The Innocence March began on April 27th in San Diego and is set to end on June 20th in Sacramento. We are marching to raise awareness of the California 12, inmates who have strong, compelling evidence of factual innocence. We are delivering clemency petitions to Governor Brown in hopes that he uses his power to release these innocent inmates. A picture of us walking through Oxnard reached the front page yesterday.

Read about the 12 cases at innocencemarch.org.

The marchers are:

Alissa Bjerkhoel - Staff Attorney at the California Innocence Project Mike Semanchik - Staff Attorney at the California Innocence Project Justin Brooks - Director of the California Innocence Project

And Zack Brooks, the unpaid intern who showed us what reddit is (Sweaty_Ball_Zack) Ask us anything!

Proof: http://imgur.com/Vinuzj3 https://twitter.com/CA_Innocence/status/335860315776499713

If you would like to donate, please visit our website, maybe buy some innocence wear

EDIT we are going to bed now, any questions you still have we will try and answer in the morning. Thanks for the great AMA, and once again, the (unpaid but well taken care of) intern is my son!

Comments: 889 • Responses: 105  • Date: 

allenahansen210 karma

I was falsely accused, arrested and imprisoned by sworn officers of the law. The charges were eventually dismissed, but I shudder to think what might have happened had I not had the financial wherewithal to fight back.

Thank you for what you are doing. If it could happen to me it could happen to anyone.

Aetheist101 karma

I was falsely accused, arrested and imprisoned by sworn officers of the law

So was I.

I too want to say thanks to the CIP.

CA_Innocence_March88 karma

And we would like to say thank you for commenting

icanhasfoodnaoplz165 karma

I'm sorry, but unpaid internships are criminal. Pay the fucking kid a decent wage.

CA_Innocence_March272 karma

Hi there, I'm the intern. I'm gonna say what I said to another post in this thread, it's all in good fun. It's just a quirky little moniker they've given me. I work for my dad, this is my senior project. In all honesty it's such a great opportunity to be out here.

lechatron38 karma

What's your main reddit account? I'll buy the poor unpaid intern some reddit gold.

CA_Innocence_March61 karma

Sweaty_Ball_Zack, you're a saint.

lechatron59 karma

Enjoy, Mr. Ball Zack.

CA_Innocence_March75 karma

I'll be telling my grandkids about this

Parmesan_John12 karma

I'm a 2L in texas. Can I intern for you guys as well?

CA_Innocence_March19 karma

There are several innocence projects located in your state, I would suggest reaching out to one of them. However, if you want to come to California, go on our [website](www.californiainnocenceproject.org) and you can contact us.

Felarhin-11 karma

I'm glad that you are having fun and all, but I feel that all of you and the other interns deserve some financial support for your service. Your father ought to be ashamed of taking advantage of young people's willingness to work for nothing for something to put on a resume.

CA_Innocence_March4 karma

I am certainly not ashamed. I am proud to be able to provide training and opportunities to young people who want to learn how to do this work. I'm especially happy to share this innocence march with my son Zack before he goes off to college next year. I did similar internships when I was a student and loved them.

veggie_naut146 karma

How often does someone get falsely convicted?

CA_Innocence_March176 karma

It is impossible to know how many innocent people are in prison. There have been 1,000's of documented cases of innocence. If just 1% of the people in California prisons are innocent, that means more than 1,700 innocent people are in California prisons alone.

tweezyb77 karma

[deleted]

CA_Innocence_March108 karma

We hear every day about exonerations of people who were convicted of rape and murder, but that's because, in those cases, there is often DNA that can prove innocence. I am sure there are actually more innocent people convicted of lesser crimes, such as drug crimes, but it is very difficult to prove innocence in those cases after you are convicted.

tweezyb66 karma

[deleted]

CA_Innocence_March92 karma

I think it's shocking the level of plea bargains in the United States. Hardly anyone gets trials anymore. There is no point in having a great trial system if people are always pressured into taking pleas, whether they are guilty or not.

stealthismatt122 karma

Would you walk 500 more, just to fall at my door?

CA_Innocence_March152 karma

If you're innocent.

NoetherFan57 karma

If a police officer asks my name or other information, what do I have to tell? What are the ramifications of not speaking to him or refusing to answer any given question?

CA_Innocence_March71 karma

You have a right to remain silent and never answer any questions. It could be deemed suspicious in some situations but you can never be compelled to talk.

NoetherFan43 karma

Can I be taken to the police station and/or arrested for remaining silent or otherwise compelled to leave where I am? Does this vary state to state?

