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October 20, 2004

Innocent Behind Bars

The Oregon Innocence Network, a new student group, made up of both law students and journalism students, is sponsoring a panel on Thursday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. at the School of Law, Room 175, entitled, “Innocent People Behind Bars: The Problem of Wrongful Convictions in Oregon.”

The Oregon Innocence Network began when students at the University of Oregon Schools of Law and Journalism realized that Oregon was one of only two states in the country without an Innocence Project or access to such a program for state prisoners.  The mission of OIN is to support efforts by the Univeristy of Oreogn to establish an Innocence Project clinic.

Thursday’s panel will feature Oregon Supreme Court Justice Paul De Muniz; Register-Guard Reporter Joe Mosley; and exoneree Jimi Simmons.
The panel will be moderated by Professor Joe Metcalfe and is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

Before he was a judge,  Paul De Muniz helped to exonerate Santiago Morales, a migrant farm worker who was wrongfully convicted of killing another farm worker.  The case shows how language and cultural barriers can lead to wrongful convictions.

Joe Mosley has been a Register-Guard reporter for 23. He covered the criminal trials of Chris Boots and Eric Proctor, who were wrongfully convicted of murdering a convenience store clerk.  After serving 8 years, they were released from prison after a jail house informant revealed new information about the real killer.

Jimi Simmons is a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community.  If not for the help of volunteer activists and attorneys, he  most likely would have been executed in Washington for a crime he did not commit.  He now lives with his family in California and is the subject of an upcoming documentary.  Simmons gained a new lease on life in the process of being exonerated.

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