My short bio: I'm Clint Ehrlich, half of the legal team that just freed Sgt. Ray Jennings from prison after he served 11 years of a life sentence for murder. It's a big story in today's LA Times:

I found out about Ray's case a year ago when I saw him on Dateline NBC. I didn't buy the evidence against him, so I started my own investigation with my dad. We presented our findings to the LA District Attorney's office, and on Thursday they agreed to let Ray out of prison! :)

Ask me about anything you want, from how I did it to what Ray is like or how crazy the media response has been. Also, please help Ray get back on his feet by using social media to spread the word about !!!!

My Proof: Me right now:

Me on local news:

Comments: 130 • Responses: 51  • Date: 

Gserver17 karma

Good work. I see this happens enough that there is a whole department dedicated to wrongful convictions. Will Ray be seeking restitution from the city or state?

ClintEhrlich15 karma

I applaud the LA DA's Conviction Review Unit. Its head, Ken Lynch, is one of the best men I've ever met.

Ray is entitled by statute to $140 for every day he was wrongfully behind bars. Unfortunately, it can take YEARS before this money is actually paid. That's why I created this GoFundMe to help him right now:

iWriteCodeSometimes13 karma

11 years at $140/day is at least $562,100.

E: Just doing math for people. Not making a comment on the amount.

ClintEhrlich16 karma

It sounds like a lot of money... until you realize you have to spend 11 years in prison to earn it.

And that they do their best to avoid ever actually paying up... :-/

iWriteCodeSometimes2 karma

Why does it take so long?

What do you need to do in order to get it?

ClintEhrlich10 karma

The standard of proof to qualify for the money is higher than the standard for getting released from prison. And because the government doesn't want to pay out money, they will fight hard to avoid admitting that the standard has been met.

Then, even if they admit that you should be paid at some point, they will delay based on laws that require public hearings for appropriation of funds.

tc35909 karma

Did his family stay by his side through the prison term?

ClintEhrlich11 karma

Ray's family and friends have always known he was innocent. They are overjoyed that the justice system has finally recognized what was so clear to them for all these years.

Chiefs19887 karma

Have you watched "making a murderer"? If yes, do you think it's fabricated to make him look more innocent than he is? Or do you think he's innocent And would you represent him?

ClintEhrlich9 karma

I have not seen the show, but from what I've read about Steven Avery it seems like his guilt is debatable. What's so awful about Ray's case is that there can be NO DEBATE.

There is no evidence. There was no evidence. The prosecution's theories about Ray couldn't account for even the most basic facts of the case. And soon the world will see how easy it should have been to catch and convict the real killer.

That is part of what is so frustrating. What happened to Ray Jennings is so absurd... so unbelievable... that it's hard to really make people accept that things were as unjust as they were. It's one thing for an innocent man to be convicted. It's another thing for him to be convicted FOR NO REASON.

Even worse, Ray wasn't a low-life or someone who put himself in a bad situation. He was an upstanding citizen, who held a secret security clearance and was training to become a U.S. Marshal. If this can happen to HIM, it can happen to YOU.

thekyledavid7 karma

Are you an Ace Attorney character? Because a law student proving someone innocent on a murder charge seems like something that would only happen in Ace Attorney.

ClintEhrlich8 karma

I don't know what Ace Attorney is, but I loved Encyclopedia Brown when I was a kid. :)

BadBoyJH2 karma

Encyclopedia Brown

Man, those were the best books.

jrossetti2 karma

The case of the two headed toothbrush

BadBoyJH5 karma

Excuse me if I blow your mind, but the solution to that one was Bugs said he was pushing his clothes down into a dryer, when there's no such thing as a top-loading dryer.

ClintEhrlich2 karma

Except there are! Does this mean Bugs was wrongfully convicted?! :(

ClintEhrlich1 karma

The Hardy Boys were also a big inspiration for me. :)

loomynartyondrugs6 karma

Congratulations, it's always nice to see some good done.

Could you walk us through step by step what you had to do to get him released?

ClintEhrlich15 karma

I saw the Dateline episode around midnight and I was confused how they convicted this guy so I went and read the Court of Appeal's decision. It made no sense, so I freaked out and stayed up until 7AM reading everything I could about the case.

The next day, I was having lunch with my dad in Chipotle, and I asked him, "If there were an innocent man in prison, would you help me free him?" He said to send him the opinion. I did... and he flipped out too.

