Our Guiding Principles

  1. The innocent should not be incarcerated.
  2. Mistakes should be corrected as quickly as possible.

Our Inspiration

On July 3, 2007, word of Troy Davis's impending execution spread through the Georgia legal community.  Our founder joined the cause to save an innocent man only to watch in utter dismay as Troy's claim of innocence was brushed aside as irrelevant.  As more lawyers, students, professors and members of the general public were brought to the cause our nation and the world rallied and, together, we were able to stop the execution . . . at least for a little while. Troy's supporters shouted to all who would listen: "INNOCENCE MATTERS!" 

On September 21, 2011, despite the valiant efforts of many, Georgia's determination to kill Troy Davis prevailed over truth and reason.

Troy Davis's struggle inspired the formation of Innocence Matters in 2010.  Our four-year effort to make his innocence matter will forever guide our work.


A 20-Year Struggle

Rally for Troy
Troy's sister, Martina Davis-Correia, leads one of many rallies for Troy in 2008
Troy Funeral

Our Mission

Justice can only be served by a genuine search for the truth, and wrongful convictions only occur when there is a failure to discover, follow and honor the truth. Innocence Matters protects the innocent and prevents wrongful convictions by identifying and rectifying systemic practices that impede our search for truth. Because the disenfranchised are particularly vulnerable to systemic indifference, our work is focused on developing education, prevention and reform measures that will protect those most at risk and that will encourage the legal community to more quickly acknowledge and correct errors.

Our Founder's Story




March: Incorporated with inaugural board of three: Deirdre O'Connor, JoNell Usher, Ph.D. and Cherryl Brazier. 
May: Accepted John Smith as our first client.
June: First intern, Jess Farris, joined the team; Smith's investigation reveals compelling evidence of innocence.
October: Farris joined Board; habeas petition filed on John Smith's behalf.
December: Dan Finn joined the Board.


Year-long: Collaborated with L.A. County DA's office in the John Smith investigation.
January: Became Greater Los Angeles Consortium on Externships (GLACE) employer.
April: Honored Jennifer Thompson with the Courageous Truth Award.
August: Innocence Matters made first cut in PopTech Fellowships.
September: Georgia executed Troy Davis.


May: John Klene accepted as Innocence Matters client.
July: Dallas DA's Conviction Integrity Unit received the Courageous Truth Award.
July-August: Klene investigation reveals compelling evidence of innocence.
September: John Smith is exonerated!
October: John Klene's habeas petition filed.
November: John Smith's exoneration party!
December: Carol Watson & David Winkler joined the team.


January: O'Connor selected for Excellence in Leadership at Marymount College; John Smith joined the Board.
March: Selected for Annenberg's Alchemy Leadership Program.
April: Jennifer Thompson and Carol Watson join the Advisory Council.
June: Partnered with Kaye McLane Bednarski & Litt.
September: Selected for participation in Annenberg's Alchemy+.
November: L.A. County DA's Marc St. Hippolyte and Brentford Ferreira received Courageous Truth Award; Susan Mellen accepted as Innocence Matters client.


Year-Long: Collaborated with the L.A. County DA's office on the Susan Mellen investigation
February: O'Connor designated by The National Board of Legal Speciality Certification as Criminal Trial Specialist 
September: Jessica Besch honored with the Courageous Truth Award; Innocence Matters partnered with Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman, LLP and Latham & Watkins, LLP
October: Susan Mellen is exonerated!
November: Innocence Matters announced Paul Hoffman to serve as Board Chair in 2015; Susan Mellen declared factually innocent.

Be a part of our future.

Join the Team