Saint Martin’s social justice lecture to shed light on wrongful convictions

Jacqueline McMurtrie will discuss her work with the Innocence Network

March 25, 2008

Lacey, Washington — Saint Martin’s University will wrap up its 2007–08 Robert A. Harvie Social Justice Lecture Series with the fourth and final lecture on Friday, April 18, at 4 p.m. in the Norman Worthington Conference Center on the University’s main campus, 5300 Pacific Ave. SE, Lacey, Washington, 98503. Jacqueline McMurtrie, associate professor at the University of Washington School of Law, will discuss her work as director of the Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW) Clinic, an organization that has overturned the convictions of 12 wrongly convicted inmates since its formation in 1997. Admission is free and open to the public.

McMurtrie joined the University of Washington School of Law faculty in 1989 after a career as a public defender. Her research and teaching interests revolve primarily around criminal law and appellate/post-conviction practice, with an emphasis on wrongful convictions. McMurtrie’s work with IPNW is linked to the Innocence Network, an affiliation of international organizations dedicated to providing pro bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted.

In her presentation, McMurtrie will give a brief overview of the Innocence Network. Using case studies from different countries, she will discuss the leading causes of wrongful convictions and the reforms that can decrease the rate of error in the criminal justice system.

To date, more than 200 people have been freed after DNA tests conclusively established their innocence, while numerous others have been exonerated through investigative work that uncovered evidence of innocence without the benefit of DNA testing. “Studies of the DNA exoneration cases and other erroneous convictions provide irrefutable proof that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events, but arise from systemic defects that can be precisely identified and addressed,” says McMurtrie.

McMurtrie received a President’s Award from the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and a Pro Bono Award from the National Law Journal in honor of her work with IPNW. She has been recognized as a Washington State “Super Lawyer” and selected by students as a Phillip A. Trautman Professor of the Year.

The Robert A. Harvie Social Justice Lecture Series was created by Saint Martin’s University Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Robert Hauhart, Ph.D., J.D., to raise awareness of social justice issues within the community and to honor the work of Robert A. Harvie, J.D., former professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at Saint Martin’s.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, Catholic, coeducational university located on a 320-acre wooded campus in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 18 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 21 majors and six graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes 1,250 students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its main campus, and 650 more to its five extension campuses located at Fort Lewis Army Post, McChord Air Force Base, Olympic College, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College.

For additional information:

Robert Hauhart, Ph.D., J.D.
Saint Martin’s University

Keri Graham
Saint Martin’s University