CA_Innocence_March64 karma

You cannot be arrested solely for being silent, the police must have probable cause to arrest you. You can, of course, be compelled to leave certain ares (such as private property). State laws vary on what is criminal, but probable cause for arrest has been established by the US Supreme Court and applies throughout the country.

paperhat44 karma

What do you think the odds are of the gov acting on the petitions you are delivering? Do you think walking them is increasing the odds? What if he's going to sign them any way, and your walk is just keeping these prisoners locked up for an extra two months?

CA_Innocence_March68 karma

We think the odds of the Governor granting the petitions are far better if we have the support of the community. The walk is intended to raise awareness, while garnering support for our innocent clients in prison. Since the majority of the California Twelve are at the end of the road, this is their last chance to seek freedom. We want the best chance for our clients, and our chances have increased already in the first 23 days. We have received word that the Governor is aware of the march and will assign his top aide to review the cases. We just hope with your support he'll take it seriously. Sign the change.org petition to encourage him!

PresidentPlate43 karma

Have you ever had to defend someone who you knew was guilty? What did you do?

CA_Innocence_March100 karma

Criminal defense attorneys represent the guilty every day. All people, whether innocent or guilty, are entitled to a fair trial and representation. However, The California Innocence Project is devoted solely to representing innocent people who have been wrongfully convicted. We only take on cases where there is strong evidence of innocence.

AnonForSenate23 karma

That kind of sucks for innocent people who don't have easy cases, doesn't it?

If the judicial system needs you guys to clean up the obviouse screw ups, who is cleaning up the "medium evidence of innocence" cases?

CA_Innocence_March49 karma

Let me assure you that none of these cases are easy. The burden of proof to overcome a wrongful conviction is extremely high. Only cases with strong evidence of innocence have a chance. Of course, we spend time trying to change policies and procedures (such as I.D. procedures) to decrease the number of people who are wrongfully convicted.

tembaarmswide34 karma

Was this AMA the intern's idea?

CA_Innocence_March32 karma

Yes it was

alphaweiner19 karma

Why dont you pay your intern?

CA_Innocence_March22 karma

He is the Directors son and well taken care of.

flyryan30 karma

I was listening to a Radiolab episode titled "Are You Sure?" that was about a women who had sent a man to jail who she believed to her rapist. The Innocence project freed him with DNA evidence. He unfortunately went on to actually kill a women and is now in jail.

I suspect that most people freed don't go on to commit major crimes, but what is normally done to reintegrate these people into society after they have spent years in prison culture?

Are there any major success stories of freed prisoners who went on to do extraordinary things?

CA_Innocence_March47 karma

There are very few cases we know of where someone was exonerated and then went on to commit a crime. Unfortunately, our system is not set up to help these exonerees re-integrate back into society. It’s a strange thing because, if you get out on the parole process, you actually have more reintegration services available to you than someone who gets out on innocence. As for successes, we have had some great success cases. Recently, our office helped exonerate Brian Banks, a high school football star accused of rape, spent time in prison, and who was eventually exonerated. He just signed with the Atlanta Falcons. He even came out to march with us during an event in Malibu. Here is a photo of Brian and Justin at this event addressing the media http://imgur.com/JDGpi3x

SpaceSnaxxx30 karma

Do your feet hurt?

CA_Innocence_March33 karma

YES!

MrDeadlyHitman28 karma

What leads to wrong convictions? Does corruption play a factor in it?

CA_Innocence_March64 karma

The leading cause of wrongful convictions is bad identifications. The worst identifications are cross-racial (I.E. black people identifying white people, or vice versa). Other causes of wrongful conviction include false "snitch" testimony, false confessions, and junk science. Also, there are some cases where police and prosecutors falsify evidence, but those are rare. Wrongful convictions usually happen due to mistakes, not deliberate "set-ups".

lichdrow22 karma

What about False Witness ? Charges stemming out of spite or "Revenge" because a person felt wronged. That is what I suffered. I broke up with a girl in a pretty bad way ( Publicly , I was young and dumb 17 years ago. ) and she falsely accused me. That is why I asked about Pennsylvania.

CA_Innocence_March40 karma

Yes. False witness testimony is the leading cause of wrongful incarceration. Sometimes it is just mistaken identifications. Other times it is false snitch testimony. Sometimes it is just completely fabricated for some personal reason.

sodangfancyfree25 karma

Is there a Orange County office that needs volunteers perhaps? I have always wanted to donate time to IP.

CA_Innocence_March23 karma

There isn't an office in Orange County. We handle all cases from San Luis Obispo to San Diego. Go on our website: CaliforniaInnocenceProject.org and submit your information for volunteer opportunities. Thanks for your interest!

