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Innocence Matters

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Civil Rights, Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy, Crime & Law, Education, Legal Services

Mission: We believe the innocent should not be incarcerated and when mistakes are discovered we should all join forces to correct the error and free the innocent quickly. Our work is primarily focused on the broader goals of education, prevention and reform. We are particularly interested in improving the quality of indigent defense services and implementing systemic changes that will better protect the innocent and encourage the legal community to more quickly acknowledge and correct errors. Our preventative programs are designed to bring about lasting change and provide a broad toolkit for the innocent and their attorneys.

Results: September 24, 2012: John Edward Smith was reunited with his family after serving 19 years for a murder he did not commit. October 10, 2014: Susan Marie Mellen was reunited with her family after serving 17 years for a murder she did not commit.

Target demographics: the innocent

Programs: the I Am Innocent seminar that teaches the innocent how to prevent their wrongful conviction and the Ganging Up on Innocence investigation program to help people who have already been wrongfully convicted.

Community Stories

41 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

Innocence Matters is clearly and passionately a second-look organization for people who are wrongfully convicted in Los Angeles County. I thank Innocence Matters and my attorney, Deirdre O’Connor, for the dedication and passion to my Freedom and for setting the “truth” of my wrongful prosecution to be corrected within our judicial system. Without the commitment and loyalty of Deirdre O’Connor, I would still be wrongfully imprisoned and living life without the possibility of parole. Ultimately for my own survival and edification, I had to stay focused on a Life with One Purpose which is to have faith in GOD and to help other innocent women within the judicial system to touch freedom. Now as a free individual, I am living my new adventure and being a voice for Innocence Matters. Life is not worth living unless you are helping someone else. My life has truly evolved to a world of “GOD-Sents”. After seventeen (17) years of wrongful imprisonment, Deirdre was GOD’s angel sent to me with an impassioned pledge to prove my innocence and to unshackled me to my new journey in the “Free World”. I’ve always said from the moment I met Deirdre “She is the Real Deal”. The first time we met, she cried real tears of compassion; seriously, what attorney does that? My new world is open-handed with blessings of my family reunification and love. Deirdre herself is instrumental in making my family complete. I ultimately thank David Winkler for convincing Deirdre O’Connor for taking my case. He, is truly the “key” that opened my door to Freedom. I also thank all the interns that are associated with Innocence Matter; without their continued visits and inspiring communications, my term within the LA County Jail system would have been deplorable.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This organization help my friends mom get out of prison after 17 years for a murder she didn't commit
Thanks for everything

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

They did such a great job with the Susan Mullen case, the State of California should hire them and fire the incompetent prosecutors they have...

2 Betty41

Client Served

Rating: 5

Innocence Matters provides a much needed service to people who have been unjustly incarcerated. Unfortunately our systems is based on which attorney is the best, most persuasive speaker. The truth often gets lost in the process. The system has failed many people and Innocence Matters is performing a much needed service to people who are unjustly incarcerated. They were successful in getting our dear friend's mother released after serving 17 years for a crime she had nothing to do with. We are so happy that Susan Mellen is now a free woman and reunited with her family.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Deirdre O'Conner and her team at Innocence Matters were instrumental in bringing home my friend Jessica Besch's mom Susan Mellen!!! Her freedom was long overdue. Jessica is very close to my cousin and her family so this was kind of close to home. Thank you for what you did!!!!

2 Jennifer426

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Innocence Matters brought my friends family back together again. Without their hard work and dedication an innocent women would still be behind bars for the rest of her life. So grateful that there are organizations out there like this helping those in need.

1 Aquarius W.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It is good to know that there are people out in the world that really cares about the people and will help fight for what is right. Deirdre O'Connor you are a true blessing to the Mellen family.
Thank you

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Innocence Matters is a first-class organization that quietly saves lives. Deirdre O'Connor is a highly effective advocate for innocent inmates. She's not afraid to take tough cases others might shy away from, and she wins them.

4

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am very thankful that Innocence Matters is working to protect the rights of those who have been wrongly accused and convicted of a crime. The work that Innocence Matters did in order to free Susan Marie Mellen from 17 years of incarceration in a California state prison is nothing less than heroic.

