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John Grisham headlines fundraiser for Mississippi Innocence Project

John Grisham headlines fundraiser for Mississippi Innocence Project

Two writers of legal thrillers, John Grisham and Scott Turow, will headline a fundraising dinner October 22nd for the Mississippi Innocence Project at the University of Mississippi School of Law in Jackson.

Grisham, who graduated from the Ole Miss law school in 1981 and who now makes his home in the Charlottesville, Va., area, is the author of numerous novels, including his most recent, “The Innocent Man,” profiling a man wrongfully convicted and freed years later with the help of several attorneys.

Turow, a 1978 graduate of Harvard Law School who lives in Chicago, also has authored numerous books, including “Presumed Innocent” and “Ultimate Punishment.”

Grisham and Turow have supported similar projects at law schools across the country.

The Mississippi Innocence Project hopes to identify problems in the state’s criminal justice system. It was established with initial funding by Grisham and Columbus attorney Wilbur Colom, a graduate of Antioch Law School.

“John Grisham and I had a meeting in Oxford, probably about nine months ago, where we talked about putting enough money (in) to start the (Innocence Project) research project,” Colom recalled. “We both agreed to do that and Mr. Grisham also agreed he would lead a fundraiser to add to that.”

Grisham and Turow met for the first time over lunch and agreed to headline events – one here and one in an area local to Turow, Colom said.

“This would be the first time Scott Turow and John Grisham have appeared together,” Colom added. “(They are) sort of the titans of suspense novels.”

“The Innocence Project generally works with a university and usually students,” Colom said. “(The students) get letters and things from people in prison. They go through a process and if they discover what they believe is a defendant who they can prove is innocent – either through DNA (testing) or some fatal flaw made in a trial – they will take it on and see if they can get that person released.”

“We’ve not had a formal Innocence Project in Mississippi (before),” he continued. “We have been working out of the New Orleans Innocence Project for years and already there have been several prisoners freed in Mississippi.”

“There are hundreds, probably thousands, of people who have been incarcerated for decades for crimes they clearly did not commit, because of some DNA (testing) absence or tragic error made in the investigation,” he concluded.

Sources: WAVY TV 10, Commercial Dispatch Online


  • October 7, 2007 at 3:09 AM Sondra

    I personally know of a situation where a woman has been wrongfully convicted of a crime — sentenced to life and not able for consideration of parole until she is 65. I have been researching and working on this case for several years. I can’t get any help from the local authorities to even release to me the assault charges she had filed against her assailant in the year prior to this incident. She was 3 months pregnant and only defending herself. None of that information was ever introduced to the Court and she was found guilty of murder. She has 3 children in California who desparately need her and the State of Misissippi wants to keep her locked up for life for defending herself. There is something wrong with that picture. I would love for Mr. Grisham to write a novel about this case using the information I have uncovered if for no other reason than to get this before the public. I am thrilled about the MS Innocence Project and plan to attend that event and will support the project. I would like to say that when reviewing these cases, I hope that the people involved will look into more than just the evidence that was submitted during the trial because in this case, there was none submitted on her behalf. Upon reading the transcript, there is most definately reasonable doubt but upon deeper examination, it becomes apparent of the circumstances surrounding (none of which was ever introduced to the Court) that at the most, she is guilty of manslaughter; not Murder. And, in fact, she is not even guilty of the manslaughter because she was defending herself and her unborn child. I am so thankful for the Mississippi Innocence Project and I am praying that this will be her chance to be free to be with her children.

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