Elliot Peters was chosen to receive The Northern California Innocence Project's (NCIP's) pro bono award at the organization's eighth annual Justice for All Awards Dinner, to be held in March of 2015.
Mr. Peters' pro bono achievements include the following cases:
In re Ronald W. Ross: In this pro bono habeas corpus case we won freedom for Ronald Ross, an innocent man who had been wrongfully convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2006. Over the course of a four-year investigation, we, along with our co-counsel at the Northern California Innocence Project, uncovered trial-witness recantations and other newly discovered evidence that conclusively established Mr. Ross’s innocence. We presented this evidence at a three-day evidentiary hearing in Alameda County Superior Court, and we eventually convinced the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office to join in our request that Mr. Ross’s conviction be vacated. The Court granted Mr. Ross’s habeas petition and the District Attorney dismissed the underlying charges. After spending almost seven years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Mr. Ross was freed. We also represented Mr. Ross in post-habeas proceedings, winning him significant compensation from the State of California for his wrongful conviction and incarceration.
John J. Tennison v. City and County of San Francisco: We pursued John Tennison’s civil rights claim against the City and County of San Francisco and the police and prosecutor responsible for Mr. Tennison’s wrongful conviction. We had previously represented Mr. Tennison in his habeas corpus case, where we unearthed exculpatory evidence hidden by the police which proved Mr. Tennison’s innocence - including the taped confession of another man. As a result, we won an order reversing Mr. Tennison’s conviction, after which he was set free. After several years of hard-fought litigation, we settled the civil rights case for $4.6 million. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, it was the largest amount the city has ever paid to a wrongly convicted person.
State of California v. John J. Tennison: After pro bono client John Tennison had spent 13 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, we won his freedom via habeas corpus. We unearthed exculpatory evidence hidden by the police—including the taped confession of another man—and proved our client’s innocence. We then sued the City and County of San Francisco, claiming that members of the San Francisco Police Department unconstitutionally withheld evidence at trial. We negotiated a $4.6 million settlement for Mr. Tennison.
The NCIP embodies Santa Clara University’s mission to create a more just and humane world through working to exonerate innocent prisoners and pursue legal reforms that address the causes and consequences of wrongful convictions. Founded in 2001, the NCIP operates as a free legal clinic at Santa Clara University School of Law, where law students work with staff and pro bono attorneys to investigate claims of innocence and, when appropriate, provide legal representation to wrongfully convicted prisoners. To date, NCIP has handled more than 10,000 requests for assistance from inmates, and has exonerated 17 people.