Innocence Project Founders Barry Scheck, Peter Neufeld Receive New York State Bar Association’s Gold Medal

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 13:31


Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, two of the nation’s most prominent civil rights attorneys and the co-founders of the Innocence Project, have received the New York State Bar Association’s Gold Medal, the organization’s highest honor.

The award, given to individuals who exhibit lifelong excellence in the legal profession and unparalleled civic contributions, was presented by State Bar President Seymour W. James, Jr. in January during the President’s Dinner at the conclusion of the organization’s 136th Annual Meeting.

“The State Bar Association is pleased to honor Peter Neufeld, Barry Scheck and the Innocence Project. Their groundbreaking work has helped reverse many wrongful convictions and has raised awareness of the systemic procedures and practices that have led to those injustices,” said president James (The Legal Aid Society in New York City).

President James noted that the State Bar Association and the Innocence Project held two joint Albany press conferences in 2012 to advocate for state legislation to combat wrongful convictions.

In 1992, Scheck and Neufeld founded the Innocence Project at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University. Since then, the Innocence Project has helped free more than 300 wrongfully convicted prisoners, including 18 who had been sentenced to death.

The fight against wrongful convictions long has been a key component of the State Bar Association’s legislative agenda. In 2009, the report of its Task Force on Wrongful Convictions put the spotlight on 53 wrongful convictions in New York since 1964 and recommended changes to reduce the number of instances.

Under President James and Immediate Past State Bar President Vincent E. Doyle III of Buffalo, the Bar Association has continued to seek state legislation requiring the videotaping of police interrogations and changes to police lineup procedures to ensure more accurate identification of suspects.