Legal Context for the film

A “freestanding claim to actual innocence” is where the defendant claims innocence because of new evidence or changed testimony, and that he or she did not commit the crime in which accused. It also claims no actionable error in the original trial. The perceived issue in granting exoneration under the claim of actual innocence due to recanted testimony is that it opens the door to admitting a jury trial that uses only police snitches (and paid informants–either by cash or promises) is systemically flawed.

[Robinson meets the requirements for a “freestanding” claim of actual innocence. He also meets the requirements for a “gateway’ claim of actual innocence … ] “where a petitioner has demonstrated that ‘”a constitutional violation has probably resulted in the conviction of one who is actually innocent”‘ by showing that “‘it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror could have convicted him in light of new evidence of innocence.”‘  — Missouri Supreme Court appointed Special Master Judge Darrell E. Missey, from his 2018 report recommending exoneration for David Robinson

The U.S. Supreme Court has written on its opposition to freestanding actual innocence twice before …

1993 – Herrera v. Collins – U.S. Supreme Court – Denied 

“Consequently, the issue before us is not whether a State can execute the innocent. [It is … ] whether a fairly convicted and therefore legally guilty person is constitutionally entitled to yet another judicial proceeding in which to adjudicate his guilt anew, 10 years after conviction, notwithstanding his failure to demonstrate that constitutional error infected his trial.” – Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner

2009 – Troy Davis petition the U.S. Supreme Court – Denied

“There is no basis, tradition, or even in contemporary practice for finding that in the Constitution the right to demand judicial consideration of newly discovered evidence of innocence brought forward after a conviction.” [… the court has] “never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is actually innocent.” – Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia