The Innocence Network Conference is a national event that brings together members of the innocence movement and others for two days of plenary and breakout sessions. The theme of the 2019 conference, held in Atlanta, GA on April 12-13, was “The Presumption of Innocence” and the conference was attended by over 900 people including 250 exonerated men and women, their
families, Innocence Network organizations and advocates from across the globe. Michigan exonerees and advocates were well represented at the 2019 conference. Exonerees included Kevin Lackey (2019), Mubarez Ahmed (2018), Justly Johnson (2018), Kendrick Scott (2018), Richard Phillips (2018), Aaron Salter (2018), Darrell Siggers (2018), Hattie Mae Tanner (2018), Ledura Watkins (2017), Bernard Young (2017), Ray McCann (2017), Lorinda Swain (2016), Larry Souter (2005), and Ron Keine (1975, New Mexico). Linda Stermer, a Van Buren County woman wrongfully convicted of the arson death of her husband and seeking to overturn her
conviction, attended with her service dog and paralegal Arthur Been.
Proving Innocence was represented by Marvin Zalman, Greta Zalman, and Zieva Konvisser. Zieva coordinated the Women’s Welcome Reception, co-sponsored by Proving Innocence, the Center on Wrongful Convictions
Women’s Project, and the Worldwide Women’s Criminal Justice Network. Zieva also organized and moderated the session, “Mothers Exonerated of Murdering Their Children Speak Out – Hear Our Voices” with panelists, Kristine Bunch, Grace Huang, Michelle Murphy, Hannah Overton, Regina Maria Shepherd, and Edelyn Yhip.
Other Michigan advocates were from the University of Michigan Law School and Michigan Innocence Clinic (David Moran, Imran Syed, Megan Richardson, Rachel Sokolov, Nara Sugino, Samuel Gross, and Allison Belfield), the Western Michigan University – Cooley Law School Innocence Project (Marla Mitchell-Cichon, Josh Fahlsing, Daniela Mendez, and Lori Montgomery), the Michigan State Appellate Defender Office (Ayda Rezaian-Nojani), as well as attorneys and supporters (Wolfgang Mueller, Shanna Mueller, Scott Lewis, Bill Proctor, Dwight Harris, Mark Clark, Shirley Davis, Terrell Dixon, Rashad Hassan, Dominique Haynes, Erica Marshall, Sherry Upshaw, Mar’shel Burns, and April McCann).
Dave Moran and Imran Sayed organized and presented a session on “The Successive Federal Habeas Petition: Laying the Groundwork in State Court and Litigating in federal Court” and Imran participated on a panel discussing “Advanced Forensic Science Litigation.” A very special session was held “Honoring the Legacy of Samuel R. Gross: Research, Advocacy and Leadership that Changed the Field” on his recent retirement as the Thomas and Mabel Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan and the co-founder of the National Registry of Exonerations.