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Justin Brooks Concludes Innocence March with Rally at State Capitol


This past Sunday, California Western Prof. Justin Brooks, Director of the California Innocence Project (CIP) stood on the steps of the state Capitol to draw Gov. Jerry Brown’s attention to the California 12 and persuade him to grant clemency to its remaining members.

“Let’s scream it loud so Jerry Brown can hear us!” Brooks said into his megaphone.

On Sept. 30 Brooks had embarked on a 100-mile march for innocence from Berkeley to the state capitol in Sacramento. The day marked the beginning of Gov. Jerry Brown’s last 100 days in office.

“I will be exercising my free speech. I will be getting the governor’s attention,” said Brooks at the start of the march. “For five years I’ve been tweeting him every day.”

The California 12 are CIP clients with strong evidence of innocence. Like Quintin “Q.T.” Morris who just a few days earlier finally won his parole hearing which paves the way for his release.

That same week, Gov. Brown signed into law Senate Bill 923 which mandates the statewide use of best practices by law enforcement conducting photo and live lineups. Compliance with these widely accepted best practices improves the reliability of eyewitness identifications. Failure to use these best practices increases the risk of misidentification and a wrongful conviction.

"Good eyewitness identification procedures guarantee that more guilty people will be convicted and more innocent people will be freed," said Prof. Brooks. "It's in everyone's interest that identification procedures are as accurate as possible."

When Morris is let out of prison, he will be the sixth member of the California 12 to have won release, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“We have freed four of the 12 through litigation and two through the parole process,” Brooks explained via text message. “Jerry Brown has 92 days left in office to look at these six remaining cases.

“I am confident that if he reads through the files and really examines the evidence we have gathered he will conclude that these six Californians are innocent and he will free them.”

The remaining members are:

  • Suzanne Johnson, convicted of assault on a child causing death in San Diego County
  • Dolores Macias, convicted of second-degree murder in Los Angeles County
  • Rodney Patrick McNeal, convicted of two counts of second-degree murder in San Bernardino County
  • Kiera Newsome, convicted of first-degree murder in Los Angeles County
  • JoAnn Parks, convicted of first-degree murder in Los Angeles County
  • Ed Contreras, convicted of first-degree murder in Los Angeles County