Yesterday, Monday, January 13, 2014 was the start of the new semester here at GIP. GIP welcomed law students and undergraduate interns, 8 in total. It was a long but productive orientation day. We are excited for our new interns and grateful they want to be apart of our team and help make a difference! Please meet our new interns: Aiyahna A. Banfield is currently a senior attending Georgia State University as a criminal justice major, chemistry minor. She graduates this upcoming spring. Aiyahna is from Warner Robins, Georgia, about 2 hours south of Atlanta. Aiyahna is most interested in forensics and, more specifically, DNA and blood analysis (I know, kind of gory). She first learned of the Georgia Innocence Project in my ethics class at Georgia State. She believes it is great to have an organization that helps to make sure those that those who are incarcerated are there beyond a reasonable doubt. GIP is like the spellcheck of Microsoft Word, the last check for any mistakes. The criminal justice system has a lot of positive characteristics, and unfortunately some negatives as well. GIP is here to bring out more of the positives. This is extremely important because we live in a world of imperfect people, things are overlooked or not taken seriously and these things could save someone’s life. She is extremely excited and thankful to be interning here! Casey Cleaver graduated from University of Central Florida in December 2013 with a Bachelors in Criminal Justice and a minor in Legal Studies. While at UCF he worked part-time at many jobs and also played on the lacrosse team for 2 years. During his last semester I volunteered at the Legal Aid Society for the Orange County Bar Association as a phone screener. He was born and raised in Boca Raton, Florida. Hoping to be accepted into law school for fall 2014 and pursuing a career as a defense attorney, Casey is interning at GIP and with several attorneys at 1800 Peachtree Street. Living with relatives in Marietta on Barrett Parkway. Casey chose the Georgia Innocence Project because GIP has historically served as an immensely valuable institution of the criminal justice system. To represent those who have suffered from a wrongful conviction is a public service that should be held with the highest regard. To play even a small role in one’s exoneration would be an incredibly gratifying feeling. This type of hands on training is an invaluable experience to a prospective law student. Tierra J. Grace obtained her Associate’s degree in criminal justice at Georgia Perimeter College, and later transferred to Georgia State University were she’s working on obtaining her Bachelor’s degree. She doesn’t really have a hometown because her dad is in the military and the family moved a lot. (It usually depends on my mood or whom I’m speaking with that’ll either say I’m from Louisiana, where I was born, Arizona, where I spent most of my years, Georgia, if I’m speaking to someone outside of Georgia, or Maryland, where my entire family is from.) Tierra goes ack and forth on two different routes she wants to take. One option would be to go to law school with the dream of opening her own firm handling criminal cases. The other option would be to go to graduate school focusing on gender in the criminal justice system. She chose to do her internship with the Georgia Innocence Project because of a personal connection with our work. “I have an uncle named James Bain who was exonerated after 35 years from being convicted of raping and kidnapping a little boy. He has served the longest time out of all those exonerated through DNA. The Florida Innocence Project exonerated him, and after seeing GIP do a presentation in my forensic science class I knew the project was something I would want to be a part of since it had changed the life of my uncle and the lives of my family. Furthermore, I’m not fully sure on which route I want to take about obtaining my bachelors, so I can gain some insight on whether I want to go to law school or go to graduate school.” Noah Green is currently a law student in his second year. He began his legal studies at John Marshall and transferred to Georgia State University, College of Law, after his first year. Noah earned his B.F.A. from the Academy of Art University with a major in film production. After graduation, Noah worked in the television industry for nearly five years as a producer. Some of his credits include The Soul Train Awards, Robin Thicke’s “Sex Therapy” Making the Video, and BeBe & CeCe Wynans’ “Close to You.” After finishing law school, Noah hopes to practice entertainment law. Noah’s decision to attend law school was influenced heavily by the Innocence Project. He first learned about the mission and work of the Innocence Project through an interview with Barry Scheck. Since then, Noah has repeatedly been inspired by exonerations spearheaded by the organization around the country. Noah is honored to work with the GIP and is passionate about helping to free the wrongly convicted. Chris Huslak received his B.A. in History from Georgia Southern University. After taking a few years off he began law school at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. After his first year Chris transferred to Emory Law, where he is now a 3L. Having been here 17 years, Chris considers Atlanta home (before that he lived in North Carolina, and even before that New Jersey and New York). After graduation Chris intends to become a criminal defense attorney, and ideally staying in this region. He firmly believe organizations like GIP are essential to a democratic society as well as the values encompassed in Due Process. Chris thinks the true measure of the “quality” of a society is how we treat the people that are at the fringes. So those sentiments, as well as the ability to work on his own advocacy skills for criminal defendant clients, made the GIP an ideal fit. John Koury, a 2L at Emory Law, received his undergraduate degree from Colby College in Waterville, ME. He is originally from Nashville, TN. After graduation, John plans to move to the greater Boston area and work in the criminal justice system, but isn’t sure what type of position he wants. John believes GIP is a good place to start understanding the criminal justice system as a whole. It is important for him to understand what the consequences of convictions on the defendant whether the decisions are correct or not. Carlie Marks just graduated from Emory and will be attending Georgetown University Law Center next Fall. She is from Long Island, New York. Carlie believes that GIP is an incredible learning experience. In the past, Carlie has done internships in child advocacy and is excited about being exposed to a different type of advocacy for justice. Paul Martin will be graduating from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Michigan this Spring. He received his Bachelor of Music Education from Northwestern University and an MBA from Loyola College of Maryland. He is originally from Perry, Florida but has lived all over. He recently retired after 25 years in the U.S. Army. He wants to work at an Innocence Project or possibly as an Appellate Defender. He’s spending his last semester in law school in Atlanta because GIP: came highly recommended for the work we have done with both cases and legislative successes. Hap Richardson graduated from Georgia Tech and is now attending Georgia State College of Law. Hap is originally from Ringgold, GA, a small town outside of Chattanooga, TN. Hap is currently an Associate Broker with Keller Williams. After graduation Hap intends to open a small law firm specializing in criminal defense. He chose GIP because he loves the goal of the organization and want to be involved in things he can be proud of. Jennifer Vences is currently attending Georgia State University and will be graduating May 2014. She was born in Grady Memorial Hospital to parents are from Mexico. She plans to work with a nonprofit organization after graduation. Jennifer has been an insurance agent for 5 years and currently works full time with Perimeter Insurance Agency. Jennifer read the book Actual Innocence when I was a freshman at Georgia State University and was fascinated by how DNA has helped free innocent people. When she heard that Georgia Innocence Project took internships that was her first choice. She wants to learn how to help innocent inmates and more about the process with the courts and how GIP helps them.