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Investigating Innocence is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) entity and promotes its mission through advocacy, public education. Contributions to Investigating Innocence are tax-deductible.
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A PLEDGE OF OUR MEMBERS
All of our members who are private investigators have agreed as a condition of membership to work at a reduced public defender rate when retained by our organization or from members of the Innocence Network. Our members have also pledged when it is financially feasible to provide a limited number of hours of pro bono services to our organization in helping to review worthy cases that deserve further investigation.
Supreme courts in many states have rules encouraging attorneys to provide pro bono services to indigent clients, as does the American Bar Association. The attorneys who support us through their membership get a listing on our website directory of attorneys that is designed to be a referral resource for the Innocence Project in New York and for members of the Innocence Network. They often need local counsel to assist their staff attorneys when filing post-conviction forensic and DNA testing motions, or petitions seeking post-conviction relief.
WHY WE ARE
Investigating Innocence was formed in Jan. of 2013, by private investigator Bill Clutter, who serves as its Director of Investigations. Clutter began working on wrongful convictions in 1988, part of the defense team that helped free Rolando Cruz and Alejandro Hernandez from death row in the infamous Nicarico case that occurred near Chicago. A rare case, prosecutors and police were later indicted for withholding evidence known as the DuPage 7. On the heels of that case, Clutter began the post-conviction investigation for death row inmate Randy Steidl, which uncovered new evidence that led to Steidl’s release from prison in 2004. Steidl has become a national voice advocating the abolition of the death penalty. He now works for a national organization comprised of former death row inmates called Witness to Innocence.
The Nicarico case became the catalyst in Illinois for a national movement that led to the creation of the Innocence Network, an affiliation of nearly 70 organizations today (mostly based at law schools) that are dedicated to providing pro bono legal representation to indigent inmates.
Clutter started the Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois at Springfield inspired by Barry Scheck’s speech in Nov. of 1998, at the National Conference on Wrongful Convictions and the Death Penalty that was organized by Rob Warden and Larry Marshall at Northwestern University Law School in Chicago.
It was Clutter’s work on the Indiana case of David Camm that inspired him to create a new national organization of private investigators supported by criminal defense attorneys that focuses on developing fact investigation that attorneys need to prove claims of actual innocence.