Law

Ohio Innocence Project at Cincinnati Law

Ohio Innocence Project attorneys with client during exoneration.

Mark Godsey, OIP co-founder & director (left), and Brian Howe, OIP staff attorney (right), stand with Rickey Jackson (middle) during exoneration proceedings. Jackson spent 39 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.

Welcome to the Ohio Innocence Project at Cincinnati Law, where our goal is simple: we want to free every innocent person in Ohio who has been convicted of a crime they didn't commit.

An Evening for Justice: Benefiting the Ohio Innocence Project

Join us on Thursday, February 29th at the Historic Victoria Theatre in Dayton, OH for An Evening for Justice benefiting the Ohio Innocence Project. You will hear from two prominent speakers - Amanda Knox and Gilbert King - who will illuminate ongoing injustices within our legal system which continue to result in wrongful convictions and imprisonment. Tickets are available through this link and on the Victoria Theatre website.  

Past Events

The Ohio Innocence Project’s 20th Anniversary Gala was held on Thursday, May 18, 2023, at Music Hall in Cincinnati, Ohio. The program featured world-renowned author John Grisham and an afterparty with the Exoneree Band.  It also featured the world premier of the new OIP 2023 video, highlighting the work of the organization and many of the individuals who have been exonerated over the last 20 years.    

We’re proud to be a part of the University of Cincinnati, where we made our home in 2003. Since our inception, our work has led to the release of 42 wrongfully convicted Ohioans, who collectively served more than 800 years behind bars. That makes us one of the top-performing members among the international Innocence Network.

Our work includes helping develop and advocate for lasting criminal justice reform through legislation as well as launching Ohio Innocence Project University, an active network of student groups at colleges across the state.

- Mark Godsey, Co-Founder & Director, Ohio Innocence Project

All donations received by the Ohio Innocence Project are tax-deductible. OIP is held within the University of Cincinnati Foundation’s 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation status and has the Internal Revenue Service identification number 31-0896555.

All donations received help pay for the costly work involved with the OIP’s mission. For example, it costs OIP $100 for a public record request or transcript; it costs $250 for three hours of private investigator time; and it costs $1,000 to conduct a DNA test on evidence.

Donation by Credit Cardfoundation.uc.edu/OIP

Donation by Check

Make your check out to the UC Foundation with Ohio Innocence Project in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to the following address:

Attn: Mindy Roy
UC College of Law
PO Box 210040
Cincinnati, OH 45221

 

If you have questions about other ways to make a gift, please contact Mindy Roy at Mindy.Roy@uc.edu.

We Owe Our Success To:

  • the generosity of Lois and Richard Rosenthal, whose support created the Rosenthal Institute for Justice, our home within Cincinnati Law
  • the ongoing support of Richard Rosenthal, whose $15 million gift in 2016 ranks as the highest in the school’s history
  • hundreds of Cincinnati Law students, including Innocence Project Fellows and volunteers, who have invested thousands of hours of their energy and intellect in righting what are often decades-old wrongs
  • our dedicated staff of Cincinnati Law-trained attorneys, who serve as daily leaders by example—they educate the wrongfully convicted, along with students and the public, in their relentless pursuit of justice
  • Cincinnati Law, a social justice powerhouse house that attracts top talent at the University of Cincinnati, a top-tier urban research university
  • students from across the state of Ohio, who offer support and enthusiasm through Ohio Innocence Project University chapters on their campuses
  • our all-star volunteer Board of Advocates, a group of legal experts, community leaders and others that was formed in 2013 to support our mission, vision and work
  • our corporate and law firm friends who regularly provide financial and legal support to our efforts
  • the tireless dedication of the innocent and their champions, whose strength, courage and resilience inspire us daily.

Information for Students, Potential Clients and Volunteers

Each year, the Ohio Innocence Project at Cincinnati Law, which ranks among the most successful projects in the Innocence Network, selects a team of 20-25 law students, the majority of whom are in their second year, to serve as Fellows in either OIP’s legal clinic or in OIP’s policy, legislation and engagement division.

OIP Legal Fellows and staff spend many hours reading and writing letters and having telephone conversations with inmates about their cases. Prior to actively taking on a case, if not before, the OIP staff and Fellows will meet the imprisoned person to discuss the case, the plan for litigation and the expectations of the imprisoned person and the OIP in the case. 

OIP Policy Fellows and staff spend many hours researching legislation and advocating for or against bills in the Ohio General Assembly, the main legislative branch of government in Ohio.   Policy fellows work directly with state representatives, senators, and their staffs to promote reforms to Ohio’s laws in an effort to both prevent wrongful convictions from occurring, and remedy them when they do.  In addition, policy fellows take part in a wide range of professional training, community engagement, and campus-based education efforts around the state.

