Chapman 2012 Alumna Valerie Feltz Rone, as part of her work with Innocence Matters, helped free a man who served nearly nineteen years in prison for a crime he did not commit. John Edward Smith was 18 when he went to prison for a shooting that took place in a gang-infested area. Despite his strong alibi, he was convicted on largely perjured testimony, due to ineffective counsel. Innocence Matters has been trying to get Smith released since 2009.

Valerie began working on the case while externing at Innocence Matters during her 2L year, after learning about the opportunity through Chapman Law Career Services. She says working on the case “changed my life forever,” calling her experience with Innocence Matters “an invaluable educational opportunity.”

Valerie was one of the head externs, doing investigative work, working on the habeas corpus petition, and visiting Smith in prison.  Innocence Matters founder Deirdre O’Connor referred to Valerie as an important part of the defense team and  “a force to reckon with in court!”  Valerie is currently living in Oregon and awaiting her bar results.

Read more about John Edward Smith in the Los Angeles Times.