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Actual innocence reform bill passes legislature

The General Assembly last week gave final approval to the bill designed to remove a linguistic barrier to exoneration for those wrongly convicted in Virginia.

House Bill 1432 – if signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell – will change the standard a defendant must satisfy to prove innocence.

The bill was written by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who said the bill brings Virginia “one step closer to ensuring that our justice system works as smoothly and clearly as possible, including the recognition that when a mistake has occurred, a meaningful judicial remedy should be available.”

The bill also would provide the means for the state to join in a motion for a writ of actual innocence.

Bills to allow trial court judges to vacate convictions based on later showings of perjury or fraud did not make it out of the House Courts Committee.

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