Felons Line Up For Hearings Before New Innocenence Commission

A new, one-of-a-kind commission already has a full plate as it prepares to hear the arguments of people who say they were wrongly convicted in North Carolina courts.

The Innocence Inquiry Commission was created after several high-profile cases that showed several convictions were wrong. The eight-member panel created this summer is the first of its type in the nation.

More than 75 prisoners have already submitted claims to the panel, which meets for the first time next month. The rules say their claims must be based on new evidence.

Former state chief justice Beverly Lake was instrumental in creating the panel. He says he doesn't believe the state's prisons hold hundreds of innocent people, but he expects the commission will investigate as many a ten cases per year. Lake says it'll be good for the commission to improve public confidence in the state's justice system, and get to the truth.