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
The B.C. Court of Appeal set the stage Friday for Phillip James Tallio, who has spent the last 34 years in prison for killing a child, to appeal his 1983 murder conviction. If Tallio’s appeal were to be successful, it would make Canadian legal history as the longest prison sentence served by someone found to be wrongly convicted.
Friday’s decision, which legal observers are already calling “historic,” allows the appeal to proceed. The ruling hinged on the issue of DNA evidence, with the judge saying new testing had the potential to either exonerate Tallio or conclusively re-affirm he was guilty. “The risk Mr. Tallio takes, if this testing is performed, is that it will not exculpate him, but conclusively include him,” B.C. Court of Appeal judge Elizabeth Bennett said in her ruling. “This is a risk he is willing to take.” Read more.
A man who has been in prison since 1981 for a murder that investigators now say he didn’t commit is free — for now. According to Innocence Project New Orleans, John Floyd, now 67 years old, has been released from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola under supervision and will work on a farm in the Lafayette area while his case is on appeal.
Floyd was convicted of one of two murders that happened Thanksgiving week of 1980. Both victims were gay men who had sex with their killer before being stabbed to death, one at the Fairmont Hotel and one on Governor Nicholls Street in the French Quarter. Despite the similarities in both murders, Floyd was only convicted of one. Read more.
A judge this week dismissed a decades-old murder case and ordered the release of DeMarlo Berry, a Las Vegas man whose lengthy quest to prove his innocence culminated after prosecutors reviewed new evidence and identified a different suspect in the 1994 slaying of a Carl’s Jr. restaurant manager.
“We’re thrilled for DeMarlo and his family,” said Utah-based attorney Craig Coburn, one of the lawyers who fought for Berry’s release. “He’s a very good man.”
Berry, 42, is scheduled to be released from prison Friday after spending most of his adult life behind bars. He served 22 years of a life sentence for the murder and armed robbery that occurred nearly a quarter-century ago at the fast-food-chain restaurant’s downtown location. Read more.
A 61-year-old man who has been in prison since 1976 was freed Thursday after a Wayne County Circuit judge agreed to vacate his sentence because his first-degree murder conviction was based on a discredited scientific method. Thursday’s release of LeDura Watkins makes him the longest-serving inmate in the United States to have his sentence vacated, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.
The previous record for the most time served in prison before being having a sentence vacated was Ricky Jackson, who was incarcerated 39 years, three months and nine days in Ohio for a murder conviction before being released in 2015. Read more.
A judge has ordered a new trial for a Wisconsin Rapids man serving a virtual life sentence for a 1987 sexual assault he has always denied. Richard Beranek, 58, raised new issues with the help of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, and gained extra attention because one of his lawyers, Jarrett Adams, went to law school after he himself was freed from a wrongful conviction with help from the same program. Adams now works for the Innocence Project in New York.
Reserve Judge Daniel Moeser presided at Beranek’s original trial, and heard defense arguments earlier this year about why an FBI agent likely overstated the scientific probability that hair recovered from the scene matched Beranek’s. Furthermore, new DNA testing has shown that the hair “match” is conclusively not Beranek’s. Read more.
A Kansas City man who spent nearly 17 years in prison for purse snatching was released Wednesday after a judge overturned his conviction. The 10th Judicial District Court in Johnson County vacated Richard Jones’ 1999 aggravated robbery conviction. He had been sentenced to more than 19 years in prison. But according to officials with the Midwest Innocence Project, Jones was convicted based solely on eyewitness identification, despite presenting a verified alibi. The Innocence Project and the Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence at the University of Kansas worked for Jones’ release. Alice Craig, Jones’ attorney and professor at KU’s Project for Innocence, said the case highlights the flaws in eyewitness identification. Read more.