Colorado Innocence Project


The American criminal justice system contains  many features designed to guard against convicting an innocent person. But we  are humans and, due to honest mistake and otherwise, there are innocent people  in prison. We'll never have a perfect system, but the Colorado Innocence  Project (CIP) is dedicated to doing what it can to fix as many mistakes as  possible.

The  CIP receives requests for help from people who believe they have been convicted  despite being innocent of any offense, and evaluates these claims to see if  there are factual and legal grounds to get back into court with the claims.  When the CIP learns of a case that appears deserving of further investigation,  the case is referred for further evaluation to volunteer lawyers, who may be  assisted by Colorado Law students.


The  lawyers and law students may review transcripts, read investigative reports,  speak with previous counsel, research the state of the law at the time of the  conviction, search for previously undiscovered errors, determine whether new  forensic techniques might help, and make a recommendation as to whether the  case should be pursued. When a case appears deserving of being re-litigated,  the CIP recruits private lawyers and law firms, as well as investigators and  experts, to represent the individual. Read about some CIP cases or apply  for assistance.


The  CIP is not a substitute for the traditional methods of appealing a conviction.  Therefore, the CIP will not take cases in which the defendant already has a  lawyer, or is entitled to a lawyer at state expense. The CIP will not take a  case unless there is a genuine and provable claim of innocence. The CIP gets  involved only when the traditional methods of appealing a conviction have  failed. Please refer to the CIP evaluation criteria.

Colorado is one of many states that are  trying to address the problem of wrongful convictions. If you have a case  from another state, you may find help by going to the national Innocence Project,  which has a list of projects in a variety of states.


The CIP was founded in 2001 by a number of  Colorado lawyers led by Jim Scarboro '70, a partner in the Denver office of the  law firm of Arnold & Porter. The CIP was formed under the umbrella of the Colorado  Lawyers Committee, a non-profit, non-partisan consortium of law firms that  engages in pro bono work. In 2010, the CIP moved to its current home at  Colorado Law.

These  cases are difficult. There are huge structural, legal, and practical problems  standing in the way. But, an effort to free a wrongfully convicted person is as  noble an effort lawyers ever undertake, and the lawyers, law students, and  others involved with the CIP are working hard in that effort.