Home Blog

Alabama Refuses Compensation to Innocent Man Who Spent 30 Years on Death Row

Anthony Ray Hinton


Since Anthony Ray Hinton was exonerated and released from death row over two years ago, Alabama lawmakers have not only refused to compensate him for the three decades he spent on death row for a crime he did not commit, but also passed legislation changing the appeals process in death penalty cases so that innocent people like Mr. Hinton now face an even greater risk of being executed.

One of the longest serving death row prisoners in Alabama history and among the longest serving condemned prisoners to be freed after presenting evidence of innocence, Mr. Hinton became the 152nd person exonerated from death row since 1983 when he was released on April 3, 2015.

Alabama law provides that compensation may be awarded to a wrongfully incarcerated person if the Committee on Compensation for Wrongful Incarceration finds that he meets the eligibility criteria, but applying for compensation is often a meaningless exercise because the statute requires a legislative enactment to appropriate the necessary funds. Mr. Hinton’s application was approved by the committee, and this session, State Senator Paul Bussman sponsored a bill to appropriate the funds to compensate Mr. Hinton. The bill never even made it out of committee. Read more >>

“Brendan won!” Appeals court affirms decision by judge to overturn Dassey’s conviction

Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey

CHICAGO — The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday, June 22nd affirmed a decision by a judge to overturn Brendan Dassey’s conviction, according to Dassey’s attorney. The three-judge panel said Dassey was coerced into confessing and should be released from prison.

Dassey’s attorney, Steven Drizin, posted to Twitter Thursday indicating the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision by Judge Duffin — 2-1.

Drizin said “This round goes to Brendan Dassey 2-1,” with Judge Hamilton dissenting.

The final judgement issued by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals says:

“The decision of the district court is affirmed, with costs, in all respects. The writ of habeas corpus is granted unless the State of Wisconsin elects to retry Dassey within 90 days of issuance of this court’s final mandate, or the Supreme Court’s final mandate. The above is in accordance with the decision of this court entered on this date.”

Duffin on November 14th ordered the release of Dassey, ruling he be freed under the supervision of the US Probation Office after overturning his confession in August — saying investigators coerced Dassey, who was 16 at the time, and suffered from cognitive problems, into confessing.

The state appealed that ruling.


A New Blog Post From Jeffrey Havard: Jeff’s Voice – Long Time Gone

Jeff Havard

I know it’s been far too long since I have written. I apologize for the long silence. Life has been very difficult, and I’ve avoided talking about it. Nevertheless, I sincerely thank you for your steadfast support. You make a difference, and I’d like to say thank you so much.

This medium of expression is here for my voice, so my long silence may seem apathetic, maybe even notoriously so for some, but I really regret my lapse.

To be forthright, life has not been the same since my grandfather passed away. My grandparents have been the constant. So, naturally when this nightmare began, the support and confidence that I had because of this devotion became immeasurable, to say the least.

Before my grandpa passed away, and ever since, my grandma’s health has been fragile. Just a few weeks ago she had a really bad health scare. She had an acute pancreatitis attack. For me, the gloom and the uncertainty of the days that followed were difficult. A fearful and helpless time, where, at best, hours felt like days, and at worst, time seemingly stood still.

Gratefully, she slowly improved from critical to a more stable condition. Sadly, though, more than half of her pancreas will likely never function. Considering this frightful prospect, the severity of the attack, and how it just came from nowhere, it serves as a cruel remains under of how close she came to dying. Read more >>

Mark Lundy’s next appeal expected in October, relatives told

Mark Lundy


Convicted double killer Mark Lundy is expected to have his next appeal heard in October.

On April 1, 2015, Lundy was found guilty, for the second time, of murdering his wife Christine and daughter Amber in Palmerston North 15 years earlier.

Within four weeks of the verdict, it was indicated he would appeal, and on Friday relatives were told his hearing would be held in October. Read more >>


Tentative settlement reached in portion of Ryan Ferguson’s lawsuit against police


A tentative settlement has been reached in a portion of a federal civil rights suit Ryan Ferguson filed against local officials after his conviction in a 2001 killing was thrown out.

Parties in the case held a telephone conference May 19 in which U.S. District Judge Judge Nanette Laughrey was told of the pending settlement on the liability portion of the case. A bench trial is scheduled for June 26 in Jefferson City on damages. According to the docket entry in online court records, the bench trial is expected to begin at noon and last no more than four hours.

Details of the settlement have not been made public. A settlement typically does not include any admission of guilt or liability.

The suit was filed in early 2014 and originally included the city of Columbia; Boone County; circuit Judge Kevin Crane, who prosecuted Ferguson; several police officers; and other investigators who worked on the case. All defendants except for retired Columbia Police Department officers Bryan Liebhart, Jeff Nichols, Jeff Westbrook, John Short and Lloyd Simons and current Officer Latisha Stroer have since been dismissed. Read more >>

Court Junkie Podcast: Charles Erickson and The Murder of Kent Heitholt

Ep 23: Charles Erickson and The Murder of Kent Heitholt

It’s a story that has been told numerous times before – On Halloween night in 2001, Kent Heitholt, a 48-year-old sports editor, was brutally murdered in the Columbia Tribune parking lot as he was leaving work.

