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Governor Jerry Brown has signed a new measure into law making it harder for the state to convict a person accused of a crime based upon the testimony of jailhouse informants. Criminal defense attorneys, civil rights advocates and at least two district attorneys in the state supported the measure. Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar vetoed the same proposal twice during his administration at the urging of the California District Attorneys Association.

Our criminal justice system has a variety of important safeguards built in to protect a person accused of a crime from being wrongfully convicted. Every person has the right to a fair trial. Our system places the burden on the prosecutor to prove allegations beyond a reasonable doubt in order to get a conviction. But individuals accused of a crime also have the right to a complete defense.

Among the safeguards the law affords Californians accused of a crime is the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses at trial. But what if a trial witness is unreliable? In 2004, the California Senate created a statewide commission to look into the causes of wrongful convictions in the state.

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