October 2015

Northern California Innocence Project Wins Exoneration of Innocent Man After 15 Years of Wrongful Imprisonment

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Oct. 8, 2015 - The Tehama County Superior Court in northern California has overturned the wrongful conviction of Larry Pohlschneider, a client of Santa Clara University School of Law’s Northern California Innocence Project, after nearly 15 years of wrongful imprisonment for child molestation charges based on flawed medical evidence. 

The Oct. 7 decision marks the 18th victory for the NCIP since its inception in 2001.

Attorneys for Pohlschneider, 46, and the Tehama County District Attorney agreed that his 2000 conviction should be vacated and the charges dismissed due to the ineffective assistance of Pohlschneider’s trial counsel. The true perpetrator has pleaded guilty and been imprisoned.   

NCIP Assistant Legal Director Maitreya Badami, Pohlschneider’s lead attorney, commended the Tehama County District Attorney’s Office for its willingness to look at this case with fresh eyes when presented with evidence from NCIP’s investigation. 

“Without the District Attorney’s fairness and cooperation, Mr. Pohlschneider’s unjust incarceration might have been even more prolonged,” said Badami. “The failure of Mr. Pohlschneider’s trial attorney to investigate and challenge the medical evidence resulted in an untrustworthy verdict and his wrongful imprisonment.”

“Today marks the first step toward freedom and complete vindication for Mr. Pohlschneider,” said NCIP volunteer attorney Thom Seaton.  “An innocent man was pulled into a child-molestation case because of junk science which led police wrongly to focus on him as an additional perpetrator -- despite the fact that the true, sole perpetrator, Albert Harris, had been charged, confessed, and ultimately pled guilty to the crime.” 

Tragically, junk science passing as expert testimony is a contributing factor in 22 percent of wrongful convictions, noted NCIP Legal Director Linda Starr.  “NCIP is actively working to free innocent people and establish policies to prevent wrongful convictions like Larry’s,” Starr said.

The court ordered Pohlschneider’s release, and his discharge from Tehama County Jail is expected imminently.

While yesterday’s ruling confirms Pohlschneider’s exoneration, a hearing is set for November 12 to determine whether he can file a petition to receive state compensation for his wrongful conviction.

About the Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara University School of Law
The Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP) is a pro bono legal clinical program where law students, attorneys, pro bono counsel, and volunteers work to free wrongfully convicted prisoners.  NCIP exonerates the innocent, promotes a fair, effective and compassionate justice system, and protects the rights of the innocent. For more information, please visit www.ncip.scu.edu.

About Santa Clara University School of Law
Santa Clara University School of Law, one of the nation’s most diverse law schools, is dedicated to educating lawyers who lead with a commitment to excellence, ethics, and social justice.  Santa Clara Law offers students an academically rigorous program including certificates in high tech law, international law, public interest and social justice law, and privacy law, as well as numerous graduate and joint degree options.  Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara Law is nationally distinguished for its faculty engagement, preparation for practice, and top-ranked programs in intellectual property.  For more information, see law.scu.edu

Media Contacts:
Audrey Redmond | NCIP | aredmond@scu.edu | 408-551-1849
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | dlohse@scu.edu | 408-554-5121

Press Release, Law