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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, October 01, 2023

Justice Dept. reviews Wis. Innocence cases

The State Justice Department requested information about cases regarding the Wisconsin Innocence Project last week.

In an e-mail sent to district attorneys across the state, Assistant Attorney General Roy Korte asked to be notified on pending post-conviction cases involving the UW-Madison Law School project.

As part of the Law School's Remington Center, the Innocence Project is a group of faculty and student lawyers who work to overturn wrongful convictions in Wisconsin. According to its website, the project has freed a dozen people from unjust incarceration.

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The State Justice Department regularly interacts with defendants in the cases and advises outside attorneys in others.

Remington Center Faculty Director Walter Dickey said the Justice Department's interest in the project's cases and its indirect investigation methods puzzle him.

But Special Assistant Attorney General Kevin St. John said talking to colleagues about common legal issues and gathering information on opposing lawyers is ""absolutely standard practice.""

Dickey said if the Justice Department has questions about the project's activities, he would gladly answer them.

""But we would rather the inquiry came directly to us,"" Dickey said, adding he has expressed this to the department.

St. John said it was not an inquiry into the nature of a group, but into individual cases.

St. John said it is the state's duty to have knowledge of claims being raised in court and to understand the often unique legal theories involved in the Innocence Project's cases.

Still, Dickey expressed doubt that the e-mail was a normal course of action.

According to Dickey, the project has worked cooperatively with the Justice Department often in the past.


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