The Crime That Wasn’t – A Conversation About Wrongful Arson Convictions
Monday, April 27, 2020 (3:00pm – 5:00pm) (Classroom: Wilshire Ballroom)
ICAC Fire Claims and Investigation Training Class
Because jurors are swayed by expert testimony, there have been many wrongful convictions, including 71 arson cases, due to underdeveloped forensic sciences. Attendees will understand how these wrongful convictions pushed the current efforts for fundamental changes in how forensic evidence is presented in the courtroom. These changes include the attempt to eliminate exaggerated conclusions and the necessary push to ensure experts are keeping up-to-date and testifying in accordance with the scientific advancements. The attendees will learn the truth about witness reliability and how that should impact their investigation. Attendees will be challenged to discuss and acknowledge the controversial topic of cognitive bias. This discussion is an attempt to get investigators and attorneys talking about these issues in order to properly secure justice.
Raquel Cohen graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a degree in criminal justice. She is a licensed attorney in California and Nevada. Raquel has been an attorney at the California Innocence Project (CIP) at California Western School of Law since 2011, where she has played an integral role in the exoneration of many wrongfully convicted clients. She is CIP’s arson litigation specialist where she studies and lectures on the development and issues within the forensic science and fire investigation communities. Raquel’s work relating to wrongful arson cases is documented in Pulitzer Prize-winner Ed Humes’s book Burned.