Innocence Matters
The Team

Innocence Matters is committed to exposing injustice and protecting innocence.  The plight of the wrongfully accused is not a problem that we can afford, let alone morally choose, to ignore.  

Your Innnocence Matters to us.


Innocence Matters
P.O. Box 4099
Redondo Beach, CA
(310) 780-4522
FAX (310) 217-4010




Deirdre O'Connor, Executive Director & President

Deirdre O'Connor earned her J.D. Degree from Northeastern University in 1993. Since then, she has devoted herself exclusively to the plight of indigent criminal defendants.  She enjoyed a highly successful career as a trial attorney while working at the Public Defender Office in Los Angeles.  Deirdre consistently earned acquittals and dismissals for many of her clients over the years. To date, she has represented thousands of clients, earned 100's of dismissals, and has tried over 100 juvenile adjudications and 80 jury trials with phenomenal results.

In 2006, Deirdre relocated to Georgia to accept a clinical teaching position at Emory Law School where her students would learn how to try their first criminal case.   Under Deirdre's supervision, they provided outstanding representation for their clients, securing dismissals or acquittals in over 80% of the cases.  In 2007, Deirdre learned of Troy Davis' case and, after reviewing the entire record at trial and the new evidence, she became convinced of his innocence.  It was inconceivable to her that someone with such compelling evidence of innocence could come within 90 minutes of execution.  Deirdre knew then that Troy's case would change the direction of her career. 

Cherryl Brazier, Secretary

Cherryl Brazier is the Director of Global Sales with Carlson Hotels, representing 400 hotels in 77 countries around the world. Previously, she was the Global Director of Group Incentive Sales for Millennium Hotels and Resorts for the west coast and Texas, based in Los Angeles.  A native of Britain, 

Cherryl moved to the United States in 1998 to assume the role of Senior Marketing executive with the British Tourist Authority in Los Angeles.  Cherryl began her career in London and the U.K. holding a number of management positions including prestigious venues such as the Café Royal and the Brewery in the City of London. A 20 year hospitality industry veteran, Brazier was educated at Leeds Polytechnic School of Hospitality Management in the U.K. and has been a member of the Society of Incentive and Travel Executives( SITE) for 10 years.  She has served on the SITE Southern California Board, the International Membership committee and Cherryl served as Chair of the 2007 SITE International Conference. Cherryl has also been a mentor with the Fulfillment Fund in Los Angeles for over 5 years.

Cherryl’s expertise lies in the area of sales, marketing and event management. She hopes to put these skills to good use to support Innocence Matters.

Dr. JoNell "Jody" Usher, Treasurer

Jody Usher currently serves as Co-Director of Emory University’s Transforming Community Project, a five year strategic plan initiative meant to mobilize a wide cross-section of Emory in a reflective, fact-driven engagement with the institution’s history and current experiences of race, gender, sexuality and other forms of human difference.


With an Emory doctorate in cognitive psychology, Jody served as assistant dean in three of Emory’s nine schools—Emory College, the Graduate School, and the School of Public Health.  Her strong interest in ending racism also placed her in the university president’s office to help direct the 2002 Atlanta exhibit Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America .  Dr. Usher is the 2009 recipient of the Emory LGBT Person of the Year Award.  


Prior to accepting the post of treasurer for Innocence Matters, Dr. Usher served as treasurer for three other non-profits in Georgia, including Southern Truth and Reconciliation and Toastmasters @ Emory.  Also of importance to serving on the Innocence Matters Board, Jody led the National Coalition Building Institute Emory affiliate for 12 years.  Standing to end oppression of all kinds, NCBI affiliates like the one at Emory provide free diversity workshops on campus.

With plans to retire from Emory in summer 2010, Jody will transition her administrative career to diversity leadership consulting.  In that capacity she plans to return to Atlanta, Georgia occasionally while spending more time at her home on Lake Hartwell in the Upstate of South Carolina near her family. 

2010 Student Interns

Jess Farris, Legal Intern 

Jess is a law student at Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University in Philadelphia.  Her dedication to community service informs her past and present work and volunteerism.  Before law school and Innocence Matters, Jess worked in the editorial departments of various nonprofits and volunteered her time at domestic violence shelters.

In her Criminal Law class, Jess learned of Innocence Projects and the work performed to aid those who are wrongfully incarcerated.  She met exoneree Ray Krone, learned of his ongoing hardships and immersed herself in the staggering statistics, books and movies detailing this systemic problem.   While many aspects of the law interest Jess, nothing has so incited her to action as the large numbers of innocent people who are wrongfully charged, convicted and incarcerated.  She is eager to effect meaningful change through Innocence Matters.


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