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Annual Murphy Lecture Features Exoneree

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Greg Taylor listens with his attorney Christine Mumma '98 as the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission's decision exonerating him of murder is read Feb. 17 in Raleigh, N.C. Photo
by Shawn Rocco, The News & Observer.

Gregory F. Taylor will speak at UNC School of Law as the 2011 William P. Murphy Distinguished Lecture on Wednesday, March 16. The lecture will take place at noon in the Rotunda at the law school. The Innocence Project, a UNC law student organization, devoted to reviewing and investigating claims of innocence by prisoners is a co-sponsor of the event.

Taylor was exonerated last February by the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission in Raleigh. The unanimous decision freed him from prison nearly 17 years after he was wrongfully convicted of murder. He is the first person in the state's history to be exonerated by the commission.

Much national attention has been focused on using DNA evidence to overturn wrongful convictions, said Stephen B. Bright, director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, who spoke at last year's Murphy Lecture. But 90 percent of criminal cases, like Taylor's, do not involve any DNA evidence.

Defense lawyers argued that prosecutors misrepresented evidence against Taylor, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1993 for a murder he always maintained that he did not commit. They said that stains on his truck turned out to not have been human blood, and that witnesses were later proven to have described scenarios that could not have happened.

Chris Mumma '98 will introduce Taylor. Mumma is executive director of the N.C. Center on Actual Innocence, which is dedicated to identifying, investigating and advancing credible claims of innocence made by inmates convicted of felonies in North Carolina. Mumma is an adjunct professor of law at UNC. She previously clerked for Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake and worked with him to develop the Chief Justice's Innocence Commission. She helped design guidelines for police lineups that, if followed, should prevent missteps that lead to wrongful arrests. Due to her work, North Carolina now requires investigators to record interrogations of murder suspects - a requirement in fewer than a dozen states. Mumma was honored by the N.C. Bar Association for her pro bono projects in 2005 and was named The News & Observer's Tar Heel of the Year in 2007.

The Murphy Lecture Series was established by the UNC School of Law Class of 1990 to celebrate former faculty member Professor William P. Murphy's teaching and his work in constitutional law, labor law and civil rights. This lecture series is responsible for bringing noted lawyers, political figures and public advocates to the campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Greg Taylor: Murphy Lecture from UNC School of Law on Vimeo.

-January 27, 2011

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