Category Archives: Project Spotlights

Launch of Philippines Innocence Project


The Innocence Project Philippines has been recently launched by a high-energy group of people who I have had the pleasure of working with over the past few months (prior coverage here).  They sent this email out Friday announcing ways that others can help them get their feet on the ground.  They tell me that even $10 U.S. goes a long way in the Philippines, so they’re hoping readers of the blog will donate that amount to help them get going:

Dear Friends and Supporters of Give Up Tomorrow,

Now that you’ve watched Give Up Tomorrow (prior coverage here), and have seen how wrongful convictions affect lives, families and our society, many of you have asked:
What can we do about it? How can we help?

Here is an easy way to help:

Donate to the Innocence Project Philippines, and Forward this email to those that also want to help.

You can donate easily and safely online with your Credit Card at

The Innocence Project [sic:  Innocence Network] is an international network of Law Schools that work with Law Students and their Professors that utilize DNA technology and provide pro bono legal and investigative services to wrongfully convicted persons, many of whom are impoverished and cannot afford the costs to defend themselves. It is a powerful force in establishing judicial reforms that redress the causes of wrongful convictions. To date, they have succeeded in exonerating over 321 people imprisoned for crimes they did not commit, and have been instrumental in establishing great improvements in judicial systems all over the world.

There is one launching TODAY here in the Philippines, and we need your help!

TODAY Saturday Dec.8, the University of the Philippines, Ateneo De Davao, De La Salle and FLAG are holding the first training camp for our volunteer law students at the DNA Analysis Laboratory, at Miranda Hall, University of the Philippines, from 8am to 5pm.


TOMORROW Sunday Dec. 9, we are entering the New Bilibid Prison from 9am to 12 noon, and the Correctional Institute of Women from 2pm to 5pm,to launch our Innocence Project Philippines 2012 Campaign.

Up until now, the startup of our project has been largely funded by the students themselves, their professors, the universities’ Legal Clinics, and a few concerned individuals. We really need your help, because a fully-functioning Innocence Project has high ongoing costs that involve both legal work and DNA lab work. Each DNA test alone can cost P30,000. The startup of the project alone will cost us P300,000 (USD$7,500). Contingents as far as Davao, Cebu and Baguio are attending today.

You can donate safely online with a credit card, or send a cheque.

Here’s how:

Visit us on facebook and follow our link to donate.
We are using Paypal as our SAFE Credit Card donation provider…you do NOT need a Paypal account to use your Credit Card.

The Innocence Project is an international, proven and sustainable institution that is making great changes NOW, in our lifetimes, through DNA technology. Our Philippine contingency really needs your help to get started properly.

We also request that you please forward this email to those you believe will want to help make rapid and fundamental improvements in our Philippine Judicial System.

On behalf of Cora, Rowie, Chel, Jojo, Minerva, Cookie, Manny, Rene, Darwin, Jaime and all of us here at the Innocence Project of the Philippines, we thank you.

Innocence Project Philippines Network, Inc.
DNA Analysis Laboratory
Natural Sciences Research Institute, Miranda Hall
University of the Philippines
Diliman, 1101 Quezon City
Tel. 632-925-2965; 63918-913-6284

Tuesday’s Quick Clicks…

Spotlight on Arizona Innocence Project…

Students in the Arizona Innocence Project

From Arizona Daily Sun:

Chris Duarte and Ryan Staab put in the legwork.

And based upon their work, they are convinced that a Prescott man was wrongfully convicted of manslaughter in the shooting of another man near his home.

Now, the case is seeing new light in the courts.

What happens in the end has yet to be determined. But Jason Derek Krause, who has served his 10 1/2 year sentence and now lives a quiet life, would like the system that convicted him to acknowledge his innocence.

“This is a man who lost his life, and I’d like to see him get his life back, above all else,” Duarte said. “I know in my gut and my soul this is an innocent man.”

Staab added, “He just wants a piece of paper that says he’s free and clear.”

Welcome to a day in the life of the Arizona Innocence Project at Northern Arizona University.


“No longer are these cases hypothetical,” said Professor Robert Schehr, executive director of the AIP.

