Speakers and Panelists

National Registry of Exonerations
Welcome Celebration

March 16, 2017
UCI Student Center – Pacific Ballroom
A311 Student Center, Irvine, CA 92697


Brian Banks was in high school and on his way to accept a football scholarship from USC when his dreams were dashed as he was falsely convicted of kidnapping and raping a classmate. Banks served more than five years in prison and another five years monitored as a registered sex offender. In 2011, his accuser was recorded admitting to fabricating the charges. With the help of the California Innocence Project, Banks successfully cleared his name, regained his reputation, and earned tryouts with several NFL football teams before signing with the Atlanta Falcons. Today, Brian Banks is an activist working to prevent wrongful convictions, a nationally-recognized motivational speaker, life coach, and the subject of a major feature film currently in development.

Franky Carrillo was raised in Lynwood, California, a small suburb of Los Angeles. At 16, he was charged with a murder he did not commit. Franky was tried as an adult and found guilty, despite his steadfast assertion that he was innocent. He was sentenced to live out the remainder of his life in prison. During his incarceration, Franky never lost hope in himself, the judicial system or his faith. Empowered by these personal convictions, he worked to prove his innocence. Franky’s efforts finally came to fruition when he was exonerated on March 16, 2011. After a long period of facing the dark realities of injustice, he re-emerged as a champion of equality and justice. In 2016, Franky graduated from Loyola Marymount University. He is now married and the proud father of two sons.

Erwin Chemerinsky is the founding Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law, and Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law, at University of California, Irvine School of Law, with a joint appointment in Political Science. Chemerinsky holds a law degree from Harvard Law School and a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University. He is the author of ten books, including The Case Against the Supreme Court, published by Viking in 2014, and two books to be published by Yale University Press in 2017, Closing the Courthouse Doors: How Your Constitutional Rights Became Unenforceable and Free Speech on Campus (with Howard Gillman). He also is the author of more than 200 law review articles. He writes a weekly column for the Orange County Register, monthly columns for the ABA Journal and the Daily Journal, and frequent op-eds in newspapers across the country. He frequently argues appellate cases, including in the United States Supreme Court. In January 2017, National Jurist magazine named Dean Chemerinsky as the most influential person in legal education in the United States.

Simon Cole, Director and Associate Editor, is Professor of Criminology, Law and Society and Director of the Newkirk Center for Science & Society at the University of California, Irvine, where he teaches Miscarriages of Justice among other courses. His primary research area is the sociology and history of forensic science, and he has published on forensic science and on miscarriages of justice. Professor Cole is the author of Suspect Identities: A History of Fingerprinting and Criminal Identification (Harvard University Press, 2001) and Truth Machine: The Contentious History of DNA Fingerprinting (University of Chicago Press, 2008, with Michael Lynch, Ruth McNally & Kathleen Jordan).

Jon Eldan is an attorney in Oakland, California. He founded After Innocence in 2015, after more than a decade of volunteer work on behalf of exonerees after release. After Innocence provides more than 400 exonerees with one-on-one, start-to-finish help with accessing and making good use of health care and public benefits, and legal services, and also advocates for the passage of laws that provide exonerees with meaningful compensation and re-entry support. His work has been profiled in recent articles by The Marshall Project and Berkeley Law, and he was recently named an Emerson Fellow.

Denise Foderaro is a longtime advocate for justice and a researcher for the Registry. She is a trustee of the Frank and Denise Quattrone Foundation, which supports social justice organizations and research on wrongful convictions. A University of Pennsylvania alumna, she played a central role in the creation of the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, which opened in 2013. Foderaro is the recipient, among other honors, of leadership awards from the Northern California Innocence Project and Death Penalty Focus, and the 2013 Hero of Justice Award from the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. She attributes her passion and persistence to her training as an occupational therapist and her experience as the wife of an innocent, wrongfully convicted defendant who was completely cleared after a successful appeal.

Samuel Gross, Senior Editor and Co-Founder, is the Thomas and Mabel Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School where he teaches Evidence, Criminal Procedure and courses on false convictions and exonerations. He has litigated test cases on jury selection in capital trials, racial discrimination in the use of the death penalty, and the constitutionality of executing defendants in the face of a substantial known risk of innocence. Professor Gross has published many works on false convictions and exonerations, eyewitness identification, evidence law, pre-trial settlement and the selection of cases for trial and racial profiling.

Elizabeth LoftusElizabeth Loftus is Distinguished Professor, at the University of California Irvine in Criminology, Law and Society, Psychology and Social Behavior, Law and Cognitive Sciences.  Her research has focused on human memory, eyewitness testimony and also on courtroom procedure.  She has published 23 books and over 500 scientific articles. Her 4th book, Eyewitness Testimony, won a National Media Award (Distinguished Contribution) from the American Psychological Foundation.She has been an expert witness or consultant in hundreds of cases. She is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and honors. In a study published by the Review of General Psychology which identified the 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century, Loftus was #58, and the top ranked woman on the list.

