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Victory For CIP Client Kimberly Long

CIP Client Kimberly Long and attorneys

In a unanimous decision, the California Supreme Court has upheld the reversal of Kimberly Long’s murder conviction, agreeing with the trial court that the result of the trial would have been different had the jury heard about a time of death analysis. In its decision, the Court wrote, “The [trial] court ruled that expert testimony estimating time of death before [Kim] arrived home ‘could reasonably raise a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors’ and ‘could be fatal to the People’s case.’ Applying our independent judgment, we agree.”

Long was released in 2016 after her trial judge, Riverside Superior Court Judge Magers reversed her conviction, finding the result of the trial would have been different had the jury heard from a time of death expert about when the victim, Long’s live-in boyfriend, died. Long was released on bail that year despite an appeal by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

“I was thrilled to read the California Supreme Court decision on Kim Long's case,” said Justin Brooks, Director of the California Innocence Project (CIP) and a Professor of Law at California Western. “This ruling ends a 17-year legal battle and affirms that Kim Long never should have been convicted of this heinous crime.”

Despite the years-long legal battle, Long has been gainfully employed and enjoying her freedom to the best of her ability. She has become reacquainted with her family and friends and has rejoined society as a productive member.

CIP attorney Alissa Bjerkhoel ‘08 and CIP board member Michelle Rogers ‘98 argued the case in front of the court and much of their language can be found in the decision. The decision can be found here.

“It’s with mixed emotions that we celebrate this tremendous win,” said Bjerkhoel, CIP Litigation Coordinator. “On the one hand, Kim Long has been vindicated once again and by the highest court of our state. On the other hand, it has been nearly a two-decade battle to get to this point. I am so proud of our justice system for correcting this wrong and I am even more proud of Kim, the strongest woman I know, who has had to endure this nightmare for far too long.”

Photo: Joseph Lapin

About the California Innocence Project
The California Innocence Project is a California Western School of Law clinical program dedicated to the release of wrongfully convicted inmates and providing an outstanding educational experience for students enrolled in the clinic. The California Innocence Project receives approximately 1,500 claims from inmates each year and has freed 34 wrongfully convicted clients since its inception. Read more at: https://CaliforniaInnocenceProject.org