent editorials and columns about the Texas Attorney General's ruling related to the Texas Forensic Science Commission.

San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board:
Gov. Rick Perry and his surrogates on the Texas Forensic Science Commission have done their best to stymie an investigation of the evidence that sent Cameron Todd Willingham to death row in 1992. The state of Texas executed Willingham in 2004 for the murder by arson of his three children.
Unfortunately, the Willingham case has became wrapped up in a larger debate about the death penalty, which in turn has implications for Perry’s political ambitions. Political considerations, however, should have no bearing on the outcome of this case.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott ruled last month that by statute, the commission is not authorized to investigate forensic lab work introduced into evidence before its creation on Sept. 1, 2005. The ruling is controversial. One interpretation of the legislative language, if not the intent, that created the commission supports Abbott’s conclusion.
The ruling also isn’t the end of the story. Three expert reviews of the investigation, including one authorized by the commission, found serious flaws in the forensic evidence used to convict Willingham. One called the work “characteristic of mystics or psychics.”
The Willingham case is not the only one in which the State Fire Marshal’s Office used flawed evidence to back up prosecutors. Yet even though the office has abandoned many of the procedures that produced that evidence, it has never acknowledged any error. It should.
Texans deserve to know whether bad evidence and the negligence or misconduct of arson investigators led to the flawed convictions of Willingham and others.
If the Texas Forensic Science Commission is unable to make a determination on this point, then a court of law or the Texas Legislature should.

How many arsonists are innocent?
By O. Ricardo Pimentel - San Antonio Express-News

Seven hundred and eight.
The Texas Forensic Science Commission should mull that number when it meets in September to consider the meaning of a recent attorney general opinion in the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 despite evidence presented beforehand to Gov. Rick Perry that exposed the forensic methods used to convict Willingham as flimsy to bogus.
In his July 29 opinion, Attorney General Greg Abbott concluded that the commission had no jurisdiction to review evidence tested or introduced before Sept. 1, 2005, when the agency was created.
This opinion is generally believed — actually fervently hoped for in a certain camp in Texas that is preparing for a presidential campaign — to prevent the commission from continuing to raise awareness on Willingham.
But that makes no sense, either as a matter of procedure or justice.
The commission has already reviewed the Willingham case — pre-AG opinion — and made recommendations for improving arson forensic science in Texas. And the evidence they looked at suggests that the fire that killed Willingham’s girls in 1991 was not arson at all.
What was left for the commission to consider was the matter of negligence. State fire marshal investigators provided much of the testimony to convict Willingham.
That’s where 708 comes in — the number of people serving sentences in state prison on arson as the charge of record in fiscal 2010, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. How many of these 708 — and others for whom arson was not the primary charge — were convicted based on the same discredited methods that convicted Willingham?
The complaint filed by the Innocence Project asked the commission to “redirect a re-examination of other forensic analyses conducted by the Texas State Fire Marshal or its contractors that may involve the same kind of erroneous arson analysis, and recommend corrective action.”
But in a written statement, state Fire Marshal Paul Maldonado noted that the commission’s report focused only on Willingham. He said there is “no plan to reopen closed arson cases.”
“The State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) is reviewing the FSC recommendations and is seeking all opportunity to improve fire investigations so that the best policies, practices and science are used in fire investigations.” He acknowledged advances in science and encouraged the “appropriate parties” to contact his office with concerns.
That’s unsatisfactory, says the Innocence Project. Policy Director Stephen Saloom said the fire marshal is obligated by statute to more proactively inform the criminal justice system that “old” methods of arson investigation “had been scientifically proven invalid and unreliable.”
The state Fire Marshal’s Office does a lot of investigations. According to annual reports, it completed 3,212 between 2005 and 2010, resulting in 737 people referred for prosecution. The conviction rates for those indicted ranged from 59 percent to 104 percent, these figures reflecting overlap between previous year indictments and current year convictions.
It’s compellingly simple: The state likely executed an innocent man. Arson investigator testimony helped accomplish that. But maybe the commission can’t go there because of the AG opinion. I’m not buying that. But, given the discredited forensics, how could it not further examine whether the fire marshal’s failures to inform and reopen other arson cases aren’t negligence of another sort?
Seven hundred and eight.

