OIP Gets Triple Exoneration in Death Penalty case; Longest-serving Person to be Exonerated in U.S. History Set Free
Cincinnati, OH—“I … was sentenced to death by electrocution for a crime I didn’t commit,” said Ricky Jackson, testifying on the witness stand Tuesday, November 18, 2014, about spending nearly 40 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Jackson was exonerated that day, due to the relentless hard work of the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP). He has the tragic distinction of setting the record for the longest-serving person to be exonerated in U.S. history; Jackson and co-defendants Wiley and Ronnie Bridgeman, together served over 100 years in prison.
Jackson will be freed officially on Friday, November 21, 2014. Terry Gilbert and David Mills, attorneys for the Bridgemans, are expected to ask the Cuyahoga County prosecutors to drop the case against the brothers. One of the Bridgeman brothers is still behind bars.
A Frightening Beginning
In 1975 Jackson and the Bridgeman brothers were convicted of killing a money-order collector at a Cleveland grocery store. All three received the death penalty and came close to execution. It is now known that the convictions were based on a lie by a then 12-year-old boy Eddie Vernon, who helped build the case against them. Vernon recently recanted his story. As reported in The Cleveland Plain Dealer article, Vernon, this week, told Judge Richard McMonagle, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, that he lied to the police, prosecutors and juries when he was a boy. He shared that all of the information was fed to him by the police. He didn’t have any knowledge about what happened at the scene of the crime; in fact, he had been on a bus with several school friends at the time of the incident and did not see anything transpire.
In the Cleveland Plain Dealer article Vernon shared that he hid the lies for years, saying the detectives told him that if he mentioned what he did, they would put his parents in prison for perjury.
OIP’s Exhaustive Investigation Was Key
OIP staff attorney Brian Howe’10 investigated and litigated the case, previously handled by Carrie Wood ‘05. Howe conducted an exhaustive investigation, including finding new witnesses for the 40-year-old case by literally knocking on random doors in the neighborhood where it happened and asking “Were you around in 1975? You know anyone who knows anything about that case?” Jodi Shorr, OIP administrative director, OIP student fellows over the years, and private investigators provided additional, crucial support.
In particular, noted OIP director Mark Godsey in an email to the College of Law community about the victory, OIP fellow Scott Crowley ‘11 took particular notice of the case in 2010, among the hundreds the group receives each year. He pressed the attorneys to keep it open and to continue digging because he had a feeling something wasn’t quite right. His persistence paid off.
Then, in 2011 undergraduate intern Gretchen Schrader, now herself a law student in Indiana, was assigned the Jackson case as a special project. Frustrated that the City of Cleveland wasn’t responding to public records requests, Schrader continued to dig and dig until she got all of the records needed in the case. Commented Godsey, “It was Gretchen who obtained the vital information that would eventually break open the case.”
Sierra Merida’14, another OIP fellow, spent many hours on the phone with potential witnesses, found through Schrader’s work. She developed a strong rapport with the community of witnesses and was able to get them to speak openly about the case.
An Amazing Moment
The Tuesday hearing, which was scheduled because Jackson was seeking a new trial based on Vernon’s attempt to correct the lie he told years before, started with the State offering to consider a deal for a plea to time served and the ability to walk free immediately. Jackson, however, said “I don’t need more time to think about it. I am an innocent man. I will not take the deal.” He felt that he couldn’t lie to walk free –not for himself or the other victims in the case.
Said Godsey, the biggest moment of surprise came in the afternoon while waiting for closing arguments to start. The prosecutors did not return after the court recess. When they eventually appeared, the entire team entered and announced that the case was over. They had to concede the obvious and drop all charges against Jackson. “The OIP has never had a moment like that in any of our cases where it happens right there in court in an unexpected way. We’re used to finding out that we won through some sort of electronic filing from the court long after the hearing is over,” said Godsey.
Congratulations to the legions of OIP alumni and attorneys who had a hand in this case: Gabrielle Carrier, Donald Clancy, John Markus, Julie Payne, Lacy Maerker, Caity Brown, Katie Barrett, Lauren Staley, Andrew Cleves, Sean Martz, Elise Lucas Elam, Kurt Gee, John Kennedy, Carrie Wood, Brian Howe, and many others.
Those wishing to support the OIP to help continue its work to free the innocent can do so at uc.edu/give .
Read how your donations impacted this case. Private Donations Help Free Jackson
Links to article about story:
OIP Lecture: CSI and Cognitive Bias
Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Time: 12:10 p.m.
