The Northern California Innocence Project provides hope and justice to those who have been wrongfully convicted. The value of their work cannot be overstated. -- Jeff Hammerschmidt
Fresno, CA (PRWEB) June 20, 2011
On June 2, 2011, attorneys Jeff Hammerschmidt and Mark Broughton of the Fresno-based Hammerschmidt Broughton Law Corporation attended the Northern California Innocence Project’s Justice For All Awards Dinner. The dinner, which raised $830,000 to continue the mission of the Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP) to free those who have been wrongfully convicted, honored twelve individuals who were exonerated of crimes they did not commit after spending years in prison. The dinner also honored law firms and attorneys who contributed much to the cause of proving the innocence of wrongfully convicted defendants.
Among the exonerees who were honored at the dinner was Armando Ortiz, whose case was handled in 2008 by Mark Broughton and NCIP (Armando Ortiz on Habeas Corpus, F045069, Ca. 5th Dist. App. 2008). Armando was wrongfully convicted in 2002 of the murders of Manar Jaber, a 19-year old Reedley woman, and her unborn child. After serving nearly seven years of two life term sentences, Armando was found innocent after it was discovered that numerous witnesses who were able to provide an alibi for him were never contacted by his own trial attorney nor called to testify at trial.
The featured speaker at the dinner and recipient of the Freedom Award was John Thompson, who was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death for the fatal shooting of a man in New Orleans in 1984. On May 20, 1999, just hours before he was to be put to death, an investigator for his legal team found evidence of his innocence that had never been turned over to lawyers by the prosecution, which was led by Orleans Parish District Attorney Harry Connick (it was later found that his office concealed ten separate pieces of evidence in the case; Thompson v. Connick, 07-30443, 5th Cir. 2009). Thompson was given a new trial in 2003, and the jury took only 35 minutes to acquit him (State v. Thompson, 2002-0361, La. App. 7/17/02). He now runs an organization called Resurrection After Exoneration, which is dedicated to helping exonerated defendants adjust to life after prison.
Actress Juliette Lewis spoke at the dinner as well. She played a role in the movie “Conviction,” which stars Hilary Swank. It is based on the remarkable true story of Betty Anne Waters, a woman who put herself through law school in order to get her brother released from prison for a crime he did not commit.
“The Northern California Innocence Project provides hope and justice to those who have been wrongfully convicted,” says Jeff Hammerschmidt. “The value of their work cannot be overstated and their dedication to freeing the innocent is inspiring. It was humbling to be in the presence of men and women who were finally freed after serving a combined 130 years for crimes they did not commit.”
The names of the twelve exonerated people who were honored at the dinner are as follows:
Ron Reno, incarcerated 5 years
Albert Johnson, incarcerated 10 years
John Stoll, incarcerated 20 years
Peter Rose, incarcerated 9 years
Jeffrey Rodriguez, incarcerated 5 years
Ken Foley, incarcerated 12 years
Armando Ortiz, incarcerated 7 years
Mashelle Bullington, incarcerated 4 years
Martin Laiwa, incarcerated 15 years
Bismarck Dinius, acquitted after 3 years
Maurice Caldwell, incarcerated 20 years
Francisco "Franky" Carrillo, incarcerated 20 years
Hammerschmidt Broughton Law Corporation is a Fresno-based law firm specializing in criminal defense matters with key practice areas in violent crimes, white collar crimes, drug crimes, and DUI. The firm can be reached at (559) 233-5333 and is also on the Web at http://www.hbcriminaldefense.com.
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