We had the good fortune of connecting with Justin Brooks and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Justin, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I was living in Michigan and teaching law school in the 1990s when I heard about a young woman on death row in Illinois who was sentenced to death on a plea bargain. It made no sense to me that someone would plead guilty and get death. In other words, why give up your right to trial, where you might be found innocent, just to plea out and get the most serious sentence. I went to meet her on death row and she told me she was innocent. I investigated the case with my students and found out she was innocent.

Working on the case I realized how many innocent people were in prison and how great it was to teach students to be great lawyers by working on real cases. After we got her death sentence reversed, I quit my job, moved to California where the most people in the USA are in prison and started the California Innocence Project. Since 1999, I’ve been freeing innocent people and teaching law students how to practice law using real cases. We’ve freed 35 people.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am most proud of the work we have done in freeing 35 innocent people from prison and of all of the great work my students have done as ethical, justice driven lawyers since graduating from law school.

The key to our success is never giving up on a case.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m lucky to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, San Diego, and I’m privileged to live at the beach. I love to take visitors to all of the great hiking spots in the city, the beach, and out for the best Mexican food anywhere outside of Mexico.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My team deserves all of the credit for the 35 innocent people we have freed from prison. Without them, I couldn’t possibly have done this work for as long as I have.

Website: californiainnocenceproject.org

Instagram: @justinobrooks

Twitter: @justinobrooks

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