Innocence Project Senior Staff Attorney, Karen Thompson, authored the following post in honor of her client Philip Barnett’s mom, Tammy Barnett.
In my five years as an attorney at the Innocence Project, I’ve met many parents who keep their children afloat through the long nightmare of a wrongful conviction.
Tammy Barnett is my client Philip Barnett’s mom. While wrongful conviction is hardly a unique or unheard of phenomenon, Tammy is one of the first mothers I have worked alongside who has not one, but two children living through and surviving a wrongful incarceration.
I represent her eldest son Philip who, along with his brother Nathan and two other men, was wrongly convicted of murder. After conducting DNA testing on crime scene evidence, we uncovered a DNA profile that “hit” in the CODIS federal DNA database to a man with a long history of violence against women and children. That profile excluded both Barnett brothers as well as their co-defendants.
Despite this, Nathan served his full sentence, and Philip remains behind bars. Even in cases like the Barnetts’, where DNA does exactly what it is supposed to—identify the true perpetrator in a case—we often end up having to fight on.
The truth is, we can’t do this work without the activism, love, intelligence and fight that moms like Tammy bring to us as advocates and to their own families. Moms like Tammy stay on top of their kids’ cases, stay in touch with me constantly and communicate with their sons in prison. By becoming warriors, they keep hope alive for the entire family. And, to be honest, they inspire me as their lawyer to fight even harder for their freedom.
No mother should be forced to fight the wrongful conviction of her child. But to be fighting the wrongful convictions of two of your children, simultaneously, is a superhuman feat that no one should be asked to bear.
Join us in sharing the Barnett family’s story of strength and perseverance this Mother’s Day in honor of Tammy. This post is the third of a four-part Mother’s Day series. Follow the Innocence Blog to read other stories about exonerees, their mothers and their children.