The students who sign up for the AIP class are undergraduates who are close to Continue reading

New West Virginia University Innocence Project…

Welcome to innocence movement, West Virginia University Innocence Project! For those of you unfamiliar with this new initiative, here is a recent story about its founding:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After 11 years in a Mississippi prison, Leigh Stubbs and Tammy Vance were exonerated earlier this year of charges that they brutally assaulted another woman and left bite marks all over her body.

Stubbs and Vance were convicted in 2001 on charges of aggravated assault and drug possession and sentenced to 44 years in prison, at least partly because a discredited forensic bite-mark analyst gave bogus testimony during their trial that pinned them to the attack, Stubbs’ lawyer, Valena Beety, told the Gazette-Mail.

Beety is now the director of the West Virginia University Innocence Project, a new legal clinic affiliated with a national organization of criminal defense lawyers who help prisoners fight wrongful convictions.

“You get to feel great about what you do — push through all the obstacles that are in your way,” Beety said. “And when you get someone out of prison, it’s amazing.”

In the case of Stubbs and Vance, forensic odontologist Michael West testified during their trial in the early 2000s that bite marks found on the victim matched their dental records. West also told jurors that security camera footage depicted the two women carrying out the attack.

Prosecutors sent the video to the FBI for analysis. Federal investigators returned with a 20-page report that said they couldn’t tell if the people were men or women and that they didn’t appear to be engaged in any illegal activity.

The state, however, did not disclose that report to Stubbs and Vance. A Mississippi judge overturned their convictions earlier this year, and West has since admitted that his bite-mark analysis in the case was not sound.

Beety and recent University of Chicago Law School graduate Kristen McKeon, who is helping with cases as part of a yearlong fellowship, will handle the bulk of the casework for the WVU clinic. The clinic’s four law students are charged with screening applicants for the program, Beety said.

“We’re focusing as a project on freeing innocent people who are in prison, but also on policy problems, systemic problems that lead to wrongful convictions, and making eyewitness identification more reliable,” she said.

Seventy-five percent of the 297 prisoners exonerated through DNA evidence since 1989 were convicted because they were mistakenly identified as suspects, according to figures from the national Innocence Project, which is based in New York.

WVU’s clinic is still new, Beety said, so they haven’t received many applications for post-conviction help, but she has been reaching out to prisons, public defender offices and other avenues for leads on potential cases.

NYPD Will Apply Grant to Identify, Catalog DNA Evidence

Eight hundred persons convicted in New York City are seeking to prove their innocence through DNA testing. Unfortunately, it has been difficult to locate evidence in the city’s massive evidence storage facility. Now those who are actually innocent in this group have new hope. The National Institute of Justice has granted $1.2 million to enable the New York Police Department to dedicate a new staff person to search for sexual assault and homicide cases so that the evidence can be reclassified and assigned a bar code—making the evidence more readily available. Some DNA testing will also be covered by the grant, which will begin on October 1, 2012.

As reported in The New York Times (here) the funds will be applied in a highly efficient manner “because they will be utilizing infrastructure and expertise already in place. The cataloguing system for the evidence will utilize the NYPD’s recently modernized evidence tracking system.” A “new Innocence Project staff person will expedite innocence claims”…and “the Chief Medical Examiner has agreed to donate all staff time for the DNA testing.” Continue reading

A Profile of the U. of Chicago Exoneration Project

Eileen Ho, JD’12, left, and Jenni James, JD’12, proved James Harden’s innocence. (Photography by Eva Nagao/Exoneration Project)

From the University of Chicago Magazine:

On the night of April 18, 1990, taxi driver Billy G. Williams, 44, was found dead in his cab, shot in the head on Chicago’s South Side. Two days later, 20-year-old Shawn Whirl was arrested and confessed to the murder. He pleaded guilty and has been in prison ever since.

Rising third-year law student Caitlin Brown wants him out. “I really believe that Shawn is innocent,” Brown says. “There were a lot of errors in [Whirl’s] confession that didn’t completely line up with what was found at the scene.”

Since September 2011, she’s been studying his case—the interrogation, the police statements, the evidence—as part of the Exoneration Project, a University of Chicago Law School clinic that seeks to free wrongfully convicted prisoners.

