Detroit Mercy Law's Conviction Integrity Clinic hosts panel discussion on wrongful convictions

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Panelists taking part in the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law’s Conviction Integrity Clinic’s discussion on wrongful convictions included (l-r) Richard Phillips, Valerie Newman, Gabi Silver, and Judge Kevin J. Cox.

Photo courtesy of University of Detroit Mercy School of Law

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law’s Conviction Integrity Clinic hosted a panel discussion on Wednesday, September 28 to educate students and the community about the causes and impacts of wrongful convictions.

The panelists included Richard Phillips, who was convicted in Detroit in 1972 and exonerated 45 years later by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU), Gabi Silver, attorney for Phillips, Hon. Kevin J. Cox, Wayne County Circuit Court judge who granted Phillips a new trial, and Valerie Newman, director of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office CIU and director of the Conviction Integrity Clinic. Other exonerees attended and shared their experiences in prison and with the CIU. 

Phillips is the second longest-serving exoneree in the United States and was the first exoneration by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office CIU. Phillips was convicted of armed robbery and first-degree murder in 1972. In 2017, he was exonerated in Wayne County of the first-degree murder charge. On the same day as the panel, he was exonerated in Oakland County of the armed robbery charge; he is the first exoneree from the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office CIU. This exoneration makes Phillips one of the only double exonerees in the nation. 

Through the required clinical program at Detroit Mercy Law, students gain experience representing real clients prior to graduation. Detroit Mercy Law launched the Conviction Integrity Clinic in fall 2021 in partnership with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office as part of the School of Law’s expansive clinical offerings. The clinic provides students with the opportunity to help incarcerated individuals with felony convictions who claim innocence and who otherwise may not have access to legal services. The clinic educates students about the issues which lead to wrongful convictions and engages students directly in the review of innocence claims made by individuals who have been convicted of a crime.

Detroit Mercy Law, inspired by the Jesuit and Mercy traditions, educates lawyers who are committed to the pursuit of justice, service to others, and the highest standards of the legal profession. Each year, Detroit Mercy Law students provide over 35,000 hours of pro bono legal services to residents of Detroit and the surrounding communities.

Learn more about the clinics Detroit Mercy Law offers at https://law.udmercy.edu/academics/experiential-education/ clinics


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