LAWRENCE - A group of students at KU is committed to justice and now The Defender Project is celebrating its success.
Over the last 18 months, the program has been successful in getting 13 cases overturned; and since 2009 it’s had a hand in the reversal of 23 cases. One of the more popular cases was that of the conviction of 28 year-old Jason Ellison. Ellison is a Lawrence man who was convicted of sexual battery in 2006. Students in the program picked up his case in 2010; and just last October, Ellison’s case was dismissed and he was set free after serving five years in prison.
“I give a lot of credit to the students for being able to see the issues, understand and for being able to write well and persuasively to convince the court that their client is entitled to some kind of relief, says Rick Kittel, the public defender who supervises students in the program.
The program gives students hands-on experience requiring they put in at least 10 hours a week, making phone calls, writing letters, conducting investigations and keeping a file. The KU Defender Project was started in 1965 by KU Law Professor Paul Wilson.