Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Panel to speak on wrongful convictions

October 2, 2000

John Ewing sits in prison today, sentenced to life for multiple rape charges in 1984.

He had no prior record. And former private investigator Kay Anderson says she knows he’s innocent.

“There was no physical or hard evidence,” Anderson said. “There was blood typing at that time, but we have tried to get DNA testing and it appears that all of the rape evidence and the convictions have disappeared.”

Anderson took on Ewing’s case in 1994, and has since made the movement to free the wrongfully convicted her personal mission.

Ewing’s case will be discussed Saturday, when the School of Journalism hosts the “Workshop on Wrongful Conviction.”

“The issue of wrongful conviction has become a national-level issue, even part of the presidential campaign,” MSU School of Journalism Director Stephen Lacy said. “Occasionally the legal system doesn’t work properly, and journalists are sometimes the ones who recognize something is wrong.”

One such journalist is Detroit News reporter Norman Sinclair. Saturday’s workshop will include a case study detailing how his efforts freed two Gaylord men who were convicted of murder.

The all-day workshop is co-sponsored by The State News and the Michigan Press Association.

The workshop will include a panel that will discuss legal issues, give advice on how to use the Freedom of Information Act and suggest what documents journalists should request.

Panelists include Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III, Tom Howlett, who chairs the Michigan State Bar Law and Media Committee, and Frank Reynolds, a criminal defense attorney.

Bonnie Bucqueroux, the coordinator for MSU’s Victims and the Media program, said the workshop aims to prepare reporters to deal with cases involving the wrongfully convicted.

“If there are a fair amount of errors being made in severe cases, we can only imagine the errors among smaller cases - cases involving drugs, sexual assault and robbery,” she said.

“We’re trying to give reporters the tools they need to cover these things.”

For more information, contact Linda Hartwig at 353-6430.

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