Changing The World Starts Here

Innocent man’s freedom won by law students, professors

University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law students, professors and members of the Kansas City community gathered Aug. 22 to celebrate the exoneration of Ricky Kidd. He was incarcerated for 23 years for a double homicide he did not commit.

UMKC professors Sean O'Brien and Lindsay Runnels, along with as many as 50 different students from the UMKC School of Law, have worked on Kidd’s case since 2005. 

“In law school classrooms, we can teach about law and procedure. But it’s when you have a client that you learn what it means to be a lawyer. What our students have learned working with Professor O’Brien and Ricky Kidd is how to have faith in a system that has been faithless and how to have hope in a situation that seems hopeless,” said Barbara Glesner Fines, UMKC School of Law dean.

O’Brien, who graduated from the UMKC School of Law in 1980, has been dedicated to justice since his early days as an attorney. He enjoys working with like-minded people, many of whom were and are UMKC students. They share a passion for seeking the truth and righting wrongs when they occur.

“This mission is about love. It takes a village. The people who work behind the scenes, such as the law students, don’t receive recognition. Ricky is meeting people who have worked on his case for the first time. They all work behind the scenes. The Midwest Innocence Project gave their best people to work on the case.” – O’Brien

Over the years, Kidd and O’Brien experienced many highs and lows. Kidd lost his case 11 times.

“Make no mistake, the past 23 years has been a severe challenge for my family and I. But today, I am much better. When you have strangers and volunteers dedicated to fighting for you, anything can happen. I feel like we were all exonerated. We kept on pushing. Everyone working on my case, and these law students, made the impossible possible." - Ricky Kidd

O’Brien was present last week when Kidd met his daughter Jasmine for the first time as a free man. She was five years old when he was incarcerated. Watch the emotional reunion, recorded by O’Brien’s wife.


Published: Aug 23, 2019

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