This is a list of notable overturned convictions in the United States.
Los Angeles County
San Francisco County
St. Joseph County
St. Louis County
New York County
Two black brothers Thomas Griffin and Meeks Griffin were convicted of the 1913 murder of John Q. Lewis, a Confederate veteran, and executed in the electric chair. They were pardoned in 2009.
Fourteen-year-old black George Stinney was convicted of the 1944 murder of two white girls and executed in the electric chair within three months of his conviction. He was exonerated in 2014.
Adam Braseel was convicted of the January 7th, 2006 home invasion murder of Malcolm Burrows that occurred in and around Burrows' home on the outskirts of Tracy City, Grundy County Tennessee. After multiple frustrated court battles with circuit prosecutors and the courts, Adam Braseel was ultimately fully Exonerated in 2021 by Tennessee Governor, Bill Lee.
Anthony Charles Graves was convicted of the August 18, 1992 mass murder of six people in Somerville, after being implicated in the crime by Robert Carter - the father of one of the victims. Carter was executed in May 2000 for his part in the crime - and in his final statement took sole responsibility for the crime: "To the Davis family, I am sorry for all of the pain that I caused your family. It was me and me alone. Anthony Graves had nothing to do with it. I lied on him in court. ... Anthony Graves don't even know anything about it". Anthony Graves is also known as Death Row Exoneree 138.
After spending 12 years on Death Row, Graves' conviction was overturned on March 3, 2006, by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals when, in a unanimous opinion, a three judge panel held that the state's case had hinged on Carter's perjured testimony, and concluded that the Prosecutor, Charles Sebesta, had intentionally withheld evidence that could have helped Graves; most notably that Carter had recanted right before he testified at Grave's August 1992 trial.
Graves was held for an additional four years in solitary confinement in the Burleson County jail awaiting retrial until October 27, 2010, when he was released after all charges were dismissed by Burleson County Special Prosecutor Kelly Siegler, who concluded, "He's an innocent man. There is nothing that connects Anthony Graves to this crime."
Graves was awarded $1.4 million by the State of Texas in June 2011 for his wrongful conviction.
Joe Elizondo was convicted in 1984, by a jury, of the 1983 aggravated sexual assault of his 10 yr-old step-son Robert Bienvenue. He was sentenced to life in prison and fined $10,000. In the fall of 1983, Robert and his 8 yr-old brother, Richard, told the Port Athur police, that they had been sexually abused by their mother, Mary Ann, 27, and their step-father, Joe, 49. At the time, the boys' father, Richard Bienvenue, Sr. had legal custody and the boys spent weekends with their mother and step-father. On September 23, 1983, the Elizondos were charged with sexually assaulting the boys. After they were arrested, the couple's one-year-old daughter was removed from their custody and was later adopted by another family. In August 1984, Joe Elizondo went on trial in Jefferson County Criminal District Court, on a single count of assaulting Robert Bienvenue. Robert told the jury that both he and his brother were forced to watch sexually explicit videos and to engage in oral sex with Joe, have oral contact with Mary Ann's breast and to have anal sex with both Joe and Mary. At times, Robert testified, another man and two women joined them. The jury was also shown a sexually explicit picture of a kangaroo that Robert had drawn at school, as well as a sexually suggestive note written to him by a female classmate. Robert's teacher confiscated these items, prompting interrogation by Robert's father and the police. During that questioning Robert detailed the alleged abuse. Robert's step-mother—the wife of Richard Bienvenue, Sr.—testified that the boys had told her of the abuse.