Susan Mellen was falsely accused of a 1997 murder, that had occurred in Lawndale California. Her accuser's name was June Patti, a meth head and habitual liar. While all the evidence was pointing to three gang members as the perpetrators of the crime, the LAPD detective on the case, Marcella Winn, began to build a case against Mellen based on this one accusation from a lying meth head who was known to several local law enforcement agencies as an unreliable witness. Winn knew this about Patti, but kept the information out of official records, so neither the prosecuting attorney nor the defense attorney knew the truth about June Patti and her lying ways. To say that Winn was lazy and performed her sworn duty in a substandard way is an understatement. Her work in the case of Richard Daly was criminal, or at least should be. Because of her laziness neither Rick Daly nor Susan Mellen received justice, and Susan's family was ripped apart.

To heep injury upon injury, Mellen’s attorney, a divorce attorney with little trial experience, and who had been reprimanded by the bar association for providing his clients with sketchy legal representation, did next to no investigation work before the trial, and during trial provided Mellen with substandard representation. It looked as though no one was there for Susan, and the result was that she was convicted and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Innocence Matters took Susan’s case in November 2013, and within three months was able to apply for Habeas Corpus on behalf of Ms. Mellen. Finally after the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office performed their own investigation into the case, they recommended that Susan Mellen be released from her hell. Susan Mellen was ordered released by a Torrance Superior Court judge, Mark Arnold, on October 9, 2014. Upon releasing her, Judge Arnold remarked that in Susan's case, "the criminal justice system failed".

Without the help of Innocence Matters, Susan Mellen may have died in prison having never realized justice in her case. Innocence Matters got Susan some justice, and that makes them heroes in my book.

4 Vivian D.

Client Served

Rating: 5

What words could possibly describe what an organization like Innocence Matters brings to innocent people and their families. Innocence Matters, and Deirdre O'Connor gave my friend Susan Mellen and her family and friends quite literally their lives back. The tears my friend Susan, her family and friends have cried...and the tears I shed while I write this are insurmountable.
Unfortunately, Susan Mellen is only one of countless innocent fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters; feeling the injustice of being accused of crimes they did not commit.
We need to do all we can, to support Innocence Matters. What better organization to donate time and money.
I submit to everyone out there, to donate all you can to this great organization of people, who have dedicated countless hours and money to exonerating the innocent. I sure plan on doing all I can do.

Vivian Dunn
Seattle,Wa

1 Helen31

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I think Innocence Matters is a much needed agency. There are many innocent men and women who are sitting in jail and prison because our legal system failed them. I know someone personally who has been in prison since 1989 for a crime he did not commit and even had the DA on his case personally tell me I know he was innocent but I had a job to do and I did my job and yet this person still sits in prison because his family didn't have the money to get him a lawyer and no one cares. Please help fund this non profit so they can help to release another innocent person to their family

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Innocence Matters is an absolutely necessary non-profit these days. There is so much corruption and innefficiency in our justice system. I would NEVER want to be in a position where my innocence was questioned, without having a resource like "Innocence Matters" to help. There are just too many mistaken cases nowadays. Please consider supporting "Innocence Matters" to ensure justice for ALL.

2 Krystal O.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I met Susan Marie Mellen during a Kairos Prison Ministry outreach 7 years ago, serving a life without parole sentence for First Degree Murder. The first weekend I met Suzy, she shared with me her story of innocence. My heart ached for her and under the circumstances could NOT believe she had been convicted of this crime. After visiting Suzy for 7 years, I started to loose hope for my friend (Suzy never lost hope). Then one day, Suzy's miracle came in the form of Innocence Matters. IM had the resources and volunteers to make Suzy's dream come true. After only a year and half, IM fought to have Suzy's LWOP sentenced overturned!! This is a dedicated, hardworking team that deserves all the help that is out there for them, so they can continue their quest in vindicating the Innocent!! Thank you Innocence Matters!!!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Innocence Matters is a non-profit organization that dedicates time and efforts in freeing the innocent who have been wrongfully convicted. My fiancé's mother has been in prison for 17 years for something she had nothing to do with. My fiancé and her family felt as though they hit a dead end and they were ready to give up. Soon after the Innocence Matters Organization got involved and immediately started investigating. This company is extraordinary in a way that is hard to explain. Innocence Matters spends day in and day out working hard to make a change. They have made an incredible impact in my fiancé's life and mine. It means so much when I witness passionate people taking a stand and doing what's right! I believe Innocence Matters Organization is an amazing non-profit that could really use some support. After all, If you were convicted of a crime you didn't commit wouldn't your innocence matter?

