California Innocence Project client Daniel Larsen walks out of the U.S. Courthouse in Los Angeles with his wife Christina Combs, attorney Jan Stiglitz, and a California Western School of Law student after Magistrate Judge Suzanne H. Segal ordered his immediate release from prison.
California Innocence Project Client Released from 27-years-to-life Prison Sentence
California Western School of Law clinical program gathered and presented evidence used to prove Daniel Larsen’s innocence
SAN DIEGO, March 19, 2013 - Magistrate Judge Suzanne H. Segal approved the conditions of California Innocence Project client Daniel Larsen’s release from prison today, ending his more than 13-year wrongful incarceration.
In response to an order issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals directing the District Court to grant Larsen’s release while his appeal is pending, Judge Segal granted Larsen’s immediate release at a hearing held in the U.S. Courthouse in Downtown Los Angeles.
“We need to make sure the criminal justice system focuses on justice and recognizes that innocence matters. The continued incarceration of an innocent man is the ultimate injustice,” said attorney Jan Stiglitz, co-director of the California Innocence Project.
Larsen is one of the “California 12,” a group of individuals represented by the California Innocence Project who are innocent, yet remain incarcerated. California Innocence Project attorneys and students plan to march from San Diego to Sacramento this spring to raise awareness about wrongful convictions, and to deliver clemency petitions to Governor Jerry Brown for their clients who are innocent yet remain incarcerated.
In 1999, Daniel “Danny” Larsen was convicted of possession of a concealed weapon after two police officers testified they saw Larsen toss a knife under a nearby car in the parking lot of a bar. Larsen’s trial attorney failed to discover as many as nine percipient witnesses to the “knife toss,” including a former Chief of Police from North Carolina, who saw another man toss the knife. None of the witnesses were called to testify at Larsen’s original trial and, as a result, he was convicted and sentenced to 27 years-to-life in prison pursuant to California’s Three Strikes Law.
After the California Innocence Project at California Western School of Law agreed to take on Larsen’s case, it collected statements from many of the witnesses and presented the evidence to the courts. In June 2010, a federal judge reversed Larsen’s conviction, finding him innocent and finding that his constitutional rights had been violated. Larsen remained in prison for almost three additional years because the California Attorney General claims that he did not present proof he was innocent quickly enough—a legal technicality that could have kept him in prison for life.
More than 130,000 people signed a change.org petition last August asking Attorney General Kamala Harris to drop her appeal and allow Larsen to go free.
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.
On April 27, 2013, California Innocence Project attorneys and students, along with exonerees and family members of the wrongfully convicted, begin a march from San Diego to Sacramento with clemency petitions for 12 of their clients who are innocent yet remain incarcerated. The Innocence March kicks off at California Western and finishes at the Governor’s office roughly 55 days later.
The public is invited to join the 600-plus mile freedom march across the state. For more information, visit http://innocencemarch.com/.