BU Law: Let's Talk Wrongful Convictions

5:00 pm on Monday, March 27, 2023
6:00 pm on Monday, March 27, 2023
BU Law Tower, 765 Commonwealth Ave
Barristers Hall
Contact Organization:
American Constitution Society BU Chapter
Northeastern University criminal law Professor Dan Medwed & Sean K. Ellis, Director of the Exoneree Network at New England Innocence Project
Monday Mar. 27 in Barristers Hall at BU Law. Doors open at 4:30, discussion from 5:00-6:00. Food will be available beginning at 4:30. Join us for a conversation with author and criminal law Professor Dan Medwed and exoneree Sean Ellis about wrongful convictions, the justice system’s perpetuation of them, and their enormous impact on the individual, their families, and our community. In his book Barred, legal scholar and Northeastern University Professor Daniel S. Medwed argues that our justice system’s stringent procedural rules are largely to blame for the wrongful convictions of innocent people and why exonerations are nearly impossible. Those rules guarantee criminal defendants just one opportunity to appeal their convictions directly to a higher court. Afterward, the wrongfully convicted can pursue only a few narrow remedies. Even when there is strong evidence of a miscarriage of justice, rigid guidelines, bias, and deference toward lower courts all too often prevent exoneration. Sean K. Ellis, spent nearly 22 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit. In 1995, at his third trial, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts sentenced Sean Ellis to life in prison for the 1993 robbery and murder of Boston Police Detective John J. Mulligan. He always maintained his innocence, and in 2015 Suffolk Superior Court Judge Carol Ball overruled his convictions and freed him. Judge Ball found that “justice was not done” at his trial due to police corruption and prosecutors’ misconduct. But this was not the end – the Commonwealth vowed to try him a fourth time. Finally, in December 2018, the Suffolk County District Attorney dropped the robbery and murder charges and in 2021 he was fully exonerated. Sean's story was told on the Netflix Documentary Trial Four. Sean now works at the New England Innocence Project as Director of the Exoneree Network, a program that helps other exonerees and freed people process the trauma of long-term incarceration and rebuild their lives. He has devoted his life to helping his community, telling his story, and advocating for reforms to the criminal legal system. This event is hosted by the American Constitution Society BU Chapter, fully funded by ACS National, and open to the public. Barrister's Hall is located on the first floor of BU Law (765 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215). Please reach out to BU ACS at acslawbuchapter@gmail.com with any questions! Boston University strives to be accessible, inclusive and diverse in our facilities, programming and academic offerings. Your experience in this event is important to us. If you have a disability (including but not limited to learning or attention, mental health, concussion, vision, mobility, hearing, physical or other health related), require communication access services for the deaf or hard of hearing, or believe that you require a reasonable accommodation for another reason please contact the event organizer ACSLawBUChapter@gmail.com to discuss your needs.