We got our hands on the record, got in touch with Ray, got him to fire the Innocence Project, and then spent months scouring the record so we understood every aspect of the case. Together, we drafted a 34-page letter to the Conviction Review Unit (which you can see on the Ehrlich Firm website), which laid out all the evidence of Ray's innocence and also destroyed every aspect of the prosecution's case.

A secretary at the CRU read the letter, freaked out and showed it to Ken Lynch, who realized this was a BFD and assigned his ENTIRE UNIT to the case. They made a recommendation which resulted in a joint LAPD/Sheriff's Department investigation with 4+ detectives working full time.

The wait was excruciating, but after several months the DA's office agreed to admit that they had lost confidence in the conviction because they felt someone else committed the murder. On Thursday, we showed up in court, the State told that to the judge, and Ray got to walk out a free man.

There is now an active investigation to find the real killer. I feel very good about its prospects, but can't comment on the specifics.

rbobby8 karma

Here's a link to the letter:

Damn fine bit of writing. I can see why it got their attention. Well done.

quakerlaw8 karma

That is seriously some good fucking lawyering. Well done, OP and dad.

ClintEhrlich7 karma

This is officially the best congratulatory message we've received!

ClintEhrlich2 karma

Thank you. We worked really, really hard on it, under extreme time pressure. If I had it to do over, I would change some things. But what matters is that it worked! :)

JutNob5 karma

How is Mr. Jennings?

Ps: excellent work!

ClintEhrlich17 karma

Ray is obviously thrilled. But to be honest, you can barely tell the difference, because he had SUCH a good attitude whenever I visited him in prison.

He truly believes that God is watching over him and that everything will work out in the end. If I'd lost 11 years of my life, I would be bitter and angry. But he just radiates happiness and gratitude. It's truly inspirational.

Sackyhack4 karma

Are you with Project Innocence?

ClintEhrlich4 karma

No, the Innocence Project was representing Ray before I found his case.

Sackyhack2 karma

What was the issue with them?

ClintEhrlich6 karma

They didn't seem to have any idea Ray was actually innocent.

thebeardcomber4 karma

Your little brother beat me out of a $10,000 scholarship on the final stages of the policy debate national championships. How do you answer for his crime?

In all seriousness, your work is ridiculously cool. Keep it up.

ClintEhrlich4 karma

Reid actually deserves credit for helping Ray too. After I wrote the letter, he helped plug in cites to the record. He was there with us in the courtroom when Ray was released. And he was driving the getaway car that Ray got into while the paparazzi was mobbing us outside of the courthouse. :)

thebeardcomber3 karma

Hahaha that is so fucking cool. Y'all are beasts.

maflickner1 karma

Oh god you did policy? Mercy. I could never get into it. I did some IPDA but that's really it

ClintEhrlich2 karma

My policy career was cut short by illness, but I coached my little brother, Reid, who was one of the best policy debaters ever. I'm proud that we got to collaborate once again to help free Ray from prison!

LzrdKing704 karma

What has the O'Keefe family's reaction been to seeing Ray released? Do they still feel he is the murderer or are they remorseful that an innocent man spent 11 years behind bars?

ClintEhrlich2 karma

I met Mr. O'Keefe in court the day Ray was released. He was very gracious, and I have nothing but respect and empathy for him. He and Michelle's mother are both victims of a justice system that gave them false information and delayed the pursuit of their daughter's real killer.

Right now, I know they are struggling to deal with everything that is happening, particularly because they have not been shown any of the new evidence. But I remain hopeful that, once they are presented with the true facts, they will finally be at peace.

Kaldru3 karma

From the article on Robert Foltz, the former deputy district attorney is quoted to say this week:

"The former security guard’s actions suggested he had something to hide, Foltz said, mentioning Jennings’ decision to radio his supervisor instead of calling 911 after hearing the gunshots."

and in the your writing it says Jennings was patched through to the sheriff department

"Jennings had a radio, but not a phone. 20 He radioed his supervisor that he heard gunshots, and was patched through on his radio to the Sheriff's Department dispatcher. 21 He spoke to the officers and directed them to the correct parking lot. 22 "

You end your paper by this quote: "Sometimes law enforcement authorities, believing they have the right person, will do anything to obtain a conviction. In some of the cases cited in this chapter, as well as many other exoneration cases, authorities still maintain they had the right person in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. "

and now to the question :)

Is statements like the one above from Foltz to the Latimes something you and your office try to counter?

I read the article before you paper and that was one of the things that caug

ClintEhrlich3 karma

I'm glad someone spotted that. This lie from Foltz is a microcosm of the case: one bullshit accusation after another.

Kaldru3 karma

If nothing else it shows that the reporters didnt read your paper.

