The Arizona Justice Project held its second annual One Injustice is One Too Many fundraiser Feb. 23. The sold-out event at the Heard Museum drew 350 guests, generating $125,000 to allow the organization to continue identifying innocent and wrongly convicted individuals in Arizona and working to bring them home. The event included a cocktail reception, food stations, music, a raffle and an Arizona exoneree portrait exhibit.
Jennifer Thompson, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Picking Cotton, gave the keynote address. In 1984, when Thompson was a college student in North Carolina, a man broke into her apartment and sexually assaulted her. A local man named Ronald Cotton met the description, and when presented with a photo lineup that included Cotton, Thompson identified him as the attacker. Despite his claim of innocence, Cotton was convicted at trial and sentenced to prison. Years later, DNA testing came into existence, and in 1996, it showed Cotton was innocent (and identified the actual attacker). After Cotton’s exoneration, Thompson asked to meet with him. Soon after, they became friends. They wrote Picking Cotton together and have become national advocates for better eyewitness identification practices. Thompson has also founded Healing Justice, a nonprofit focused on restorative justice for crime survivors and exonerees.
At the fundraiser, Arizona Justice Project recognized law professor Bob Bartels with the One Injustice Award for his years of service to the organization and dedication to correcting wrongful convictions.
Rich Robertson, formerly with 12 News and currently with R3 investigations, emceed the evening. Lee Stein, partner with Mitchell Stein Carey Chapman, and Lindsay Herf, Arizona Justice Project executive director, also spoke. Board member Colleen Maring, general counsel for Northern Arizona Healthcare, conducted the ask.
PHOTOS COURTESY ARIZONA JUSTICE PROJECT