Newsmaker

November 13, 2005|By JULIE BYKOWICZ

Michele Nethercott

Occupation

Head of the Maryland public defender's Innocence Project

In the News

Based on DNA test results, her office won a new trial last week for a man who has spent 20 years in prison for a murder in Druid Hill Park. Nethercott is seeking to have DNA testing conducted in several other Baltimore murder convictions.

Career Highlights

A defense attorney for two decades and a public defender since 1988, Nethercott made headlines in November 2002 when DNA test results exonerated her client Bernard Webster of a Baltimore County rape for which he had spent 20 years in prison. Her work in that case, she says, persuaded the state public defender to create the Innocence Project, which has since grown to include three public defenders based in Baltimore who work to uncover and correct wrongful convictions.

Nethercott, 46, a native of Canada and a 1984 graduate of Northeastern University Law School in Boston, says she never considered becoming a prosecutor. "I've never had that kind of confidence in the criminal justice system," she says.

Out of court

Nethercott's 19- and 17-year-old sons keep her humble, she says. When he volunteered recently at the juvenile justice center, she says her elder son, Edwin, told her, "Now I understand why you come home in a bad mood every night."

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