Derrick Williams, wrongfully convicted of sexual battery and kidnapping in 1993, talks about his experience with the Innocence Project of Florida. Brent Batten/Naples Daily News
Did you hear the one about the guy who was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and spent 18 years in prison?
Wrongful conviction is no joking matter, but local defense attorney Jerry Berry will use comedy to fight the problem Feb. 1.
Berry will host a comedy show at the Community School of Naples to benefit the Innocence Project of Florida, a nonprofit group that takes up the cases of inmates it believes have been dealt an injustice.
Comedians who have appeared on “Last Comic Standing,”
As the victim of bullying since childhood, Aija Mayrock fought back writing “The Survival Guide to Bullying” in her teens. As she says today at 22, “I realized that I had to create a little, yet powerful survival guide that any kid could use as a life-saving device when they were being bullied in the gym, the cafeteria, the locker room, the class room, the hallways — anywhere. A guide that could be a road map, a flashlight, or a friend. So here it is. This book is my gift to you.” WPSU’s Carolyn Donaldson talked with Mayrock for “Take Note.”
A database maintained by the Northwestern University’s Medill Justice Project, last updated in 2015, includes more than 3,000 shaken baby syndrome criminal cases in the United States over the past 20 years, though not all of them are still current. The Washington Post’s investigation estimated hundreds of parents and caregivers were being prosecuted each year, and tallied 1,600 convictions since 2001. At least three such convictions have landed people on death row, according to a recent New Scientistarticle.
Shawn Henning sits at a long, cafeteria-style table in the Enfield Correctional Center. He is emotional, near tears. “I wasted my life in here,” he said, flicking his head at the prison surroundings. “It was wasted time for nothing.”
“Damn.” A few tears come.
Henning and another man, Ralph “Ricky” Birch, have been locked up since 1989, serving sentences of 50 and 55 years respectively, for a gruesome 1985 murder in New Milford they steadfastly insist they didn’t commit.
Perhaps they didn’t. The state’s case, never airtight to begin with, has diminished over the years as two prosecution witnesses have recanted, key defense testimony was uncovered, and DNA testing put an unknown person at the scene. It also was disclosed that famed state criminalist Dr. Henry Lee offered erroneous testimony in the trials of the two men, though Lee contests the finding.
The Ohio Innocence Project, based at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, marked International Wrongful Conviction Day on Oct. 2 with a week of events across the state.
The expansion of programming comes on the heels of an announcement that Ohio Representative Bill Seitz introduced legislation to provide compensation to individuals wrongly convicted due to prosecutors withholding evidence.
“This will have a tremendous impact on the lives of some of our exonerees who were released from prison with nothing and with no hope for compensation for the several years of their lives lost to wrongful imprisonment,” says Rashida Manuel, outreach manager.
Among the nearly 70 organizations that make up the Innocence Network, which is a collective of projects around the country working to exonerate wrongfully convicted men and women, OIP is unique for several programs.
“While many projects use law students to help investigate their cases, OIP’s one-year fellowship
SANTA CLARA — A team with the Northern California Innocence Project based at Santa Clara University ended 12 years of dogged legal wrangling last week when their client was cleared of molestation charges that put him in prison and made him register as a sex offender.
Ed Easley, a 62-year-old electrician, was accused and convicted of molesting a 7-year-old in Shasta County 24 years ago. Since then, it came to light that he had been scapegoated because the young victim was protecting a juvenile male cousin at the behest of family members.
Easley served eight years in prison and spent five years on parole, and after his release the victim came clean as a remorseful adult who contacted the Innocence Project.
But when Easley sought to reverse the wrongful conviction with the NCIP’s help, he found that since he was no longer in custody the court thought he did not have a case,
It’s been almost four years since three San Diego lawyers marched more than 700 miles north to Sacramento to bring attention to a group of prison inmates they dubbed “The California 12.”
In April 2013, Justin Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project, and staff attorneys Alissa Bjerkhoel and Michael Semanchik made the trek to the Governor’s Office to hand deliver clemency petitions for a dozen prison inmates.
So far, none of those petitions has been granted, but the attorneys have kept up their work on those cases, contending in each that there was strong evidence of innocence.
Since Brooks and the others took that long walk, three men and one woman have been exonerated and released from prisons around California.
Another man, Guy Miles, may be released soon. In January, an appeals court ruled Orange County prosecutors used improper tactics to secure a conviction