Last week, we published a long piece that looks at various Innocence Projects across the state, including at Duke and Wake Forest University law schools and at the nonprofit NC Center on Actual Innocence, located in Durham, which partners with law students attending UNC-Chapel Hill, NC Central, Elon, and Campbell. We received this letter from the center’s executive director, Chris Mumma.
I understand that journalism can’t cover everything, or get it all right, but this article was missing some critical points. The NC Center on Actual Innocence trains and works with hundreds of law students each year, many of whom have gone on to become more informed and effective prosecutors and defense attorneys. Students in the four North Carolina law schools that partner with the Center do work on cases ranging from beginning stages to cases in litigation. When the Center previously screened cases for the Duke and Wake law clinics, screening the clinics decided the Center should no longer do, the Center referred to them many cases with strong, credible claims. Importantly, at least six of the Duke Wrongful Convictions Clinic’s ten exonerations were cases that started with the Center’s screening and initial investigation, including uncovering critical new evidence, before the cases were referred to the experienced attorneys at the clinic and the pro bono outside counsel they work with. Sadly, Rich Rosen was correct when he said that there’s enough need out there for all the different innocence organizations to have an impact, but reducing redundancy is important. In the end, none of this would matter if prosecutors were truly the “ministers of justice” who made ensuring true justice part of their jobs.
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