[PAST EVENT] SFIP Symposium - Capital Innocence: A conversation about wrongful conviction and the death penalty.

February 13, 2020
4pm - 8pm
Law School, Room 119
613 S Henry St
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location
Access & Features
  • Free food
  • Open to the public

Join SFIP for our second annual symposium as we host speakers Bo King, Jim Coleman, and Sister Helen Prejean.  We are honored and excited to bring their three unique voices to W&M. Together, we hope to help drive a conversation in our community about the plight of wrongfully convicted men and women and the immeasurably high cost of capital punishment. Speakers will present from 4:00pm-7:00pm in room 119. A short reception will follow in the Penny Commons. RSVP HERE: http://forms.wm.edu/44662

Sister Helen Prejean's portion of the talk is titled, "Dead Man Walking - The Journey Continues."

"Sister Helen Prejean is known around the world for her tireless work against the death penalty. She has been instrumental in sparking national dialogue on capital punishment and in shaping the Catholic Church’s vigorous opposition to all executions. Born on April 21, 1939, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she joined the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1957. She worked as a high school teacher and served as the Religious Education Director at St. Frances Cabrini Parish in New Orleans before moving into the St. Thomas Housing Project in the early ’80s. In 1982, Sister Helen began corresponding with Patrick Sonnier, who had been sentenced to death for the murder of two teenagers. Two years later, when Patrick Sonnier was put to death in the electric chair, Sister Helen was there to witness his execution. In the following months, she became spiritual advisor to another death row inmate, Robert Lee Willie, who was to meet the same fate as Sonnier. After witnessing these executions, Sister Helen realized that this lethal ritual would remain unchallenged unless its secrecy was stripped away, and so she sat down and wrote a book, Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States. That book ignited a national debate on capital punishment and spawned an Academy Award winning movie, a play, and an opera.
Sister Helen’s second book, The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions, was published in 2004; and her third book, River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey, in August, 2019." Bio provided by Ministry Against the Death Penalty

"Jim Coleman is the John S. Bradway Professor of the Practice of Law, Director of the Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility, and Co-Director of the Wrongful Convictions Clinic at Duke Law School.  He is a graduate of Columbia University (J.D. 1974),  and Harvard University (A.B. 1970). A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Jim’s experience includes a judicial clerkship for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, a year in private practice in New York, and fifteen years in private practice in Washington, D.C., the last twelve as a partner at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering. In private practice, Jim specialized in federal court and administrative litigation; he also represented criminal defendants in capital collateral proceedings, including Ted Bundy through Bundy’s execution in 1989. Jim has also had a range of government experience, including two years as an assistant general counsel for the Legal Services Corporation, a stint as chief counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, and a year as deputy general counsel for the U.S. Department of Education.  Jim joined the Duke faculty full-time in 1996, where his teaching responsibilities include criminal law, wrongful convictions, and appellate litigation.  His academic work, conducted through the Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility, centers on the legal, political, and scientific causes of wrongful convictions and how they can be prevented." In 2019, Coleman played a key role in the exoneration of Charles Ray Finch.

"Bo King is a staff attorney with the Capital Habeas Unit of the Federal Defender Program in Atlanta; he represents death-sentenced prisoners in habeas corpus litigation, appeals to the federal circuit courts and the Supreme Court of the United States, executive clemency proceedings, and civil rights actions.  A graduate of Duke University and the NYU School of Law, Bo has previously worked at the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama and the Atlanta Legal Aid Society.  Bo also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan. "