TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Three attorneys from the California Innocence Project were joined by the public for the final mile of their 700-mile Innocence March. Beginning at the right field entrance to Sacramento’s Raley Field and ending at the West Capitol Steps, the attorneys held a rally and press conference before delivering petitions to the Governor’s office.
California Innocence Project director Justin Brooks, attorney Alissa Bjerkhoel, and attorney Michael Semanchik, have completed the 700-mile trek from San Diego to the state Capitol. The lawyers embarked on this 55-day walk across the state to protest the incarceration of their innocent clients, bring attention to the causes of wrongful convictions, and present clemency petitions for “The California 12” to Governor Jerry Brown.
Recent California Innocence Project exoneree Brian Banks, who signed recently with the Atlanta Falcons, other exonerees, family members, students, supporters of the California 12, and activists joined the march for portions of the 55-day walk.
“I could not be happier to complete this journey and bring attention to these cases,” said Bjerkhoel, a Truckee native who now practices law in San Diego. “We would not walk over 700 miles for these people if they were guilty. The justice system has failed these people and they remain incarcerated even though they are innocent. We are confident, when the Governor reviews these cases, he will grant clemency and send them home to their families.”
After the final mile, Bjerkhoel planned to return to Truckee for the weekend to visit her family and celebrate the conclusion of the march.
About the California Innocence Project
Founded in 1999, the California Innocence Project is a California Western School of Law clinical program dedicated to the release of wrongfully convicted inmates and providing an outstanding educational experience for students enrolled in the clinic. The California Innocence Project reviews approximately 2,000 claims from inmates each year and has earned the exoneration of nine wrongfully convicted clients since its inception.