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School of Law's Hawai'i Innocence Project to hold fundraiser on March 26

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Cynthia D. Quinn, (808) 956-7966
Interim, Associate Dean for Student Services, William S Richardson School of Law
Beverly Creamer, (808) 389-5736
Media Consultant, William S. Richardson School of Law
Posted: Mar 22, 2012

The Hawaiʻi Innocence Project at UH Mānoa's William S. Richardson School of Law is holding a fundraiser on Monday, March 26, at Mānoa Valley Theater to raise money to continue the project’s work. The play “Justice – For Maurice Henry Carter,” will be offered in a staged reading by Neal Milner and James Harbor, complete with an a capella choir. A reception from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. will precede the 7 p.m. reading and an informal discussion will follow.  
The project – founded in 2005 at the William S. Richardson School of Law  and directed by Professor Virginia Hench - operates with the cooperation of local attorneys William Harrison, Brook Hart, and Susan Arnett, and the efforts of 12 to 15 second and third year law students who assist with hands-on investigative work as part of a clinical course offered each semester.
Across the country 289 wrongly convicted people have been freed from incarceration thanks to dedicated advocates, DNA testing, and the nationwide “Innocence Project.”

That number includes Hawai‘i’s Alvin Jardine, who owes his freedom to the Hawai‘i Innocence Project that helped free him last year after he spent almost 20 years in prison for an alleged rape that he consistently maintained he did not commit.

“Justice – For Maurice Henry Carter,” by Donald Molnar and Alicia Payne, examines one of the country’s most prominent cases of wrongful incarceration of a man convicted of shooting and wounding a police officer in Michigan, even though eyewitnesses insisted it wasn’t him. He died of end-stage liver disease in 2004, shortly after his sentence was commuted for medical reasons.

While Carter’s case is still being pursued by his supporters who want to clear his name entirely, Jardine’s request for help succeeded through the intervention of the Hawai‘i Innocence Project.

His application seven years ago was the first accepted for investigation by the fledgling Hawai‘i project. The case required painstaking effort, including an investigation into missing evidence, recovery of lost trial transcripts, and a long-awaited court hearing to order new DNA testing on the remaining evidence – a tablecloth thrown over the ‘papasan’ chair where the crime occurred.

“So many people contributed to this case,” said Hench. “It was a team effort.” That included an initial trip by Hench herself to meet Jardine face-to-face in Mississippi, where he was incarcerated at the time.

“I came away convinced, although at the time I had no evidence,” Hench told the Maui News after her return. “I found him completely consistent. He offered to take a polygraph. He said ‘Test the DNA.’ I said ‘We will if we can find it.’ I told him what I tell everybody. ‘I can’t promise we can get you out. But we’ll investigate.’”

It wasn’t until 2009 that the Hawai‘i Innocence Project was able to convince a judge to order new DNA testing on what little evidence remained. That testing excluded Jardine as a contributor of the male DNA detected on three of four stains of blood or bodily fluid on the tablecloth. Because of that newly discovered evidence, Maui Circuit Judge Joel August set aside Jardine’s 1992 convictions and ordered a new trial. Charges were finally dropped last July.

“We don’t assume a person is innocent or guilty, but we look at the available information with fresh eyes,” said Hench, in a story in the Spring 2012 issue of the Clinical Legal Education Newsletter, released by the Richardson Law School. “If they’re telling the truth, what could prove it?”     

Tickets for the March 26 performance are $10 for students, $25 for friends, $100 for benefactors and $1,000 and up for champions.      

Tax deductible donations for the Hawai‘i Innocence Project may also be made to the University of Hawai‘i Foundation, with Hawai‘i Innocence Project in the memorandum line. Contributions may also be made online at:

For more information, call (808) 956-6547 or email:

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