In this unprecedented view from the trenches, prosecutor turned champion for the innocent Mark Godsey takes us inside the frailties of the human mind as they unfold in real-world wrongful convictions. Drawing upon stories from his own career, Godsey shares how innate psychological flaws in judges, police, lawyers, and juries coupled with a “tough on crime” environment can cause investigations to go awry, leading to the convictions of innocent people.
In Blind Injustice, Godsey explores distinct psychological human weaknesses inherent in the criminal justice system—confirmation bias, memory malleability, cognitive dissonance, bureaucratic denial, dehumanization, and others—and illustrates each with stories from his time as a hard-nosed prosecutor and then as an attorney for the Ohio Innocence Project.
He also lays bare the criminal justice system’s internal political pressures. How does the fact that judges, sheriffs, and prosecutors are elected officials influence how they view cases? How can defense attorneys support clients when many are overworked and underpaid? And how do juries overcome bias leading them to believe that police and expert witnesses know more than they do about what evidence means?
This book sheds a harsh light on the unintentional yet routine injustices committed by those charged with upholding justice. Yet in the end, Godsey recommends structural, procedural, and attitudinal changes aimed at restoring justice to the criminal justice system.
Mark Godsey is Professor of Law at the University of Cincinnati. He was an award-winning federal prosecutor in New York City before becoming a leading attorney and activist for the wrongfully convicted. Godsey is the co-founder of the Ohio Innocence Project, which has freed from prison 25 innocent people who collectively served more than 470 years for crimes they did not commit. Godsey frequently appears on national television and in national print media, including People, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Dateline NBC, and Forensic Files, among others. In 2017, his career was profiled in Time.
“The high-stakes work [of exoneration] is costly, time-consuming, and frustrating, and it requires tenacity and compassion to persevere. Mark Godsey has what it takes.”—Time
“A master storyteller, Mark Godsey’s rare triple-perspective of prosecutor, innocence champion, and law professor creates a unique and beautiful voice that not only contributes significantly to the innocence movement but makes the book gripping and hard to put down. A must-read for anyone who cares about justice.”
Richard A. Leo, Hamill Family Professor of Law and Psychology at the University of San Francisco and author of Police Interrogation and American Justice
“Mark Godsey’s journey from prosecuting in the storied U.S Attorney’s office in the the Southern District of New York to 'innocence lawyer' in his hometown of Cincinnati has yielded an important, candid, and scholarly meditation on the ‘cognitive’ traps that lead to wrongful convictions. This should be mandatory reading for all young federal and state prosecutors, not to mention judges and defense counsel.”
Barry Scheck, Professor of Law at Cardozo School of Law and Cofounder of the Ohio Innocence Project
“This careful exploration of the psychology of criminal investigations, written in an accessible and conversational tone, exposes how even the best-intentioned officers can get evidence wrong and how we can restore truth to the criminal justice system.”
Brandon Garret, Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law and author of Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong