Speakers Bureau

We connect wrongful conviction experts with schools, colleges, companies, and organizations around the world. Our team of inspiring speakers includes people who were incarcerated for crimes they did not commit and staff members each working to correct wrongful convictions and prevent future injustices. Book a speaker online or call 212.364.5384 for more information.

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Speakers Bureau

Featured Speaker

Staff Adnan Sultan

Adnan Sultan is a staff attorney at the Innocence Project. He litigates post-conviction cases nationwide on behalf of individuals seeking access to DNA testing and relief from wrongful convictions. He also instructs law students as part of the Innocence Project clinic at Cardozo.

Prior to joining the Innocence Project, he worked as a staff attorney at The Bronx Defenders for five where he represented thousands of clients charged with misdemeanors and felony crimes from arraignments to trial. In addition, he was a member of the Bronx Defenders’ Forensic Practice Group where he consulted with attorneys and conducted trainings on DNA evidence. Before working at the Bronx Defenders, Adnan was a Prettyman Fellow at Georgetown Law School, where he both represented clients charged with misdemeanor and felony crimes in D.C. Superior Court and supervised third-year law students in Georgetown’s Criminal Justice Clinic. He graduated from American University’s Washington College of Law.

Staff Christina Swarns

Christina Swarns is the Executive Director of the Innocence Project.

She previously served as the president and attorney-in-charge of the Office of the Appellate Defender, Inc. , one of New York City’s oldest institutional providers of indigent appellate defense representation; as the litigation director of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice; as a supervising assistant federal defender in the capital habeas corpus unit of the Philadelphia Community Defender Office; and as a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society’s criminal defense division in New York. Christina argued, and won, Buck v. Davis, a challenge to the introduction of explicitly racially biased evidence in a Texas death penalty case, in the United States Supreme Court. Christina was the only Black woman to argue in the 2016 Supreme Court term, and is one of the few Black women to have argued before the nation’s highest court. Christina earned a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a B.A. from Howard University.

“A part of me is irritated, angry and disgruntled because I went above and beyond for this country and was repaid by being convicted of a crime I didn’t commit.”

Clay Chabot, a former operations specialist for the U.S Navy, maintained his innocence throughout the 22 years he spent in prison for the 1986 murder of a young Texas woman. After post-conviction DNA tests excluded Chabot and identified another man as the source of critical evidence from the scene, Chabot’s conviction was vacated in 2009. Despite the powerful new DNA and other evidence of Chabot’s innocence, prosecutors announced they would put him on trial a second time. Having already served more than two decades of a life sentence, Chabot accepted a plea bargain, agreeing to plead guilty to the murder in exchange for a sentence of time served. His plea bargain would allow him to go home for good.

Exonerated and Freed People Cornelius Dupree

“While I will never be able to regain the many years I lost in prison, I hope that my experience will motivate our lawmakers to pass the eyewitness identification reform bill so that others don’t have to suffer like I did.”

On November 23, 1979, a woman was raped and robbed in Texas. Cornelius Dupree was arrested the following month because he resembled a suspect from a different sexual assault and robbery case. However, Dupree did not match the description of the person who committed the  e November carjacking. Nonetheless. Dupree was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 75 years in prison. After spending 30 years of his his life locked up for a crime he did not commit, Cornelius Dupree was released on parole on July 22, 2010. Less than two weeks after his release, initial DNA testing indicated that Dupree was innocent of the crime. Later tests confirmed these results, leading to the trial judge declaring him innocent on January 4, 2011. Post release, Dupree became a member of the Innocence Project’s Exoneree Advisory Council, where he works with both the Innocence Project staff and other exonerees to fight for criminal justice reform.

“I believe in justice, but it doesn’t always come easy, so we must persevere through our troubling times to reach that light at the end of the tunnel, No matter what we are facing in life, never give up.”

In July 1981, a 74-year-old woman was attacked while sleeping in her home in Ogden, Kansas.  Eddie James Lowery, who was 22 years old at the time and a soldier stationed at Fort Riley, was interrogated about the attack after he was involved in a traffic accident near the victim’s house. Lowery was questioned all day without food and was told he did not need a lawyer although he requested one. Investigators supplied Lowery with details of the crime – the house, the manner of entry, the weapon, and specifics about the rape. These details were eventually incorporated into his confession. Although Lowery recanted the statements and his attorney filed a motion to suppress them, the court ruled that the confession was made voluntarily and allowed it into the trial. The confession became the cornerstone of the prosecution’s case. Lowery was sentenced to 11 years to life in prison. In September 2002, DNA test results confirmed that Lowery was indeed innocent. In April 2003, Lowery was exonerated.

On April 23, 2007, Jerry Miller became the 200th person in the United States exonerated through DNA evidence. Though he had been paroled a year earlier, Miller had spent more than 24 years in the Illinois prison system for a rape that he did not commit. His conviction was based solely on eyewitness misidentification. The Innocence Project took on Miller’s case in 2005. After DNA testing excluded Miller, the Cook County State Attorney’s Office joined the Innocence Project and the Cook County Public Defender’s Office in a joint motion to vacate and dismiss Miller’s conviction. Post incarceration, Miller has been a vocal advocate for justice reform, with an emphasis on the weakness of witness identification. He is also a member of the Innocence Project’s Exoneree Advisory Council.

After the Virginia Supreme Court granted a writ of actual innocence, Keith Allen Harward walked out of a Virginia prison on April 8, 2016, after spending more than 33 years of a life sentence for a rape and murder he did not commit.

