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Weil Secures Exoneration and Innocence for Texas Man Who Wrongly Served 26 Years in Prison

Weil Secures Exoneration and Innocence for Texas Man Who Wrongly Served 26 Years in Prison

In a matter referred to Weil by the Innocence Project in 2020, a Weil pro bono team, working in partnership with the Innocence Project and the Dallas District Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Division, successfully secured exoneration and an actual innocence finding for an innocent man who served 26 years in prison before being released on parole and required to register as a sex offender.

The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office officially dismissed all charges in the case after a hearing Wednesday in a Dallas County Criminal Court. Tyrone Day was originally convicted of sexual assault in 1990 and sentenced to 40 years in prison. Although he maintained his innocence, he pleaded guilty fearing that if the case was taken to trial, he would get life in prison.

The Weil team, working pro bono with the assistance of local counsel, filed a habeas petition under Texas law in January 2023 seeking to vacate Mr. Day’s guilty plea due to new scientific evidence and on due process grounds. The Dallas County Criminal Court signed the Findings of Fact in March 2023, finding Mr. Day’s due process rights were violated and that his guilty plea should be vacated. The Findings of Fact then went before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which affirmed the findings on April 26 and returned the matter to the lower court for final exoneration proceedings, which took place May 24.

“This case has been a humbling experience, and one that stands out in my 29 years of practice,” said Paul R. Genender, a partner in the Firm’s Complex Commercial Litigation practice group and leader of Weil’s Litigation practice in Texas. “While Mr. Day’s justice was delayed, the District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit and everyone involved in this case made sure that it was ultimately not denied.”

Genender and Jenae D. Ward of Weil represented Mr. Day, along with Vanessa Potkin of the Innocence Project and Gary Udashen of Udashen Anton. The Innocence Project, which was founded in 1992, has been at the forefront of criminal justice reform, using DNA and other scientific advancements to prove wrongful conviction. Mr. Day first wrote to the Innocence Project on July 18, 2000, and his case was accepted in 2004.