Innocence Matters
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John Smith: 17 Years Later Polygraph Confirms Innocence

John was 18 years old when he was arrested for a murder he did not commit.  The truth has been locked away with John in his prison cell for 17 years.  This week John effortlessly passed a polygraph performed by a retired career law-enforcement officer.  Of course, this news comes as no surprise to John.   He knew he would pass. 

What he does not know now is how long it will take for this news to translate into his freedom. 

In 1993, John was certain his innocence would set him free.  He was certain that the sole eyewitness would either concede that John was not the shooter or John's lawyer would be able to show that the witness was mistaken and that the alibi witnesses were telling the truth.  Of course John did not realize then that his court-appointed trial lawyer would not even bother to speak to most of the alibi witnesses until the morning of trial and then make a knee-jerk decision NOT to call them!  John did not know that his trial lawyer would not subpoena the independent records that would prove his alibi.  All that John knew then was that he was innocent.  He thought that would be enough.  It wasn't.

Once convicted, his grandparents (people of modest means) mortgaged their home and hired a private law firm to the tune of $65,000 to establish John's innocence.   The new lawyers believed 100% in their client's innocence, but were not able to effectively undo the damage done by the trial lawyer.   They made costly mistakes along the way.  John lost his appeal.  His habeas petition was dismissed when the lawyers failed to meet a filing deadline!

For years, John searched in vain for another lawyer or pro bono group to help him.  In 2010, he found Innocence Matters.  We are committed to securing John's release.  Please help us by making a contribution to his fund.


Karreem Jones: Another Innocent Man Awaits A Decision 

right-handed black man with a medium complexion was convicted of a robbery committed by a left-handed man with a dark complexionAnother case of close enough in Georgia? 

This man was detained within minutes of the robbery and his car was searched.  He was not wearing clothing even remotely similar to that worn by the robber; nor were there any proceeds from the robbery found in his car or on his person.

The conviction was based on three faulty eyewitness identifications - the leading cause of wrongful convictions.  At trial, the defense lawyer, a licensed attorney for twenty-years whose career detoured to dabble in real estate and cosmetology, did not establish the discrepancies between the assailant and the defendant's physical appearance.  Indeed, the jurors convicted the defendant without the defense making a passing reference to the fact that her client was right-handed!  

There is far more that could be said about this case, but the matter is pending final briefing and the AG has not publicly committed to a version of facts.  For those reasons, we will refrain from outlining the most compelling proof of this indigent man's innocence.   

This man has been in custody since 2006 and is serving a 20 year sentence.  His parents have borne the costs of their son's appeal, nearly $30,000 to date.  Deirdre O'Connor has donated many hours to this case.

Troy Davis

Troy is the inspiration for Innocence Matters.

We are proud and honored to have had the opportunity to assist on the Troy Davis case - an innocent man on Georgia's death row. Since July 2007, Deirdre O'Connor has worked pro bono to help free Troy.  Please visit
FreeTroyDavis site for additional information.  Deirdre information.  Deirdre's work on Troy's case included drafting several amicus briefs filed in the Georgia Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court from 2007 through 2009.  She also assisted in the grassroots advocacy campaign and engaged the broader legal community in the fight to save an innocent man.  Deirdre maintains regular contact with Mr. Davis and is committed to seeing that he finds justice.  

Miraculously and against all odds, on August 17, 2009, the United States Supreme Court brought Troy one step closer to justice when they finally ordered the District Court to hear Troy's evidence of innocence.  Deirdre O'Connor drafted the
NAACP amicus brief on this round.  It is tremendous victory for all involved.  And, yet, the joy is dampened by the reality that very few in the legal community thought the Court would intervene to save Troy.   That alone tells us how far we have to go before we have a system that functions as it should. 

The evidentiary hearing was held on June 23-24, 2010.  We are awaiting Judge Moore's decision.

Without question, there will be many forces at work to maintain the status quo.  Win or lose, this case will likely go back to SCOTUS.  Please  contribute to the Troy Davis Amicus Fund.

To learn more, visit Free Troy Davis.   

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