Brigham Young University Journal of Public Law


Brent Miller


In a society that has become increasingly interconnected through advancements in technology, the stig matizing consequences of a false criminal accusation or conviction ca n be devastating. Ironically, unlike the technological advancements societ y has experienced, the ability to protect one’s reputation from such harm requires using the same limited remedies that existed decades ago. With few effective remedies available, those who have been falsely accused or convicted of a crime are without adequate ways to restore their reputations. To fill this remedial void, the federal government should create a forum whereby an individual’s innocence might be published as government speech. This approach incorporates the idea of protecting reputation through a declaration of innocence but differs in that this proposal seeks to incorporate the same technologies that have created societal interconnectedness to pronounce such innocence forcefully throughout society. This pronouncement will fill a void in re putational remedies by directly confronting and remedying the stigmatization such accusations and convictions create. This comment advocates the development of a declaration of innocence in the defamation context in order for the declaration to be transferred into the criminal law arena as a remedy for falsely accused or convicted plaintiffs to be decl ared innocent. This comment further endorses the idea of publicizing individual declarations of innocence on a government website, which declarations thereby become government speech. The government’s declaration of innocence publication has the powerful potential to restore reputational rights for accused or convicted of crimes. The tools to enable the development of this remedy are already in existence. This publication could create the necessary procedural foundation on which to emphasize the benefits of a substantive reputation right under the Due Process Clause that might be adopted to protect the reputational rights of the entire citizenry of this country


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