Dean's Blog - Innocence Project

Dean's Blog - Innocence Project

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 Dean Donald Lewis


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Hi there.  I have three items of interest today. Item No. 1 is the Innocence Project of Minnesota, a non-profit, volunteer organization that provides pro bono investigative and legal assistance to prisoners trying to prove their innocence.  The Innocence Project in Minnesota investigates potential claims of wrongful conviction from prisoners convicted of crimes in this state, and some cases in North and South Dakota.

The Project not only takes on cases of convicted but innocent people; it also educates attorneys and criminal justice professionals on DNA and other forensic practices, and works to reform criminal procedures, for example, its advocacy on the use of audio and videotaping of interrogations.

Due to the efforts of the Innocence Project nationwide, more than 200 innocent people have been released from prison after serving an average of 12 years for crimes they did not commit. Most of those exonerations have come as a result of DNA-testing. But the Minnesota Innocence Project does not limit itself to DNA cases, and will work on any case in this state where there is clear evidence of innocence.  It also reaches out to community groups to increase public understanding of innocence-related issues.

Here in Minnesota, the Innocence Project is led by Executive Director and Managing Attorney .  The Project has a special relationship with Hamline's law school and the College of Liberal Arts.  One of our law school clinics is based with the Project.  The University also provides the Project with office space, administrative support, forensic science experts and, of course, faculty and students interested in its work. 

I spoke a couple weeks ago on this blog about the importance of pro bono service, and the Innocence Project is one such opportunity.  So check it out.  I should also mention that the Project is holding its annual Benefit for Innocence on Saturday, November 14.  Senator Al Franken will be the featured speaker. (Prices are $65 for students; register to attend online at

Item No. 2 is a Hamline law student achievement that is national in scope. Micah Ludeke, one of our 2Ls, will be in Seattle this weekend to attend the National Lawyers Guild annual convention.   There he will receive the C.B. King Law Student Organizer of the Year Award. ]

As you may know, the National Lawyers Guild is a long-standing association of lawyers dedicated to the need for progressive change in the structure of our political and economic system.  You may not know that C.B. King was a prominent African American lawyer in Georgia known for his courage, courtroom eloquence, and legal skills in the face of fierce and even violent opposition during the civil rights struggle in southwest Georgia.

In C.B. King's honor, the Guild recognizes a law student for organizing and activism in its progressive tradition.  Micah is receiving this national award because of his advocacy on behalf of arrestees and detainees during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul; his leadership and community service last year as a 1L of the Hamline Law and Minnesota chapters of the Guild; his internship with at the Minnesota Civil Justice Center during the school year; and his prison advocacy work as an intern this past summer in San Francisco.

It is an extraordinary honor for a Hamline Law Student to be recognized in this way by a national legal organization, so please join me in congratulating Micah for this achievement.

Item No. 3 is a networking opportunity outside the law school. This coming Monday, October 19, the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association will hold a joint reception at St. Thomas Law School in downtown Minneapolis.  Featured guests will include our own Hamline alum Leo Brisbois, who is president of the Minnesota State Bar Association, and Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis.

This would be a good occasion for you to meet judges, attorneys and other leaders in the local legal community, and to learn something about Native lawyers and Indian law.

You will hear me preach often about the importance of putting yourself in the company

of practicing lawyers, so here is an opportunity to do just that.  Again, the reception is next Monday at 5 p.m. in the atrium of St. Thomas Law School.  It would be helpful if you sent an RSVP at  


And for those of you particularly interested in Indian law, check out the speech by Robert (Tim) Coulter, founder and executive director of the Indian Law Resource Center, who spoke at our law school last April.

Thanks for logging in and see ya' again soon.


Posted by Zoe Miron at 08/25/2010 09:18:20 AM