From inmate to court clerk: Innocent man jailed 9 years now works at court who gave him freedom

Jarrett Adams, clerk, btb

A Chicago man who was falsely accused of rape as a teen and jailed for nine years is now a law clerk working for the circuit court where he won his freedom in 2007.

Jarrett Adams, now in his 30s, was just 17 when he was wrongfully accused then convicted of raping a woman during a visit to the University of Wisconsin campus and sentenced to 28 years in prison.

Adams spent nine years maintaining his innocence before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his conviction and put the newly freed Adams on a path toward becoming an attorney himself.

Now on a mission to ensure others don’t suffer his same unfair fate, Adams has completed both his undergraduate and law degrees and earned a fellowship as a clerk for the 7th Circuit.

Adams told the Chicago Tribune that his desire to become an attorney was fueled by the failings of his attorney, and the influence of his cellmate, who was a jailhouse lawyer.

Adams knew he wanted to be a lawyer because he felt he would be an aggressive advocate for his clients, he said.

Adams began his quest for higher education shortly after his release, first at community college and later at Roosevelt University.

He graduated from Loyola University with a law degree in May in an effort to help others who are in similar situations, WBBM-TV reported.

Although Adams initially was more interested in working out and playing basketball while he was in prison, he said his cellmate challenged him to focus more on his case.

‘He basically verbally grabbed me and told me to work on my case,’ Adams said.

His cellmate introduced him to law, and Adams eventually took it upon himself to learn more and begin writing letters, he said.

Adams was able to convince the Wisconsin Innocence Project to take up his case. Adams lent his extensive knowledge of his case to his new attorneys, who filed a federal appeal claiming that the evidence fell short and Adams’ trial attorney failed to call a key witness, a man who would’ve undermined testimony of the alleged rape victim.

‘I quickly learned this was one smart guy,’ Keith Findley, co-director of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, said of Adams. ‘He understood the case. He knew the law. He was really a charismatic guy.’

Adams would also win a fellowship with the 7th Circuit. He took the bar exam recently and expects to get his results in November, Today reports.

As a lawyer, Adams plans to fight for low-income defendants and the wrongfully accused.

‘There is no way a client can say, ‘You don’t understand,” he said. ‘Because I do.”

Source: The DailyMail

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