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Innocence Project Northwest Clinic: Articles, Books & Websites

About State Law Surveys

Legal scholars and researchers often turn to the laws of all or some states to compare how different (or how much the same) state laws are on the same topic.

Subject Compilations of State Laws

Save time when starting a 50-state law survey by seeing if someone else has produced one that will serve your needs.

By Subject

These additional 50-state surveys deal with specific topics:

Actual Innocence Claims

John M. Leventhal, A Survey of Federal and State Courts' Approaches to a Constitutional Right of Actual Innocence: Is There a Need for a State Constitutional Right in New York in the Aftermath of CPL § 440.10(G-1)?, 76 Albany L. Rev. 1453 (2012-13). HeinOnlineLexis | Westlaw

Pp. 1488-1515, "Appendix." Summaries. Cites to codes, court rules, and cases. Covers clear and convincing evidence of actual innocence, DNA testing, habeas relief, newly discovered evidence, postconviction remedies, and related topics.

DNA Evidence & Postconviction Testing

Justin Brooks & Alexander Simpson, Blood Sugar Sex Magik: A Review of Postconviction DNA Testing Statutes and Legislative Recommendations, 59 Drake L. Rev. 799 (2011). HeinOnlineLexis | Westlaw

Essay. Cites to codes in footnotes. Covers laws on postconviction DNA testing, including appointment of counsel, availability of testing for inmates who confessed or plead guilty or for inmates who are no longer incarcerated but who are subject to restrictions such as sex offender registration, evidence preservation and penalties for violating preservation requirements, exculpatory results, financial responsibility, reasonable probabilities, testing by state or private laboratories, the underlying offense (felonies or any crime), time limits, where the identity of the perpetrator was an issue, and whether DNA testing motions may be appealed.

Kathleen Callahan, In Limbo: In re Davis and the Future of Herrera Innocence Claims in Federal Habeas Proceedings, 53 Ariz. L. Rev. 629 (2011).  HeinOnline | Lexis | Westlaw

P. 632, fn. 19. Citations only. Cites to codes. Covers the forty-eight states that have laws providing "inmates with post-conviction access to possibly exonerating DNA evidence."

DNA Testing in Criminal Justice: Background, Current Law, Grants, and Issues. Congressional Research Service, 2011.

Pp. 16-17, fns. 110-11. Citations only. Cites to codes. Covers laws on post-conviction DNA testing (fn. 110) and the thirty-seven states that have laws on the "preservation of evidence after someone is convicted" (fn. 111).

Pp. 42-44, "Appendix. State DNA Database Laws." Chart. No citations. Covers qualifying offenses, including felonies (all, juvenile adjudication, and jail and probation); misdemeanors (sex crimes and other crimes); and arrestees for burglary, all felonies, murder, or sex crimes. Current as of Sept. 2010.

State Court Organization 2004, 5th ed.

Pp. 203-06, "Table 36. DNA Evidence: Post-Conviction Analysis." Table. Cites to bills, session laws, and codes. Covers criminal, felony, and other crimes for which relief may be sought; length of time biological evidence must be preserved; standard for granting DNA testing; and time limit for relief.

Expert Testimony & Witnesses


Justin B. Shane, Money Talks: An Indigent Defendant's Right to an Ex Parte Hearing for Expert Funding, 17 Cap. Def. J. 347 (2005). HeinOnline | Lexis Westlaw

P. 357, fn. 82. Citations only. Cites to codes and court rules. Covers the fourteen states that have capital punishment laws and that "provide defendants with at least a partial right to apply ex parte for expert assistance."

Carlton Bailey, Ake v. Oklahoma and an Indigent Defendant's "Right" to an Expert Witness: A Promise Denied or Imagined?, 10 Wm. & Mary Bill of Rts. J. 401 (2002). HeinOnline | Lexis | Westlaw

P. 457, fn. 535. Citations only. Cites to codes. Covers laws on indigent defendant's access to expert witnesses.

Amber J. McGraw, Life, But Not Liberty? An Assessment of Noncapital Indigent Defendants' Rights to Expert Assistance under the Ake v. Oklahoma Doctrine, 79 Wash. U. L. Q. 951 (2001). HeinOnline | Lexis | Westlaw

Pp. 965-66, fns. 90-93. Summaries. Cites to codes, court rules, and cases. Covers laws providing expert assistance to indigent defendants.

Habeas Corpus


Brief of Amici Curiae Innocence Project and Innocence Network. Swearingen v. Thaler, No. 09-70036 (April 26, 2010).

Pp. 12-13, fn. 6. Citations only. Cites to codes, court rules, and cases. Covers the nineteen states that have laws recognizing "freestanding claims of actual innocence based on newly-discovered evidence as a basis for habeas relief." Note: Submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit. Available on Westlaw (2010 WL 5306521).

Right to Counsel

Brief for the States of Wisconsin, Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming, as Amici Curiae Supporting Respondent. Martinez v. Ryan, No. 10-1001 (Sept. 13, 2011).

Pp. 26-29, fns. 13, 14, and 16. Citations only. Cites to codes, court rules, and cases. Covers appointment of counsel in postconviction cases. Note: Submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. Available on Lexis (2011 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1264) and Westlaw (2011 WL 4072899).

Brief of Amicus Curiae NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. in Support of Petitioner. Maples v. Thomas, No. 10-63 (May 25, 2011).

Pp. A-1 to A-4, "Appendix, Survey of State Provision of Counsel for Indigent Death-Sentenced Prisoners in State Post Conviction Proceedings." Table. Cites to codes, court rules, and cases. Covers the right to counsel before or after filing of postconviction petitions. Note: Submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. Available on Lexis (2011 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 544) and Westlaw (2011 WL 2132706).

Statutes of Limitations

Brief Amicus Curiae of the Habeas Corpus Resource Center in Support of Respondent. Walker v. Martin, No. 09-996 (Oct. 2010).

Pp. 12-14, fns. 7-15. Citations only. Cites to codes, court rules, and cases. Covers "deadlines for filing for post-conviction relief in non-capital cases."

Note: Submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. Available on Lexis (2010 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1991) and Westlaw (2010 WL 4278489).

Wrongful Imprisonment / Conviction

Meghan J. Ryan,  Remedying Wrongful Execution, 45 U. Mich. J. L. Reform 261 (2012). HeinOnline | Lexis | Westlaw

Pp. 310-13, "Appendix." Summaries. Cites to codes. Covers the twenty-eight states that have laws providing some form of compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment. Includes U.S.

Brief of Amicus Curiae. Drumgold v. Massachusetts, S.J.C. No. 10616, and Guzman v. Massachusetts, S.J.C. No. 10563 (March 31, 2010).

Pp. 13-14, fns. 9 and 10. Citations only. Cites to codes. Covers the twenty-eight states that have laws "providing compensation for the erroneously convicted." Prepared by the New England Innocence Project. Note: Submitted to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Available on Westlaw (2010 WL 1556533).

Daniel S. Kahn, Presumed Guilty Until Proven Innocent: The Burden of Proof in Wrongful Conviction Claims under State Compensation Statutes, 44 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 123 (2010). HeinOnlineLexisNexis | Westlaw

Pp. 137-45. Essay. Cites to session laws and codes in footnotes. Covers wrongful conviction compensation law provisions on caps on damage recovery, disqualification, eligibility, and statutes of limitations.