The National Registry of Exonerations is a project of the University of Michigan Law School. It was founded in 2012 in conjunction with the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law. The Registry provides detailed information about every known exoneration in the United States since 1989—cases in which a person was wrongly convicted of a crime and later cleared of all the charges based on new evidence of innocence.
The Innocence Project was founded in 1992 by Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University to assist prisoners who could be proven innocent through DNA testing. To date, more than 300 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing, including 18 who served time on death row. These people served an average of 13 years in prison before exoneration and release.
The Innocence Project’s full-time staff attorneys and Cardozo clinic students provide direct representation or critical assistance in most of these cases. The Innocence Project’s groundbreaking use of DNA technology to free innocent people has provided irrefutable proof that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events but instead arise from systemic defects. Now an independent nonprofit organization closely affiliated with Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, the Innocence Project’s mission is nothing less than to free the staggering numbers of innocent people who remain incarcerated and to bring substantive reform to the system responsible for their unjust imprisonment.
All lawyers must comply with ethical rules. If they fail to do so they may be disciplined by their state’s Bar Association.
Each state has their own ethical rules and they are called the Rules of Professional Conduct. They are based on the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
The ABA Model Rules and most states require prosecutors to take investigative and remedial action when they are presented with a case of an innocent person in prison.
Prosecutors have a duty to be a “Minister of Justice”. Prosecutors have a higher duty than other lawyers; they must seek justice, not a conviction.