For Immediate Release

Contact:
Shari Ireton
University of Washington School of Law
206.685.9002

2009-01-26

Innocence Project Receives Gift, Reverses Another Conviction

On the heels of receiving a generous gift from the RiverStyx Foundation, the Innocence Project Northwest Clinic learned that the clinic secured its 13th conviction reversal. James Anderson was released just in time to celebrate his first Christmas at home in five years after a Washington State Appeals Court reversed his conviction. Evidence produced by IPNW Clinic student Boris Reznikov '08 helped Anderson prove he was in California when the crime of which he was accused was committed in Tacoma, Wash. Chris Carney '00 served as co-counsel on the case.

The $281,000 RiverStyx Foundation gift will fund a staff position and symposium for the clinic, investigative costs for cases, and more over the next two years. As a result of the gift, Kelly Canary '07, who has worked as a Federal Defender in Yakima and for the Northwest Defender Association, was hired as the IPNW Clinic fellow.

"Having Kelly on board will greatly benefit our IPNW Clinic clients," said IPNW Clinic director and law professor Jackie McMurtrie . "It is a joy to work with her again."

The RiverStyx Foundation has also provided seed funding for the Integrity of Justice Project, a new statewide public policy and education effort involving the three law schools in Washington state. The IJP will work to foster a collaborative partnership among prosecutors, law enforcement, defense lawyers, the courts, and others to identify best practices and procedures that can help ensure accurate determinations of guilt or innocence.

"Despite the many strengths of our justice system, recent advances in DNA testing confirm that people are convicted of crimes they did not commit," said Greg Hicks, Dean of the UW School of Law and member of the IJP Advisory Group. "Erroneous conviction of the innocent destroys the lives of those convicted and their families. It allows the real offender to go unpunished, endangering public safety. Such injustices do additional harm to society by undermining the public's trust in the criminal justice system."

Theresa Connor '06 is the newly-hired director of the IJP and Rob Hatfield '07 is coordinating public policy research for the project.