New Law Provides Innocent People Access to All Materials Available at Trial
Sacramento, September 18, 2018 – Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law sponsored by the California Innocence Coalition, a coalition comprised of the California Innocence Project, the Northern California Innocence Project, and the Loyola Project for the Innocent. The bill, Assembly Bill 1987, improves retention of client files and expands the post-conviction right to discovery materials in cases where a defendant was convicted of a serious or violent felony and sentenced to 15 years or more. This expansion will allow for a more efficient system of post-conviction review and find innocent cases more quickly.
Over the past 20 years, the California Innocence Project has struggled to get access to police reports, autopsy reports, and documents necessary to investigate an innocence claim. This new bill alleviates that concern and should result in more innocent people walking free.
“California has no interest in incarcerating innocent people,” says Justin Brooks, Director of the California Innocence Project and a Professor at California Western School of Law. “This law is critical because we cannot prove innocence without evidence.”
The mission of the California Innocence Coalition is to protect the rights of the innocent and to promote a fair and effective criminal justice system by advocating for change in California laws and policy. Collectively, the California Innocence Coalition has won the freedom of over 50 wrongly imprisoned individuals who collectively spent over 517 years in prison for crimes they did not commit.
“This law will make it far easier for individuals who are wrongfully convicted to be able to prove their innocence and win their freedom,” said Alex Simpson, Associate Director of the California Innocence Project. “Each innocent person who walks out of prison means California saves millions of dollars in taxpayer money by not incarcerating innocent people.”
About the California Innocence Project
The California Innocence Project is a California Western School of Law clinical program dedicated to the release of wrongfully convicted inmates and providing an outstanding educational experience for students enrolled in the clinic. The California Innocence Project receives approximately 2,000 claims from inmates each year and has freed 28 wrongfully convicted clients since its inception. Read more at: https://CaliforniaInnocenceProject.org
California Western School of Law is the independent, ABA/AALS-accredited San Diego law school that prepares graduates for the practice of law through a carefully sequenced program of study combining traditional legal theory with hands-on learning in real and simulated client environments.
For five years in a row, California Western has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in recognition of the school’s numerous community-focused projects including the California Innocence Project, Community Law Projects, Mediation Clinic, Bail Project, and more. Students, faculty, and staff yearly donate more than 20,000 pro bono and service hours to nonprofits, clinical programs, and law offices.
Read more stories of success on our website: CaliforniaWestern.edu