National Innocence Conference Coming to UMKC

Organization that secured releases of 21 wrongly convicted prisoners last year to have national meeting in Kansas City

The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law is hosting the 2012 Innocence Network Conference, featuring keynote addresses by Innocence Project founders Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, and UMKC Law Professor Sean O’Brien.

This conference will bring more than 400 visitors to Kansas City, including more than 100 exonerees who had been wrongfully convicted and the lawyers who helped set them free. The conference runs Thurs., March 29 through Sat., March 31 on the UMKC campus.

UMKC Law School Dean Ellen Suni, a strong supporter of the Innocence Network, has served two terms as president of the Midwest Innocence Project (which is co-sponsoring the conference) and has litigated several exoneration cases in the appellate courts. She was involved in the effort to bring this year’s conference to Kansas City.

“With this conference, we come full circle in our efforts to achieve justice for the wrongfully convicted,” said Suni, who, along with others at UMKC, helped establish the Midwest Innocence Project more than 10 years ago.

The Midwest organization is a member of The Innocence Network, a group of law schools, journalism schools and public defender offices across the country dedicated to providing pro bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove their innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted. The group also works to redress the causes of wrongful convictions. In 2011, the work of Innocence Network member organizations led to the exoneration of 21 people imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. The Midwest Innocence Project achieved two exonerations this past year.

The Innocence Project, a founding member of the Network, is a non-profit legal clinic affiliated with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University and created by Scheck and Neufeld in 1992. The project is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.

Scheck is best known for his high profile work as a member of the defense team in the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

The addresses by Scheck, Neufeld and O’Brien begin at 9:30 a.m. Friday March 30 at the UMKC Student Union, 5100 Cherry St. Reservations for the keynote session are now closed. Complete information about the conference, including a downloadable program, is available online.

About the University of Missouri-Kansas City

The University of Missouri-Kansas City, one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. For more information about UMKC, visit You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us on YouTube.

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