Ryan Ferguson and Charles Erickson were arrested years later and charged with murder, although none of the forensic evidence at the scene matched either of the men. The case would slowly fall apart, amid witness recantations, and accusations of corruption. Read more >>

Op-Ed Amanda Knox: Donald Trump supported me when I was wrongly accused of murder. What do I owe him?


Donald Trump supported me during the worst crisis and most vulnerable moment in my life, defending my innocence when I was on trial in Italy for murder. He is now the president of the United States and reportedly “very upset” with me because I didn’t vote for him.

Do I owe him my loyalty?

Trump’s remarks were reported by the New York Times in a profile of his neighbor George Guido Lombardi. Yet I received negative backlash from his supporters even before Lombardi’s comments were published. They felt that I owed Trump my allegiance and were outraged at columns I wrote in which I criticized his policies and explained my reasons for endorsing Hillary Clinton. One person commented:

“I’m sorry I ever supported you. You have turned into a left wing lunatic. I see your experience in Italy has left you completely ungrateful to be an American. … Donald Trump stood by you, but now you turn around and indirectly attack him? You should be ashamed of yourself.” Read more >>

Jamie Snow’s federal appeal given new life

Jamie Snow


When a Northern Illinois District Court judge denied Snow’s federal habeas petition right before Christmas, she also summarily denied his request to appeal the decision to a higher court by issuing a denial of Snow’s Certificate of Appealability (COA) at the same time.

The Exoneration Project immediately appealed the denial of the COA, and was granted the right to appeal to the Seventh Circuit on February 18th. Read more >>

The 2017 Injustice Anywhere Newsletter is now online

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, courts in the United States overturned 165 wrongful convictions in 2016, which broke 2015’s record of 149 corrected wrongful convictions. It is promising to see that the numbers continue to be on the rise. If you look at data over the past 25 years, we are now seeing substantial progress.

Over the past quarter century, America has incarcerated more people than any civilized nation on earth. A disturbing number of those incarcerations have been wrongful convictions. Hundreds of exonerations can be credited to advanced DNA technology. But research on topics like, bite mark evidence, fire investigation technology, and shaken baby syndrome, have all played a significant role as well. The ability to distribute information via the internet has also proven to be an invaluable resource when fighting wrongful convictions.

Exoneration statistics show that we are on the right track, but we have a long way to go. We need to correct the mistakes we have made, all while working to reforming the system which allowed those mistakes to occur in the first place. Sadly, the wrongful conviction problem is far more pervasive than most people realize, and even with increased interest, most cases continue to lack the attention they warrant. Many innocent people remain in prison. They need others to be their voice. They need you. Please join us in the fight to free the innocent.

Click on the image below to download the newsletter.


Supporters Asking For Funds To Support Melissa Calusinski’s Family As She Continues To Fight For Her Freedom

Paul and Cheryl Calusinski

A gofundme account has been set up to help Paul and Cheryl Calusinski, the parents of Melissa Calusinski. Paul and Cheryl have suffered financial hardship as they have fought to free their daughter from prison.

Melissa Calusinski was convicted of murder in 2011 and was sentenced to 31 years in prison in Illinois. Calusinski was accused of throwing a child to the floor, causing fatal injuries, while working as a teacher’s aide at a day care center.

Calusinski has long maintained her innocence, and evidence now shows that she was wrongfully convicted based on false medical testimony and a coerced confession. In 2013, Eupil Choi, the pathologist who performed the autopsy on the child, stated in a sworn affidavit that he had missed an old injury. Choi’s statement was a major breakthrough in the case, because it supported Calusinski’s defense team’s longstanding argument that the child’s death was the result of a pre-existing injury. But the real bombshell came last year, which blew the case wide open. Lake County’s coroner, Dr. Thomas Rudd, reclassified the child’s death from a homicide to undetermined, after a new set of X-rays was discovered by his office. These X-rays show no sign of fresh injuries on the child at the time of death.

Melissa Calusinski

Calusinski is currently being represented by Kathleen Zellner, a high profile defense attorney who is credited with overturning eighteen wrongful convictions to date. Calusinski’s supporters are hopeful that Zellner will soon be adding one more case to her long list of successful exonerations.

Zellner’s involvement has been a blessing for the Calusinski family. Unfortunately, even with the best representation, the wheels of justice turn very slowly. The vast majority of wrongful convictions which are overturned go through multiple appeals over the course of many years before being corrected.

Paul and Cheryl Calusinski will continue to fight for their daughter for as long as it takes. And they have a strong group of supporters who are determined to make sure that they never have to fight the battle alone.

Please visit the Official Justice for Melissa Calusinski Family Page on Facebook to learn more about the Melissa Calusinski case.

If you would like to make a donation to help the Calusinski family, you can do so here: https://www.gofundme.com/paulandcherylcalusinski

News Feed