In Whirl’s case, that means investigating his confession, made after allegedly being tortured by a detective in the Chicago Police Department’s Area 2, a division then notorious for systemic abuse. Whirl’s claim of being coerced into a confession were found credible this summer by the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Continue reading

Friday’s Quick Clicks…

Idaho Innocence Project on Dateline NBC Tonight in U.S….

An Idaho murder case from 1996 is coming under new scrutiny with the help of the Idaho Innocence Project. On Friday, Aug. 24, NBC-Dateline will air “The Confession. A mother fights to free the man convicted in her daughter’s murder.”

The Emmy award winning program will showcase an all new one-hour special about Angie Dodge’s murder in her Idaho Falls apartment and the confession of Chris Tapp, who currently is serving a sentence of 25 years to life for the crime. The show airs at 9 p.m. on KTVB Channel 7.

The Idaho Innocence Project believes that Tapp is innocent. Biology and criminal justice professor Greg Hampikian is working on DNA aspects of the case, which is being handled by Rick Visser, IIP assistant director and staff attorney. Several Boise State students also have assisted in research and investigation.

More details on launch of Philippine Innocence Project…

As I blogged previously, some key people in the Philippines are launching an IP there.  Here are some excepts from the “white paper” concerning founding and organization structure, which could be helpful to those attempting to start innocence organizations around the world:

Brief Description, Rationale and Purposes

The Philippine Innocence Project is a network of law school clinics, scientific and academic laboratories and non-governmental organizations, that seeks to make justice accessible for wrongfully convicted persons.

Wrongful convictions are not new to the Philippines. In 2004, the Philippine Supreme Court released statistics that showed a high judicial error rate of 71.77 % in capital cases (People v. Mateo, GR No. 147678-87, 07 July 2004).

In, among others, recognition of the country’s high judicial error rate and the phenomenon of wrongful convictions, the Supreme Court promulgated the Rule on DNA Evidence (A.M. No. 06-11-5-SC), which allows post-conviction DNA testing without need of prior court order by the prosecution or any person convicted by final and executory judgment where a biological sample exists and the sample is relevant to the case and the testing would probably result in the reversal or modification of the conviction (Section 6).

In order to make justice accessible to wrongfully convicted persons, the Philippine Innocence Project aims specifically to:

• Provide coordinated free legal assistance to persons wrongfully convicted; • Advocate reforms in policies, laws, judicial rules, legal education, and criminal investigative procedures and evidence handling to redress wrongful convictions in the Philippines;

• Enhance the capacities of justice stakeholders including judges, prosecutors, lawyers, criminal and forensic investigators, law students, etc. to eradicate or mitigate wrongful convictions in the country; and • Establish an independent and accurate data bank containing all pertinent information on wrongful convictions in the Philippines.

Functional Relationships and Organizational Structure As a network, the Philippine Innocence Project shall have four main functional components:

1. A central clearinghouse, which shall, among others, receive and screen all applications, assign accepted cases to the law school clinics/legal aid organizations, and provide general support to law school clinics/legal aid organizations;

2. The law school clinics/legal aid organizations, which shall integrate the Philippine Innocence Project in their activities, train their students/volunteers, and handle cases assigned by the central clearinghouse;

3. The DNA and forensic laboratory and experts, which shall undertake DNA and other forensic testing for cases referred by the law school clinics/legal aid organizations; and

4. The public relations and funding team, which shall undertake public relations activities, liaise with the Innocence Network and other international organizations, and secure international support, funds and resources for the Philippine Innocence Project.

As of June 16, 2012, the following entities, in alphabetical order, have agreed to establish the Philippine Innocence Project:

• College of Law, Ateneo de Davao University; • College of Law, De La Salle University; • DNA Analysis Laboratory, NSRI, University of the Philippines; • Free Legal Assistance Group [FLAG]; • Give Up Tomorrow Team; and • Office of Legal Aid, College of Law, University of the Philippines.

The specific functions of each of the participating entities, as well as the central clearing house, are presented in the figure below.

