The most complete set of primary records and witness interviews ever compiled on an American capital case appeared today as a digital companion to the newly published book The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution.
Columbia Libraries/Information Services’ Center for Digital Research and Scholarship, in partnership with the Columbia DeLuna Project at Columbia Law School, produced thewrongcarlos.net to enable the public to view a trove of criminal evidence in the Carlos DeLuna case detailed in the book, including crime-scene photos, law enforcement and court records, newspaper and TV coverage, police audiotape, videotaped interviews, and an interactive map.
The book, published by Columbia University Press, documents the multiyear examination of the execution of Carlos DeLuna and was written by the Simon H. Rifkind Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, Professor James Liebman, and a group of his former students.
The Wrong Carlos uncovers evidence that Carlos DeLuna, who was executed in Texas in 1989, was innocent. The investigation into the murder of Wanda Lopez and the wrongful conviction and execution represents one of the most thorough and complete analyses of a criminal case ever conducted in the United States.
“We wrote this book as both an intervention in the death penalty debate and an innovation in legal scholarship and archiving,” said Liebman. “By compiling a comprehensive record on the case and enabling our readers to ‘click’ directly to the primary sources we cite, we hope to expand the understanding of legal scholars, law students, and the public about how our criminal justice system really works in what, for all its tragedy, is a run-of-the-mill criminal case.”
After investigating the DeLuna case in 2010, Liebman and his co-authors Shawn Crowley, Andrew Markquart, Lauren Rosenberg, Lauren Gallo White, and Daniel Zharkovsky published a detailed article on the case, Los Tocayos Carlos, in the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. Now they have presented the full story in book form as The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution. The accompanying digital companion site features a redesign of the previous project website, easily navigable content, and footnotes and sources not included in the book.
Barry Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld, directors of The Innocence Project, called The Wrong Carlos: “A masterful deconstruction of the Lopez murder and police investigation followed by the prosecution and execution of the wrong man. Given the number of men already exonerated from death row and the unacceptable incidence of innocent men convicted of capital crimes, there can be no doubt that innocent men have been executed by the state. Liebman's command of the facts and intellectual precision, ultimately infused with a moral urgency, makes a compelling claim that Carlos DeLuna is one of those innocent men.”
Jennifer Perillo, Senior Executive Editor at Columbia University Press, said: “I found this project fascinating when it came to me. The authors have a vision that aligns with Columbia University Press's educational mission, and draws on the University's great tradition of social justice. We are proud to publish a book showcasing the incredible investigative work of Professor Liebman and the Columbia DeLuna Project, that has been lauded by The Innocence Project among many others. This digital companion will further enhance the reading experience and allow one to fully understand and experience the investigation.”
Rebecca Kennison, Director at the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship, commented: “It is always a pleasure to work collaboratively with the Columbia University Press and Columbia Law School, and this important project was no exception. That the case evidence is now easily navigable and openly accessible online in this digital companion makes it easy for people to explore the facts and make up their own minds on the DeLuna case.”
The Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS) works to increase the utility and impact of research produced at Columbia by creating, adapting, implementing, supporting, and sustaining innovative digital tools and publishing platforms for content delivery, discovery, analysis, data curation, and preservation. The Center engages in extensive outreach, education, and advocacy to ensure that the scholarly work produced at Columbia University has a global reach and accelerates the pace of research across disciplines. CDRS is one of six entities that comprise the Digital Programs and Technology Services branch of Columbia University Libraries/Information Services.
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