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I found Susan through Friend-2-Friend at my church. That was 8 years ago. In those years I have come to believe in Susan's innocence. When Innocence Matters stepped in and Deirdre O'Connor took over things began to happen--positive, definitive, exciting and encouraging events. After serving 17 years in prison for a crime she did not commit, Susan felt renewed hope for the first time.

Deirdre O'Connor is an exemplary attorney committed to justice. Her due diligence is unmatched; her dedication tireless and impressive; her success rate is to be acknowledged and applauded; and her spirit of giving in fulfilling the Mission Statement of Innocence Matters is unequaled.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a legal intern for Innocence Matters this past summer. What an impact it has made made in my life! It was one of the best experiences I have had with a nonprofit. The work that this organization does is incredible. This organization changes people’s lives. The Innocence Matters’ team fights for what is right and fights for the truth. Deirdre O’Connor and her team help the people that everyone else has given up on. O’Connor and her team work nonstop, around the clock and produce amazing quality work! This organization is filled with an unbelievable amount of passion, determination, dedication, and heart. The way O’Connor and her team handle their client’s cases is truly inspiring. This organization works extremely hard for its clients. And do you know why they work so hard? Because they truly care about their clients and making a difference in the world, one case at a time!! I CANNOT wait to see what the future has in store for Innocence Matters. Thank you for inspiring me, Innocence Matters!!!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a summer extern at Innocence Matters for the Summer of 2014. Not only did I gain valuable legal experience, but the organization also furthered my desire to focus my legal career in criminal law. I was inspired by Deirdre O'Connor's dedication and manner in which she handled her cases. As a third-year law student, I can truly say that my experience at Innocence Matters will help me tremendously in expanding my opportunities in this field. I am excited about the upcoming developments in the cases, which I had the opportunity to work on this summer, and will be keeping in touch with the organization throughout my legal career.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Innocence Matters Organization is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to bringing truth to the light, and freeing innocent people who have been wrongly convicted. My mother was arrested 17 years ago for a murder she did not commit. She was sentenced to life without parole. I was nine years old at the time of her conviction and it changed my life drastically. My hopes for ever seeing my mom as a civilian was nonexistent until meeting Deirdre O'Connor! This woman is the most hard working, dedicated, passionate person I have ever met. Deirdre accepted my mother's case, and is diligently working on bringing my mom home. My family and I can't thank her enough for the amount of work she has done in such a short amount of time. My family and I had forgotten what hope felt like until Deirdre blessed us with her presence. This organization deserves to be recognized for what they do. Bringing truth to the light is not an easy task, but they have done it before and will continue to do it. What if your family member was wrongly convicted? This organization is determined to free the innocent because Innocence Matters to them, the inmate, and the families who are affected by it!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Deirdre O'Connor has given our family hope!! My mom was arrested 17 years ago for a murder she didn't commit! Deirdre is a tough lady who is not afraid to go out in the field to get information. She has contacted so many different people who I would never have the courage to talk to. Because she has done this, Deirdre was able to unfold so many truths that my mother's lawyer couldn't do years ago. We finally see the light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. Deirdre, along with the other volunteers are dedicated in finding the truth. They spend months, with so many long days working hard to free the innocent. We are truly blessed that she found my mom and saw the truth in my mother's eyes!

1 Dan_59

Volunteer

Rating: 5

During my time at Innocence Matters I was overwhelmed by the level of dedication and grit organisation members showed. Day in and day out members worked tirelessly to see justice served for a number of people that the system has simply forgotten.

Working on tight budgets, the organisations' output to resource ratio was impressive and their dedication to work from early in the morning until well into the night was inspirational.

Travelling from Australia in order to take up my position, I did not know what to expect upon my arrival. However, after spending two months full-time with Deirdre and the team I would gladly dedicate my time again, to what is a truly worthy cause and a sincerely honourable organisation.

Comments ( 1 )

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Innocence Matters 04/29/2014

Say the word, my Aussie friend, and we'll save you a seat! We miss you!