The Houston Chronicle
Attorney General Greg Abbott's recent official opinion on the law governing the Texas Forensic Science Commission has been widely described as "confusing."
It says, for example, that the commission can investigate the controversial arson findings in the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, the Corsicana man who was executed in 2004 for killing his three children by arson in 1991.
But there is one caveat, the attorney general says. The commission can't look at the evidence presented to the jury, since only evidence presented after the law's passage in 2005 is to be examined.
But if the attorney general's opinion is confusing, it's partly because the law as written is confusing.
In my (unofficial) opinion, the attorney general gave a reasonable interpretation. But so did Barbara Dean, the highly respected veteran attorney in his own office assigned to act as counsel for the commission. Until this year when the commission hired a staff counsel, she attended every meeting and advised members on their powers. She never raised an objection during their years-long Willingham investigation.
Then there was the reasonable opinion of Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, who has some standing as a lawyer and the co-author of the bill establishing the commission.
He told the Corsicana Sun in 2009: "There is no statute of limitations on anything the Forensic Science Commission does."
Hinojosa was aware that the law needed refining, as new laws often do. That's why this spring he pushed revisions that would have gone a long way toward cleaning up the law.

Statewide problems

One of the main points of tension was whether the law's sole job was to make findings as to whether staffers of certified forensic labs were negligent in handling individual cases, or whether it was to critique any illegitimate use of forensic science in Texas criminal justice cases and work to improve the practice in the state.
The seven scientists on the commission clearly have wanted to focus mainly on the latter, which I think is far more important than policing certified labs (partly because it can include that function).

Bill would have helped

Two years ago, a congressionally mandated study by the National Research Council found forensic science practices around the country to be scandalously sloppy, from the FBI on down.
Texas certainly has played its role, from the Houston Crime Lab series of farces to convictions (some clearly proved wrong) of scores of men based on unscientific "lineups" conducted by dogs.
Yet juries are notoriously subject to persuasion by expert witnesses presenting what they claim is scientific evidence.
Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley, appointed by the governor to chair the commission and get its Willingham investigation under control, pressed repeatedly for the narrow interpretation of its role.
Since the errors in the Willingham case were by arson investigators, not a certified laboratory, they would not be included.
Hinojosa's bill this spring would have cleared the matter up.

Legislation dies

It kept language that charged the commission with censuring bad behavior in certified labs. But it added language that would authorize the commission to investigate any forensic analysis — without making a finding of negligence or professional misconduct - if by a majority vote the commission finds such investigation "would advance the integrity and reliability of the forensic science in this state."
In the end, that's what the commission did with its Willingham investigation. While the attorney general's opinion prevents it from laying blame on two investigators, it established without a doubt that their analysis was badly flawed and their confident testimony to the jury was unfounded.
Unfortunately, the only party not convinced is the state's Fire Marshal's Office, despite the fact that they were unable to find a single scientist to back their position.
Also unfortunately, Hinojosa ran out of time with his bill. It passed the Senate and was nearing consideration by the House when the session's time ran out.
According to a staffer, Hinojosa plans to present the bill again in 2013.
For the sake of justice, it should pass.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Execution Watch: Martin Robles

Martin Robles

By Elizabeth Stein
Producer, Execution Watch

Texas plans to put to death Martin Robles Wednesday for a double homicide in Corpus Christi. Execution Watch will be there.

Unless a stay is issued, we'll broadcast on ...
Aug. 10, 2011, 6-7 PM CT
Houston: KPFT 90.1 FM
Worldwide: > Listen
Join the Execution Watch discussion on Facebook

MARTIN ROBLES, 33, One of two men convicted in a 2002 slaying at a home in  Corpus Christi., where two men were found shot to death. Joe David Padron, Robles's fall partner, was also convicted of capital murder but received life in prison. More background at > Backpage on Martin Robles.

