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BLOOMINGTON — The efforts by lawyers to reverse wrongful convictions will be the focus of a panel discussion Oct. 16 organized by Amanda Vicary, associate professor of psychology at Illinois Wesleyan University.

"Wrongful Convictions: The Pursuit of Justice in Illinois" will be presented at 7 p.m. in IWU's Hansen Student Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Panelists include Vicary; Curtis Lovelace, a Champaign attorney exonerated of murder charges in the death of his wife; Tammy Alexander, co-founder of Justice for Illinois' Wrongfully Convicted; and Tara Thompson, a partner at Loevy & Loevy in Chicago who also works with the University of Chicago Exoneration Project.

The panelists will discuss two local cases that are being represented by The Exoneration Project. 

Bart McNeil is challenging his murder conviction in the 1999 death of his 4-year-old daughter. McNeil contends Bloomington police failed to seriously consider another suspect — his former girlfriend, who was convicted 12 years later for the murder of her mother-in-law.

The second case involves Jamie Snow, who was convicted of murdering Bill Little during a robbery attempt at a Bloomington gas station in the 1990s. Snow claims the state's witnesses were unreliable and provided false testimony.

The forum was organized as a way to engage the community in a dialogue on the issues surrounding wrongful conditions, said Vicary, who has taught a course on the criminal justice system for eight years.

"It's important for our community to pay attention to potential problems with our justice system because no one ever knows whether they or a loved one could be affected one day," Vicary said in a statement announcing the event.

Audience members will have a chance to ask questions of panelists.

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Contact Edith Brady-Lunny at (309) 820-3276. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_blunny

McLean County Courts Reporter

McLean County courts reporter for The Pantagraph.