Members of the public have reported receiving calls, reportedly from the Judicial Branch of the Public Defender’s office, indicating that their loved one is in jail and they need to immediately send cash or provide a credit card number for bail. These calls are scams, so please do not send cash or provide your credit card number or any other personal information. A public defender would never call and ask for money or credit card information. If you receive such a call, contact the State Police in your state.

State of Connecticut
Division of Public Defender Services
The Connecticut Innocence Project /
Post Conviction Unit

55 Farmington Ave, 8th Floor
Hartford, CT 06105

(860) 258-4940

Mission Statement

The Connecticut Innocence Project/Post-Conviction Unit is an office of the State of Connecticut Division of Public Defender Services. The Connecticut Innocence Project is a member of the Innocence Project Network, a coalition of Innocence Projects in the fifty states and abroad. The mission of the Connecticut Innocence Project is to investigate cases of wrongly convicted individuals and seek their exoneration.


The Connecticut Innocence Project was formed in the summer of 2005 by former Chief Public Defender Gerry Smyth. Brian Carlow, former 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 of 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, former 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 of 2006 when new DNA evidence proved that he was innocent. In July of 2006, Mr. Tillman was exonerated when all of the charges against him were dismissed. In May of 2007, Mr. Tillman was awarded $5 million by the State of Connecticut as compensation for his wrongful conviction and incarceration.


In the summer of 2007, the Legislature of the State of Connecticut 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 of 2008 when post-conviction DNA testing established his innocence. Mr. Roman was exonerated in April of 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 of 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 of 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 served in such capacity until her retirement in 2020. The current Director, Robert Meredith, was appointed in November of 2020.


In 2013, the Innocence Project was merged with the Habeas Corpus Unit to form The Connecticut Innocence Project/Post-Conviction Unit, encompassing all aspects of post-conviction litigation with the exception of direct appeals. To date, the Connecticut Innocence Project 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/Post-Conviction Unit. The Connecticut Innocence Project/Post-Conviction Unit provides all legal representation for free.