Freeing the innocent and preventing wrongful convictions worldwide
The Innocence Network is an affiliation of organizations dedicated to providing pro bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted, working to redress the causes of wrongful convictions, and supporting the exonerated after they are freed.
69 organizations from around the world working to exonerate unjustly convicted men and women, including independent nonprofits as well as organizations affiliated with law schools or other educational institutions, units of public defender offices, and pro bono sections of law firms.
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Recent news articles and media mentions from around the Innocence Network
When Dean Gillispie walked free from prison in December 2011 — 20 years after his wrongful conviction for raping three women — he knew the emotional and mental scars of his incarceration might never go away. But he also bore a physical reminder of his time behind bars: over a decade earlier while on a ladder doing prison maintenance work, Gillispie fell and pinched a nerve in his back. By the time he was released three days before Christmas, he could barely walk.
In 2007, Davontae Sanford, a 14-year-old who was blind in one eye and had a habit of telling tall tales, told Detroit police officers after hours of questioning that he had killed four people in a shooting a few blocks from his house.
The teenager, who had quickly recanted, was sentenced to up to 90 years in prison and remained behind bars even after a notorious Detroit hit man admitted to having committed the killings with a second man.
But on Tuesday, after eight years of court battles and a reinvestigation of the case, Brian Sullivan, a Wayne County Court judge, vacated Mr. Sanford’s convictions and ordered him released. Read more.
William Richards was the obvious suspect in the murder of his wife: Pamela was planning to leave him for another man, her killer did not rape her or steal anything, and Richards had no airtight alibi.
After three trials — the first two juries hung — Richards was finally convicted of murdering Pamela. A prosecution expert at the third trial — but not at the first two — testified that a crescent-shaped mark on Pamela’s hand came from a bite that matched the unusual pattern of Richards’ bottom teeth.
The dental expert later said he had been wrong, but the California Supreme Court decided 4-3 in 2012 to uphold Richards’ conviction anyway. “The case against petitioner was strong,” retired Justice Joyce L. Kennard wrote for the majority back then. Read more.
Jerome Morgan, who spent nearly two decades behind bars for the slaying of a 16-year-old youth in a Gentilly motel ballroom before a judge threw out his conviction two years ago, won’t be retried in the 1993 killing. Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro grudgingly dropped the murder charge Friday.
Cannizzaro refused to proclaim Morgan innocent in the killing of Clarence Landry in a Howard Johnson motel ballroom. Instead, he cited a Louisiana Supreme Court ruling this month that denied prosecutors the chance to use transcripts from Morgan’s 1994 trial during a new trial that was slated to start June 13. Prosecutors had wanted to use the older testimony of two key witnesses who have since recanted their identifications of Morgan as the shooter, aiming to let a jury decide between their contradictory statements. Read more.
Lorinda Swain, a Calhoun County woman convicted in a sex-abuse case in 2002, will get a new trial, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. Swain was convicted in 2002 for sexually abusing her adopted son. She served seven years in prison. Her conviction was thrown out by a Battle Creek judge in 2009 after new witnesses raised doubts about her guilt.
Swain has maintained her innocence. The boy, Ronald Swain, has recanted his testimony, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer. In 2009 and again in 2012, now-retired Calhoun County Judge Conrad Sindt ordered a new trial for Swain, but the Michigan Court of Appeals overturned that ruling in 2015. Wednesday’s ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court reverses the Court of Appeals decision, saying it “erred in failing to give proper deference to the specific findings of the trial court that the defendant was entitled to a new trial.” Read more.
Jeremiah David Mongold could have gotten out of jail a year ago, one of his lawyers said Tuesday. “He became eligible for parole last year and actually forwent a parole hearing because he wanted to have his habeas hearing instead,” said Valena Beety, the director of the Innocence Project at West Virginia University’s College of Law, and one of Mongold’s lawyers. “‘I want to prove my innocence,’ he said.”
After a hearing last month, Mongold’s conviction was thrown out. After serving 11 years of the 40-year prison sentence he was handed in 2005, a Hampshire County judge threw out Mongold’s conviction in connection with the death of his 2-year-old stepdaughter.
Hampshire Circuit Judge Charles Parsons ruled that Mongold, 32, should get a new trial. The judge found that Mongold’s lawyer was ineffective during his original trial. Mongold was released on $75,000 bond to await the new trial, which is tentatively set for Nov. 28, according to Beety. Read more.