Published on: Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Today, the Supreme Court held in Nelson v. Colorado (No. 15-1256) that Colorado’s Exoneration Act, which permits Colorado to retain conviction-related assessments unless and until the prevailing defendant institutes a civil proceeding and proves her innocence by clear and convincing evidence, violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of due process. Specifically, the Court held that once a defendant’s conviction is erased, the presumption of innocence is restored and the State has zero claim of right to any money paid upon, and as a consequence of, the conviction. As such, Colorado’s Exoneration Act created an unacceptable risk of the erroneous deprivation of a defendant’s property in violation of due process. Justice Ginsburg delivered the opinion of the Court. Justice Alito filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion.