News 07.16.14

Network Attorney Talks about Securing Client’s Freedom

Three weeks after a Michigan man was released from prison when DNA evidence proved his innocence of a 2006 rape, his attorney described the timeline of accepting the case and securing his freedom.

Thomas M. Cooley Innocence Project

Co-Director Marla Mitchell-Cichon spoke to

Detroit Legal News

about the organization’s work to overturn Donya Davis’ conviction.


Mitchell-Cichon says, “Mr. Davis wrote the project shortly after his conviction in 2006. At the time, Michigan’s DNA testing law, MCL 770.16, did not allow for DNA testing in post-2001 cases. In 2009, that law was amended and the Project began to review Davis’ case.”


She spoke about the perils inmates will face if the current DNA testing law expires, which is set to happen in 2016:

MCL 770.16 is Michigan’s only post-conviction DNA testing law. Innocent Michigan prisoners may not have an avenue to obtain the DNA testing needed to prove innocence when the law expires. The incorrect assumption is that Michigan criminal defendants have access to DNA testing at the time of trial. However, our project has reviewed convictions as recent a 2009 where material biological evidence was not tested prior to trial. MCL 770.16 has been set to expire twice and I plan to continue to advocate for the extension of MCL 770.16 beyond the 2016 sunset.

Although the prosecutor’s office said last month that Davis’ release didn’t mean he was exonerated, Mitchell-Cichon believes in his innocence.


“Mr. Davis is free on bond. However, the original criminal charges are pending against Mr. Davis and a pretrial is scheduled for August 1. We believe the DNA testing obtained by the Cooley Innocence Project conclusively proves Mr. Davis’s innocence. The testing of male DNA identified on both of the victim’s thighs points to another man, not Davis,” Mitchell-Cichon said to

Detroit Legal News



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