January 25, 2018 at 10:15 am

Notable Alumni | Pierce Reed Joins Ohio Innocence Project

Graphic for College of Arts & Sciences Notable Alumni Award

Editor’s Note: The College of Arts & Sciences launches the Notable Alumni Awards, honoring 37 Notable Alumni in 2017 for broad accomplishments in their careers, a commitment to community service at Ohio University, and valuable contributions to Ohio University, the College of Arts & Sciences, and its students.

Pierce J. Reed, portrait

Pierce J. Reed

Pierce J. Reed ’86, Psychology

Pierce J. Reed is the Program Director, Policy Coordinator and System Liaison with the Ohio Innocence Project, based at the Rosenthal Institute for Justice at the University of Cincinnati.

Before joining the Ohio Innocence Project in 2018, Pierce was the senior judicial attorney with Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor at the Supreme Court of Ohio.

Reed is a summa cum laude graduate of Ohio University, with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, who worked for several years as a counselor and advocate for victims of child abuse, domestic violence and hate crimes in the Boston area before going to law school at Northeastern University School of Law.

At the Innocence Project, Reed is responsible for education, training, outreach, and legislative efforts for the nationally recognized wrongful conviction project. He develops and gathers best practices models for prosecutors, engages all stakeholders in the Ohio criminal justice system and Ohio General Assembly, and he teaches and trains about the causes of wrongful conviction and the need for system-wide reforms.

Reed works with existing policy coordinators in the Innocence Network to build curricula and training modules for education. That work includes developing and maintaining a statewide network of relationships with prosecutors, police, judges, and criminal defense attorneys. He also coordinates legislative efforts related to reform and restitution for wrongfully convicted individuals.

During law school, Reed’s focus was on the interrelatedness of law, public health and infectious diseases. He was the first Northeastern student selected as a graduate fellow by the prestigious Echoing Green Foundation in New York City. During his fellowship, he did policy and litigation work related to privacy, the implementation and use of the Americans with Disabilities Act, “throwaway” and runaway adolescents, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

After his fellowship, Reed practiced for several years as a litigator with two Boston firms. His practice focused on appellate, products liability, employment and insurance law, and included representation in federal and state courts across the country.

OHIO Memories

“I still appreciate the gifts of the knowledge I gathered and the friendships I made – sometimes simultaneously. Although I was a psychology major and loved almost every department class I took, a sociology class – a survey of Latin America – stands out as one of my best classroom memories. The course awakened me to an understanding of people and cultures that I would not have experienced had I not been directed by ‘the breadth of knowledge’ requirement OU then had (and which I hope it has retained) to take several courses outside my major,” Pierce said.

“But by the far the most meaningful experiences I had at OU were in University College. I worked there as an intern on a work-study program and in the PreCollege and University Experience programs. My boss was a counselor, Laura Cross Chapman.  She was so much more than a supervisor, however. She invested in me professionally and personally, advising and counseling me on everything from proper grammar to life skills. As a first-gen college student, I have no doubt that my life would not have been as rich and successful had I not met her, and the wonderful people that then worked in University College, including advisors Dr. Dick Brackin and Mark Graham, and staff like Maxine Walters and Patty Pyle. (The fact that those names are still in my mind is a testament to how much they impacted me.)

“I was recently reminded of how much learning occurs in Athens – some of it behind the bricks, and some of it beyond it – by a friend whose daughter is debating which college to attend next year. He’s rooting for OU even though he is not an alum. When I asked him why, he gave all of the fatherly reasons but then said that he was also struck by the OU alum he had met around the country and how all of us seem to have had great life and learning experiences in Athens. He also mentioned how loyal OU alumni are to another, and how there seems to be an instant bond when a Bobcat meets a fellow Bobcat, regardless of how different the people may be otherwise.

“In this ever-complicated and challenging world in which we now live, I can’t think of a better testament to OU,” he added.


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