ClintEhrlich5 karma

I've talked to the reporter. He's a good guy. I think he will clear this up in his future pieces on the case.

PhilShiftley3 karma

Was the evidence just flimsy or was there outright corruption on the witnesses?

BTW good ..we need guys like you to keep the government in check .. Congrats!!

ClintEhrlich6 karma

That's what's so scary: There was no evidence. There were no witnesses.

It's hard for people to wrap their mind around just how bad the case was. The prosecution basically said "it could have bee him!" and on the third try a jury finally bought it.

GingerChutney3 karma

Did you get to mention freaky clairvoyant bullshit at all?

ClintEhrlich10 karma

Almost. The prosecution tried to get video of Sylvia Browne admitted, where she said on Montel Williams that Ray was guilty. (Seriously!)

I was ready to make fun of that in our habeas petition. :) Fortunately, we got Ray out before it was necessary to file one.

GingerChutney4 karma

It seems absolutely ridiculous this is ever allowed.

ClintEhrlich8 karma

Fortunately, the judge excluded it. But the idea the State would even try shows that they were willing to do ANYTHING to get a conviction.

NevadaCynic4 karma

Oh how I wish there were actual consequences for a prosecutor dumb enough to try and admit a psychic's testimony as evidence. In a just world that would get you disbarred. Have there been any consequences for the prosecution yet?

ClintEhrlich11 karma

Sadly, that is pretty far down the list of horrific things that the prosecution did in this case.

Hard to pick the worst one. Lying about the evidence is bad. But telling jurors that they can PRESUME a man is guilty is probably worse. The judge who allowed that to happen should also...

...well, I can't say what I think of her. I hope this will end her career. We'll see.

Atropine11383 karma

If you had had to file habeas, how were you going to get around AEDPA timing after 11 years? Equitable tolling?

ClintEhrlich4 karma

Three ways. 1. We would file a state-court habeas, which isn't limited by AEDPA. 2. There was an existing habeas on file in federal court. It was awful, but it preserved a few issues we could win on. 3. There's an actual innocence exception to AEDPA, thank God.

Seriously though, AEDPA is one of the worst laws ever. Federal courts should have DISCRETION over whether to hear habeas petitions. Imposing a jurisdictional limitation under the pretext of helping them manage their workloads is MADNESS.

jasonquinlan3 karma

What does it feel like to be awesome? Congratulations

ClintEhrlich9 karma

One of the things I've learned from this experience is that we all have the capacity to be awesome.

I used to think that you had to be 'a hero' to get an innocent man out of prison. It wasn't the kind of thing I ever aspired to accomplish.

This fell into my lap when I saw the Dateline episode about Ray's case. Once I figured out he was innocent, I felt like I had to do something. So I did.

I didn't risk my life. I didn't endanger my reputation. I just did the right thing and worked really hard.

Trust me: If you want to make a difference in the world, you can. Just find something wrong and work hard to fix it. You will be shocked at how much you can accomplish. I guarantee it.

clundber3 karma

Is it true that you not only fight for justice, but that you are also an accomplished cage fighter?

ClintEhrlich6 karma

Yes, how did you know? Proof:

clundber2 karma

Clear from your go-get 'em persona! (this is lundy). congrats on your big win here.

How long did you work on it?

ClintEhrlich2 karma

Oh shit, the only man to defeat me.

It took a year of virtually nonstop work. Which is a lot less than we expected at the outset.

Also, this officially makes me cooler than Eli, right? :)

CivilityBeDamned3 karma

How do you feel about the fact that a group of people conspired to ruin this man's life, and probably did, intentionally? Do you think that the prosecutors should maybe be imprisoned for an equal length of time as a result? How is there any justice without correction in the system?

ClintEhrlich5 karma

I have given a lot of thought to how this happened. It was truly a cascade of errors, in which so many different parts of the justice system failed.

First, the detectives were grossly incompetent. They failed to follow the most basic principles of police procedure. For example, they only interviewed 2 of the 5 people present at the scene of the crime. And they never thought to run the criminal records of the people present. Facepalm

The DA's office should have refused to pursue the detectives' crazy theory. For five years, that is what they did, based on a total absence of any evidence pointing to Ray.

But something changed. It's possible there was some very high-level corruption involved in this case. More and more pieces of the puzzle have been appearing every day. Keep your eyes on the LA Times. I have a feeling they will break some big news about this all soon.

It's worth noting how many other safeguards also failed. A competent defense lawyer would have crushed the prosecution. A competent trial judge would have thrown the case out. A competent jury would have, at minimum, had reasonable doubt. A competent appellate lawyer would have pointed out the dozens of reversible errors... etc.

