On Monday, Oct. 2, the Cooley Law School Innocence Project, in partnership with Warner Norcross + Judd LLP in Grand Rapids, Michigan, will recognize National Wrongful Conviction Day with a free panel discussion featuring Innocence Project exonerees.
Panelists will include exonerees Kenneth Nixon, Gilbert Poole, George DeJesus, and his brother, Melvin DeJesus. Nixon and Poole were exonerated in 2021, while the DeJesus brothers were exonerated in 2022.
The event will be held from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at Warner’s Grand Rapids office, 150 Ottawa Ave. NW. Seating is limited. Attendees must register in advance online.
“Our commitment to helping those wrongfully convicted has been and will continue to be the cornerstone of our work,” said Tracey Brame, director of Cooley Law School’s Innocence Project. “It is important we work within local communities to raise awareness for the estimated 975 innocent individuals who are locked up every year.”
Established in 2001, the Cooley Law School Innocence Project is the only post-conviction DNA innocence organization in the state. Since its inception, the office has screened over 6,000 cases and is responsible for the exoneration of eight individuals: Kenneth Wyniemko (2003), Nathaniel Hatchett (2008), Donya Davis (2014), LeDura Watkins (2017), Corey McCall (2021), Nixon, Poole and DeJesus. It also helped to exonerate Lacino Hamilton and Ramon Ward, both in 2020, and Terance Calhoun and Melvin DeJesus, both in 2022.
“We are proud to host this event and support the work of Cooley's Innocence Project to create change and impact the lives of those our justice system has wronged,” said Warner Partner Christopher E. Tracy. “We look forward to the experiences and insights the panelists will share as we collectively strive to raise awareness and create a lasting impact on the lives of those who have been wrongly convicted.”
The project is staffed by Cooley Law School students, who work under the supervision of Cooley Innocence Project attorneys. Those interested in donating and supporting the work of the Cooley Innocence Project can DONATE HERE.
In its 10th year, Wrongful Conviction Day began as an effort of the Innocence Network, an affiliation of organizations dedicated to providing pro-bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted, working to redress the causes of wrongful convictions and supporting the exonerated after they are freed.