The role of forensic evidence in the American justice system – from the science that has exonerated more than 200 people to the errors that have led to wrongful convictions – will be the focus of a daylong program at Widener Law in Delaware.
The Sept. 25 event will begin with a DNA exoneree telling his personal story of nearly 20 years in prison for a rape and murder he did not commit. Titled “Innocence and Forensics,” the conference will also offer discussion and debate by nationally regarded experts. Topics include the psychology of eyewitness identification, the power and limitations of DNA evidence and the National Academy of Sciences Report on Forensics.
North Carolina DNA exoneree Darryl Hunt will speak at 9 a.m. about his conviction in the 1984 brutal killing of a newspaper reporter in Winston-Salem. Hunt, who is African American, was convicted by an all-white jury despite a lack of any physical evidence linking him to the crime. DNA testing cleared Hunt in 1994, but he was not released for another 10 years. HBO Films later turned his story into “The Trials of Darryl Hunt,” an Emmy-nominated documentary.
“What happened to Darryl Hunt is profoundly troubling and I am certain his story will stun and captivate our audience,” said Widener Associate Professor Jules Epstein, who teaches criminal law. “I look forward to all he can teach us about justice in America.”
The conference has been approved for six continuing legal education credits, including one ethics credit, for attorneys in Delaware and Pennsylvania. It is also approved for criminal procedure rule 801 – capital counsel continuing education. Attorneys who attend for credit will be charged a $95 registration fee, which includes lunch. The fee will be $75 for Widener Law alumni, and $65 for public-interest attorneys. Students and the general public, not attending for educational credits, will be admitted for free, but not provided materials or lunch. A snack bar is available.