Host: RAY HILL, an ex-convict and activist who founded, and hosted for 30 years, the Prison Show on KPFT. His new show may be heard every weekday on at 2 p.m. CT.

Legal Analyst: JIM SKELTON, a legal educator and retired attorney, he’s a native Texan and  iconoclast who has seen capital trials from both the prosecution table and the defense table. His guests may include fellow attorneys SUSAN ASHLEY and LARRY DOUGLAS.

Featured Interview: JEAN CASELLA, co-editor of Solitary Watch, a website that calls attention to the widespread use of solitary confinement and other types of torture in U.S. prisons. The site involves a collaboration between journalists and law students. It is the first centralized, comprehensive source of information on solitary confinement in the

Reporter, Death House, Huntsville: GLORIA RUBAC, founder and leader, Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement,

Reporter, Vigil: TBA: A report from one of the vigils around Texas organized by chapters of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty;

On Sept. 13, Texas plans to execute STEVEN WOODS. If that happens, Execution Watch will broadcast. Details:

PRODUCER: Elizabeth Ann Stein, eliza.tx.usa
TECHNICAL DIRECTOR Otis Maclay, omaclay
THEME:  By Victoria Panetti, SheMonster International,

Friday, August 05, 2011

Texas Witness to Innocence Freedom Ride

Exonerated Death Row survivors from seven states will be taking their powerful message against the death penalty across Texas from October 12th through 19th. They will also be rallying support for the 12th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty in Austin, TX on October 22.

Witness to Innocence is the nation’s only organization composed of, by and for exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones. Witness to Innocence members bring a human face to the death penalty, illuminating the unfairness and immorality of capital punishment.

To invite the Texas WTI Freedom Ride to stop in your community, contact Hooman Hedayati at or (210)601-7231, or visit

March to Abolish the Death Penalty:
 Each October since 2000, Texans and their supporters have gathered in Austin to oppose the death penalty. Once again, activists, family members of people on death row, community leaders, exonerated prisoners and all those calling for repeal of the Texas death penalty will come together. Join us! see for more information.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Caller Times: New limit on state forensics panel is a justice setback

— Even the most ardent supporters of the death penalty want to be sure that the condemned deserve their sentence. If a conviction can be proved wrongful, it should be — not just to prevent a pending execution, but to clear the names of the mistakenly executed and to learn how not to repeat such grievous errors.

How far such efforts should go is a matter of continuing debate. But they should go farther than the limit placed on them Friday by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. The attorney general decided that the Texas Forensic Science Commission can't examine forensic testing that predates the commission's 2005 inception.

That includes two arson investigations that helped send Cameron Todd Willingham to his execution for the 1991 house fire that killed his three children. The Willingham case was first. Three professional reviews of the arson investigations found fault with them — which doesn't prove Willingham innocent as he proclaimed he was, to his death in 2004.

But the reviews discredited the Texas Fire Marshal's investigative procedures and prompted the commission to issue recommendations in April for improved fire investigation training. The state fire marshal persists in standing by the Willingham investigations and its methods.
Abbott's opinion doesn't prevent the commission from looking into professional negligence or misconduct that occurred before the commission's inception. It just can't review evidence that was tested or introduced into evidence before then. So, assuming — as we do — that forensic science has progressed, Abbott's decision prevents the application of today's knowledge to correct mistakes by investigators who acted competently and in good faith but were limited by the technology of the day.
We'll go out on a limb and suspect that Texas imprisoned people wrongly convicted before 2005, including some on Death Row. Forgoing the potential to correct those mistakes because the commission didn't exist yet isn't justice.
The jury is out on whether it's politics, but there's a whiff of that in the Willingham case. Two years ago, then-not-yet-unofficial presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry removed the commission's first chairman and two other members two days before they were to hear a report about serious problems with the Willingham investigation. Perry chose a prosecutor, Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley, to replace the ousted chairman, Sam Bassett, a defense lawyer.
The commission continued its investigation over Bradley's objections and rejected his attempt to approve a final report that stopped short of finding the arson investigations negligent. He also referred to Willingham as a "guilty monster."
Bassett said it was "interesting" that Abbott's opinion came out as the commission was completing its investigation. His choice of the word "interesting" is interesting in that it's a way of saying "suspicious" without using the word "suspicious."
How the Willingham case might play on a national stage during a Perry presidential campaign has been cause for much interesting speculation. Death penalty advocacy plus cowboy boots plus a potentially wrongful execution could equal trouble for Perry. If an unfavorable finding in the Willingham case would have been damaging, the Abbott ruling has compounded it by adding fuel for speculation.
Bottom line: Looking into the Willingham case and others that predate the commission's existence seems a prudent use of its time. If abuse of the appeals process by defense lawyers was the concern, the commission wasn't part of the problem. It's an instrument of justice, now weakened by Abbott's ruling.