The proposed organizational structure of the Philippine Innocence Project central clearinghouse (see figure below) consists of:

• A Board of Directors, to be composed of representatives of participating entities;

• An Executive Director, to be selected by the Board of Directors;

• A Case Manager, to be hired by the Executive Director, and to be assisted by a Staff Attorney, an Intake and Screening Assistant, and Student Volunteers from the participating law school clinics based in Metro Manila;

• A Research and Training Officer, to be hired by the Executive Director, and to be assisted by a Research Assistant and a Training Assistant;

• A Data and Monitoring Officer, to be hired by the Executive Director, and to be assisted by a Data Processor;

• A Budget and Administrative Officer, to be hired by the Executive Director, and to be assisted by a Bookkeeper, Receptionist/Secretary and Messenger; and

• A Finance Officer, to be hired by the Executive Director, and to be assisted by an Assistant/Secretary.

Breaking News: Philippines Innocence Project Launched…

The Center has been working to provide support and information to representatives in the Philippines interested in starting an Innocence Network Organization there.  I just got an email announcement from one of the founders, Jaime Syjuco, stating that one had formed in the past week.  Here are some details from the email:

I thought this email beforehand would be opportune to share some good news/progress regarding the startup of the IP Philippines.

Last Saturday June 16, we held the first IP workshop at the University of the Philippines DNA lab. Attending were:

  1. College of Law, Ateneo de Davao University;
  2. College of Law, De La Salle University;
  3. DNA Analysis Laboratory, NSRI, University of the Philippines;
  4. Free Legal Assistance Group [FLAG];
  5. Give Up Tomorrow Team; and
  6. Office of Legal Aid, College of Law, University of the Philippines.

The 6 groups above have agreed to establish the IP Philippines.

It was also discussed that a tie-up with the University of the Philippines’ Film Institute may work towards getting Film Students involved in documenting the work of the IP Philippines….

More details to follow…

Spotlight On University of Chicago Exoneration Project…

From press release:

More than 17 years ago, Harold Richardson was arrested and later convicted for a crime he did not commit.

Kristin McKeon was then a grade school student in Connecticut.

Their paths crossed late last year when McKeon, JD’12, became part of a team of lawyers who won Richardson’s release from prison, using DNA evidence to show another man had committed the crime.

McKeon is one of about a dozen students each quarter who participate in the University of Chicago Law School’s Exoneration Project, a clinic that gives students hands-on experience representing prisoners seeking post-conviction relief. Students do it all — from voting on which cases the clinic should accept to writing briefs to standing before a judge — under the supervision of experienced, licensed attorneys.

“You’re doing something to help people,” says McKeon, who argued before a judge that Richardson, now 34, should be released. “With my other classes, you’re taking in information and being analytical, and it will all come in handy down the road.”

Since 2008, the Exoneration Project has helped earn the release of four prisoners — most recently, the May 30 dismissal of charges against James Kluppelberg, who had been convicted of arson and murder based on flawed evidence.

Students are guided by the project’s staff attorneys Tara Thompson, JD’03, Elizabeth Wang, JD’05, and Russell Ainsworth. Thompson explains that the goal of the clinic is to engage students in cases that many full-time attorneys simply don’t take, and to instill the importance of pro-bono work.

“There are very few people in the private bar who represent these people,” Thompson says, adding that the typical client is someone without means. “Students are learning how to do the work that needs to be done. But for the University and the students, they wouldn’t have an avenue for relief.”

Learning Duty and Providing Dignity

The clinic got its start thanks to the efforts of Jon Loevy, who staffs the clinic with attorneys from his Chicago civil rights firm Loevy & Loevy. But the students do most of the heavy lifting, which is no easy task: Witnesses are hard to find or their memories have faded, the legal process can move at a snail’s pace, writing briefs can be challenging, and standing before a judge for the very first time can make even the brightest law student weak-kneed.

But in arguing before the judge, McKeon says: “I know that what I was saying was really mattering in the moment.”

McKeon and others receive course credit for their efforts. But both McKeon and Continue reading

Tuesday’s Quick Clicks…

  • Short news piece on the Alaska Innocence Project
  • Medill Innocence Project scandal makes the “top 1o” news stories at Northwestern University last year
  • Paradise Lost film series about the West Memphis 3 screening in New Haven, CT
  • Tim Masters writes book about his wrongful conviction
  • Sister of woman slain in the North Carolina case in which Gregory Taylor was wrongfully convicted wants police to reopen the investigation to try to find the real killer

Banks Story Highlights Other Innocence Efforts

With the amazing story of Brian Banks‘s exoneration by the California Innocence Project and his numerous tryouts with NFL teams, there are many stories on the media about innocence efforts. It is great that all the sports fans will get to know what the innocence work is all about.