Mona Lynch is Professor of Criminology, Law and Society and Law at the University of California, Irvine.  She co-directs UCI’s Center in Law, Society and Culture, and serves as vice-chair of the Department of Criminology, Law and Society. Her research and writing focuses on the social, psychological, and cultural dynamics of contemporary criminal adjudication and punishment processes. She uses multiple methodological approaches, including experimental design, ethnographic field methods, and archival and other social artifactual analysis to explore research questions of interest. Her new book, Hard Bargains: The Coercive Power of Drug Laws in Federal Court was released by Russell Sage Foundation in November 2016.

Alexandra Natapoff is Professor of Law at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. Her current work–including her new book–focuses on misdemeanors and their powerful influence over the criminal system as a whole. Her scholarship has won numerous awards, including a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2013 Law and Society Association Article Prize, and two Outstanding Scholarship Awards from the AALS Criminal Justice Section.  Her original work on criminal informants has made her a nationally-recognized expert: she has testified before Congress and her book Snitching won the 2010 ABA Silver Gavel Award Honorable Mention for Books.

Barbara O’Brien, Editor, is an Associate Professor of Law at the Michigan State University College of Law, where she teaches classes in criminal law and procedure. Her interdisciplinary scholarship examines the role of race and other extralegal factors in criminal investigations, trials, and the administration of capital punishment. Her work applies empirical methodology to legal issues, such as identifying predictors of false convictions and understanding prosecutorial decision-making.  She has been an expert witness or consultant on the issue of racially-biased jury selection in criminal trials, and has written extensively about biases that undermine both fairness and accuracy in the criminal justice system.

Maurice Possley, Senior Researcher, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of three non-fiction books. He worked for the Chicago Tribune for 25 years, where he investigated numerous cases of wrongful conviction and wrongful execution as well as systemic problems in the criminal justice system. In 2009, he joined the Northern California Innocence Project to research and co-author a ground-breaking report on prosecutorial misconduct in California. He joined the Registry in 2012, where he is responsible for researching and writing case summaries of all exonerations added to the Registry. In this capacity, he obtains court documents, researches media reports and interviews lawyers and investigators.

Barry C. Scheck is Professor of Law and Emeritus Director of Clinical Education at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Scheck and his colleague Peter Neufeld co-founded and co-direct the Innocence Project, and pioneered the use of DNA evidence to exonerate the wrongly convicted. Scheck is a partner in the law firm Neufeld, Scheck & Brustin, LLP, specializing in civil rights and constitutional litigation. His many publications include Actual Innocence: When Justice Goes Wrong And How To Make It Right, with Peter Neufeld and Jim Dwyer. His extensive record of public service includes the presidency of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (2004-2005), and service on New York State’s Forensic Science Review Board, the National Institute of Justice’s Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence, and the American Judicature Society’s National Commission on Forensic Science and Public Policy.

Sherod Thaxton is Assistant Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law.  His primary research and teaching interests are in the areas of criminal law and procedure, capital punishment, habeas corpus, the sociology of law, and empirical legal studies. His scholarship incorporates theoretical and methodological insights from the social sciences to evaluate legal concepts, legal doctrines, legal actors, and legal institutions. He is currently engaged in projects examining charging and plea-bargaining in both death penalty and non-death penalty contexts, state-level procedural sentencing law, and the behavioral underpinnings of substantive criminal law and sentencing law. His recent s cholarship appears in the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, the Journal of Criminal Justice, the European Journal of Criminology, and the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology.

William Thompson is Professor of Criminology, Law and Society, Pscyhology and Social Behavior and Law at the University of California, Irvine. He studies human factors associated with forensic science evidence, including contextual and cognitive bias in forensic analysis and the communication of scientific findings to lawyers and juries. He has written about strengths and limitations of various types of forensic science evidence, particularly DNA evidence, and about the ability of lay juries to evaluate evidence. His work is multidisciplinary, it involves law, psychology, various areas of biology (particularly genetics and molecular biology), and statistics.

Rob Warden is the co-founder of the Registry, as well as executive director emeritus and co-founder of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law. His investigations into wrongful convictions in Illinois capital cases in the 1980s set a movement in motion that culminated in the abolition of the state’s death penalty on March 9, 2011. Mr. Warden is the author or co-author of hundreds of articles and seven books, including four focusing on wrongful convictions. He currently is working on a book on the execution of likely innocent defendants. Mr. Warden has won more than fifty journalism awards. In 2011, he was one of three local recipients of the first annual Chicago Ideas Week Hero Award. In 2014, he was honored by the Innocence Network, of which he was a founding board member, with its first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award for “innumerable contributions… to educating the public about the prevalence of wrongful convictions and other injustices and his passionate personal commitment to exonerating scores of individuals.”

Henry Weinstein is Professor of Law, Co-Director of the Center on Law, Equality and Race, and holds a joint appointment in Literary Journalism and Law at UC Irvine’s School of Law.  He holds a B.A. and J.D. from University of California, Berkeley. Prof. Weinstein has worked for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, San Francisco Examiner and Wall Street Journal and has written more than 3,000 stories, reporting on the ground in 36 states plus the District of Columbia and Canada. He also has written about events and issues in other countries, and for a variety of publications, including California Lawyer, Juris Doctor, The Nation, New Times, the Saturday Review of Education and the Saturday Review of Science.

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A Project of:
University of California, Irvine Newkirk Center for Science & Society,
University of Michigan Law School &
Michigan State University College of Law