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News and Events


Volunteer Committee: Applications Due October 10, 2011
Innocence Matters is looking for e
nthusiastic team players to join us in a variety of fundraising and public awareness events promoting our innovative preventative programs.  More information will be posted on our web site by September 15.  Must be available for a minimum of 10 hours per week for 3 months or more.  

Hungry for Justice Raffle Drawing Winner: Sarah Geller
Sarah Geller, a long-time Innocence Matters supporter, won the grand prize valued at over $850.  Being the generous person that she is, she promptly donated the restaurant gift certificates back to Innocence Matters to share with our clients, their families, and our volunteers.  THANK YOU SARAH!!!

John Smith's Exoneration Party (TBA)
On October 29, 2010, the Innocence Matters' team filed a habeas petition for John Smith.   John has always maintained his innocence.  The sole eyewitnesses has recanted.  And, recently, both men have passed a polygraph.  Based on those two independent tests, the statistical probability of John's innocence is 99.99%.  So now we wait for his release . . . 

UPDATE:  The next deadline for the prosecutor in John's case is September 9, 2011.  We remain hopeful that they will concede the obvious merit of John's factual innocence.  


A Tremendous Loss:  Virginia Davis, the Mother of Troy Davis, Dies at 65 of "Natural" Causes in Her Sleep

On April 12, 2011, at the age of 65, Troy’s mother, Virginia Davis, passed peacefully in her sleep during an afternoon nap.  The newspapers reported Mrs. Davis died of “natural causes.”  It hardly seems natural to ask a woman to spend 20 years fighting to save the life of her innocent son.  But, perhaps it is only natural that the fight would ultimately become intolerable.  Innocence Matters mourns her death and sends our most heartfelt condolences to the Troy Davis family.  

Innocence Matters is Awarded a Grant from Change Happens to Develop the I Am Innocent Mentoring Program:
On April 11, 2011, Change Happens selected Innocence Matters for a development grant! 

Courageous Truth Award Recipient Jennifer Thompson: April 5, 2011
Jennifer Thompson, co-author of Picking Cotton, was the recipient of our first annual Courageous Truth Award on April 5, 2011.  Over 100 lawyers, students and members of the general public joined us to celebrate Jennifer's integrity and were all captivated by Jennifer's eloquent and inspiring story of her commitment to honor the truth.

Dan Finn joins the Innocence Matters Board of Directors:
On December 20, 2011, Dan Finn, Founder/President of the Finn Financial Group, was unanimously voted to serve as our newest board member.  Dan has a great deal of passion for the plight of the wrongfully convicted, and is particularly interested in assisting exonerees achieve some financial stability after they are released.

Three New Interns Selected for First Quarter 2011; Looking for One More Passionate Intern:
In December, we filled three of the four interns with and incredible team of talented people: Josh FrisbieCandace Jones and David Russomanno (bio coming).  They will join Keyana and Deirdre as we finalize our preparation for the I Am Innocent mentoring program.  We have room for one more; if interested, contact Deirdre.

Judge Espinoza Issues an Order to Show Cause in John Smith's Case!
On November 8, 2010--just eight days after we filed our petition--Judge Espinoza ordered to District Attorney's Office to show cause why the petition should not be granted.  The prosecutor's office will have 30 days to take a position on the case.  We are very hopeful that reason will prevail and John will be home to share Christmas with his family. 

Applications for 2011 Spring Intern/Externs Now Being Accepted!
We have three spots to fill this spring semester, which promises to be filled with many exciting opportunities.  Students will help us finish preparation for our I Am Innocent preventative program, which will launch in April 2011.  They will also be there to participate in the celebration of our first exoneration and to meet our newest advisory board member, Jennifer Thompson.   One or more of  the students may travel to Georgia to help prepare oral arguments before the Georgia Supreme Court. on behalf of another Innocence Matters client.

Innocence Matters Volunteer Kiley Schaumleffel Receives Scholarship to California Western School of Law!!!
Everyone at Innocence Matters is delighted to learn that Kiley, our volunteer extraordinaire, has been accepted a generous scholarship to attend California Western School of Law beginning January 2011!   We will be sad to see her go and, frankly, it will be hard to fill the void.  Kiley was there to pitch in wherever help was needed, whether it meant transcribing boring tapes of lawyers talking about themselves, making posters for our Jazz for Peace event, scanning documents, or serving documents.   We know she is going to be an awesome lawyer, and we wish her much success. 

Jennifer Thomas Joins Innocence Matters' Advisory Board; Honored at Jazz for Peace Event
On October 16, 2010, Innocence Matters and Jazz for Peace honored Jennifer Thompson for the tremendous role she has played in bringing attention to the plight of the innocent.    

2010 Fall Legal Interns Selected!
We are fortunate this semester to have the help of three interns, Valerie Rone (Chapman), Kiley Schaumleffel (soon-to-be CA Western), Keyana Jones (Pepperdine graduate), and three volunteers Katie Walsh (Chapman), Susan Kinnery (Drexel), and Blair Miles (pro bono attorney).  Each  comes with tremendous passion for the work and at a critical juncture for one of our clients.  This semester promises to be an especially exciting experience.  This semester's interns will draft a state habeas petition, conducting field investigation, and visit clients  If you are interested in doing an internship or externship at Innocence Matters in the future, contact Deirdre O'Connor.

Innocence Matters Receives Empowerment Grant from Jazz for Peace!
The Jazz for Peace Empowerment Grant provides Innocence Matters with a wonderful opportunity to connect with community leaders and to increase awareness of the great work we are doing!  On October 16, 2010, Innocence Matters' supporters will be treated to a world class jazz performance by renowned jazz pianist and vocalist Rick DellaRatta at a venue in one of the beach communities in the South Bay L.A. or Westside L.A.  Stay tuned for more information about how you can attend this exciting event.

New Board Member Announced!
At our August meeting, the Innocence Matters Board elected law student, Jess Farris, to serve as the Director of Student Affairs.  In this role, Jess will assist the Executive Director to develop an active recruitment campaign to attract a continual stream of top-notch volunteer students and interns.  Robust student participation is vital to our organization and enables us to serve more innocent clients.  Jess will play a key role in assisting in the development of an internship program that provides a rewarding student experience while maintaining the highest quality of representation for our clients.  Interested students should contact Deirdre O'Connor.

The Board is now actively recruiting additional members with expertise in grant writing, fundraising, criminal justice reform, and zealous criminal defense work.  Bios for current board members can be

Innocent Client Passes Polygraph Test!
We knew it!  But now we have proof.  Our innocent client passed the polygraph test with flying colors.  This test was conducted by a retired career law-enforcement officer who regularly works with the District Attorney's office on their cases.  Soon we will be able to share other new evidence of innocence that firmly establishes our client's innocence.  It is a bittersweet experience for the Innocence Matters staff and board.  Our client has spent over 6,120 days in prison for a crime he did not commit; we are anxious to secure his freedom but understand the importance of presenting the most compelling case possible.  It will be another month or so before we can get our client back into court.  Frankly, it's hard to ask him to be patient.  Learn more here

Logo Contest Winner Announced!
Kyle Spitznagel, a graphic professional and an all-around good person, came up with a wonderful new logo for Innocence Matters.  While we had some very interesting and creative designs to choose from, Kyle's stood out as the one that truly captured Innocence Matters' mission.  Thanks for all the submissions and congratulations again, Kyle!