Missouri: Former death row inmate ordered freed

Former death row inmate ordered freed
Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty decries resources spent on capital punishment

Kansas City, MO, August 3, 2011---Following the Missouri Supreme Court ruling ordering a prison inmate once facing execution to be set free, Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty decries the resources spent on capital punishment in the state.

Reginald Griffin had originally been sentenced to death for stabling another inmate to death at the Moberly prison in 1983. In 1993 he was re-sentenced to life without parole for 50 years. In a 4-3 ruling handed down August 2 the high court agreed that the prosecutor had withheld evidence that could have proven Griffin’s innocence.

The court noted that the state failed to disclose evidence that prison guards caught another inmate with a weapon in the prison yard just minutes after inmate James Bausley was fatally stabbed. That disclosure plus other developments since the Griffin’s trial compelled the court to order his release or require the prosecutor to re-try the case within 60 days.

“The case of Reginald Griffin shows how broken the death penalty system is in our state,” noted Rita Linhardt, chair of the Board for Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (MADP). “The state spent considerable time and money to obtain a death sentence, and now the case against Mr. Griffin has totally crumbled. Missourians would have been better served if these resources would have been spent elsewhere.”

MADP firmly believes that the death penalty is a wasteful and inefficient government policy that impedes law enforcement, delays justice for victim’s families and devours crime-fight dollars that could otherwise be used to save lives and protect the public.

“Studies from more than a dozen states have found that the death penalty is up to ten times more expensive than sentences of life or life without parole,” notes Linhardt. “With the state of Missouri cutting over a billion dollars from its budget this year, it makes no sense to continue with this wasteful public policy.”

Research shows that death penalty cases cost more because capital cases involve more lawyers, more witnesses, more experts, a longer jury selection process, more pre-trial motions, an entirely separate trial for sentencing and countless other expenses—racking up exorbitant costs even before a singe appeal is filed.

“The death penalty’s high costs add up to more than just dollars,” said Ms. Linhardt. “In the time it takes to pursue one capital case, law enforcement could solve and prosecute scores of non-capital cases. Instead, many crimes go unsolved or un-prosecuted, and those responsible are free to commit more serious crimes.”

Law enforcement is recognizing the failure of the death penalty. In a 2009 national poll of police chiefs, the death penalty was considered the least efficient use of taxpayers’ money. Police chiefs ranked expanded training for police officers, community policing and programs to control drug and alcohol abuse more effective than the death penalty.

The case against Mr. Griffin was built on the testimony of two inmates, one who later recanted his testimony and another whose testimony was suspect. No physical evidence connected Griffin to the crime.

“It was very fortuitous that Mr. Griffin was not executed,” noted Ms. Linhardt.