FOTBWN21 karma

From the perspective of someone who lives outside of the US, I find it perplexing that there seems to be resistance from the judicial system to clear someone by DNA (or other evidence). Is it a case of them thinking that they've 'got their man' and don't want to acknowledge mistakes?

Would you agree with the statement that it is a legal system and not a justice system?

CA_Innocence_March36 karma

It is very difficult for anyone to admit they are wrong. Prosecutors get very vested in their work just like other people. Sometimes they have spent years getting a conviction and don't want to accept that it is mistaken. That is understandable.

The US justice system (and all others) involve humans. We know humans make mistakes. We know there will always be problems and the best we can do is attempt to correct them.

sdcruise20 karma

If the Governor does sign the petitions and grants clemency will the people be released straight away or will you have to go back to court for each person? I think what you are doing is amazing. Thank you for helping people who can't help themselves. How are you funded? do you have to raise money yourself? Good luck with your march. Be Safe!

CA_Innocence_March27 karma

If the Governor grants clemency, these innocent prisoners should be released immediately and we would not have to go back to court. We’re based out of California Western School of Law in San Diego, so they cover our overhead and salaries. Students work during the school year as part of a clinical internship program. The day to day grunt work (i.e, photocopying, gas money, etc.) is funded by grants and donations. You can donate here

lllilllilllilll19 karma

I dont know if you will read this, but worth a shot :)

I am an undergraduate student in neuroscience, psychology and philosophy looking to enter a Forensic Psychology Masters program in my country (not USA) that has very strong ties to the Innocence Project, both in my country and overseas. We have studied many of your successful cases, and I hope one day to contribute to your work.

My question is: as a research student, are there any aspects of your operation that you feel would benefit from more research attention in the forensic psychology field? If you could fund one major piece of research (perhaps excluding meta-analyses of innocence rates) that would make your job easier, what would it be?

Thank you for your time and all that you do.

CA_Innocence_March18 karma

Research is absolutely critical to our work. The analysis of the thousands of exonerations has helped us understand why people are wrongfully convicted. In the area of psychology, there has been great work done on identification and confession issues, but there is still more to be done. I'm not sure off the top of my head what would be my number one research goal, but I'm sure you can find many worth-while pursuits. Thank you for your kind message.

mushroomhugger19 karma

From someone who has followed the Innocence project for some time and is so happy that the wrongly convicted have representation, I have a serious question. How can you be so awesome?

CA_Innocence_March18 karma

Thanks so much, we love our work.

JayJayWonton18 karma

What you all are doing is really awesome, and I wish you the best of luck. Also, how did you find out about these people and what inspired you to raise awareness and get justice for them?

CA_Innocence_March31 karma

The California Innocence Project receives 1,500 to 2,000 requests a year from inmates claiming they are innocent. We investigate every one of those cases. In these 12 cases, there is compelling evidence of innocence. We feel so strongly about these cases, we are willing to walk 660 miles to get the governor's attention to grant them clemency.

tllewell18 karma

Doesn't everyone in prison claim to be innocent?

CA_Innocence_March43 karma

No. That's a stereotype. Although, there are certainly people who claim to be innocent who are guilty.

way_fairer18 karma

What kind of shoes are you wearing?

CA_Innocence_March23 karma

Merrells and NewBalance.

TrollOfFallenBridges17 karma

[deleted]

CA_Innocence_March56 karma

Not Guilty means that the state has failed to prove your guilt at trial. Once you are found guilty we must prove you are innocent to get a conviction reversed. The burden shifts from the government to the defendant. They are very different.

Skeptic_hippo16 karma

Am I the only one who pictured a bunch of suited up lawyers with briefcases and fancy neck ties walking down dusty country roads together?

CA_Innocence_March19 karma

Picture this

vebent16 karma

I'm curious as to what you think about private prison systems. Do you think they play a huge part in innocent people going to prison?

CA_Innocence_March31 karma

I worry about how the prison system has become a huge industry. The prison officers union is the largest in California. There are lots of people making lots of money building prisons and keeping people locked up all at the taxpayers expense. That is a dangerous formula. Politicians get elected on "tough on crime" policies, we build more prisons, lock up more people, and who pays? In California, this is breaking our budget as we cut education budgets which results in more crime. The war on drugs is a total failure just as the war on alcohol failed during prohibition. We've filled the prisons with drug offenders and new offenders take their place in the business. We need to somehow stop this crazy cycle...and yes I think innocent people get caught up in the business of policing and corrections.

crtzcesar231013 karma

[deleted]

CA_Innocence_March19 karma

Great question! My favorite experience has been walking with the family members of my clients. Check out this video we made the day we walked with the Miles family. Here's another video we made the day we walked with the Long family.

film_composer13 karma

Wouldn't it be faster to drive there instead of walking?

