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.
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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
Jerome Morgan is a busy man. On most days, he can be found going from posting signs at his advertising job, to cutting hair at a barbershop, to tutoring students at McDonogh 35. But on some days, Morgan is pulled away from his jam-packed work schedule and dragged into court, where District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro maintains he is a killer. The DA’s office has charged Morgan with second-degree murder in a fatal shooting of a 16-year-old boy at a birthday party in 1993. For Morgan, 37, the case is like a recurring nightmare.
Cannizzaro is prosecuting Morgan even though his previous conviction in the case disintegrated in 2014 after the two key witnesses in the case recanted, saying they were coerced by police into falsely fingering Morgan. Read more.
A mother once branded a baby killer left Ontario’s top court Monday free of the manslaughter conviction that has haunted her for the past 25 years. Moments after the court acquitted her, Maria Shepherd said she forgave Dr. Charles Smith, the disgraced forensic pathologist whose evidence prompted her to plead guilty to killing her three-year-old stepdaughter in 1991.
“I’m not sure what was going on in Mr. Smith’s head. There must be something extremely troubling for somebody not to do it once or twice – we’re talking at least a dozen people that he has done this to,” Shepherd said as her husband and children looked on. “I forgive Charles Smith, because it’s going to be less of a weight, and my family and I can carry on.” Read more.
Four San Antonio women should have their convictions overturned for the alleged sexual assault of two young girls, but they should not be declared innocent, a judge ruled in a case long championed by advocates for criminal justice reform. Texas District Judge Pat Priest’s ruling Tuesday paves the way for the “San Antonio 4″ to have their records cleared.
But while he said the women deserved new trials, Priest refused to declare their “actual innocence.” That could prevent them from having their records expunged or asking for potentially millions of dollars in compensation that Texas gives to the wrongfully imprisoned, according to their attorney, Mike Ware. “When you are innocent of a crime, a horrendous crime that you are accused of, you want the whole world to know that you didn’t do it,” Ware said Wednesday. “The best message for that is a judicial finding of actual innocence.” Read more.
OIP Exonerees Wiley Bridgeman and Kwame Ajamu Granted Additional $4.38 Million for Wrongful Imprisonment
The state has agreed to pay two Cleveland brothers wrongfully imprisoned for 37 and 25 years an additional $4.38 million for their time behind bars, the Ohio Court of Claims ruled Monday.
The court agreed to a settlement with Wiley Bridgeman and Kwame Ajamu (formerly Ronnie Bridgeman) for the time spent in prison for a murder they did not commit. Bridgeman, Ajamu, and Ricky Jackson had their death sentences commuted while in prison, and their convictions were overturned in late 2014 after the key witness in the case against them recanted his story. Read more.
A Virginia Beach judge on Monday agreed to allow new testing of evidence collected more than 25 years ago in the brutal rape and beating of a 10-year-old girl. Lawyers for the University of Virginia’s Innocence Project recently discovered that the evidence still existed after years of believing it had been destroyed.
Among the items to be analyzed are clothing and biological evidence collected from the girl, and from Darnell Phillips, the Virginia Beach man found guilty of the crime. The Virginian-Pilot does not identify victims of sexual assault. Read more.
The fight continues for a Shreveport man who spent 30 years on death row before his exoneration, only to die of cancer 15 months later. Glenn Ford was released from Angola after local prosecutors said they had information clearing him of a 1983 murder of a Shreveport jeweler.
After his release, Ford sued the State of Louisiana for more than $330,000 in compensation he claimed he was entitled to for spending 30 years on death row for a crime he did not commit. The state fended off the suit and denied the claim, but not before Ford died from lung cancer last June. On Monday, Glenn’s attorney Kristin Wenstrom from the Innocence Project New Orleans was appeared in Louisiana 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in downtown Shreveport to argue on Ford’s behalf. Read more.