The Supreme Court Just Said That Evidence of Innocence Is Not Enough

Last December, the Supreme Court gathered to hear oral arguments in Shinn v. Ramirez, a case that could mean life or death for Barry Jones, who sits on death row in Arizona for the rape and murder of his girlfriend’s 4-year-old daughter, Rachel.

In 2018, a federal court overturned Jones’ conviction, concluding that he had failed to receive effective counsel, a violation of his Sixth Amendment rights. Had that happened, a federal judge ruled, “there is a reasonable probability that his jury would not have convicted him of any of the crimes with which he was charged and previously convicted.”

After losing in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Arizona’s attorney general appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. During those oral arguments, state prosecutors repeatedly argued that “innocence isn’t enough” of a reason to throw out Jones’ conviction.

On Monday morning, by a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court concurred: Barry Jones’ innocence is not enough to keep him off of death row. The state of Arizona can still kill Jones, even if there exists a preponderance of evidence that he committed no crime.