Project won freedom for man convicted in Tacoma robbery

February 23, 2014 

The legal defense group that’s taken up the case of convicted child killer Guy Rasmussen has had success in winning exonerations in Washington, including in a Pierce County case.

The Innocence Northwest Project is based at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle. It’s made up of attorneys and students who investigate claims of wrongful convictions and provide legal services to people seeking to gain their freedom.

Its clients are people who are serving long prison terms and no longer qualify for court-appointed lawyers, according to the group’s website. Innocence Project Northwest receives hundreds of requests a year from state prisoners.

The group began as a volunteer effort in 1997 and transformed into a clinical law program at the university in 2002, the website states.

Twelve cases litigated by the group have resulted in exonerations since 1999, including the case of James Anderson. In 2004, Anderson was arrested and charged in the robbery of a Tacoma grocery store. He maintained his innocence, saying he was in California at the time of the robbery, but a jury convicted him in 2005 and he was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

A student working for Innocence Project Northwest later uncovered information that proved Anderson’s contentions, and the Washington State Court of Appeals ordered his conviction vacated, and he was set free in 2008, The Associated Press reported.

In its most recent triumph, the group won the release of a man serving a 16-year sentence for robbery in a King County case in December 2013.

adam.lynn@ thenewstribune.com

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