Students attend Innocence event


- Photo courtesy of Cooley Law

AMONG THOSE ATTENDING the conference were (left to right) Cooley Law School student Amanda Tringl, DNA exoneree Ronald Cotton, Jennifer Thompson and Cooley Law School graduate Antonia Bortone.

Cooley Law School students Carrie Barnes, Antonia Bortone, James Knapp, Osmany Perez, Tierra Stover and Amanda Tringl attended the 2011 Innocence Network Conference in Cincinnati recently with fellow student interns, employees, and directors from Innocence Projects from across the United States.

In addition, about 100 individuals exonerated through the work of Innocence Projects were also in attendance.

All five Cooley students are either interns or alumni of the Cooley Innocence Project.

Bortone, who graduated from Cooley in May, said the conference was unique because, in addition to hosting exonerees from the United States, they had exonerees from other countries such as England, Japan, Mexico and Nicaragua there to tell their stories.

The conference, titled “An International Exploration of Wrongful Conviction,” covered such areas as “Recantation Evidence: How to Obtain It and Use It Effectively,” “Introduction to Post-Conviction DNA Testing,” and other subjects.

“It was a wonderful and eye-opening experience,” Bortone said, adding it was “something I wish everyone could experience.”

Bortone and Tringl had an opportunity to meet exoneree Ronald Cotton, as well as Jennifer Thompson, the woman who mistakenly identified Cotton as her attacker.

Through DNA testing, it was later proved that Cotton was innocent of the crime, and the real perpetrator was identified.

Cotton and Thompson have since become friends, have written a book together, and have become advocates about the problems associated with eyewitness identification. The TV show 60 Minutes featured them in an interview.

The Innocence Project at Cooley Law School has been in place since 2001 and is directed by Cooley professors Donna McKneelen and Marla Mitchell-Cichon.