Ocean Beach Lawyer Leads Innocence Project March to Sacramento

by on May 2, 2013 · 2 comments

in California, Civil Rights, Life Events, Ocean Beach

Justin Brooks InnoProj 02 Some lawyers talk a lot when serving their clients – and now an Ocean Beach lawyer is walking a lot.

OB’s Justin Brooks, a law professor at Cal Western School of Law, is leading a 600 mile march from San Diego to Sacramento, on behalf of his clients.  He’s walking with other lawyers and supporters of the California Innocence Project.

The Innocence Project, begun by Brooks and based at his law school, reviews cases of inmates who claim that they are innocent of the convictions that sent them to prison or jail.  Each year, the Project reviews more than 1,500 requests selecting about 50 to be investigated.

In 2012, the Innocence Project made international headlines with the exoneration of NFL Football player Brian Banks.

Justin Brooks InnoProj

Justin Brooks, OBcean and head of the Innocence Project.

But now Brooks has 12 clemency petitions from California prison inmates, known as the “California 12,” whose cases supporters say show compelling evidence of innocence, and Brooks wants to present them to Governor Jerry Brown, inmates who are innocent but they’ve exhausted their legal options for appeal.

Brooks told the press:

“There is no rational reason to keep innocent people in prison. In each one of these 12 cases, there is compelling evidence of innocence. The governor has the power to release them and we will ask him to use that power.

I want to get the word out about these cases because my clients are poor, they are not politically connected, and the only way they are going to get clemency is if the governor hears what these cases are all about,”

Brooks –  joined on the long walk by fellow staff attorneys Mike Semanchik and Alissa Bjerkhoel – intend to bring attention to the fact that wrongful convictions continue to exist in our prison system.

The Innocence March kicked off on Saturday, April 27, at the CalWestern, with a rally at the school, and then Brooks and  supporters walked the eight miles to Ocean Beach. They reached  Oceanside on Tuesday morning, the 30th of April, and the plan is to arrive in Sacramento on June 20th.

Some of the inmates freed by the work of the Project and some of the families of  the Project’s incarcerated clients, will join in on parts of the walk with the three attorneys, with hopes that a large crowd will march with them that last mile to Sacramento.

Also, Adam Rojas, one of the Project’s clients who was freed in 2004 after serving almost 14 years for a murder he didn’t commmit, joined them in the walk to Oceanside, where he is the pastor of evangelism and outreach for Calvary Chapel. Rojas told the media:

“You can never understand what freedom truly is until it’s taken away.”

News sources:


U-T San Diego


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Frank Gormlie May 3, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Justin Brooks is great. A decade or so ago, he helped with the drafting of an OB Grassroots Organization initiative for the Planning Board – to be presented during the annual election, that would have recommended a ban on certain commercial franchises if they were simply a front for the corporate parent, with same brand name, products, menu, etc.

It was a good effort, but the initiative, known as Prop A, was defeated.


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