In this Note, Clinton Small analyzes People v. Reed, in which the Illinois Supreme Court established a new form of relief for defendants who have pled guilty to a crime. Under Reed, Illinois defendants may raise freestanding claims of actual innocence if they produce new, material, and noncumulative evidence which clearly and convincingly demonstrates that a new trial would probably result in acquittal. Small explores how the law in Illinois developed to this point and how it stacks up against other states that have considered similar avenues of relief. Small notes that Reed will provide an important relief valve for innocent defendants who plead guilty as a result of the system’s high stakes and imbalanced power. But Small argues that due to structural dependence on plea bargaining and the high standard required to succeed in post-conviction claims, it is unlikely that Reed will drastically change the incidence of or outcome for innocent individuals who plead guilty to crimes they did not commit.
Clinton Small is a Juris Doctor candidate at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, class of 2023.
Recommended citation: Clinton Small, Fundamental Fairness over Finality: People v. Reed and Freestanding Innocence Claims for Guilty-Plea Defendants in Illinois, 53 Loy. U. Chi. L.J. Online 41 (2022).