News & Announcements

Weil, Innocence Project Secure Retrial Based on Newly Discovered Scientific Evidence for 30-Year Imprisoned Client

Following a weeklong evidentiary hearing in early 2022 and post-hearing briefing, a team of Weil attorneys, pro bono partner the Innocence Project, and Colorado counsel obtained a new trial for client James Genrich, who has spent three decades in prison on multiple murder convictions based on handheld toolmark evidence. Mr. Genrich was convicted in 1993 for a series of pipe bombings, after the State’s expert claimed to identify his pliers and wire cutters as the only tools in the world that could have made tiny marks found on exploded bomb fragments. Just after Independence Day, on July 7, the Colorado trial court issued a 30-page opinion holding that this testimony “was inappropriate and would be inadmissible at a new trial.”

The court’s decision considered newly discovered evidence – analyses and critiques of toolmark evidence and methodologies within the scientific community subsequent to the trial, presented by the Innocence Project, Weil, and local counsel team through renowned scientific experts – that toolmark matching is unreliable and subject to high rates of error, which precludes the kind of testimony offered by the State at Mr. Genrich’s 1993 trial. The court found such absolute certainty testimony is inadmissible because it “has no probative value,” and moreover that its introduction violated Mr. Genrich’s constitutional due process rights. Finally, because the State’s case “rested largely upon the testimony … of the toolmark expert,” an acquittal would be likely in another trial.

After maintaining his innocence for more than 30 years, Mr. Genrich is very pleased that his request for a new trial was granted, and the team looks forward to continuing to advocate for his exoneration. The Weil team, who were also co-counsel for Mr. Genrich in the 2017-2020 appeal that led to the hearing, includes counsel Corey Brady and Brian Liegel, supervised by special pro bono counsel Irwin Warren and partner Ed Soto. Innocence Project counsel are Chris Fabricant and Tania Brief, and Colorado counsel are Kathleen Lord, with the Korey Wise Innocence Project at the University of Colorado School of Law, and Rebekka Higgs.