CA_Innocence_March16 karma

The significance of the "march" aspect is how dedicated we are to these cases. We are all personally delivering clemency petitions on foot to Governor Jerry Brown. Also, along the way we are holding rallies and walking with family members of our clients and people we have gotten out of prison to raise awareness. It's a powerful and difficult journey.

Dom_the_Wop13 karma

Fantastic work, thank you ALL for what you're doing. This is SO important.

My question is about people who took pleas because of the culture of the state in the late 90's and early 2000's for a specific crime -- guilty until proven innocent. I'm sure you can easily figure out which offense category I'm referring to.

Hear anything about the state redressing the malicious and overzealous prosecutions from that era? It's sorely needed for people whose lives were ruined (can't get work, etc) for accusations that weren't even felonies.

CA_Innocence_March12 karma

We now know that innocent people like Brian Banks sometimes plead guilty to crimes they don't commit. This is because the risk of going to trial even when you are innocent can be too great. There was alot of overcharging in the 90s and it still goes on today. 3 Strikes and mandatory minimums have filled our prisons which will soon be very large and expensive senior citizen homes.

Dom_the_Wop9 karma

Agreed. In my case, my attorney had a taped interview with the accuser saying she made up charges to get my car and bank account (which worked). Attorney didn't show up to a trial date, I had to plead out of fear of conviction.

Haven't been able to have a job, etc, with this following me. Super frustrating. Misdemeanor, so I can't even get a pardon. And CA's "expungement" is a load of B.S. which isn't recognized by anyone who matters.

CA_Innocence_March10 karma

I'm sorry you have gone through this. Plea bargains are often not bargains. Criminal convictions can follow you are around the rest of your life.

Dom_the_Wop6 karma

I was young and scared because my lawyer wasn't with me for whatever reason. Prosecutor told me to plea, so I did. Now that I'm older, I see how stupid it was. :(

Thanks again for doing what you do ... these people deserve a chance at life, after being robbed of one.

CA_Innocence_March8 karma

Thanks, we love this work.

pteroso11 karma

Ate you taking any precautions against valley fever?

CA_Innocence_March18 karma

What should we be doing?

dylanbier8 karma

What services does the unpaid intern provide? Could I perhaps pay you to take his job?

CA_Innocence_March13 karma

Our intern doest great work, here's an example of a video he created: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mj0iw4LEi2Q

Broan1311 karma

Why does a law firm not pay its interns? It can obviously afford it.

CA_Innocence_March33 karma

Actually, we can't afford it. The only reason we can do the work we do is because we use interns and law students to do most of the legwork in terms of tracking down witnesses and evidence. Our organization relies on donations to survive. We need money to pay for gas to travel around the state looking for witnesses and visiting clients, get crime scene photos, pay for transcripts, pay our overhead, etc To donate please visit www.californiainnocenceproject.org Also, Zack the unpaid intern is my son.

MoreTeaWesley8 karma

Have you encountered any issues with family members of victims of the crimes the California Twelve were wrongfully convicted of?

CA_Innocence_March15 karma

Often times the victim's family members don't know about new evidence of innocence we have. We fully understand how painful it can be for them when we reopen a case so we only commit to cases where there is strong new evidence of innocence. Sometimes victim's family members reach out to us and are happy we are investigating the case because they have always had doubts about a conviction. Other times they have not been happy and we have invited them to sit down with us and review the evidence. Sometimes they take us up on that and sometimes they don't. The bottom line is, everyone is hurt when there is a wrongful conviction. The wrongfully convicted person is a victim and their family are victims. Plus, there is often a guilty person at large in the community.

lolakgb8 karma

you guys are awesome and thanks for all of the incredibly important work you do!

CA_Innocence_March7 karma

Thank you!

ButtFartMcPoopus8 karma

What can I do to help you guys? It's been a bit of a pipe dream of mine to get the necessary schooling to work for The Innocence Project someday, as there's nothing I feel more passionate and frustrated about than our devastatingly subpar justice system, and I feel like it would be such a worthy use of my time and life. I don't even know where I'd start though, I don't know what you'd need from someone like me, if anything.

Thank you sincerely for all you do. Your existence gives me hope.

