the oklahoma innocence project

 

history

The Oklahoma Innocence Project is dedicated to identifying and remedying cases of wrongful convictions in Oklahoma.  Bringing together Oklahoma City University School of Law students to work with the legal director, OKIP pursues only cases in which there is credible evidence of factual innocence.

Prior to OKIP’s opening in August 2011, there were already numerous cases in Oklahoma where innocent people were exonerated.  While imprisoned for a crime they did not commit, Oklahoma exonerees spent from four to twenty years behind bars.  Oklahoma ranks in the top 10 in the nation in terms of the number of known wrongful convictions of innocent people.

Our criminal justice system is among the finest in the world, but it is not immune to human error. Studies show a 1.6% error rate nationwide for capital cases and a 3-4% error rate for other cases. No one wants to see the wrong person convicted for a crime they did not commit.  We all have an interest in correcting wrongful convictions when they occur, and pursuing the actual guilty party.


We are not satisfied and will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

STAFF


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executive director

Vicki zemp Behenna

Vicki Behenna, a graduate of Oklahoma City University School of Law, spent more than 25 years as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma. During her tenure, she tried fraud cases and was responsible for the prosecution of complex public corruption cases. Behenna was selected to participate in the Oklahoma City bombing case against Timothy McVeigh as a special attorney to then U.S. Attorney Janet Reno.

In 2015, Behenna was named Executive Director of the Oklahoma Innocence Project. Her tenacious efforts on behalf of the wrongly convicted give her unique insight into the complex issues in this field and the ability to not only manage the clinic, but also the talent and experience to serve as an advocate in court for the clinic’s clients. 

education

OCU SCHOOL OF LAW
Juris Doctor, 1984

MEMBER

Oklahoma Bar Association
Federal Bar Association
American Bar Association
Oklahoma Association of Women Lawyers
William J. Holloway Jr. American Inn of Court

ACCOLADES

Trial Advocacy Award given by the Association of Government Lawyers in Capitol Litigation 

Distinguished Service Award from the U.S. Attorney Janet Reno

Integrity Award presented by the Department of Health and Human Services Office

Outstanding Assistant U.S. Attorney recognition by the Western District of Oklahoma in 2012

Distinguished Law Alumna by Oklahoma City University School of Law in 2013


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EDUCATION

UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA
Juris Doctor, 1996

legal director

Andrea Miller

Andrea Miller is the Legal Director for the Oklahoma Innocence Project at Oklahoma City University School of Law. Prior to joining the Innocence Project full time she was the Appellate Division Chief for the Oklahoma County Public Defender’s Office where she handled capital, general felony and misdemeanor cases on direct appeal and post-conviction. She has also been an adjunct professor at Oklahoma City University School of Law having previously taught courses in legal writing and Wrongful Convictions and still serves as the adjunct clinical professor for the Oklahoma Innocence Project Clinic. Ms. Miller served as president of the Oklahoma Criminal Defense Lawyers Association for three years and remains active on the board of directors. She is a 1996 graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Law where she served as the Research Editor of the Oklahoma Law Review.


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paralegal

CHERYL BURNS

Cheryl Burns is well-versed with the legal system, having spent 15 years as a paralegal in a law firm environment and 15 years as a paralegal in the corporate legal environment. Cheryl brings the strength of her experience, background and desire to assist in making OKIP the gold standard for wrongful conviction clinics around the country.

ACTIVITIES

  • OKIP since 2018

EDUCATION

INNOVA UNIVERISTY
B.A., 2004

ROGERS STATE UNIVERSITY
Associate, 1988