Edwin Borchard’s Innocence Project

The Origin and Legacy of His Wrongful Conviction Scholarship


  • Marvin Zalman Wayne State University




wrongful conviction, exoneree compensation, Progressive Era


The article recognizes the life and work of Edwin Montefiore Borchard, the founder of US innocence scholarship, as fitting for the Wrongful Conviction Law Review’s inaugural issue. The sources of his scholarship are located in his life and times in the early twentieth century US Progressive movement. The links between Borchard's other legal scholarship and his wrongful conviction writings are explained. Borchard's writings and advocacy leading to his main work, Convicting the Innocent, and passage of the federal exoneree compensation law are described. The article concludes that Borchard's lasting legacy is to refute innocence denial, a deeply held belief that wrongful convictions never occur or are vanishingly rare. 



2020-05-12 — Updated on 2020-08-10


How to Cite

Zalman, M. (2020). Edwin Borchard’s Innocence Project: The Origin and Legacy of His Wrongful Conviction Scholarship. The Wrongful Conviction Law Review, 1(1), 124–146. https://doi.org/10.29173/wclawr6 (Original work published May 12, 2020)