Limerick Circuit Court will be a quiet place over the summer months, but one Limerick barrister has chosen to help free people wrongfully convicted of crimes in the United States during the summer recess.
Alicia Hayes, BL, 28, from the Ennis Road, is one of a select group of barristers to be chosen by the Bar Council to participate in the Innocence project in States.
Established in 1992, it uses DNA evidence and other technology, which may not have been available at the time of conviction, in cases where there are claims of wrongful conviction.
Since its inception the group have helped exonerate 289 people of crimes they didn’t commit, as well as 13 people on death row. It now has some 6,000 cases before it for review, extending across 30 States.
Ms Hayes, who has worked as a barrister for six years in Limerick and Dublin, said she was delighted to be chosen from 90 applicants, of which just six were shortlisted.
She was the first candidate to be selected and will be based in Duke University in north Carolina during her three-month stay, which is covered by the Bar Council, and will work alongside a team of attorneys on specific cases. Ms Hayes will also be retracing the footsteps of her father, the former head of the art department in Mary Immaculate College, who did his PhD in Duke. Another Limerick native, Joanne Kirby, who is based in Dublin, has also been selected and will be based in Ohio. Both are former pupils of Laurel Hill Cholaiste.
“This is the kind of work I always wanted to do. I’m really glad I’m getting the chance to use my law degree to help others. I’m very excited about it,” she said. Ms Hayes, who studied in UCC and King’s Inn, and has lectured in Griffith College, graduated as a barrister at the aged 21.
Griffith College is the founder of the Irish Innocence project, launched two years ago, which has 24 live cases, including a case in which a person is seeking to overturn a murder conviction.