Wednesday, 20 May 2009

After 22 Years on Death Row, Paul House is Cleared

Paul House’s name has finally been cleared, bringing to an end two decades of struggle for freedom after a wrongful conviction in Tennessee. House (pictured above with his mother, Joyce) served more than two decades on Tennessee’s death row before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that he was entitled to a new hearing. He was freed last July, but was under house arrest facing a new trial until charges were dropped May 12.

House, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and is confined to a wheelchair, is looking forward to a trip to California for his grandfather’s 90th birthday. He was 23 when he was sent to death row and is 47 today. "This gives me a life,” he told CNN last week. “The only life I had was prison life, and that was nothing to be happy about."

The Innocence Project has worked with House’s attorneys on forensic issues for several years and filed a brief in his Supreme Court case. Innocence Project Co-Director Peter Neufeld said House’s exoneration highlights the need for courts to look closely at appeals based on new evidence of innocence.

"The Supreme Court was right to make sure all the evidence was fully considered in this case," Neufeld said. “The five justices who ruled in Paul House’s favor had the wisdom to recognize that there was enough evidence of his innocence to allow a full hearing and more investigation which ultimately proved he did not commit this crime. This is a profoundly important legal principle, but it also saved Paul House’s life. This case should give the Supreme Court great pause, and it should cause them to look more closely at cases like this.”

Read more about House’s case here, and read below for more on other clients around the country seeking access to DNA testing to prove their innocence.

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