Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2020, $307,861)
Under this program, BJA provides funding to help defray the costs associated with postconviction DNA testing for violent felony offenses (as defined by state law) in which actual innocence might be demonstrated.
Through this project, the Midwest Innocence Project seeks to leverage historical numbers by implementing a program whereby a supervising attorney, University Of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) clinic law students, and Midwest Innocence Project staff expertise can prioritize flawed forensic analysis where DNA may be able to exonerate the defendant. The requested funding will move more than 200 cases identified in Missouri forward cases for which no resources currently exist for review, litigation, and DNA testing. Preliminarily, at least 50 cases are identified as having a feature comparison component in the case related to hair, firearms/ammunition, and fingerprints. The project will occur in three phases:
(1) hiring the supervising attorney;
(2) document collection and review; and
(3) litigation and DNA testing.
This focused review assures that each eligible case under assessment will be thoroughly reviewed and either proceed to relief or be closed. Further, it will provide significant insight into the use of feature comparison in forensic science as conducted in Missouri, and thus becomes a practical means of identifying, remediating, and preventing other wrongful convictions.