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Justin Wolfe Case: We Await His Full Exoneration

July 18, 2011
By Ron Keine

It's been 10 long years. Justin Wolfe's mother, Terri Steinberg, is living proof that persistence and determination pay off. I hope other mothers and family members of those wrongfully convi c ted take note of her triumph in doggedly pursuing justice for Justin. She is living proof that there is always hope for the wrongfully convicted. I want to be the first one to congratulate Justin on his vindication in U.S. District Court and for the decision by Judge Raymond A. Jackson to overturn his death sentence.
Every so often I come across a case that is so horrible, and so politically corrupt, that it totally renews my determination to stop the terrible injustice that is the death penalty in our country. It makes me more aware of why I do what I have been doing for so many years: working to stop our government from killing its own citizens.
In Virginia it is called the " Trigger Man Law". In Texas they call it the "Law of Parties". In Illinois it is known as the "Law of Accountability". Whatever  the different states call it, it has been used by prosecutors for years to charge people like Justin with felony or capital murder, and sentence them to death.

This is a horrible, nonsensical, and arbitrary law designed to give prosecutors the ability to legally push for killing people who did not kill anybody. Not being satisfied with executing the actual murderer, they also get to kill the person who didn't pull the trigger, but was merely present at the scene of the crime, or who is even only suspected of involvement on the basis of the false testimony of the actual killer, as in Justin's case, for the same crime. Often the actual murderer will not receive the death penalty in exchange for implicating others, like Justin, who then get sent to death row instead.
In a nutshell, the law means that an accomplice can be executed for any felony which he or she was involved in, and a death occurred as a result. For example, if two guys steal a car and the driver uses it to purposely run over and kill a foe, the courts can also send the passenger to death row, even if he did not know the driver was going to kill somebody. Under this law, stealing a car is a felony crime and if a death resulted, it is punishable by death.

Another example is if a man robs a store and any death occurs, the getaway driver can also receive a death sentence, even though he never entered the store.
And this means any death at all. If the store owner panics and shoots a customer, cop, or an innocent bystander, the prosecutor gets to charge both the robber and the getaway driver with capital murder. He can even be allowed to argue for a death sentence for someone who loaned gas money to the robbers, knowing they were going to rob a store. This is not even close to the "an eye for an eye" justice that many death penalty supporters claim as their rationale for keeping the death penalty on the books in the United States.

Justin Wolfe , a mere teenager, was sent to death row under this law. Justin’s marijuana supplier was killed. The confessed killer said that Justin told him to do it. With that as the only evidence against him, Justin was convicted of murder and sent to death row to await his execution, while the actual killer got a lighter sentence. The killer later confessed that he lied and said Justin had nothing to do with it. It took ten years of heartbreaking struggle for Justin and his family to finally get the case overturned. In doing so, they also found out that the corrupt prosecutor knew Justin was innocent all along, and withheld this exculpatory evidence that would prove Justin innocent, a blatant Brady Violation.
It is typical that the prosecutor in Justin’s case has already blustered that he intends to retry Justin.  In these cases, prosecutors, rather than admitting defeat and malfeasance, will try to stall an exonoration by saying that he is considering a retrial.

However, in this case he has no evidence because his only witness is flip flopping on whether Justin had a part in the murder. He has nothing to bring in a new trial. Corrupt prosecutors will most likely offer Justin two options. One is to fight for a few years longer for his freedom and complete exoneration; the other is to pressure Justin to cop a plea to a lesser charge related to the murder in exchange for time served.

However, I will bet a dime to a dollar that the prosecutor will not find enough evidence to retry Justin, especially since it is clear that exculpatory evidence had been suppressed at the first trial, and Justin will eventually be exonerated. Even though Justin will remain in jail a while longer while the prosecutor continues to stonewall justice, we are hopeful he will one day soon join our family of exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones.

Ron Keine is Assistant Director of Communications and Training at Witness to Innocence, the nation's only organization founded by and for exonerated death row survivors.

Note from Witness to Innocence: Witness to Innocence recognizes individuals as exonerated death row survivors after their cases have been vetted and placed on the official list of death row exonerations maintained by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC). DPIC applies very strict and objective criteria for inclusion of cases on this list.  Placement on the list is determined by the decisions of courts and prosecutors’ offices, not by the subjective judgment of advocates.  The criteria for inclusion on the list are: defendants must have been convicted, sentenced to death, and subsequently had their convictions overturned and were acquitted at retrial or all charges were dropped or they were given an absolute pardon by the governor based on new evidence of innocence.