CA_Innocence_March5 karma

Projects around the country, and the world, use volunteers. Go to innocencenetwork.org to see a list of projects. good luck, McPoopus.

leggomyeggroll8 karma

I don't have a question... I just wanted to let you guys know there are quite a few of us here in panama city, fl that appreciate what you're doing and cheering you guys on. My best friends family just celebrated her cousins release for his wrongful conviction. He was in prison for years on rape charges he never committed. The girl confessed she lied because she didn't want to get in trouble with her parents who caught her with porn. If she never confessed he would still be behind bars.

Thank you guys for standing up for the innocent!

CA_Innocence_March8 karma

Thanks for commenting! Glad the case ultimately worked out.

mosaicgraffiti7 karma

My son has autism and as a young ethnic male, has already experienced discrimmination, abuse, wrongful seclusion and illegal restraints, even arrest and citation at age 6. I have worked very hard as a single parent to fight for his rights. But it is very exhausting. I do not live in CA. However, I worry about all innocent persons especially children. What do you do to spread awareness and prevention in your community?

CA_Innocence_March7 karma

We do things like this conversation, our march, and lots of speaking engagements. Check out our website www.californiainnocenceproject.org

rhorney897 karma

Do I need to be in law school to get an internship?

CA_Innocence_March12 karma

You don't need to be in law school to get an internship. We have high school and college students working in our office throughout the year.

rhorney893 karma

Is my local DAY a good place to look for an internship? Or should I look at a private practice?

CA_Innocence_March3 karma

Do you mean District Attorney? If yes, they do have internships as do public defenders and private lawyers.

reinrag7 karma

[deleted]

CA_Innocence_March3 karma

Thanks, Come out at 12:00 p.m. (time subject to change) to walk the last mile with us from Raley Field parking lot (400 Ballpark Drive West) to the West Capitol Steps where we’ll deliver the petitions to the Governor’s office. After, we’ll head back to the McGeorge house for a dinner celebration.

keepcomingback7 karma

Did you read about the guy dribbling a soccer ball from Seattle to Brazil getting hit by a truck and killed on the highway? Be safe! More on topic: my brother was in prison for over 6 years for basically getting in a fight while others have killed people and served less time than him. What do each of you find to be the most unbalanced part of our justice system? Edit: Spelling

CA_Innocence_March19 karma

We did read about the tragic story of the Brazilian dribbling the ball. We are doing our best to stay safe. We all think people with no money get screwed in the criminal justice system when they round up their savings and hire a lawyer with no experience. We tend to see quality work by public defenders. A cheap private lawyer versus an all-powerful prosecution with nearly unlimited resources for investigation (police) and crime lab is tough to compete with.

brian_diener6 karma

[deleted]

CA_Innocence_March6 karma

We are about 30 miles north of Santa Barbara. Thanks!

awshutup6 karma

No question. I love and support your cause. Well done, all.

CA_Innocence_March5 karma

Thanks!

marletjones16 karma

If you are convicted of a Felony can you get it removed?

CA_Innocence_March6 karma

If you are exonerated you can get your felony removed. However, there are also other ways to get convictions expunged from your record several years after conviction. It is not easy and it varies state to state.

EatShitLakers6 karma

Big fan of CIP, love all the work you guys do. I wanted to ask what you think the odds are of any of the 12 people you are marching for being released if and when you meet with the Governor? I also wanted to ask what have you guys been mostly eating and drinking to keep you going?

CA_Innocence_March12 karma

We believe that when the governor reviews these cases, the facts are so compelling of innocence that he will grant all 12 of these petitions. That is why we are willing to walk 660 miles to get his attention. We've been eating Cliff Bars, Trail Mix, and drinking lots of water.

Dinos_ftw5 karma

I don't have a question, I just wanted to say that I recently learned about your existence in my criminalistics and genetics classes, and that I appreciate what you do so much. I hope you take this this right way, but I hope one day your job won't be necessary.

CA_Innocence_March3 karma

Us too!

TheLanceHan5 karma

How was law school

CA_Innocence_March5 karma

I love law school. You learn how to think in a different way. There are lots of lawyer jokes, but I'm proud that I've been able to use my skills to help people out who can't afford help and can't help themselves. Check out the law school I teach at and the home of the California Innocence Project www.cwsl.edu

can_talk_cant_hear5 karma

Link to site

How often do you take a case, do a lot of research and digging only to find your client really is guilty?

CA_Innocence_March11 karma

That happens quite often. Thousands of people write to us, and it is not surprising that some of them are guilty. That is why we scrutinize every case and only proceed to court on cases where we have strong cases of innocence. Out of the 1500-2000 cases we review each year we close the overwhelming majority of them. We maybe do a full investigation on 50 cases a year and file in court on 5 of them after we have found compelling evidence (like DNA). On a good year we walk 1-2 people out of prison and give them their lives back. There are many more innocent people in prison, but once you are convicted it is tough to reverse the conviction. We need hard evidence.

