Independent panel of national legal experts to review conviction of Myon Burrell
- Link to: Northwestern Now Story
A panel of national legal experts will conduct an independent review of the case of Myon Burrell. The panel was organized by two national legal organizations, the Center on Wrongful Convictions (CWC) at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University.
Burrell is a Minnesota man now serving a life sentence in prison after having been convicted of the 2002 murder of 11-year-old Minneapolis resident Tyesha Edwards. At the time of Tyesha Edwards’ death, Burrell was 16 years old.
Burrell’s conviction has received a great deal of local and national scrutiny in recent months, after the Associated Press published an investigative report about his case on February 1, 2020. Among other things, the AP report questioned the validity of the evidence used to convict Burrell and identified the existence of possible new evidence.
Following the AP report’s release, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota publicly announced her support for an independent review of the case. Calls for a thorough review of Burrell’s case have increased following the death of George Floyd.
Because no Minnesota prosecuting authority currently has a Conviction Integrity Unit in place, the Center on Wrongful Convictions and the Innocence Project have asked a panel of legal experts to conduct an independent review that addresses the reliability of Burrell’s conviction, as well as the continuing appropriateness of his life sentence. This panel will conduct an unbiased, independent, and thorough evaluation consistent with national best practices for Conviction Integrity review and will release a written report at the conclusion of its review.
The panelists are donating their time pro bono and will be assisted in their efforts by the Greene Espel law firm in Minneapolis, which is also providing support pro bono.
Professor Laura Nirider, co-director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern Law, and Professor Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project, will serve as advisors who will provide consultation on Conviction Integrity best practices. The panel will include the following individuals:
- Keith Findley, former president of the national Innocence Network, co-founder of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, and professor of law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Maria Hawilo, Distinguished Professor of Law at Loyola University Chicago
- Mark Osler, professor of law at the University of St. Thomas and former Assistant U.S. Attorney
- Jim Petro, former Attorney General of the State of Ohio
- David Singleton, executive director of the Ohio Justice & Policy Center and professor of law at the Salmon P. Chase College of Law
- Mike Ware, former chief of the Conviction Integrity Unit at the Dallas District Attorney’s Office (2007-11), Executive Director of the Innocence Project of Texas
This effort is undertaken with support from several Minnesota organizations, including the Minneapolis NAACP, the Innocence Project of Minnesota, and the ACLU of Minnesota. Consistent with its neutrality and independence, this panel will welcome cooperation from attorneys representing Burrell, as well as attorneys from the Hennepin County District Attorney’s Office.