20th Innocence Network Conference

20th Innocence Network Conference – April 14-15, 2023

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Innocence Network National Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The conference brings to together lawyers, law students, forensic experts, researchers across a number of fields, activists, various other supporters, and most importantly, people who have been exonerated and freed.

It was an honor to learn from those who have been directly impacted by the criminal justice (injustice) system. One of the most valuable takeaways from the conference was learning the difference between an attorney and a lawyer, according to an exoneree. He said attorneys listen to and really care about their clients and are willing to push the limits of the system to fight for their clients. He then said lawyers are those who operate within the system’s limits and more or less, just go through the motions. Hearing this made me so glad the Guild is part of my legal education. I am learning how to be a lawyer in school, but Guild members are teaching me how to be an attorney.

The conference included sessions on a variety of topics – creating police misconduct databases, factors contributing to false confessions, police misconduct and its relationship to wrongful convictions, and multiple sessions on forensic science. There were also several large gatherings for all conference attendees to come together. During one of those gatherings, the exonerated and freed attendees were individually introduced and celebrated. At the conclusion of that program they projected the number 5,560+. That was the number of years the ~300 exonerated and freed attendees lost in prison for crimes they did not commit!

I applied to law school because of this very issue, and today I remain just has committed to fighting the system as I did when I applied.  

In Solidarity,

Sara Malley