ST. PAUL (AP) -- There have been at least 82 cases overturned in the United States and Canada using DNA testing, and a group of Minnesotans wants to create a local project to help overturn convictions here.
The group is raising money to create an "innocence project" similar to the one launched at a New York law school in 1992 by DNA expert and O.J. Simpson lawyer Barry Scheck.
"It defies human experience to believe there's not at least a handful of people in any prison who are genuinely innocent," said Michael Davis, a group member.
Ed Butterfoss, Hamline University's law school dean and member of the Minnesota Innocence Project board, said the programs don't just benefit those whose cases get a second look.
"From a law student's perspective, I think it will give them significant appreciation for factual investigation, and maybe some skills to carry that out," he said.
Hamline in St. Paul will be home of the Innocence Project, which will also accept the cases of convicts in the Dakotas. The school will provide space, computers and other office equipment and students earning credits or simply volunteering to the pursuit of justice.
Unlike Scheck's project, the Hamline group will consider taking cases that don't involve DNA testing.
Attorneys on cases will be asked to waive fees and a Sept. 22 fundraiser is expected to raise money for day-to-day operations and hire an executive director.
Other schools -- Northwestern University's journalism department and the University of Wisconsin-Madison law school -- have won releases for people doing life terms or condemned to death.
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