CivilityBeDamned2 karma

Even if there wasn't a high degree of corruption, what do you think about the burden of proof? If people are imprisoned in inhumane circumstances, haven't we failed to uphold the original ideal?

ClintEhrlich5 karma

The burden of proof was inverted in this case. Literally.

The prosecutor, Michael Blake, told the jury that a man is PRESUMED GUILTY of second degree murder if he is present when someone else dies.

Injustices like this are what happens when you replace "beyond a reasonable doubt" with "sounds plausible to me!"

TenderBiscuits3 karma

What led you to this case? Was it something that was talked about among you and your colleagues or was it something that has always piqued your interest?

ClintEhrlich8 karma

For some reason, a year ago I randomly watched an old episode of Dateline NBC, and it was about Ray Jennings being a murderer. I kept waiting for the evidence that proved he was guilty... and it never came. When the episode was over, I tried to find out for myself how he got convicted... and that was the beginning of my obsession with this case.

Cyphara4 karma

You're going to make a damn fine lawyer.

How much longer till you're done with school?

ClintEhrlich6 karma

Well, I just finished my third year of law study, so my dad is going to award me my JD.

Now I'm going to spend a year as a Visiting Researcher at the Moscow Institute of International Relations, writing a dissertation on nuclear game theory and international law. (Link:

Then I'll come home and take the bar. :)

Alesayr2 karma

What was it about the "evidence" that made you realise he was wrongly convicted?

What steps did you undergo in your investigation to prove his innocence?

What's Ray like as a person?

Also, great work!

ClintEhrlich8 karma

I've covered the first two, but let me answer the third: Ray is an amazing human being. That has been one of the best things about this entire process.

There are lots of people in prison who, while perhaps innocent of the crime for which they were convicted, are nevertheless not very nice people. I would not take that much pleasure in freeing one of them.

In contrast, I feel honored just to count Ray as one of my friends. He is one of the funniest, most good-natured guys you will ever meet in your life. Even prison could not rob him of his positivity and his faith.

obnoxygen2 karma

What is the difference between innocence and insufficient proof?

ClintEhrlich3 karma

It's basically an inversion of the burden of proof. Before you are convicted, you have to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. After you are convicted, the burden is turned around so that you have to affirmatively establish your innocence.

obnoxygen2 karma

Just to make this absolutely clear, not only was there lack of evidence that your guy was guilty but that there is sufficient evidence to show that he is NOT the one that committed the crime?

ClintEhrlich2 karma


obnoxygen2 karma

Thanks, and good job!

Maybe Dateline will do a piece on you ;-)

ClintEhrlich3 karma

That is in the works, actually. They interviewed me at the courthouse and they've asked me to sit down for a 1-on-1 interview with Keith Morrison.

Aleschu2 karma

God, I can't imagine what Ray must have felt when he got that sentence. Anyway, what made you choose law school?

ClintEhrlich2 karma

My dad is one of the best lawyers in the country. Working with him was kind of a no brainer for me.

plonia2 karma

Wow, good for you. I'm currently a senior in college and considering law - if I take that route my dream will be to do what you just did. How many of the cases you work on are similar to this (ie working on behalf of those falsely convicted)? What did you intend to do when you started studying law? Do you do pro bono work ie for the impoverished as well or as a public defender?

All the best!

ClintEhrlich3 karma

This is the only criminal case that my dad or I have ever been involved in. Normally we do civil appeals on behalf of people harmed by powerful corporations.

Aleschu2 karma

What's the hardest thing about being a lawyer? I don't know practically anything about law, especially american. I often find myself thinking that being a lawyer is quite easy, it's just rembemering the laws and stating evidence (like a speech). Even tohugh I know it's not like that I still find myself thinking that way. So what's the hardest thing about being a lawyer?

ClintEhrlich3 karma

Picking the "hardest thing about being a lawyer" would be like picking the "hardest thing about being a scientist." There are innumerable different areas of the field, each with their own particular challenges.

Also, your question seems to assume that "the law" is static. In reality, it is constantly changing. Often, there is no existing precedent, and you must try to convince a court that the law should be something that will benefit your client.

Sacklpicka2 karma

Did you know that "Ehrlich" means "honest" in German? What do you think about that?

ClintEhrlich2 karma

Yes, it has come up before. :)

Farkerisme2 karma

Wow! Good job! Is there any sort of extra credit, perhaps, by using litigation know-how to free an innocent man that you may receive?

