Wrongly Convicted Database Record


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Herman Atkins



Rape and Robbery (including burglary)


45 years

Years Imprisoned:


Year Crime:


Year Convicted:


Year Cleared:


U.S. State or Country of Crime:


County or Region of Crime:


City of Crime:

Lake Elsinore


Judicially Exonerated Released

Summary of Case:

"Herman Atkins was wrongly convicted in 1988 of rape and robbery in the 1986 assault of a woman in a Lake Elsinore, California shoe store. The attacker ejaculated semen onto the woman's sweater. The victim didn't identify him as the attacker until after she had seen his picture on a wanted poster for an unrelated crime. A woman working at a store next to the shoe store also misidentified Atkins, who testified on his own behalf and had an alibi witness also testify. An "expert" testified that Atkins' blood type matched that of the woman's assailant. Atkins was sentenced to 45 years in prison. The prosecution fought the Innocence Project for five years to prevent DNA testing of the attackers semen samples. When tested in 2000 they proved Atkins' innocence, and he was released after 11 and-a-half years of wrongful imprisonment. Atkins filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Riverside County, California and several sheriff deputies. Atkins was awarded $2 million in April 2007 by a federal jury after a trial of his federal civil rights lawsuit. In August 2007, $1.3 million in fees and $165,000 in costs were awarded Atkins lawyers. Atkins lead lawyers were Cochran, Neufeld and Scheck, assisted by three co-counsels."

Conviction Caused By:

"Erroneous eyewitness testimony of the victim and another person, and expert testimony that his blood type matched that of the victim."

Innocence Proved By:

DNA testing unavailable at time of his conviction excluded him as the attacker

Defendant Aided By:

Innocence Project at Cardozo School of Law

Compensation Awarded:

"$2 million (Riverside County, Calif., April 2007)"

Was Perpetrator Identified?

Age When Imprisoned:


Age When Released:





Information Source 1:

"Riverside County must pay wrongly convicted man, By Henry Weinstein (staff), Los Angels Times, May 1, 2007"

Information Location 1:


Information Source 2:

"Riverside County to pay $2 million to man wrongfully convicted, By Staff and Wire Reports, The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA), May 1, 2007"

Information Location 2:


Information Source 3:

"Innocence Lost: Special Investigation, San Francisco Magazine, November 2004, p. 88"

Information Location 3:


Information Source 4:

Newspaper articles

Information Location 4:

"LA times, 2-18-00 and 2-22-00"

Information Source 5:

Innocence Project database

Information Location 5:


Book About Case:

"Innocence Lost: Special Investigation, San Francisco Magazine, November 2004, p. 88"

Book Information:

Book About Case (2):

Book Information (2):

Movie About Case:

Comments About Case:

Innocents Database Created and Maintained by Hans Sherrer innocents@forejustice.org

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