Friday, January 21, 2011

Appellate defender to join Innocence Project at UIS

An appellate defender who has helped exonerate three Illinois Death Row inmates has been selected as the legal director for the DNA post-conviction program of the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project.

John Hanlon, currently assistant deputy defender for the capital trial assistance unit of the Illinois Appellate Defender’s Office, will begin his new job Feb. 1.

The Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, established in 2001, is housed in the University of Illinois Springfield’s Center for State Policy and Leadership. The project’s work also has helped exonerate three inmates.

Larry Golden, emeritus professor and director of the Innocence Project, said Hanlon will be responsible for coordinating all the project’s cases.

“We have a lot of cases that come to us and it is difficult to determine if they are going to be DNA cases,” Golden said. “Other cases we get start out otherwise, but then turn out to have a DNA component that may resolve guilt or innocence.”

Hanlon’s position was made possible by a $687,448 grant the project received in November from the U.S. Department of Justice to help pay for DNA testing.

“We’re moving into an area of legal representation, and we’ve never had a lawyer on staff,” Golden said. “We couldn’t afford it without this federal grant.”

Hanlon was featured in a January 21, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

Download a PDF of the article