Suffolk University Law School students are helping to win freedom for wrongfully convicted prisoners through their work with the New England Innocence Project, which has been housed at the Law School since May.
- Ronjon Cameron was released from prison in June after 14 years in prison on rape charges after Suffolk Law students Nicole Faille and Heather LaCount worked with Law Professor Stephanie Hartung on an amicus brief to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on behalf of the New England Innocence Project. DNA test results excluded Cameron as the source of the biological evidence recovered from the scene. He had been denied parole three times since 2012 because he has protested his innocence. He seeks a new trial based on the lack of DNA evidence and is free as the SJC considers options.
- Raymond Tempest was released on bail in September after 23 years in prison after Law School student Jessica Lee, now an alumna working as a Massachusetts public defender, teamed up with more than a dozen other Suffolk students who reviewed the murder case that led to his wrongful conviction. They requested additional DNA testing, visited Tempest in prison, and researched and drafted legal documents in collaboration with the New England Innocence Project. The Providence, R.I., Superior Court vacated Tempest’s conviction in July.
Suffolk Law will formally welcome the New England Innocence Project to campus at a reception and documentary film screening at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, in Sargent Hall, 120 Tremont St. Boston.
The featured speaker will be Dennis Maher, who was released after serving 19 years in prison on a wrongful conviction for rape and now serves on the board of the New England Innocence Project, which worked to obtain his release.
Cameron and students who worked on his case also will be at the reception and available for media interviews.
The Innocence Project reception includes the New England premiere of Bloodsworth: An Innocent Man, a documentary tracing a wrongfully convicted man’s journey through the criminal justice system, to death row, and eventually to freedom after he was exonerated through DNA evidence.
The New England Innocence Project provides pro bono legal services to identify, investigate, and exonerate people who have been wrongly convicted and imprisoned. It also works to raise public awareness, and it advocates for legal reforms that will reduce the risk of wrongful convictions and hasten the identification and release of innocent prisoners.
Hartung, who also serves on the New England Innocence Project board, was instrumental in bringing the organization to the Law School, both to support its efforts and to offer law students the opportunity to engage in legal work on behalf of the organization.
Suffolk President Margaret McKenna, whose roots are in civil rights law; New England Innocence Project Executive Director Denise McWilliams, an attorney who has served disenfranchised communities for more than 30 years; Law School Associate Dean Ilene Seidman; and Hartung will join Maher in offering brief remarks.