Mary Ann Elizondo was found guilty of sexually assaulting Robert during a separate trial from Joe's in 1984, and she was sentenced to 20 yrs in prison. She pleaded no contest to a second charge and was sentenced to 35 years in prison, to be served concurrently with the 20-year term. After Joe and Mary Ann were convicted, Robert and Richard had no further contact with them. It wasn't until 1988, on Robert's 17th birthday, that he found a letter written by his mother, Mary Ann, and learned for the first time that Joe and Mary Ann were in prison. He then began writing to authorities, letting them know that he had lied when he accused his mother and step-father of sexual abuse. Mary Ann was released on parole in 1991. She then divorced Elizondo, and married someone else. While on parole, she was ordered into group therapy and told she had to admit to sexually abusing her two sons. When she refused, she was jailed for 6 months, before being released again on parole. A Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus was filed, and in August 1995, a hearing was finally held, concerning the recantations of both boys. Robert Bienvenue testified that his father threatened to spank him and his brother every day for the rest of their lives if they refused to testify against Elizondo and their mother. He said their father wanted to retaliate against his ex-wife for marrying Elizondo. Richard Bienvenue also testified. Though he denied that their father forced them to lie, he said the abuse never occurred.
In 1995, the trial court found the recantations credible, set aside Joe Elizondo's conviction and ordered a new trial. In December 1996, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the trial court ruling. "Robert's recantation not only voids his trial testimony which implicated (Joe Elizondo), but constitutes affirmative evidence of (Joe Elizondo's) innocence," the appeals court ruled. "We are convinced by clear and convincing evidence that no rational jury would convict him in light of the new evidence." On June 23, 1997, Jefferson County District Attorney Paul McWilliams dismissed the charges against Joe Elizondo and he was released from prison that day. Mary Ann then sought to vacate her conviction. In November 2005, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, following the decision made in Joe Elizondo's case, vacated her conviction and the charges were dismissed. Sadly, Joe Elizondo, whose health was poor in prison, died in 2003. In October 2008, Mary Ann (Barbosa), who had filed a state compensation claim, received her compensation of $370,833. It is unknown as to whether charges were ever filed against Richard Bienvenue, Sr., for causing his sons to falsely accuse sexual abuse against Joe and Mary Ann Elizondo.
Clarence Brandley was sentenced to death for the 1980 rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl. He was exonerated in 1990.
Hannah Overton was sentenced to life without parole for murdering her child when in fact he accidentally ingested a lethal amount of salt in September 2007. On September 17, 2014, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the conviction and remanded it back to the trial court who dropped the charges.
Kerry Max Cook was sentenced to death for the 1977 murder of a 21-year-old secretary. He was freed in 1997.
Richard Danziger and Chris Ochoa were convicted of a 1988 rape and murder of a woman and sentenced to life in prison. DNA tests and the confession of the true murderer exonerated the pair in 2001.
Michael Morton was convicted of the 1986 murder of his wife, sentenced to life and spent 25 years in prison. Morton was exonerated in 2011 after DNA evidence proved another man had committed the murder. Also, other evidence turned up after the DNA tests showed that the prosecutor, Ken Anderson had withheld other evidence from the defense that would have excluded Morton from the crime. Morton's lawyers accused Anderson of failing to provide defense lawyers with this exculpatory evidence indicating that another man might have killed Morton's wife, including information that his 3-year-old son witnessed the murder and said his dad was not home at the time. In 2013 former prosecutor Ken Anderson who was now a judge was ordered to be arrested by a "court of inquiry" for failing to deliver all evidence to the defense attorneys as required by law. Anderson was forced to resign as judge and give up his Texas law license. On November 8, 2013, Anderson pleaded no contest to the charges as part of a plea bargain. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail.
Earl Washington, Jr. was sentenced to death for a 1982 rape and murder. He was pardoned in 2000.
Sherman Booth was convicted in January 1855 of violating the Fugitive Slave Act. The Wisconsin Supreme Court declared the Federal law unconstitutional and ordered Booth freed. In 1859, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the Wisconsin court's decision, Ableman v. Booth, ordering Booth arrested and confined.
Lawrencia Bembenek was convicted of the 1981 murder of her husband's ex-wife. She won the right to a new trial in 1992. She pleaded no contest and her sentence was commuted to time served. She was trying to get her original conviction overturned and be exonerated. On November 20, 2010, she died at a hospice facility in Portland, Oregon from liver and kidney failure. Friends, family and supporters have been trying to get her a posthumous pardon.
Events of the investigation