Finding ‘Power in Community’ at the 2024 Innocence Network Conference

Loevy + Loevy and the Exoneration Project attorneys and freed/exonerated clients led workshops and found community in New Orleans.

The Innocence Network just held its annual conference in New Orleans with programming centered around the theme of “Power in Community.” At the conference, people from around the country presented workshops on their approaches to litigating wrongful conviction/innocence cases and representing clients who were wronged by the criminal legal system. I was moved by how many attorneys, clients, and supporters from Loevy + Loevy and the Exoneration Project showed up to share lessons from the work we’re accomplishing.

L+L/EP case manager Thommy Purnell, EP project manager Bhavana Penmesta, and Road to Rentry/EP volunteer extraordinaire Reyna Hernandez partnered with therapist/lawyer Tatiana Duchak to present an inspiring and informative talk about the importance of implementing a trauma-informed approaches to helping recent exonerees. Trauma-informed approaches can reduce clients’ risk of re-traumatization, strengthen attorney-client relationships, and improve overall advocacy.

EP attorney Tara Thompson discussed professional ethics and client-centered reentry support. L+L Partner Matt Topic provided individualized “curbside consultations” about using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to leverage public records while litigating innocence and wrongful conviction cases. EP attorney Lauren Myerscough-Mueller moderated a panel with attorney Karl Leonard and exoneree Roberto Almodovar teaching how to develop and litigate claims proving that certain police officers have demonstrated a pattern and practice of misconduct. And attorneys David B. Owens, Josh Tepfer, and Anand Swaminathan, along with Innocence Project New Orleans executive director Jee Park, instructed on how to think creatively to move cases forward.

2023 was a tremendous year for exonerations, and we were proud to bring fifteen new exonerees with us to the conference as first-time attendees celebrating their freedom. The National Registry of Exonerations reports that “People exonerated in 2023 lost 2,230 years collectively for crimes they did not commit. That is an average of 14.6 years per exoneree for wrongful imprisonment.”

It was an honor and a privilege to connect with the innocence community, celebrate the freedom of so many people, collaborate about best practices, and rededicate ourselves to continuing the fight. Onward.


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