Federal Grant will Target Wrongful Conviction Cases with No DNA

The vast majority of criminal cases—some estimate up to 90 percent—do not have DNA evidence to help settle claims of wrongful conviction. Yet, there is no reason to believe that wrongful conviction is less frequent in non-DNA cases. Criminal defense attorney Glenn Garber was introduced to a wrongful conviction and helped win an exoneration. He became concerned about innocence claims in cases without DNA evidence and decided to dedicate himself to assisting in these challenging cases. In 2009 he founded the Exoneration Initiative, a free legal assistance program dedicated to exonerating the wrongfully convicted, the actually innocent. It’s good news that this group’s work has not gone unnoticed. According to an article in the New York Law Journal here, the Initiative will receive a $199,170 grant from the the U.S. Department of Justice’s Wrongful Conviction Review Program.

The grant will allow the Initiative to add a full-time paid lawyer and boost its investigative budget by $80,000. Since its founding, the Initiative has reviewed 2,091 requests for assistance and has brought four cases to litigation.

Garber, a Brooklyn Law adjunct professor, works pro bono with two paid employees. The Initiative helped exonerate William McCaffrey (who’d spent three years in prison for rape before his accuser admitted she lied) and has won a new trial for Derrick Deacon (imprisoned for 20 years for murder/robbery).

Several law firms, retired New York State Supreme Court Judge Anne Feldman, other volunteers, and law students assist in the Initiative’s time-consuming work. Even gathering the records to determine if a case is viable “can take months if not years,” says Garber. Accepted cases require “thousands” of hours, but the rewards are also great. “The work we do not only saves lives,” says Garber, “but makes the system a better system.”

6 responses to “Federal Grant will Target Wrongful Conviction Cases with No DNA

  1. How do I contact the correct people for assistance… My ex-wife’s lawyer, now judge, heard my DUI trial tho Recused from doing so in the Docket and Dicovery was never complete nor CLOSED… He Planned to “get” me guilty then was sure I would take a “Plea-Bargain” to only spend 6-months in treatment rather than 2 to 2 1/2 yrs Manditory in Jail… He arranged several Motions for New Trial where I was offered plea bargains after found guilty by him and his jury…. to force me to Plea Guilty… Spent 2yrs in jail, 1-yr probation, can’t drive to work and now a “felon” . was stopped because my lisence plate light was out… Tamper w/evidence, court recorded records of the trial and hearings… DA’s, Lawyers, Police & court employees ALL did as this judge directed…. You think you have RIGHTS to a fair trial ? don’t kid yourself…

  2. I wholeheartedly believe that if court-appointed defense attorneys would not be so eager to push a plea bargain on their already terrified clients — if their client is NOT legally guilty (mens rea elements cannot be met by prosecution) then so many of our truly innocent husbands, fathers, wives, and mothers would not be behind bars. Even an Alford plea is a lie if the charged did NOT do the crime. “Thou Shall NOT bear false witness” applies to our own selves. Guilty does as guilty is.
    2. If the defense attorney will then go to trial with his courageous client and fight the good fight – KEEP HABEAS IN MIND — preserve those rights.
    3. But if he still loses the case – then, at sentencing – ask for a portion of a suspended sentence – that will allow Habeas to stay alive and under the court’s jurisdiction while the habeas is worked.
    4. The AEDPA stinks!

  3. A good friend that I have know over 25 yrs spent his life as a firefighter/EMT then got a Deputy Jailer job that he loved. Well fait would have it his jail came under a Inmate Lawsuit. There were two trials that ommited him as taken any part in the matter with all the evidence, witnesses and video survailence. Several guards that had taken part were convicted and the jail was sued. A time later my friend is back in court, all evidence, witnesses, and video has come up missing and/or inadmissable now. His “lawyers” gag ordered by the judge right off the bat, the convicted jailers now sitting on the stand with different confession that just happened to end up with lesser sentences. My friend gets 14 years after all this, his father has spent countless money and hours trying to get him an appeal for a new trail and transfered closer to home being we’re in KY and he was sent to Fort Dix, NJ. Any suggestions

  4. Corey Richardson

    I was wrongfully imprisoned. And i can find no recourse to help!! How will this help?

  5. i think i was wrongfully convicted of a crime i had very inadauqet defense an i am trying to find someone that will look at me case an give me there opinion please help someone

  6. I am curious if there is a similar organization that works in the state of Washington. We have been in support of an individual who was convicted of a double homicide based on circumstantial evidence and was denied a third party perpetrator defense even though there was equal (actually more compelling) circumstantial against a relative who stood more to gain.

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