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Great Nonprofits 2014
Thanks to our supporters!
Member of the Innocence Community!
Thanks to Annenberg's Alchemy Program.

Become Informed & Involved

  • Take the Pledge! Join Innocence Matters supporters and pledge to follow the truth wherever it may lead.
  • Investigating Innocence This online course will teach prospective interns and new lawyers how to develop an investigation plan that will protect their
  • I Am Innocent Seminars If you or a loved one has been falsely accused and you are concerned the court-appointed lawyer is not protecting
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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 

2014 Funders & Donors


Sisters of St. Joseph

Major Donors

$25,000 or more

Deirdre O'Connor
Carol Watson
David Winkler

$5,000 to $24,999

Geragos & Geragos
Patrick Webster



Sandra Barbano
John Clark
Element Masonary
Joni Hilliard
Kaye McLane Bednardski & Litt
Katharine Klene
Latham & Watkins, LLP
Mars Air System, LLC
Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman, LLP


Assembly of God
Joe's Crab Shack Fundraiser
Janet Aldapa Araujo
Madge Beletsky
Kevin Dupree
William Kidston
Sophia Stabens
Jody Usher


$100 to $249

Laurie Bernhard
Steven Bosley
George Dean
Michael Diamantopoulus
Paul Diamantopoulus
Jessica Farris
Joann Garrigan
Lisa Guide
Christy Kelly & David Mellen
Daniel Lunniss
Colby Lenz
Frederic Marks
Judi McMahon
Judith Mitrovich
Nick Diamond Entertainment Group
Panda Restaurant Group
Angela Reed
Carol Risher
Lauren Seto
Susan Sklar
Stratcap Investments
Sophia Vega
Melinda Warner
Jennifer Willsey

2014 Special Event Fundraisers & Participants

Angela Adams
Cindy Anjaria
Mehul Anjaria
Andrew Aparicio
Bianca Aparicio
Paul Bahena
Sandra Barbano
Lindsey Battles
Aantoinette Bedros
Katy Bekken
Robert Bekken
Madge Beletsky
Jennifer Berry
Jessica Besch
Sean Bigley
Anna Brewer
Ivy Cardoza
Yesenia Cardoza
Iris Carrera
Chris Carroll
Julie Carroll
Yoonjae Chung
Janie Cookes
Phil Cookes
Karen Cunningham
Megan Cunningham
Mike Cunningham
Eric Curcio
Jessica Farris
Karen Farris
Lindsay Farris
Bahram Fazeli
Rica Garcia
Mark Geragos
Maria Gonzalez
Terri Gonzalez
Edward Hilliard
Joni Hilliard
Paul Hoffman
Brennaan Huelse
Christy Kelly
William Kidston
Katharine Klene
Sarah Malik
Caitlin Maltbie
Susie Martin
Dave McLane
David Mellen
Teresa Nielsen
Kermit Pace
Marzieh Raza
Shabaz Raza
Jessica Rode
Jo Ellen Schantz
Nancy Schantz Bekken
Mahmood Sefidan
Manigeh Sefidan
Spencer Sharpe
John Smith
Stephanie Spiegel
Mary Sutton
Cathy Sweetser
Kirk Tetzlaff
Jennifer Thompson
Amethyst Valdez
Robert Vreeland
David Winkler
Michele Winkler

Protecting the innocent  by searching for the truth.  

Our justice system is premised on an objective search for the truth.  In reality, the indigent innocent person often suffers greatly from ill-conceived, belated and grossly inadequate investigations due to prejudice, shortcuts or simple lack of attorney time.  Innocence Matters tackles this reality through a variety of investigation programs and resources through which we aim to: 

Be the leading “second look” resource in Southern California for correcting wrongful convictions, by providing thorough and accurate investigations and highly-skilled direct representation for those who could not secure help elsewhere. 

Prevent wrongful convictions by providing future and current lawyers essential experiential training that will enable them to objectively and thoroughly investigate and advocate claims of innocence, and by empowering the innocent with proactive tools to build a stronger working relationship with their lawyers while creating a record of innocence. 

A key place to instill a genuine understanding of best practices to promote justice is law school.  However, though law schools prepare students to research, write and develop a theory of the case, the crucial first steps of evaluating the credibility and reliability of the evidence presented in police reports in support of a theory of guilt are skills not typically covered in the law school curriculum.  Skillful case theory development in the absence of careful examination of the accuracy and integrity of the facts upon which it is based increases the likelihood of wrongful convictions.

by provided "direct" representation in post-conviction cases.  We accept a very small number of post-conviction cases where we assume the role of the lead lawyer.  In order to qualify, the accused must meet each criterion listed below:

the accused is indigent;
has been convicted of a crime for which s/he is factually innocent;
in a Los Angeles County case;
is willing to submit to and successfully pass a polygraph examination;
has already been rejected and/or is not eligible (e.g., too early in the process) for the services of California Innocence Project;
and Innocence Matters is not already at capacity

To be considered have the inmate send us a letter confirming she/he mets the criteria listed above to: Innocence Matters, PO Box 1098, Torrance, CA 90505

Those outside of CA are encouraged to review our links to other projects in your jurisdiction.  

We are NOT currently accepting cases outside of Los Angeles, CA.

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