Brian Banks’s tryout with the Seattle Seahawks was a huge news in local media as well. It also highlighted local innocence efforts. Several news featured the work of the Innocence Project Northwest, located at the Univestiy of Washington School of Law.

Here is a story by KIRO FM News.

And here is a brief story by King 5 News.

Excerpt from the King 5 News: Media attention this week on aspiring Seahawks team member Brian Banks is shining light on the Innocence Project, a national effort to free and exhonorate wrongly convicted people from prison…

In Seattle, the Innocence Project Northwest operates out of the University of Washington School of Law, where students, faculty and volunteer legal experts have helped secure freedom for at least 16 people in Washington prisons since 1997. Continue reading

2011: Year in Review…

Fresh off the presses, here is a copy of the Ohio Innocence Project’s new publication, a 24-page magazine of sorts summarizing our activities in 2011… We put a lot of work into this, and it’s our first one of this magnitude (we used to do 2 shorter newsletters each year).  Highlights in this issue include descriptions of our 5 case victories in 2011, and excellent article by Nancy Petro entitled, “How Can Three Eyewitnesses Be Wrong?”

Monday’s Quick Clicks…

  • Florida Governor puts innocence commission to death
  • New trial for George Gould, who was exonerated and then had his conviction reinstated by court of appeals, commences in Connecticut
  • In New York, a big push at the end of the legislative session to pass videotaped recordings and double blind lineup administration
  • News video story on the Alaska Innocence Project

Tuesday’s Quick Clicks…

  • Discussion of new eyewitness identification law in Texas, which takes effect September 1st
  • Recent Colorado exoneree Robert Dewey is still struggling to survive. He’s now living off of food stamps and the generosity of a non-profit group that helps wrongfully convicted inmates.  “It was like being in a room full of people and you’re yelling and no one can hear you, that’s what it felt like,” added Dewey when asked to describe his time in Colorado’s Limon Correctional Facility
  • Pics and award winners of the Innocence Project of Florida’s recent annual gala
  • North Carolina Innocence Commission identifies William James Grimes, convicted of rape, as innocent, and sends his case to a 3-judge panel for further analysis
  • Tampa Bay Times calls for bold reforms in Florida to address wrongful convictions

Monday’s Quick Clicks…

  • Nice profile of Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte, the founding Chairman of the Innocence Project of Florida
  • A blogger’s recap of the Wrongful Convictions conference in New York last week
  • Discussion of the distinction between the developments of the Innocence Movement in the U.S. and the UK
  • New website,, provides information about the ongoing crisis of race in criminal justice and offers information about specific activities that individuals and organizations can take to repeal the death penalty and ameliorate the racial disparities in the criminal justice system; more here
  • This blog has reported extensively about the prosecutorial misconduct in the Senator Ted Stevens case; but is he nonetheless guilty?

Friday’s Quick Clicks…

Cool New Innocence Project Infographic…

Thought I would share the awesome new infographic about the Ohio Innocence Project made for us by the talented Liz Rose Chmela.  Take a look by clicking on the link below…


Spotlight on U of Virginia Innocence Clinic…

The University of Virginia Innocence Clinic got a nice write-up this weekend about its successes in the past year.  Full story here, excerpt below:

So far, 2012 has been “particularly insane” for the lawyers and law students who make up the University of Virginia School of Law’s Innocence Project Clinic, according to Deirdre Enright, the clinic’s director of investigation.

The Innocence Project has received a great deal of media attention this year for its work to exonerate Eric Weakley, one of the so-called Culpeper Three. Weakley, alongside Michael Hash and Jason Kloby, was arrested in May 2000 in connection with the 1996 shooting death of church organist Thelma Scroggins.

The project is also working to clear the name of a Mineral man who was wrongly convicted of rape based on an accusation that was later recanted, and his own false confession.

For the five-year-old Innocence Project, the recent successes have provided a national profile and drawn new interest from donors, the legal community and from prisoners who hope to convince people that their convictions are worth a second look.

“I strongly support the Innocence Project,” said Albemarle County Sheriff J.E. “Chip” Harding, who has worked closely with the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project in investigating Hash’s case.

Full story here