The Catholic University of America


Michael A. Jones's Convictions Vacated with Help from the CUA Law Innocence Project Clinic

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On March 7, 2019, the DC Court of Appeals vacated the 1996 convictions of Michael A. Jones for armed robbery and assault with the intent to commit second degree sexual abuse, inter alia. The vacation of his convictions was based, in part, on the work of the CUA Law students in the Innocence Project Clinic from 2007 to 2013.

In May 2007, the Clinic accepted Mr. Jones's case for re-investigation from the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project from whom Mr. Jones had sought assistance in prosecuting his claim of actual innocence. In August 2013, the Clinic provided its work product to the DC Public Defender Service's Special Litigation Division for possible litigation of his innocence claim. During the time the Clinic was investigating, 22 law students and one alumnus of the law school worked on the case. The opinion announced by the Court of Appeals on March 7 was the result of the litigation that the Public Defender Service commenced.
The Court vacated Mr. Jones's convictions, agreeing with the defendant's argument that false or misleading expert testimony from the FBI hair analyst based on subsequently discredited "science" of hair microscopy comparison could have affected the jury's verdict and that, without the hair comparison evidence, the jury could have entertained a reasonable doubt and acquitted him.

The CUA Innocence Project Clinic & Clemency Project conducts investigations of claims of actual innocence on behalf of individuals referred to the Clinic by the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project and assists individuals convicted in Maryland with applications for parole or commutation of sentence.

Supervised by Professor Sandy Ogilvy, Catholic University's Innocence Project Clinic offers students the opportunity to develop a wide range of lawyering skills, while providing direct assistance to inmates who have been convicted of violent crimes and sentenced to long jail sentences or to death, but who assert that they are actually innocent of the crimes for which they have been convicted. The Clemency Project expands the work on behalf of individuals seeking release from prison in the form of a commutation of sentence or parole.