I would be dying to tell my professor!

ClintEhrlich3 karma

My dad is basically my professor, because I did a special program where I work as his apprentice. He gave me a nice pat on the back.

Farkerisme3 karma

Cool! Had a follow up question, too: What has to occur for the ankle bracelet to come off?

ClintEhrlich6 karma

GREAT QUESTION! It hasn't even gone on yet. That whole thing is all just political theater.

If the DA's office thought there was ANY chance Ray was a murderer, they wouldn't have let him out of prison. It's ridiculous that they are going to make him wait 60 days to officially be declared "innocent."

Farkerisme2 karma

Agreed. Thanks for the replies and a final congratulations! :D

ClintEhrlich3 karma

My pleasure. You can thank me by spreading the link to Ray's GoFundMe. He really needs our help!

NeedLasagna2 karma

Wow, good work! We need more people like you. Why and how did your father helped you?

ClintEhrlich4 karma

My father helped me because he is a good man. Once he knew that an innocent man was rotting in prison, he felt a moral obligation to do whatever he could.

NeedLasagna2 karma

Well, i mean, is he a police? a lawyer? Someone really powerfull? Because even that I would want to help someone innocent in prison I don't know where to begin. I know some lawyer with 20 and more years of esperiences who lost with innocent clients. I really amazed by you and your father,.

ClintEhrlich4 karma

My father, Jeffrey Ehrlich, is a very successful appellate lawyer, but prior to this case our entire practice was civil — not criminal. (See: We took this challenge on because we cared about Ray and we cared about justice being served.

32koala2 karma

What's your favorite case you've studied in law school?

ClintEhrlich8 karma

None of them really compare to this one.

Zecark1 karma

My question is this, you hear often times (not as often as one would hope) that an innocent man has been cleared of his charges. I have a few friends who became lawyers and I know the kind of case load that one can be dealing with. How did you come across this case and decide, "This man is innocent, I am going to do everything I can to have all charges dropped". Essentially, what made this particular case stand out to you in the first place?

ClintEhrlich6 karma

That's what was so eerie: I don't do criminal work. It's not as if I was working at an innocence project, reviewing lots of convictions, and this one stood out.

In fact, I don't even watch TV. I have no idea why at midnight I randomly booted up an old Dateline NBC episode on my computer. Call it fate... call it an act of God... call it a coincidence. Either way, it's odd, to say the least.

I got sucked in because the accusation against Ray was so extraordinary. I wanted to know what could drive a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. military to randomly murder a stranger in a parking lot.

By the end of the Dateline episode, I still had no idea. And I certainly had no idea how they proved he was guilty. At first, I was hoping that the problem was just the way the show was edited, so I pulled up the Court of Appeal opinion, hoping to find something that would reassure me about Ray's guilt.

Instead, I became more and more disturbed by the lack of any actual evidence pointing to Ray. It was all vague insinuations and assertions, unsupported by tangible proof. Little did I know how deep the rabbit hole of B.S. would lead...

IrishFlukey1 karma

Given that this case yet again proves that innocent people can be found guilty of murder, do you support the death penalty?

ClintEhrlich3 karma

I don't have any moral objections to executing someone for a crime. But, as a practical matter, I don't trust our justice system to determine who lives and who dies. At minimum, the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard is not a sufficient threshold for imposing a death sentence.

bremelius1 karma

I apologize if this has already been asked or if it says something about it in the links, but which law school do you attend? Also, any advice for an aspiring defense attorney?

ClintEhrlich6 karma

I actually didn't go to law school. Or college. Or even graduate from high school. I got my GED, tested for my college equivalency, and learned law through apprenticeship to my dad via the California Law Office Study Program.

If you want to be a criminal-defense attorney, more power to you. It's an important job, but I wouldn't be able to motivate myself to work on behalf of someone I thought was guilty.

ZoMBieSNEK1 karma

Have you ever watched Case Closed?

ClintEhrlich3 karma

Nope. If you want to accomplish awesome things like getting dudes out of prison, you have to stop watching much TV. :)

pm_me_flat_tits1 karma


ClintEhrlich5 karma

I'm very blessed that, from the very beginning of my legal studies, I have been collaborating with my dad on real cases, many of which have affected millions of peoples' lives.

That said, this case hit me a lot harder. It's the only time I've had a case that haunted me constantly. For the last year, it has been hard to enjoy anything in life. As soon as I started having fun I would think to myself "damn it, Ray Jennings can't do this, because he's rotting in prison."

It's hard to adjust to the idea that we won. Hopefully I will process it soon.