The Innocence Project and Winston & Strawn Launch First Online Database of DNA Wrongful Convictions
InnocenceRecord.org Provides Access to Court Documents and Other Data about Many of the 258 People Exonerated by DNA Evidence
(New York: Monday, Sept. 27, 2010) The Innocence Project and Winston & Strawn LLP today launched InnocenceRecord.org, the first on-line, searchable database of the court records and other data of the cases of those who have been wrongfully convicted and later exonerated through DNA evidence.
John Grisham, Innocence Project board member and author of An Innocent Man describes the Innocence Record as “a much-needed analytical tool in the effort to advance innocence reform across the country.”
Over the years the Innocence Project amassed a large collection of records from the cases of those exonerated through DNA evidence. Building on that unique repository, for the last six years, attorneys, summer associates, paralegals, researchers and staff at Winston & Strawn and the Innocence Project have devoted thousands of hours scouring the country for every available court record relating to cases where wrongfully convicted defendants were later exonerated through the use of DNA evidence. These files were then carefully summarized and abstracted by Winston & Strawn, while the records themselves were archived and digitized.
For the first time, these case abstracts and records can now be accessed and searched by users in a variety of ways, including by name, date, jurisdiction, or even by individual words within the records themselves. Peter Neufeld, co-founder and co-director of the Innocence Project, describes this effort as “one of the most important contributions to the innocence movement by a private law firm. It will enable us and other advocates to hopefully be able to fix the problems in the system that cause so many wrongful convictions.”
Winston & Strawn partner David Koropp, who has overseen the development of this project since its inception explains that: “The ultimate objective of the Innocence Record is to preserve these critically important documents and create a means for making them accessible to those academics, legislators, law enforcement agencies, and members of the general public interested in understanding why wrongful convictions take place and in discovering ways to prevent them from occurring in the future.”
Because of the sensitive nature of the material in the database, users are required to register before gaining access to much of the material in the database, and an application process is required to view some of the material.
Merrill Corporation, which provided essential document imaging and management services, and Microsoft Corporation, which donated computer hardware and software, also made tremendous contributions to this effort.
Winston & Strawn LLP is an international commercial law firm with 14 offices in America, Asia and Europe. More information about the firm is available at www.winston.com.