Keynote Speakers: 

Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, Co-founders and co-directors, The Innocence Project, New York City

The Honorable Ralph Gants, Chief Justice, Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

This symposium will explore the significance of this revolution by homing in on two critical questions:

  • What have we learned from a quarter century of documented DNA exonerations from 1989-2014
  • Given what we have learned, how can we prevent wrongful convictions in the years ahead?

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing enables scientists to determine the genetic source of biological material with unparalleled accuracy. Since its development in the 1980s, this technology has affected our society in countless ways; it has helped to answer questions of paternity, pinpoint hereditary diseases, and create novel biological products. It has also altered the course of criminal law through its capacity to identify evidence left by a culprit at a crime scene. Simply put, DNA is a tool to catch the “bad guy” and free the “wrong guy.”

That second attribute of DNA in the criminal justice context—the potential to clear the innocent—is the focus of this symposium. The first exoneration of an innocent prisoner based on post-conviction DNA testing in the United States occurred in 1989. In the ensuing quarter century, DNA evidence has led to the reversal of more than 300 wrongful convictions across the country.

Papers solicited as part of this symposium will be published by Cambridge University Press in a volume edited by Daniel Medwed.

For more information, please contact Daniel Medwed at

Conference Organizer: 

Daniel Medwed, Northeastern University School of Law

Related Links: 


Friday, September 25, 2015

8:00-8:45 AM


8:45-9:00 AM

Dean Jeremy Paul and Professor Daniel Medwed

9:00-9:45 AM

Panel 1
The Innocence Movement

Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck
Co-founders and co-directors, The Innocence Project, New York City

9:45-11:00 AM

Panel 2: 
What Have We Learned From a Quarter Century of DNA Exonerations?

Samuel Gross, University of Michigan
Keith Findley, University of Wisconsin
Brandon Garrett, University of Virginia
Richard Leo, University of San Francisco
Michael Meltsner, Northeastern University School of Law
Alexandra Natapoff, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

Jacqueline McMurtrie,  University of Washington

11:00-11:15 AM


11:15 AM-12:30 PM

Panel 3
A Quarter Century of DNA Exonerations: What Research Questions Remain?

Rachel Barkow, New York University
Cynthia Jones, American University
Michael Radelet, University of Colorado
Dan Simon, University of Southern California
Jeannie Suk, Harvard University

R. Michael Cassidy, Boston College

12:30 PM

Keynote Address
Eyewitness Testimony and Identifications in Massachusetts

The Honorable Ralph Gants, Chief Justice, Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

1:00 PM

Conference Concludes