[ Reinventing the Clerkship ]
“The Wrongful Conviction Project fellowship is enabling the building of a legal system that stands for the principles that justice must ultimately prevail and that the lives of individual citizens matter.” – Leon Sinoff ’10
T H E O H I O S TAT E U N I V E R S I T Y
>> to determine whether flawed evidence has resulted in wrongful convictions,” Bodenhamer said. Two Moritz graduates have had an opportunity to serve that need as fellows of the Wrongful Conviction Project thanks to a fellowship program created by Erin Moriarty ’77, a journalist with CBS News who has covered stories about innocent people locked in prison for crimes they did not commit. She hopes others contribute to the fund so that the work can continue. “I can find new evidence as a reporter, but someone has to file the motion to get the person out. These fellowships are crucial to get lawyers who not only know how to do appeals but know how to do them properly,” Moriarty said. Fellow Leon Sinoff ’10, for example, identified cases with challenges to the reliability of evidence, including arson science and shaken baby syndrome. His acquired knowledge of the medical challenges to the traditional theory of shaken baby syndrome allowed him to co-counsel a trial-level case with a senior public defender, Bodenhamer said. Sinoff identified the proper defense expert witness, fully participated in trial preparation, and cross-examined a state’s witness during trial. The defendant in that case was acquitted. While the fellowship provided Sinoff with the opportunity to invest himself in extremely meaningful work and further his understanding of criminal law, he also viewed the fellowship as a conduit for “tremendous positive change in Ohio … remedying life-altering errors one at a time.” Today, he works in the Ohio Public Defender’s legal division on appellate and post-conviction criminal matters. “The Wrongful Conviction Project fellowship is enabling the building of a legal system that stands for the principles that justice must ultimately prevail and that the lives of individual citizens matter,” he said. As an undergraduate at Ohio University, Joanna Feigenbaum ’11 became aware of the growing problem of wrongful convictions in her social sciences studies. She entered law school with hopes of helping those wrongfully incarcerated and contributing to systemic changes that would prevent innocent people from being convicted in the future. She is the longest-tenured member of the Wrongful Conviction Project, having started as a law clerk shortly after the program’s creation in 2009, Bodenhamer said. “The meritorious claims that she identified early on in her service now are the lead focus of the project,” he said. “One of these claims currently is being litigated for exoneration by her and a veteran OPD staff attorney.” Feigenbaum believes everyone should have an interest in strengthening the criminal justice system and taking steps to enhance accuracy and fairness throughout.
All Rise Winter 2013 - The Creepy Factor