SpaceSnaxxx9 karma

"On a good year we walk 1-2 people out of prison and give them their lives back."

Much love and respect to you. As a physician in training, I couldn't stand that success rate, but in your work it's so crucial. I hope that you can continue finding the strength to fight on those late and lonely nights.

CA_Innocence_March10 karma

My family gets me through the late and lonely nights. It is a tough success rate, but I remind myself that each win is a saved life for the person who gets out and for their family.

can_talk_cant_hear5 karma

Have you ever had a crime like rape, assault, or murder make it to trial, not have the conviction overturned, and by circumstance run into the victim or their family outside the court room? If so, how do you deal?

I'm sorry if this sounds rude, I really love the work you guys do. This is a question I've always wanted to ask a defense attorney.

CA_Innocence_March7 karma

Yes we have. We are very sympathetic to victims and their family members which is why we never take on a case unless we have strong evidence of innocence.

MWHDEV5 karma

Not a question but I am very humbled to know several of these remarkable individuals. Keep on trucking! ~ Best Roadie in the business

CA_Innocence_March5 karma

Thank you!

Id_knife_that4 karma

Why are you not paying your intern?

CA_Innocence_March30 karma

Zack the intern is my son, but I also dont pay other interns. That is how non-profits like mine can provide free legal services. We must raise money for everything we do. Having interns and volunteers makes the work possible.

Felarhin-5 karma

Why don't you spend some of the money you raise on paying your intern? Do you ask your landlord and utilities to give their services for free too? What makes you think it is ok not to pay them?

yourbaristahatesyou4 karma

Being an intern is a privilege and looks good on one's resume. No one is forcing them to intern. It's how people learn to network and build skills for when they actually have a job. If you think everyone deserves a job right out of college...good luck with that.

okverymuch4 karma

I disagree. Starting a non-paying job after taking out 4-8 years of school loans is not only deplorable and insulting, it is counterproductive and increases wealth disparities in developed countries.
While I have more sympathy to non-profits, interns in general deserve some wage. I understand they have a lot to learn and gain from the company, but the company also benefits a lot. The intern deserves modest compensation so they do not have to take out more loans for living expenses.

munchbunny4 karma

Working for your father unpaid, however, is a different story than working unpaid for any company in general. I assume at least living expenses are covered in this case.

CA_Innocence_March4 karma

and panda express. You can't forget the panda express.

Acesopro4 karma

As someone who has been wrongfully convicted, I support your cause. Bring justice to those who deserve it and punish those who make false claims.

CA_Innocence_March3 karma

Thanks!

reallyjay4 karma

Where are all of the rest of the criminal defense attorneys in California? Why isn't there a cohesive movement? This is an honest question. I know plenty of attorneys, and most think the system is rigged. Is there just too much $ in defense that the rigged system pays off for them?

CA_Innocence_March7 karma

We don't believe the system is "rigged" but there are not sufficient resources given to the defense, there are mistakes made, and ultimately innocent people go to prison.

rynomac4 karma

No questions, just think that want you're all doing is totally rad. Good on you :)

CA_Innocence_March5 karma

Thank you!

ArcherofArchet3 karma

I'm a California paralegal student! Thank you for your work, guys... At this point, I'm looking into entering criminal prosecution - although my hope is to use prosecution as a "stepping stone" towards something similar to what you do. Hopefully, by knowing the trade "from the inside," I could be a better lawyer in defending indigent or near-indigent clients.

So.... my question to you is a little business-minded. Do you employ paralegals? If so, where do you have offices? :)

Three (plus one, without charging the usual hourly fee) cheers from Fresno!

CA_Innocence_March5 karma

Right now, we are not hiring. Good luck!

MrDeadlyHitman3 karma

If a wrongly convicted person gets out and commits another crime, would the old case be reviewed for false wrong conviction (double negative)?

CA_Innocence_March7 karma

If someone is wrongly convicted of a crime and then proved innocent, then that crime is wiped out. They are innocent. Of course, if they commit a crime at a later date they are responsible for that.

otterpopization3 karma

I love the California Innocence Project! I'm just curious to know what kind of work to does your organization do before you are convinced someone is innocent?

CA_Innocence_March4 karma

We sometimes work on cases for years and years before we are convinced one way or the other. Our work involves collecting every document related to the case, interviewing witnesses, getting expert opinions, and getting DNA testing. By the end of all that, we have a pretty good handle on whether someone is innocent or not.

