National Day of Reason Fundraiser for Innocence Project

Thursday, May 7th 2009 at 6:30 pm
Thursday, May 7th 2009 at 9:00 pm
New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th Street (and CPW)

The New York Society for Ethical Culture, Center for Inquiry-New York City, Secular Humanist Society of New York, and the New York City Skeptics are coming together May 7 to sponsor a fundraiser for the Innocence Project, a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing, and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice. The Project, a fusion of science, law and social justice, has freed 235 innocent men and women from jail -- 16 of them from death row -- since its inception in 1992.  The date of the event, May 7, marks the National Day of Reason.

The event will feature two speakers:

Former prisoner Barry Gibbs

On March 25, 1988, Barry Gibbs was convicted of murdering a 27-year-old woman, whose body had been found alongside the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn. His conviction was based on the testimony of one eyewitness. From the start, Gibbs maintained his innocence and pressed the courts to reinvestigate his case. Beginning in 1992, Gibbs requested DNA testing for the biological evidence from the scene, only to learn that it had all been lost, possibly in an asbestos accident. In March 2005, Gibbs got another chance to prove his innocence when former NYPD officer Louis Eppolito, an officer in his case, was indicted for taking part in mob-related murders (some of which occurred on the Belt Parkway). The IP asked federal and state authorities to investigate. That investigation uncovered new evidence leading to the motion to vacate Mr. Gibbs’ conviction. Gibbs was released September 29, 2005 after 19 years of wrongful incarceration.

Attorney Olga Akselrod

Olga Akselrod is a staff attorney at the Innocence Project and litigates postconviction DNA cases throughout the country. She also supervises students through the Innocence Project clinic at Cardozo. Ms. Akselrod joined the Innocence Project as a staff attorney in July 2006. Before that, Ms. Akselrod was a Fried Frank LDF Fellow, through which she worked for two years at the law firm of Fried Frank LLP and subsequently two years at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (“LDF”). As an LDF attorney, Ms. Akselrod litigated a wide variety of criminal justice and education cases. Ms. Akselrod graduated from UC Berkeley in 1996 and from New York University School of Law in 2002. She also holds a Masters in Political Science from The Johns Hopkins University.

Join us at 6:30 p.m. to meet and talk with leaders and members from the various involved organizations. Akselrod and Gibbs will go on at roughly 7:30 p.m. and take questions after they speak. 

Admission is free and open to the public. Suggested donation is $20. Donations will be taken throughout the event. All donations will go directly to the Project. The event will be held in the auditorium. Light refreshments will be served.