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Evidence of innocence [Letter]

Your editorial on a recent report by the National Registry of Exonerations was interesting and informative ("Guilty until proven innocent," Feb. 5). I write, however, to correct one error.

You describe the record number of exonerations reported by the registry in 2013 and add that "the term [exoneration] is used loosely. Overturned convictions may have little to do with the establishment of actual innocence and more to do with the discovery of mistakes or misdeeds in the legal proceedings."

That description is incorrect.

The National Registry of Exonerations does not include cases in which criminal convictions were simply overturned. If we did, we would list thousands of reversals a year across the country.

As our website explains, we only classify a case as an exoneration if "a person who has been convicted of a crime is officially cleared based on new evidence of innocence."

Our goal is a conservative classification of cases of defendants who were cleared because they were factually innocent. We believe we do a good job of it.

Samuel R. Gross, Ann Arbor, Mich.

The writer, a University of Michigan law professor, is editor of the National Registry of Exonerations.

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