Despite testifying in his own defense and presenting evidence he didn’t match the victim’s description, Harward was wrongfully convicted of capital murder but was spared the death penalty by the jury. Harward, was convicted primarily on the testimony of two forensic dentists who said that Harward’s teeth matched marks left on the rape victim. During the course of his prosecution six forensic dentists falsely claimed that Harward’s teeth matched a bite mark on one of the victims. New DNA evidence definitively proved Harward’s innocence and pointed to another man as the real assailant. Harward is one of eight people whose story is in the Innocence Project-inspired Netflix docuseries The Innocence Files now available for streaming.

Exonerated and Freed People Marvin Anderson

On July 17, 1982, a young woman was raped by a black man whom she said was a total stranger. At trial, the victim testified in detail regarding the assault and identified Anderson as her assailant. In 2001 DNA results excluded Anderson as the perpetrator and he was granted a full pardon.

On July 17, 1982, a young woman was raped by a black man whom she said was a total stranger. After she reported the crime, a police officer singled out Anderson as a suspect because the perpetrator had told the victim that he “had a white girl,” and Anderson was the only black man the officer knew who lived with a white woman. Because Anderson had no criminal record, the officer went to Anderson’s employer and obtained a color employment photo identification card. The victim was shown the color identification card, along with six black-and-white mug shots, and identified Anderson as her assailant. Within an hour of the photo spread, she was asked to identify the man who had attacked her from a lineup. Anderson was the only person in the lineup whose picture was in the original photo array shown to the victim and the victim identified him in the lineup as well. At trial, the victim testified in detail regarding the assault and identified Anderson as the man who attachked her. An all white jury convicted Anderson on all counts and he was sentenced to two hundred and 10 years in prison. In 2001, after requests for DNA testing were denied, the Innocence Project, in conjunction with the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, finally won access to DNA testing. The results excluded Anderson as the person who committed the crime, and when it was run through Virginia’s convicted offender DNA database, it matched two people who were incarcerated. On August 21, 2002, Virginia Gov. Mark Warner granted Anderson a full pardon. Following his release, Anderson served as chief of the Hanover, Virginia Fire Department, where he oversaw a team of 30 people. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Innocence Project and has three children—two sons and a daughter.

Exonerated and Freed People Michelle Murphy

On September 12, 1994 Michelle Murphy’s 15-week-old son was brutally stabbed to death. Murphy, just 17 at the time, was in her apartment with her new son and other child on the night of the murder. Murphy later woke up and discovered her child’s body in the kitchen, and immediately went to a neighbor and called the police.

The police interrogated Murphy for several hours, and coerced her into claiming that she accidentally killed her baby when she knelt down to pick up a knife. At trial, the prosecution falsely implied to the jury that blood recovered from the scene matched Murphy’s blood type. Subsequent DNA testing of crime scene evidence pointed to an unknown male as the real perpetrator. In the course of representing Murphy, lawyers also uncovered other evidence pointing to Murphy’s innocence that was known to the prosecution at the time of trial but never disclosed to the defense. She was exonerated in September of 2014, almost 20 years to the day that she tragically lost her son.

Exonerated and Freed People Orlando Boquete

On May 23, 2006, Orlando Boquete’s conviction for attempted sexual battery and burglary was vacated. DNA testing on the victim’s clothing proved that he was not the man who committed the crime. His release from state custody was delayed until August 22, 2006, when he was released from the custody of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.

At the time of his trial, he only spoke Spanish, was unable to navigate the complicated legal system, and was let down by his legal team. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison and the day he arrived at the maximum security prison, he had one goal and that was to leave.

Mr. Boquete was wrongly convicted of burglary and attempted sexual battery in Florida in 1983. Two years later, he escaped Florida’s Glades Correctional Institution — a place he never should have been — and lived on the run as a fugitive from injustice for 11 years before he was caught and reincarcerated. The Innocence Project then took up his case, and he was freed by the courts — with an apology from the State Attorney’s Office — in 2006.

More about this speaker

Life is great because I’m free.

Orlando Boquete

Staff Robyn Trent Jefferson

Robyn Trent Jefferson is a Paralegal in the Innocence Project’s Post Conviction Litigation Fellow program, advocate, and mentor.

Robyn enjoyed a diverse career as a litigation and real estate paralegal for more than 34 years before joining the Innocence Project. A born advocate, she has always been passionate about effecting change for those who are, and have been, wronged and, in the last 10 years, has had more opportunities to dedicate more of her time in pursuit of much-needed reform.

“Life has a way of making lemons into lemonade. The challenges I have faced throughout my life have exposed me to similar situations our youth are facing today. Most people can’t identify with their pain; I can. As a survivor of gun violence and watching peers be bullied, I’ve made it my life mission to bring awareness to how important it is for individuals to S.T.E.P.U.P.!”

Termaine Hicks spent 19 years in prison after Philadelphia police shot him three times in the back while responding to a woman who had been attacked, deliberately planted a gun on him, and wrongly arrested him for the attack. The Innocence Project took on Termaine’s case in 2011 and pursued DNA testing. On December 16, 2020, Termaine’s conviction was overturned based on exculpatory DNA evidence and the finding that the officers had lied under oath at his trial. Termaine is now a national speaker against wrongful convictions, gun violence, and the challenges faced by our youth. He is also a volunteer at the Juvenile Justice Center.

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