State of Connecticut
Division of Public Defender Services
The Connecticut Innocence Project /
Post Conviction Unit
2275 Silas Deane Highway
Rocky Hill, Connecticut 06067
The Connecticut Innocence Project was formed in the summer of 2005 by former Chief Public Defender Gerry Smyth. Brian Carlow, now Deputy Chief Public Defender, and Karen Goodrow, now a sitting judge of the Superior Court, were asked to Co-Chair the Project. At the time that the Connecticut Innocence Project began, Brian and Karen were working full-time in other positions within the Public Defender Division, and volunteered their spare time towards innocence cases. Other volunteers within the Division, as well as in private practice, also volunteered their time to help get the Project off the ground. In February, 2006, the Hartford law office of McCarter & English provided the Connecticut Innocence Project with pro bono office space, as well as assistance in brief writing and litigation. McCarter & English attorneys, Tim Fisher, now Dean of the University of Connecticut Law School, Charlie Ray and others, have been instrumental in providing pro bono assistance to the Project and its clients.
In 2006, the Connecticut Innocence Project took on the case of James Calvin Tillman, who was wrongfully convicted after trial in 1989 of various criminal offenses. After serving eighteen and one-half years in prison for crimes which he did not commit, Mr. Tillman was released from prison in June, 2006 when new DNA evidence proved that he was innocent. In July, 2006, Mr. Tillman was exonerated when all of the charges against him were dismissed. In May, 2007, Mr. Tillman was awarded $5 million by the State of CT as compensation for his wrongful conviction and incarceration.
In the summer of 2007, the Legislature of the State of CT granted the Public Defender's Office funding for the Connecticut Innocence Project. The Connecticut Innocence Project is one of only five publicly funded innocence projects nationally. In 2009 alone, the Connecticut Innocence Project, with the cooperation of other stake-holders in the criminal justice system, was able to secure the freedom of two innocent individuals, each of whom had served lengthy periods of incarceration before new evidence proved their innocence. Miguel Roman served over twenty years in prison for a murder which he did not commit. He was released from prison in December, 2008 when post-conviction DNA testing established his innocence. Mr. Roman was exonerated in April, 2009 when the charges against him were dismissed. Mr. Kenneth Ireland served twenty-one years in prison for a rape and murder which he did not commit. He was released from prison in August, 2009. Again, post-conviction DNA testing proved that Mr. Ireland was innocent of the charges for which he had been convicted. Mr. Ireland was exonerated in August, 2009 when all of the charges against him were dismissed.
The Honorable Judge Goodrow became the first Director of the Connecticut Innocence Project in 2007. In 2013, once Karen Goodrow was appointed to serve as Superior Court Judge by Governor Dannell Malloy, Darcy McGraw was appointed as Director by the Public Defender Commission and the Office of the Chief Public Defender.
In 2013, the Innocence Project was merged with the Habeas Corpus Unit to form CTIP-Post Conviction Unit, encompassing all aspects of post-conviction litigation with the exception of direct appeals. The position of Senior Case Analyst was added to head the team of professionals reviewing the many requests for assistance received by the Connecticut Innocence Project/Post-Conviction Unit. To date, the Connecticut Innocence Project/PCU has received and reviewed hundreds of requests from inmates seeking assistance. In 2009 and 2011, the Connecticut Innocence Project was awarded a Bloodsworth Grant through the United States Department of Justice. This grant enabled the Connecticut Innocence Project to work in collaboration with the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney and the Connecticut Forensic Lab to identify cases in which forensic evidence that could be the subject of DNA testing and to locate and test such evidence. Over 375 cases have been reviewed under the Bloodsworth Grant.
Fraud Alert — We have heard that there are people who fraudulently represent themselves as working for the Innocence Projects throughout the United States, promising legal representation in exchange for money. These people do not work for the Connecticut Innocence Project. The Connecticut Innocence Project provides all legal representation for free.
The Innocence Project is not affiliated with organizations operating under the names “American Innocence Project,” “Innocence Project of America,” “Project Innocence of America,” or “The Innocence Network at Bailey Law, LLC,” and these groups do not have authorization to solicit funds under the Innocence Project or Innocence Network name. If you or someone you know have been contacted by these groups or a similar organization, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.