Senate Confirms Biden Court Pick Who Freed Dozens Of Innocent People From Prison

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Nina Morrison to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, placing somebody onto the federal bench with the extraordinary background of getting labored to free dozens of harmless individuals from jail and demise row.

Morrison was confirmed in a 53-46 vote to her lifetime federal judgeship. Every Democrat voted for her, together with three Republicans: Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.). Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) didn’t vote.

Morrison, 52, has spent the final 20 years being the senior litigation counsel on the New York-based Innocence Project, a corporation targeted on exonerating wrongly convicted individuals via DNA testing and reforming the legal justice system. She has been lead or co-counsel on circumstances which have freed greater than 30 harmless individuals from jail.

During her affirmation listening to in February, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee bizarrely attacked Morrison as if she had dedicated the crimes her shoppers had been convicted of — that they didn’t really commit, both.

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), each potential 2024 presidential contenders who’ve used the committee’s hearings for grandstanding, tried accountable Morrison for spikes in violent crimes in cities throughout America. They pressed her on whether or not she felt responsible about releasing individuals from jail who had been convicted of violent crimes, even though they’d all been exonerated by DNA proof.

“Across this country, Americans are horrified at skyrocketing crime rates, at skyrocketing homicide rates, at skyrocketing burglary rates, at skyrocketing carjacking rates,” Cruz instructed Morrison. “All of those are the direct result of the policies you’ve spent your entire lifetime advancing.”

“I will oppose you and anyone else the administration sends to us who do not understand the necessity of the rule of law,” Hawley vowed, nonsensically.

Nina Morrison, who has spent her career helping to free innocent people from prison, will now be a federal judge in New York.
Nina Morrison, who has spent her career serving to to free harmless individuals from jail, will now be a federal choose in New York.

Tom Williams by way of Getty Images

Easily the largest fail of the listening to, although, was when Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) tried to disgrace Morrison for her work on a case involving an Arkansas man, Ledell Lee, who was put to demise in 2017 for the 1993 homicide of a 26-year-old girl, Debra Reese. Four years after he was executed, a different man’s DNA was found on the murder weapon, which had not beforehand been examined. Morrison had taken up the case on behalf of Lee’s sister.

Cotton, additionally a possible 2024 presidential contender, appeared surprised that Morrison was analyzing this case so a few years later — and didn’t appear to know the importance and reliability of DNA testing.

“He was convicted on the basis of eyewitness testimony and the possession of Ms. Reese’s stolen property,” Cotton insisted.

“Eyewitness identification, which you referenced, is actually the single leading proven cause of wrongful convictions,” Morrison replied, noting that there’s “a significant amount of compelling evidence” in favor of Lee’s innocence.

“Compelling evidence that courts somehow overlooked for 22 years until he was executed?” interrupted Cotton, seemingly exasperated that Morrison really knew what she was speaking about.

“Senator, I have represented many individuals who were exonerated by DNA who lost dozens of appeals in courts because DNA was not available,” Morrison stated.

Cotton resorted to making an attempt to make Morrison really feel responsible for taking over the case in any respect.

“As he walked to the execution chamber, on the night of his execution, he looked at a warden and smirked, and said, ‘This ain’t happening. You all are taking me back,’” Cotton stated. “Are you proud that you encouraged such defiance of convicted murderers?”

“Senator, I don’t believe that anything in my career has ever encouraged defiance or disrespect for the process,” Morrison calmly replied. “I know that Mr. Lee maintained his actual innocence until his execution.”

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