From May through August, all Fellows work 40 hours per week and receive a small stipend for their work. During the academic year, the Fellows work approximately 10 hours per week and receive class credit for their participation.

To apply to be an OIP fellow you must be an incoming admitted student to the College of Law or a current first-year student. 

Mark Godsey, Professor, College of Law, teaching class.

At the Ohio Innocence Project, our attorneys and students work hard to help wrongfully convicted inmates get out of prison and get the justice they deserve. You can join our staff and students as an intern to help the wrongfully convicted.

Internships

Many people express interest in volunteering for OIP.  Unfortunately, legal and ethical standards typically prevent us from accepting volunteers.

OIP does provide internships to college students, however.   If you are admitted to a college or university, you can join our staff and students as an intern to help the wrongfully convicted.

Internships for college students are available in either OIP’s legal clinic or on OIP’s policy, legislation and engagement team.  Students can apply to both internship programs but must submit separate applications.

We are unable to provide funding for internships at OIP. 

OIP Legal Clinic Internships

To qualify for internships with the OIP’s Legal Clinic, you must meet the following criteria:

  • enrolled in an accredited academic program (currently or will be enrolled)
  • have access to reliable transportation
  • ability to bring your own laptop is preferred
  • self-motivated and able to work independently
  • must be able to respect the confidential nature of the legal work conducted in our office (you will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement)
  • commit to at least 10 hours of work per week.

The program runs from semester to semester based on the University of Cincinnati’s academic calendar. Each semester, you must re-apply to be considered but we make no guarantees you will be able to participate in the program for longer than one semester.

Interns working in OIP’s legal clinic are responsible for tasks that include:

  • picking up and dropping off the incoming and outgoing mail
  • filing, scanning and copying
  • organizing files
  • answering the phones
  • general administrative support
  • assist with special projects as needed
  • assist with events as needed

To apply for an internship in OIP’s legal clinic, please send the following application materials to OIP’s senior legal assistant, Stephanie King, at kingsp@ucmail.uc.edu:

  • resume;
  • cover letter explaining why you are interested in our program;
  • 2 references;
  • if you are trying to receive credit for a class for this internship, please include the requirements and your advisor or program coordinator’s name and contact. information.

All applications will be reviewed and responded to by the manager of the internship program. If you qualify and we are interested in learning more about you, an interview at the OIP office will be scheduled.

Internships with OIP’s Policy, Legislation and Engagement Team

Interns working on OIP’s policy team are responsible for tasks that include:

  • researching demographic, political, and legislative data;
  • assisting the director of policy and engagement and policy fellows on education and advocacy efforts at the Ohio Statehouse and community and campus-based events;
  • general administrative support;
  • coordinating meetings with legislators, elected officials, professors, and OIP’s client care team;
  • assisting with special projects, including community engagement, collegiate, and professional training programs;
  • supporting the needs of clients freed through OIP’s work.

Interns supporting the OIP policy team must have their own laptop or tablet and are able to work remotely for a majority of their hours.

To apply for an internship on OIP’s policy, legislation, and engagement team, please send the following application materials to OIP’s director of policy and engagement, Pierce Reed, at pierce.reed@uc.edu:

  • resume;
  • cover letter explaining why you are interested in our program, the dates that you want to work, and the amount of hours that you want to work;
  • two references;
  • most recent academic transcript (unofficial transcripts are acceptable);
  • if you are seeking an internship as a placement for academic credit and/or funding from a source outside of the University of Cincinnati, also provide contact information for that source.

Candidates selected for an interview will be offered the opportunity to interview in person, by phone, or through Zoom.

Need Help?

A person imprisoned in Ohio can request the assistance of the OIP should complete the Screening Application (pdf). The imprisoned person must FULLY COMPLETE the form and submit it to the address on the form, otherwise it will be returned and no further action will be taken until the application is returned complete. Print out a hard copy of the application, fill out in ink, and return it by mail if you would like the OIP to review your case.

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The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio man wins record-setting $45M in...

November 21, 2022

Dean Gillispie of Fairborn won a $45 million civil lawsuit against former Miami Township police detective, Scott Moore, for actions that lead to Gillispie's wrongful imprisonment. Gillispie was freed after 20 years of imprisonment thanks to efforts of the Ohio Innocence Project at the University of Cincinnati. The Columbus Dispatch and other Ohio media covered Gillispie's civil lawsuit.

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