to help free innocent
This fall, law students will take up cases of inmates who might have been wrongfully convicted in Hawaii.
The effort is part of a nationwide project in which law students and criminal defense lawyers work together to free innocent prisoners.
The California Innocence Project of California Western School of Law announced yesterday that its staff in San Diego will help establish the Hawaii Innocence Project. Students and professors from the University of Hawaii's William S. Richardson School of Law and public and private criminal defense lawyers from Hawaii will work on the project.
"No law school experience can match watching your client walk out of prison a free man. We hope to soon share that experience with law students in Hawaii," said Justin Brooks, director of the California project, who will also direct the Hawaii effort.
"I am confident we will find that innocent people have slipped through the cracks of the Hawaii system, just as we have found in every other state where an innocence project has been established," Brooks said.
The UH students and professors and Hawaii criminal defense lawyers will collaborate with California staffers to investigate and litigate cases where there is compelling evidence of innocence, according to a press release.
In the past two years, the California Innocence Project secured the release of four of its clients who had served a combined 55 years for crimes they did not commit, the group said.
"Nothing is more unjust than being jailed for something you didn't do. We support this project in its efforts to exonerate innocent people," state public defender Jack Tonaki said.
UH law professor Virginia Hench will teach and supervise the Hawaii law students working on the project.