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Major Gift For UC's Ohio Innocence Project


A $15 million gift to the University of Cincinnati's College of Law will allow the expansion of a program designed to free the wrongfully convicted. 

The donation to the Ohio Innocence Project comes from Dick Rosenthal. He and his late wife Lois were instrumental in building the program in 2003, according to Director Mark Godsey.

"The Rosenthals, as pretty much everyone in the city knows, are unbelievable philanthropists who've done so much for our city. With this gift, they're insuring that our project, our Innocence Project will be able to continue in perpetuity."

In 2004, the Rosenthals donated $1 million to create and endow the Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice at UC, which includes the Ohio Innocence Project.

Godsey says the program has about 20 law students participate each year.

We're trying to teach them that even a student can challenge the system; that anybody can stand up for justice.

Godsey calls the donation "mind blowing."

"Since we started in 2003, we've reviewed over 8,000 cases, and we are very selective. We've only gone to court saying that someone's innocent, or they deserve a new trial, less than probably 30 times, and we've won a good percentage of those."

The Innocence Project has freed 24 people from wrongful imprisonment.

"When John Cranley and I founded the organization, we were just a couple of young lawyers, but Lois and Dick knew how to build institutions. They had a vision and helped teach John and me how to take our ideas and passion to the next level."

Godsey says in addition to reviewing cases, the program may be able expand its legislative efforts.

"We not only use cases to get innocent people out of prison, but legislation is a part of it and public awareness. So we'll be looking at how we can fulfill those goals by possibly hiring more people to assist in the legislative efforts, the awareness efforts and the litigation efforts."

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio in markets including Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.