HotThruTheShart3 karma

do you see yourselves as instruments of the system or against it?

CA_Innocence_March6 karma

I believe that we are working within the system to improve the system and to challenge it to work for our clients. Clemency is a fail-safe device, when the system fails, for the governor or president to make sure the right thing happens. Check out our video from the first day of the march here

hestonkent3 karma

What is your favorite band?

CA_Innocence_March6 karma

Justin - The Grateful Dead Mike - Black Keys Alissa - Miranda Lambert Zack - Modest Mouse

up_up3 karma

Why, in your opinion, does the American "justice" system need to ensure innocent people are better protected from unjustified incarceration? Is there anything the rest of us can do to help change the system?

CA_Innocence_March3 karma

No system is perfect, however, we can make changes to improve our system. The number one cause of wrongful incarceration is bad identifications. We can improve our I.D. processes to lessen the amount of wrongful convictions. You can help by visiting our website, signing our petition, and consider donating to our cause.

talon1671 karma

This is why everyone should support DNA collection...someday (s.ct. Decision pending re collecting from arrested pre-conviction) need to collect all at birth

CA_Innocence_March3 karma

It is true that a large DNA databank could solve more crimes. However, there are certainly privacy issues as our society gives up more and more of our personal information.

jakielim3 karma

Please keep up the good work and fight for what's right!

CA_Innocence_March4 karma

Thanks!

teeprice_923 karma

What are your guys thoughts on the death penalty? I mean there have been numerous cases of people wrongly being put to death and found out afterwards they were innocent, so does that change your opinion on its legalness... (not a word but do you think it should be legal everywhere). And stuff.

CA_Innocence_March18 karma

I believe the death penalty violates the 8th amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Furthermore, the entire western world, except for the United States, has banned its use. The potential execution of innocent people is just one reason it should be abolished, but it is a very compelling one. I've sat on death row with clients awaiting execution. It's easy to support it in the abstract, but very difficult when you see it up close and personal.

xbk13 karma

If a person is accused of rape, the state is required to perform a forensic gynecological exam ("rape test") on the accusing party. If the prosecutor presents evidence to a grand jury and indicts a person for multiple counts of rape without performing a rape test, is that in your opinion, criminal negligence?

CA_Innocence_March6 karma

The grand jury system is totally outdated. Britain invented it and got rid of it a long time ago. A prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich. I think not only is it wrong to indict on flimsy evidence, but we should get rid of the indictment process.

Payo20133 karma

Are you guys tired?? Ps. I support you guys.

CA_Innocence_March3 karma

yes and thanks

EatShitLakers2 karma

This question is for Justin Brooks- Do you think walking and testing your endurance like this could prove to make you a capable Amazing race/Survivor contestant down the line?

CA_Innocence_March3 karma

I would love to find out. Love both those shows

grape_eater2 karma

Do you take cases while the appeals process is ongoing or do you try to conserve resources by only taking cases after the appeals are finished?

CA_Innocence_March6 karma

We do sometimes work alongside of the attorney assigned to handle the appeal, but we file habeas petitions. The limit of appeals is that you can only raise issues that are in the trial transcript. With habeas we can bring in new evidence. Sometimes we will work with the appellate attorney and file the habeas petition along with the appeal so the judge sees both the problems at trial and the facts outside the record.

Fantasmorgasm2 karma

Not a question, I just wanted to say you are one of my favorite groups!

CA_Innocence_March1 karma

Thanks so much!

jqrd4n2 karma

Don't have a question just want to say thanks for what you guys are doing. Best of luck.

CA_Innocence_March4 karma

It's great work; there is no better feeling than walking an innocent person out of prison and sending them home to their family. Here's a picture of Tim Atkins walking out of prison after serving 23 years for a crime he did not commit. Tim went to prison when he was 17, and didn't get out until he was 40. Justin Brooks is in the back ground looking happy.

Nooker2 karma

Lawyers doing it right! Keep up the good work!

CA_Innocence_March2 karma

Thank you!

Moppy66862 karma

I live in Florida. How can I get involved?

CA_Innocence_March2 karma

There is a couple of projects in Florida. Heres one http://www.floridainnocence.org/

lionday1 karma

Have you read John Grisham's The Innocent Man? I read it a while back and it left quite the impression on me. Do you feel that it does a good job of portraying they typical situation of one of the Innocence Project's undertakings?

CA_Innocence_March2 karma

It was an excellent book. I have met the codefendant and had him come speak at our law school.

caseharts1 karma

Thanks for what you're doing

CA_Innocence_March2 karma

Thanks!

shmukk1 karma

Do you even lift? if so how much?

