The University of Pennsylvania Law School’s Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice, along with the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, the Baltimore Police Department, the Maryland Office of the Public Defender in Baltimore City, and the University of Baltimore Innocence Project Clinic, have released a comprehensive root cause analysis report on the case of Malcolm J. Bryant, who was convicted of murder in 1999 and exonerated in 2016 after DNA tests proved his innocence.
Using principles of sentinel event reviews and root cause analysis (RCA) — which examine events like wrongful convictions with the aim of learning from and preventing errors — the Quattrone Center led the Baltimore stakeholder team though a thorough review of Bryant’s case, from investigation through exoneration. The review allowed the team to develop a consensus understanding of what happened in the Bryant investigation and prosecution, and to mutually agree on precise recommendations to help ensure the mistakes that occurred in that case do not happen again.
“The participating agencies from the city of Baltimore have done a great service for the City, participating in an open and honest evaluation of the Bryant case to understand how each of the participants contributed to the unwanted conviction of an innocent man, and to identify and implement real-world changes to the system that will help prevent this from happening again,” said John Hollway, Associate Dean and Executive Director of the Quattrone Center. “It’s important for the citizens of Baltimore that their public servants continue to work hard to improve, and we were excited to help them with the process.”
“This report represents the culmination of over two years of arduous, collaborative work to understand how Malcolm Bryant’s wrongful conviction occurred and how to better ensure it does not happen again,” said State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. “The recommendations of this team a major step forward in refining the Baltimore criminal justice system so that we never have to share a story like Malcolm’s again.”
Penn Law’s Quattrone Center is a nonpartisan national research and policy hub that produces and disseminates research designed to prevent errors in the criminal justice system. The Center takes an interdisciplinary, data-driven, “systems approach” to identifying and analyzing the most crucial problems in the justice system and proposing solutions that improve its fairness for the benefit of society. Its independent and unbiased research and programs engage the full range of stakeholders necessary to bring about substantial improvement in the criminal justice system, including scholars, judges, law enforcement, defense attorneys and prosecutors, legislators, forensic and social scientists, victims’ rights advocates, the media, and others.