Post-Conviction Innocence Clinic Helps Client Secure Parole

On January 30, the New York State Parole Board granted parole to Juan Reyes, a client of NYLS’s Post-Conviction Innocence Clinic.

NYLS’s team—Clinic Director and Distinguished Adjunct Professor Adele Bernhard and clinic students Richell Lisboa 2L and Ronna Zarrouk 3L—spent months researching Reyes’s case and working with him to assemble evidence in support of his release from prison.

Reyes had served 22 years for his alleged involvement in a 1995 Brooklyn shooting. Throughout his incarceration, Reyes maintained his innocence, and after reviewing the case evidence, the Clinic agreed. Since Reyes’s original criminal case could not be reopened, the Clinic team instead focused on helping him secure parole.

Lisboa, Zarrouk, and Professor Bernhard gathered substantial documentation to present to the Parole Board, including eyewitness testimony under oath; letters of support from neighbors, friends, and Reyes’s original defense attorney; polygraph test results; and information about Reyes’s accomplishments in prison, where he earned his high school degree, learned how to repair small engines, and trained puppies to provide emotional support to veterans and to sniff out bombs.

Reyes had previously sought parole three times on his own. His fourth parole hearing was on January 16.

NYLS’s Post-Conviction Innocence Clinic represents a small number of clients who have been convicted of serious crimes in New York State but who present a colorable claim of actual innocence that cannot be proven through DNA evidence alone.