Aug 31, 2011    #151
Contact: Laura Byerley
(816) 235-1592

Laura E. O'Sullivan becomes UMKC clinical professor and legal director of the Midwestern Innocence Project

School of Law supports project through leadership and legal clinics

Kansas City, Mo. - In conjunction with the Midwestern Innocence Project (MIP), the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Law recently named Laura E. O'Sullivan as legal director of the Project and clinical associate professor of law.

O'Sullivan is an attorney with 20 years of legal experience - more than 14 years as a public defender and more than five years in private practice. She has extensive experience leading and training attorneys, investigators, paralegals, legal assistants and support staff. While working as an assistant public defender in the Missouri State Public Defender System's Kansas City Trial Office, she served as a mentor to interns from the UMKC School of Law. Most recently, O'Sullivan served as training director for the Missouri State Public Defender System in St. Louis. She received a JD degree from St. Louis University.

MIP, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, works to exonerate and free wrongfully convicted people from prison, primarily in Missouri and Kansas. As legal director, O'Sullivan will lead a staff of attorneys, paralegals and investigators housed at Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP in downtown Kansas City who work in partnership with the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, the University of Missouri and UMKC to screen, investigate and litigate cases seeking exoneration and freedom for innocent persons in this region. O'Sullivan also will oversee administration of two Department of Justice grants awarded to MIP for the investigation of innocence cases. For more information about the Midwestern Innocence Project, visit

Through a Wrongful Convictions course and the Innocence Clinic at both UMKC and MU, law and journalism students work with the Midwestern Innocence Project on cases of possible innocence. Taught by O'Sullivan this fall, the Wrongful Convictions course examines the causes of wrongful convictions, considers systemic reforms that might minimize convicting the innocent and focuses on recurring ethical issues that confront prosecutors and criminal defense lawyers. In the spring, through the Innocence Project Clinic, students will provide investigative and legal assistance to prisoners with persuasive actual innocence claims, including interviewing potential clients, gathering records, investigating actual innocence claims, consulting with experts, drafting post-conviction pleadings, and appearing at court hearings.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. For more information about UMKC, visit You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us on YouTube.

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This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).


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