WMU-Cooley Innocence Project Director, Professor Marla Mitchell-Cichon Receives State Bar Champion of Justice Award

Marla Mitchell-Cichon

WMU-Cooley Law School Professor and
WMU-Cooley Innocence Project Director
Marla Mitchell-Cichon was presented
the State Bar of Michigan’s Champion
of Justice Award on Sept. 21 during
the state bar’s annual meeting
in Grand Rapids.

On Sept 21, during the State Bar of Michigan’s Annual meeting in Grand Rapids, WMU-Cooley Law School professor and WMU-Cooley Innocence Project director Marla Mitchell-Cichon was presented with a Champion of Justice Award.

Mitchell-Cichon has been a clinical professor and supervisor for the Sixty Plus Elderlaw and Estate Planning clinics, co-director of the Access to Justice clinic, and is currently director of Cooley’s innocence project. Professor Emeritus Norman Fell established Cooley’s project in 2001. Since then, student interns have screened thousands of cases. New evidence brought to light by their work has resulted in the exoneration of three clients, Kenneth Wyniemko, Nathaniel Hatchett and Donya Davis. Mitchell-Cichon has successfully litigated cases before the state’s appellate and Supreme Court, setting precedent for the interpretation of Michigan’s post-conviction DNA testing law.  And she has played an integral role in eliminating the sunset provision of the law and making it permanent. Mitchell-Cichon is currently educating lawmakers on a proposed law that will provide compensation to wrongfully convicted Michigan citizens.

“I am so fortunate to work with talented and dedicated colleagues, staff and students.” said Mitchell-Cichon. “Words cannot express my gratitude to them, and I accept this honor on behalf of all those who have dedicated countless hours working to free the innocent.”

Mitchell-Cichon joined the WMU-Cooley faculty in 1995. She has dedicated her career to public service and teaching students the importance of client-centered lawyering.  Her publications are in the areas of criminal law, elder law, ethics and clinical teaching.

“Marla is a dedicated legal educator who goes beyond the classroom to offer her students the opportunity to gain both a practical hands on education and a passion for the law as a means to fighting injustices,” said Associate Dean Michael McDaniel. “In addition to educating the next generation of attorneys, she is an outstanding advocate for serving those in need of legal services. We cannot think of anyone more deserving to be the recipient of the State Bar of Michigan’s Champion of Justice Award.”


WMU-Cooley Innocence Project Director Marla Mitchell-Cichon and her staff celebrate after she received the State Bar of Michigan’s Champion of Justice Award. Pictured (left-right) Staff Intern Joseph Daly, SADO DNA Project Attorney Amanda Tringl, Staff Attorney Ayda Rezaian-Nojani, WMU-Cooley Innocence Project Director Marla Mitchell-Cichon, Staff Attorney Eric Schroeder, and former staff attorney and graduate Jennifer Gallardo.


About Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School: Western Michigan University and Thomas M. Cooley Law School affiliated in 2014, combining the status of a nationally-ranked, public, comprehensive research university with the commitment to practical legal education of an independent, non-profit, national law school. WMU-Cooley is accredited by both the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. The law school has provided nearly 20,000 graduates with the practical skills necessary for a seamless transition from academia to the real world, and enrolls classes in January, May, and September at its Lansing, Auburn Hills, and Grand Rapids, Michigan campuses, and its Tampa Bay, Florida campus. WMU and the law school continue to operate as independent institutions with their own governance structure and separate fiduciary responsibilities.



Passion for the law, service to others, hallmarks of career

Honoree Also Working on Legislation to Improve Post-Release Lives for Exonerees

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