Location: College of Law – Room 114
CLE: Application for 1 hour of general CLE has been submitted to Ohio and Kentucky; approval is expected.
Food: Pizza will be provided
About the Program
Dr. Itiel Dror has performed groundbreaking research revealing how cognitive bias makes many types of crime scene investigation expert testimony far less reliable than the criminal justice system and the public generally believe. His research shows that the way experts think—and the way the brain works—makes scientific testimony highly prone to human error. Dror’s research was pivotal to the National Academy of Sciences report in 2009 recommending widespread reform to forensic disciplines in the U.S. He will discuss his findings and make recommendations to improve the state of forensics moving forward.
About the Speaker
Dr. Itiel Dror is the Senior Cognitive Neuroscience Researcher at the University College London. He studies how the cognitive architecture that underpins expertise affects how experts perceive and interpret information. His research demonstrates the influence of contextual information on the judgments and decision making of investigators; for example, he has shown that fingerprint and DNA experts can reach different conclusions when the same evidence is presented within different extraneous contexts.
Dr. Dror has published over 100 research articles, and has been extensively cited in the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Report on Forensic Science and the United Kingdom Fingerprint Public Inquiry. He currently is a member of the Forensic Human Factor Group recently established by U.S. National Institute of Justice (NIJ) & the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
This event is sponsored by the The Rosenthal Institute for Justice/the Ohio Innocence Project and the College of Law’s Criminal Law Society
The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime
The Glenn M. Weaver Institute of Law and Psychiatry presents
Adrian Raine, Departments of Criminology, Psychiatry and Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, and Visiting Fellow, University of Cambridge.
Date: October 1, 2014
Time: 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Location: College of Law - Room 114
CLE: 2 CLE credits (requested), approval is expected.
This program is free and no registration is required.
The very rapid developments taking place in the neuroscience of crime and violence are creating an uncomfortable tension between our concepts of responsibility and retribution on the one hand, and understanding and mercy on the other. This talk outlines implications of this body of knowledge not just for research, but also for our future conceptualization of moral responsibility, free will, and punishment. If the neural circuitry underlying morality is compromised in offenders, how moral is it of us to punish prisoners as much as we do? Can biological risk factors help better predict future violence? And how can we improve the brain to reduce violence?
OIP Client Dewey Jones Exonerated; 17th Person Freed through Efforts of OIP
Congratulations to the OIP team and client Dewey Jones who was exonerated Thursday, January 30, 2014. Summit County (OH) Judge Mary Margaret Rowland dismissed aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated robbery charges against Jones, who spent 20 years in prison. Jones was convicted in 1993 murder of 71-year-old Neil Rankin. The OIP’s investigation uncovered police misconduct, and DNA testing eventually came back and proved his innocence.
Jones is the 17th person freed by OIP efforts. Together, OIP clients have spent nearly 300 years in prison for crimes they did not commit.
Students who worked on this case over the years include: Shabby Allen, Amanda Bleiler, Julie Kathman, Eric Kmetz, Bryant Strayer, Scott Brenner and Sarvani Prasad, Eric Gooding and Brian Howe, Chris Brown and Matt Katz, Amanda Rieger and Nicole Billec, Ryan McGraw, and Stacey Skuza.
For more information about the case:
- UC Magazine: Ohio Innocence Project frees 17th person, Dewey Jones
- Wrongful Convictions blog: Murder Charged Dismissed after Man Spent 20 Years in Prison
- Columbus Dispatch: Akron Man Latest Ohio Inmate to be Freed by DNA Testing
- NewsNet5/Cleveland: Murder Charge Dismissed Against Dewey Jones
OIP Celebrates 2nd Victory for the David Ayers Case
Current and former Ohio Innocence Project fellows, along with staff, celebrate an additional win in the case of David Ayers, wrongly convicted of murder in 2000. Sentenced to life in prison without parole for aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, and aggravated burglary, he was exonerated in 2011. Friday, March 8, Ayers was awarded $13.2 million by a federal jury, among the top 10 ever awarded for a wrongful conviction case.
Read the Cincinnati Enquirer story: Innocence Project Client Gets $13 Million
Talk: Environmental Context: Neighborhood Matters for Human Health and Disease
Kenneth Olden, PhD, Director of EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment
"Environmental Context: Neighborhood Matters for Human Health and Disease
Date: March 28, 2013
Time: 12:15 - 1:15 p.m.
