At the Michigan Innocence Clinic, law students investigate and litigate cases on behalf of prisoners who have new evidence that may establish that they are actually innocent of the crimes for which they have been convicted. Unlike many other innocence clinics, which specialize in DNA exonerations, the Michigan Innocence Clinic focuses on innocence cases where there is no DNA to be tested. Under the supervision of Co-Directors David Moran and Imran Syed, and Clinical Fellow Megan Richardson, Innocence Clinic students work on all aspects of the cases, including investigating new evidence, researching and writing briefs, arguing court motions and conducting evidentiary hearings. The Clinic's work spans all levels of state and federal courts. Since its founding in 2009, the Clinic has successfully won the release of 25 people who had been wrongfully convicted, and served anywhere from two to 46 years in prison.
Prisoners must submit an application to the Innocence Clinic to determine whether the clinic can take the prisoner's case.
*** Please note that the Michigan Innocence Clinic does not allow in-person visitors. All communications should be made by phone or by mail. ***
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Michigan Innocence ClinicUniversity of Michigan Law School701 S. State StreetAnn Arbor, MI 48109-3091Phone: 734.763.9353Fax: 734.764.8242
Our client Temujin Kensu (aka Fred Freeman) has been in prison for 34 years for a crime he did not commit. His is among the most overwhelming cases of actual innocence anywhere in the country. It was recently covered in a long-form story on NBC News as well as on the Undisclosed Podcast, the Prosecutors Podcast (Part I and Part II) and in excellent reporting in The Detroit News, the Metro Times (Part I and Part II), and Michigan Radio (among many more).
No one saw the shooting that Temujin is convicted of committing. Instead, two men testified to seeing a stranger who possibly resembled Temujin at some point before or after the shooting. One of the witnesses was hypnotized before he testified; both witnesses vacillated on key details.
Temujin was in fact more than 400 miles away from the crime scene at the time of the murder he is convicted for: No less than nine unimpeached neutral alibi witnesses testified to that at trial. The prosecution countered by suggesting that Temujin theoretically could have chartered a plane to go commit the murder and return in time to be seen by his alibi witnesses. The prosecution never offered any actual evidence to support this outlandish theory.
Over the years, the jailhouse snitch who implicated Temujin recanted, and admitted he received benefits for testifying against Temujin. And a leading eyewitness identification expert reviewed newly discovered photos of the lineup in this case and noted many glaring differences that made Temujin stand out in the lineup—even testifying that it was the most egregiously biased photo lineup she had seen in her entire career.
Nevertheless, Temujin remains in prison because court after court has refused to review the substantive evidence of innocence, and instead turned him down due to procedural technicalities. With the outbreak of COVID-19 and Temujin's many serious underlying health conditions, there is a real chance that this innocent man might die in prison.
As for 2021, the Innocence Clinic has represented Temujin for 11 years. In recent months, we submitted Temujin's case for consideration by the newly-formed Conviction Integrity Unit at the Attorney General's office. AG Dana Nessel and her team now have the chance to do what our justice system has sadly failed to do for decades: let this innocent man out of prison. The Innocence Clinic continues to work with the CIU team investigating the case, providing them with the information and documents they need. We continue to fight and have faith that the CIU will finally and expeditiously undo this miscarriage of justice.
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