MLaw Innocence Clinic garners success

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Lorinda Swain is flanked by David Moran (left), director of the Michigan Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School; and Imran Syed, assistant clinical professor of law at the Clinic; and with her boyfriend, Chuck Herman, standing behind her.

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Innocence Clinic

By Katie Vloet
U-M Law

Lorinda Swain — whose lengthy legal battle for allegedly abusing her adopted son led to seven years in prison even though the son recanted and there was no physical evidence in the case —will be exonerated.

The Michigan Supreme Court ordered on May 18 that she receive a new trial, and the Calhoun County prosecutor said later that day that he will not retry her.

“I’m just in disbelief,” Swain said on May 18.

“Justice wins today. ... I’m going to celebrate for the rest of my life.”

Attorneys from the Michigan Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School have argued that Swain is entitled to a new trial because prosecutors withheld information about her former boyfriend telling a detective that he never saw any abuse occurring.  The ex-boyfriend lived with Swain at the time of the alleged abuse.

In 2009 and again in 2012, now-retired Calhoun County Judge Conrad Sindt ordered a new trial for Swain.

The Court of Appeals overturned that ruling, but the May 18 order reverses the Court of Appeals decision, saying it “erred in failing to give proper deference to the specific findings of the trial court that the defendant was entitled to a new trial.”

“I’m glad that the Calhoun County Prosecutor’s Office has recognized that it is time to bring this case to an end. Lorinda’s ordeal will finally come to an end,” said David Moran, director of the Michigan Innocence Clinic.

Some 18 students from the Michigan Innocence Clinic have worked on the case since the Clinic first accepted the case in 2009.
 

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