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The Innocence Project Commemorates Its 12th Anniversary

Lucas Bueno and Michael Williams

Photographed by Melissa Calico

Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO) held its “12th Anniversary Gala” at the famed Generations Hall in May, celebrating its work over the years to free factually innocent life-sentenced prisoners in Louisiana and south Mississippi. IPNO is the second-largest innocence project of its kind in the world.

This year’s IPNO heroes honored were: Baptist Community Ministries, who received the Outstanding Reformer Award; Sybil Byrd, who received the Extraordinary Advocacy Award; J. Gordon Coone, Jr. and Michael L. Banks Jr. of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, who each received the Right Side of History Award; and John Thompson, founder of Resurrection after Exoneration and himself a death row exoneree, who received the Outstanding Courage and Vision Award. Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins gave a speech that set the tone for the evening.

More than 300 guests, including exonerees and their loved ones, attended the gala and enjoyed spectacular live music by Gal Holiday and the Honky-Tonk Revue. Michael’s Catering/Mat & Naddie’s provided scrumptious appetizers and dessert, while renowned Jacques-Imo’s supplied a dinner fit for royalty.

In addition to live music and great company, the IPNO held a fabulous silent auction with over 50 luxury lots for guests to bid on. A fantastic photo presentation of the exonerees with updates on their lives post-exoneration ended the evening on a very high note.

Event at a Glance

What: "Ball in the City" presented by Liberty Bank, benefiting the United Negro College Fund
When: Friday, March 22
Where: Harrah's New Orleans Casino

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