News 09.05.08

University of Baltimore takes on Maryland Innocence Project

The Baltimore Sun reported yesterday that the University of Baltimore will be taking over the Innocence Project unit of the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, after the heads of the unit approached the university’s law school.

Under the auspices of the university, six law students have been assigned to work on three potential wrongful conviction cases, while 20 more will review innocence claims to see if they can take them on. Since helping

Bernard Webster

get exonerated by DNA testing in 2002, the Public Defender’s Office has received over 700 requests for help. They have successfully filed 15 motions for DNA testing, with one more pending.

The new project will be directed by the head of the original unit, Michele Nethercott, and Steven Harris, who was a state public defender for 14 years. They will announce the new project at a press-conference today along with Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project.

Law School Dean Phillip J. Closius said he "didn't hesitate" when the public defender's office approached him with the idea for the transfer.

"It's a great idea for us," he said. "It benefits students because they get to work on criminal cases with DNA evidence, and it benefits society because we can help free the unjustly incarcerated."


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