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Illustrates how the power of narrative influences how police, prosecutors, juries, and judges construct
Wrongful convictions have been studied primarily through the lenses of law, psychology, and the social sciences. Though scholarship has established canonical factors that help explain why the innocent are convicted, a very simple question has not been answered: How is it possible that prosecutors can convince juries and themselves of the guilt of an innocent defendant, often even against strong exculpatory evidence? Narratives of Guilt and Innocence
seeks to address this crucial question by highlighting the narrative blueprint of a given criminal justice system and then how the power of narrative influences how police, prosecutors, juries, and judges construct legal reality and the evidence for it. That law and storytelling are connected is a common trope, but we know surprisingly little about the intricate role storytelling plays in criminal cases and wrongful convictions in particular.
This book questions the effectiveness of the adversarial contest between prosecutor and defense as a means to arrive at the truth and argues that narrative is an important a factor in the construction of legal reality. Wrongful convictions exemplify that narrative and truth have an uncomfortable relationship. Ralph Grunewald provides a retelling and reading of well-known miscarriages of justice, including the best-known wrongful conviction in Germany. Applying a comparative perspective shows that the narrative desire as a human trait has a universal power with a persistence that transcends the regulatory and procedural setup of a given system. Narratives of Guilt and Innocence
puts wrongful convictions into an interdisciplinary and comparative context and vividly demonstrates just how much the process of storytelling affects legal reality.