CA_Innocence_March2 karma

No, but our client Brian Banks does! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxsSLNafkgw

Threethumb1 karma

Lawyers who care about whether someone is innocent or not? Hmmm.. what's the catch?

CA_Innocence_March2 karma

No catch. Just trying to do the right thing. All lawyers are not bad people, it's just like any other job. There are good people, bad people, and most people in the middle.

appealed1 karma

What about cases where someone is convicted for, say, embezzlement, but there is no physical forensic evidence, like DNA, to refute the charges? Can anything be done in these instances for a wrongful conviction or is it DNA based cases only?

CA_Innocence_March1 karma

We do every time of wrongful conviction case. You are absolutely right that certain types of cases do not lend themselves as well to our work due to the difficulty of developing compelling evidence of innocence. For example, drug cases are very hard to reverse, as there is typically no evidence that can disprove the conviction.

RealRedditUser1 karma

If my bro (pre-bar) joined your walk. Would you give him a place to star his career?

CA_Innocence_March1 karma

We are not hiring right now

lichdrow1 karma

Who in Pennsylvania can I contact about a situation similar to Brian Banks ?

CA_Innocence_March1 karma

There's a Pennsylvania innocence project at Temple University. You can reach them here

deamont1 karma

Why do you think this is going to help? Honest question do you expect them to do much at all or do you hope if you raise enough awareness public pressure will force them to do something?

CA_Innocence_March2 karma

Clemency is typically only given in cases where people are politically connected or wealthy. Our clients are poor and not politically connected. By getting the governor's attention on these cases, we can make a difference.

hatheaded1 karma

Just wanted to say "thanks!" I think the Innocence Project is one of the most fantastic and important groups in the legal profession today.

Good luck on getting your pardons/clemency from the governor -- in a just system, luck would have nothing to do with it, but alas, what we have today does seem all too arbitrary.

CA_Innocence_March0 karma

Thank you so much!

aeturnum1 karma

What kind of reactions have you gotten from those on the 'other side' (law enforcement, people in the DA's office) of these cases?

CA_Innocence_March4 karma

It varies. We have an excellent relationship with the DA office in San Diego and we review cases together. Sometimes police officers actually come to us with old cases they are troubled about. But, we often are obstructed by District Attorneys and police, even in getting access to evidence rooms to see if evidence still exists. Good DAs and police are interested in the truth. In California, the further we travel from the ocean the less cooperation we seem to get. Desert justice. Go figure.

shaffoes1 karma

Where are you staying while you're walking? Are you camping or do you get to sleep in an actual bed?

CA_Innocence_March2 karma

We have an RV following us that I borrowed from a friend.

lord_darrel_the_MEH1 karma

Kind of a late question and is not that important so if you don't answer I will not be offended, but has either of you (looking at you intern) played Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney (a vidya game) and what did you think? Also, who is the fifth person in the picture? Keep kicking ass and chewing bubble gum since it sounds like 1 or more of you may be working for trident layers.

CA_Innocence_March2 karma

Haha sorry man I can't say that I have. Are you referring to the picture that was on the front page? Because if so Mike and Alissa's significant others joined us for the walk that day.

Madslick1 karma

What did you guys think of the show Prison Break?

CA_Innocence_March1 karma

Havent seen it...too busy working on real cases

dragoncate1 karma

What caused you to decide to put your time and effort into this project? After all there are thousands of lawyers and only a small proportion would become involved in something like this.

CA_Innocence_March2 karma

I've always wanted to use my skills to help other people. I also really enjoy the work. I can't think of anything more fulfilling to do with my life - Justin Brooks, director

radii3141 karma

remind him he used to be a liberal

CA_Innocence_March1 karma

who are you referring to?

Bowzer1 karma

I first heard about you guys thru Forensic Files (the episode "Freedom Fighter"). I'm really proud of the work that guys do. Best of luck and keep fighting.

CA_Innocence_March0 karma

Thank you!

Felarhin-1 karma

You are lawyers right? Do you make decent money? Does your intern do any actual work? Why don't you stop being cheap bastards and pay your god damned intern?!

CA_Innocence_March5 karma

Hey, I'm the intern. We only specified "unpaid intern" because it's kind of become my unofficial moniker of the trip. It's all in good fun, I'm doing this for my senior project. Not to mention that I'm working for my dad, he pays me in love (and panda express).

Felarhin1 karma

I hope love includes paying your rent and student loan payments.

CA_Innocence_March5 karma

Here's hoping it does. - The Intern