Location: Room 118
About Dr. Ken Olden
Dr. Ken Olden joined the National Center for Environmental Assessment in July 2012 with a strong legacy of promoting scientific excellence in environmental health. From 1991-2005, Olden served as the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He made history in this role as the first African American to direct one of the National Institutes of Health. In 2005, he returned to his research position as chief of The Metastasis Group in the Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis at the NIEHS, and for academic year 2006-2007, held the position of Yerby Visiting Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. Most recently, Ken served as the Founding Dean of the School of Public Health at the Hunter College, City University of New York.
He has published extensively in peer-reviewed literature, chaired or co-chaired numerous national and international meetings, and has been an invited speaker, often a keynote, at more than 200 symposia. Dr. Olden has won a long list of honors and awards including the Presidential Distinguished Executive Rank Award, the Presidential Meritorious Executive Rank Award for sustained extraordinary accomplishments, the Toxicology Forum’s Distinguished Fellow Award, the HHS Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award, the American College of Toxicology’s First Distinguished Service Award, and the National Minority Health Leadership Award. Alone among institute directors, he was awarded three of the most prestigious awards in public health—the Calver Award (2002), the Sedgwick Medal (2004), and the Julius B. Richmond Award (2005). Most recently, he received the Cato T. Laurencin MD, PhD Lifetime Research Award from the National Medical Association Institute, the largest and oldest national organization representing African American physicians and their patients in the United States.
He was elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences in 1994 and appointed member of the Visiting Committee for the Harvard University Board of Overseers from 2007-2010.
Dr. Olden holds the following degrees:
- Temple University, Philadelphia, P.H.D., Cell Biology and Biochemistry, 1970.
- University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, M.S., Genetics.
- Knoxville College, B.S., Biology.
Additionally, Ken has numerous honorary degrees from several prestigious colleges and universities.
Doug Prade Exonerated, Walked Free After 15 Years Thanks to Work of OIP
On January 29, 2013 former Akron Police Captain Douglas Prade—and a longtime OIP client—was exonerated. He walked free after 15 years in prison for the murder of his ex-wife. DNA testing conducted by the OIP, along with additional extensive investigation over the course of a decade, proved his innocence. Prade is the 16th person freed through the work of the OIP.
Carrie Wood was the OIP staff attorney who handled the case. Wrote Professor Mark Godsey, director of the OIP, in an email about the case, “[she] knocked it out of the park. Carrie's dedication and talent are an inspiration to her students and clients alike, and we are lucky to have her at this law school.” OIP was assisted by representatives from the Cleveland law firm of Jones Day as co-counsel.
Over the course of many years numerous students assisted on the case. Some are now public defenders, federal prosecutors, local prosecutors in Cincinnati, Wall Street attorneys, big firm attorneys in Cincinnati, and in-house counsel at Proctor and Gamble, to name a few. Some of them are seasoned and very successful attorneys now, who got their first taste of the law with the OIP. All of them played a major role in freeing Douglas Prade and keeping his hopes alive for the past decade. Most recently, 3L Jimmy Harrison, 3L Levi Daly, 2L Thomas Styslinger, and 2L Scott Leaman carried the torch for Douglas.
Media Reports on Prade Case
College of Law and the Brandery Announce Fellowship Program
The College of Law and the Brandery, a consumer marketing venture accelerator, have partnered to place law students at the company. Four rising third-year law students will work at the company this summer, assisting with a variety of legal services. Named the Brandery Fellowship Program, it is an opportunity for students to receive hands-on work experience while learning about and working with high-growth potential business start-ups.
The 15-week fellowship will begin this June. Students will help the fourth Brandery class with services including entity selection and formation, preparation of operating agreements, protecting intellectual property and other legal issues as they arise. In addition, they will have the opportunity to attend Brandery classes that address the many facets of starting a company (i.e. marketing, branding, raising capital, business models, etc.)
Students will be supervised by Professor Lew Goldfarb, director of the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic, and representatives from Taft Stettinius and Hollister law firm.
Learn about the application process, deadlines, and more. Brandery Fellowship
What is the Brandery? The Brandery is a seed stage startup accelerator, nationally ranked as one of the top programs in the United States. They’ve made their name by focusing on the importance of consumer marketing and branding. The four-month-long program in Cincinnati, Ohio, focuses on turning great ideas into a successful, brand-driven startup. Founded in 2010, the Brandery annually select 8 – 12 companies for their program, each receiving $20,000 in seed funding, a team of mentors, world-class design assistance, and the opportunity to pitch to investors and venture capitalists at the end of the program. The benefits available to companies exceed $175,000. To ensure Cincinnati welcomes its startups, The Brandery has coordinated special deals and VIP access to events around town for their startup companies.
