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Mitchell Hamline Symposiums


10:30–11:45 a.m., Friday April 8th, 2022

Panel Description

Across the United States, wrongfully convicted people experience the harshest realities of the criminal justice system. Their convictions often result from shaky evidence and false or mistaken witnesses, poor legal representation, and misconduct by police and prosecutors. Advocates throughout the country are aiming criminal justice reform efforts at the processes that lead to wrongful convictions as well as overturning the wrongful convictions currently keeping innocent people locked up.

In 2021, the Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced that, in conjunction with a federal grant received by the Great North Innocence Project, announced the creation of a statewide Conviction Review Unit (CRU) “to conduct extrajudicial review of juvenile adjudications, criminal convictions, and sentences in cases with plausible allegations of actual innocence or manifest injustice.”

This panel will explore the work of Minnesota’s CRU with a discussion focusing on the key features of our criminal justice system that make preventing and overturning wrongful convictions a challenge. Panelists will share insights into the current fight for justice, what more needs to be done, and how we—as advocates and community members—can support these initiatives.

This panel is co-sponsored by the Mitchell Hamline ACLU. A special thank you to ACLU President Kate Hubbard for her commitment to bringing this important conversation to light.


  • Carrie Sperling, Executive Director, Minnesota Conviction Review Unit
  • Jon Schmidt, Senior Assistant Hennepin County Attorney
  • Sara Jones, Executive Director, Great North Innocence Project


  • Nadine Graves, Board Chair, We Are All Criminals, and Deputy Director of Community Legal Services, Legal Rights Center
  • Kate Hubbard, 2L at Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Materials & Resources

Minnesota Conviction Review Unit Charter, Office of the Minn. Att’y Gen. (June 23, 2021),

Great North Innocence Project,