Our Voices

Former WVIP Student Attorney Kelli Ganz Murray: A Goal, Work Ethic and Compassion

. . . Living in West Virginia and serving indigent clients as a law student helped Murray develop a strong compassion for others. A more rural perspective on the law, coupled with her lifelong passion for social equality, helps her be a better advocate for her clients, according to Murray.

“I work to defend and give a voice to people unable to pay for an attorney, which is a crucial asset when they are facing loss of liberty,” she said. “Most of my clients live in poverty on the margins of society and are often debilitated by substance abuse and trauma. I am successful any time I can empower my clients, whether it’s helping fill out paperwork for a substance abuse treatment program, humanizing them by telling their story during their sentencing, or litigating their case at trial to ensure they have full protection of the constitution.”

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"Evidence on Fire": Fire Science Evidence Reviewed

Fire science, a field largely developed by lay “arson” investigators, police officers or similar first responders untrained in chemistry and physics, has been historically dominated by unreliable methodology, demonstrably false conclusions, and concomitant miscarriages in justice. As science-proficient commentators have noted, “fire scene investigators are subject to very little proficiency training, and the field’s requirements call for no more than a high school education.” Perhaps surprisingly, courts have largely spared many of the now-debunked tenets of fire investigation any serious scientific scrutiny in criminal arson cases. This Article contrasts the courts ongoing lax admissibility of unreliable fire science evidence in criminal cases with their strict exclusion of the same flimsy evidence in civil cases notwithstanding that both criminal and civil courts are required to operate under the same expert evidence exclusionary rules. 

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Misidentified: Flawed Eyewitness Accounts

We do lots of things on autopilot on a daily basis. Some mornings, we arrive at work without any recollection of leaving our home or taking the exit on the freeway – it all becomes automatic.  

But most of us still trust our memory. We trust that things are as we see them, and that things happened exactly the way that we remember them happening. Admittedly, even with my experience in wrongful conviction litigation, I too thought that the concept of forgetting someone’s face, especially someone you made direct contact with, was far-fetched. It wasn’t until I had an informal conversation with Nathan Maxwell, the current fellow at the West Virginia Innocence Project, that I realized just how easy it is to have your memory distorted implicitly.

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