April 16, 2018 at 4:44 pm

3 Receive Fellowships to Ohio Innocence Project at University of Cincinnati Law

Nick Eaton, Katie Basalla and Alexa Jesser, group photo

Nick Eaton, Katie Basalla and Alexa Jesser

Three Ohio University students pursuing the Law, Justice & Culture certificate have been selected as fellows at the Ohio Innocence Project at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

Nick Eaton, Alexa Jesser, and Katie Basalla are all graduating seniors who will serve as fellows at OIP during their time in law school. The Ohio Innocence Project “seeks to identify and assist prison inmates who claim to be actually innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted.” OIP has freed 26 individuals who were wrongly convicted since 2003.

To free wrongfully incarcerated individuals, OIP looks for false testimony, false confessions, DNA evidence, faulty science, official misconduct, and witness misidentifications. OIP fellows and staff spend many hours investigating cases. Prior to actively taking on a case, OIP staff and fellows meet the inmate in person to discuss the case, the plan for litigation, and the expectations of the inmate and the OIP in the case.

Basalla is a History Pre-Law major from Lakewood Ohio. Basalla is involved in the Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity and is a supervisor for competitive sports. She says she has always wanted to be an attorney and thinks that the OIP fellowship will be a good way for her to both gain real-life experience and put her legal education to good use.

Basalla says that the LJC certificate provided interesting courses and content for her future legal career and that her favorite LJC course was The Politics of Law. Basalla advises students who are considering law school to take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) seriously, and to research as many law schools as possible.

Eaton is a Communication Studies major from Columbus. Ohio. Eaton is the director of Students Defending Students and is also involved in Phi Alpha Delta and the Center for Student Legal Services. Eaton decided to apply to the OIP fellowship because “the work that OIP does is extremely important, and I am sure it will be very rewarding. The people I will be working to exonerate have no other options, and it is great that OIP gives them a chance to fight for justice.” He says he wants to become a lawyer to use his public speaking and critical thinking skills to make a difference in other people’s lives.

Jesser is a Psychology and Political Science major from Akron, Ohio. Jesser has wanted to be a lawyer since the eighth grade. During her time at OHIO, she has been involved with Phi Alpha Delta, the Pre-Law Fraternity,  and Psi Chi, the psychology honors society.  She is a founding member and immediate past president of the Ohio University Mock Trial team.

She says her role as a fellow will be “to look over the cases of inmates who write to the Ohio Innocence Project claiming to be innocent. First you must determine if they could actually be innocent or not; then you determine if there is any way the lawyers at OIP are able to help them (retesting DNA evidence, getting new statements from witnesses, etc.). The next step is helping the OIP attorneys litigate their cases. This includes taking depositions from witnesses, writing briefs, and some in depth investigative work.”

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