Cincinnati Enquirer story: Brandery, UC law school launch partnership
Weaver Fellows Now Working In Local Courts
For the first time since its founding at the College of Law in 1998, the Glenn M. Weaver Institute of Law and Psychiatry has put its six fellows to work in Hamilton County courts that deal with mental health issues. Brendan O’Reilly and Mark DeYoung are working with attorneys representing individuals facing hearings for involuntary hospitalization conducted at Summit Behavioral Center by the Hamilton County Probate Court. Joel Schneider and Amberle Houghton are assigned to the Mental Health dockets of Judge Jody Leubbers and Judge John West. Erica Helmle and Melissa Thompson are working with the Veterans Court dockets of Judge Melissa Powers and Judge Ethna Cooper.
The Mental Health and Veterans Courts provide mentally ill criminal defendants and veterans, many of whom suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, an alternative to usual prosecution with an emphasis on treatment and rehabilitation programs. Defendants who successfully complete these programs can have their charges dismissed. The Administrator of these Courts is Kieran Hurley, a UC Law grad and former Weaver fellow.
Institute co-Director Jim Hunt said, “The feedback both from the students and those they are working with has been uniformly positive. This type of hands-on experience is something that Dr. Weaver always wanted to provide for the fellows. I would like to thank Kieran and all of the specialty docket judges, and Probate Judge James Cissell, for allowing our fellows into their court rooms and for their support of this project.”
The Brandery Fellowship Program: A Partnership with the College of Law
- hands on legal experience
- legal mentorship
- dynamic environment
Fellowship time period:
- Mid-June - early October (Exact dates to be determined)
- Details to be provided in January
Accelerating Startups by Building Powerful Brands
What is The Brandery Fellowship Program?
The Brandery Fellowship is a unique opportunity for law students to receive hands-on experience (and compensation!) in a dynamic environment working with high-growth potential business start-ups. The Fellows will work in 2-person teams to: (a) provide a variety of legal services, including entity formation, preparing operating agreements, protecting intellectual property, and more (depending upon their clients’ needs); and (b) interact with innovative entrepreneurs on business and other issues that may arise.
Description of Fellowship
The Fellowship is a 15-week experience ending on The Brandery’s Demo Day in early October – a day on which its graduating class of entrepreneurs will pitch their business ideas to investors assembled from across the U.S. Each Fellow will be expected to work approximately 300 hours, working closely with their clients during the course of the Fellowship. Work hours will be front-loaded during the summer months, with fewer hours expected after Fall semester begins in August. Fellows are encouraged to attend Brandery classes offered on entrepreneurship (marketing, customer acquisition, raising capital, etc.). The Brandery will provide workspace for the Fellows at its offices in Over-the-Rhine, with 24/7 access.
Fellows are eligible for SPIF funding ($2,500 when combined with Federal Work Study Funds), as well as an additional $250 stipend from The Brandery. Professor Lew Goldfarb, Director of UC’s Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic,and attorneys from Taft Stettinius and Hollister, LLP will supervise the Fellows.
- Rising 3L with eligibility to receive a student practice license
- An open mind and dedication to helping startups succeed
- Professor Lewis Goldfarb, UC Chair of The Brandery Fellowship
- Tom Stasi, Taft Stettinius and Hollister Chair of The Brandery Fellowship
What is The Brandery?
The Brandery is a seed stage startup accelerator, nationally ranked as one of the top programs in the United States. We’ve made our name by focusing on the importance of consumer marketing and branding. Our four-month-long program in Cincinnati, Ohio, focuses on turning great ideas into a successful, brand-driven startup. Founded in 2010, we annually select 8 – 12 companies for our program, each receiving $20,000 in seed funding, a great team of mentors, world-class design assistance, and the opportunity to pitch to investors and venture capitalists at the end of the program. The benefits available to our companies exceed $175,000. To ensure Cincinnati welcomes its startups, The Brandery has coordinated special deals and VIP access to events around town for our startup companies.
Brandery Named A 2013 Seed Accelerator
Congratulations to The Brandery, our fellowship partners, on their recent designation as the #10 accelerator in the nation at SXSW. Read the story here: The Brandery is a Top 10 Accelerator