On a dreary, rainy weekend, September 11 and 12, 30 attorneys met to be a part of the first “class” of volunteer lawyers for the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. These lawyers, many from large firms some solo practitioners, met for 6 hours each day and learned about the causes of wrongful convictions, what to expect in a state criminal courtroom, how to deconstruct a case, and post-conviction law. The presenters were some of the best post-conviction attorneys in the state as well as nationally known experts in the fields of DNA and forensic science and eyewitness identifications.
The Pennsylvania Innocence Project, unlike most innocent projects nationwide, does not have a professional legal staff beyond the Legal Director. The work of representing inmates in their claims of innocence will be done almost entirely by volunteers. Having such a large and dedicated turnout for our first training demonstrates the commitment and passion that Pennsylvania attorneys have for this issue.