Wrongly Convicted Database Record


Go to Database Search Page

Go to  Database Index Page

Thomas Berdue






Years Imprisoned:

Year Crime:


Year Convicted:


Year Cleared:


U.S. State or Country of Crime:


County or Region of Crime:

San Francisco

City of Crime:

San Francisco



Summary of Case:

"Thomas Berdue was the victim of one of the most remarkable known cases of erroneous identification. One of two men involved in a robbery was identified as Jim Stuart. Before he died from wounds suffered in the attack, the victim identified Thomas Berdue as his attacker. Stuart's accomplice identified was captured and he also identified Berdue as Stuart, and six men who knew Stuart all identified Berdue as Stuart. After Berdue's conviction and death sentence, a woman and her husband were attacked and her assailant was captured. He was the real Jim Stuart, and he resembled Berdue in almost every physical detail. The real Jim Stuart confessed to numerous crimes, including the crime that Berdue had been convicted of committing. On July 11, 1851 the real Jim Stuart was hanged, and later that day Berdue's sentence of imprisonment was officially annulled. San Francisco's Vigilance Committee publicly announced that Berdue was innocent of any crime and gave him a purse of several thousand dollars compensation. California Governor John McDougall pardoned Berdue."

Conviction Caused By:

"Eight witnesses erroneously identified Berdue as Jim Stuart, the actual murderer."

Innocence Proved By:

After the actual murderer was captured California Governor John McDougall pardoned Berdue.

Defendant Aided By:

Compensation Awarded:

"$2,000 (San Francisco's Vigilance Committee, 1851 dollars)"

Was Perpetrator Identified?

Age When Imprisoned:

Age When Released:




Information Source 1:

"Convicting the Innocent - Sixty-Five Actual Errors of Criminal Justice, by Edwin Borchard, Yale Univ Press, 1932"

Information Location 1:

Information Source 2:

Men and Memories of San Francisco - Chapters IX-XII

Information Location 2:


Information Source 3:

Information Location 3:

Information Source 4:

Information Location 4:

Information Source 5:

Information Location 5:

Book About Case:

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

Hosted on forejustice.org and mirrored on justicedenied.org .