The case of State v. Boorn (1819) is the most notorious trial in Vermont judicial history. Following a sensational murder trial, the victim, Russell Colvin, walked back into town exactly one month before Defendant Stephen Boorn was scheduled to be hung for killing him. Colvin’s reappearance sent shock waves through the legal community, and left the Vermont judiciary with a black eye, as commentators criticized the Vermont Supreme Court for allowing the conviction in spite of the lack of a dead body, the admission of coerced confessions, and what the public came to believe was a prosecution that depended on dreams as evidence and public hysteria as a trigger for judicial action.Northwestern Law's Center on Wrongful Convictions refers to Boorn's trial as America's First Wrongful Murder Conviction. See also Leonard Sargeant's Trial, Confessions and Conviction of Jesse and Stephen Boorn for the Murder of Russell Colvin: And the Return of the Man Supposed to Have Been Murdered (1873) or buy a copy here!
Thursday, July 12, 2012
The Boorn Legacy?
"On Friday, July 13, 2012 at 2pm at the Manchester Court House," announces a press release, "the Vermont Judicial History Society will put on a mock trial where Stephen Boorn will seek damages from the State of Vermont for the wrongful imprisonment that he suffered." The release elaborates: