Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $271,632)
Innocence Project of Texas (IPTX) is one of the leading innocence organizations in the country having exonerated or freed 25 people since 2006. IPTX seeks to exonerate wrongfully convicted people throughout the State of Texas by providing first-rate legal counsel and investigative services at no cost. Our legal team of staff attorneys, law clinic students and volunteer attorneys provide representation and critical assistance in the exoneration process.
IPTX will review both DNA and Non-DNA cases of post-conviction and appeal claims of innocence with a focus on those at greatest risk for error including cases based on mistaken witness identification, inaccurate or “junk” forensic science and false confessions. Funded staff will engage in case review; evaluate evidence; obtain expert assistance; prepare appropriate cases for litigation, including legal research and drafting motions and legal memoranda. Staff will prepare cases for post-conviction litigation including locating evidence through city, county and state agencies, subpoenaing witnesses, and conducting depositions or other interviews necessary prior to litigation. Contract investigator services will be used, as needed, to track down evidence and locate and interview witnesses.
Recognizing that a collaborative process is required to build public trust in the justice system and to promote cost-effective services while meeting needs of clients, the funded program will include a partnership with the Conviction Integrity Unit of the Dallas County District Attorney (Dallas CIU). IPTX will provide representation for Dallas CIU pro se applicants through the post-conviction process.
Funds from O-BJA-2021-60001 will be used to expand the capacity of IPTX to respond claims of innocence and obtain exonerations by expanding one part-time attorney from 15 hours per week to full-time, thereby increasing the post-conviction legal staff to investigate and litigate wrongful convictions. Additional program costs will include a portion of salaries for the Executive Director and Deputy Director, DNA analysis, contract investigative services and document costs that can lead to justice for the wrongfully convicted.