Posted by Ben Darrow on June 04, 2013
The Montana Innocence Project’s small staff relies upon a large network of amazing volunteers across the state, including attorneys, investigators, researchers, students, and many more. These volunteers are critical to our work, and in 2012 MTIP volunteers contributed more than 4,000 hours to help us free the innocent and improve the justice system in Montana. This past year, we honored two particular volunteers for for their outstanding dedication and service.
Champion of Justice
The Champion of Justice award is given to an attorney who best advances MTIP’s mission through pro bono legal service. The recipient this year was Colin Stephens, a partner at Smith and Stephens, P.C. in Missoula. Raised in Dutton, Colin is a graduate of Carroll College in Helena. After graduating from Carroll in 1998, Colin received a MA in philosophy and a JD from the University of Montana.
MTIP awarded Colin the Champion of Justice award for his pro bono efforts in the innocence case of Cody Marble. Colin has not only dedicated countless unpaid hours to the Marble case, but he also helps MTIP with other cases and questions on a regular basis.
MTIP is proud to be training Montana’s next generation of attorneys, journalists and other community leaders. We award the Freedom Fighter award to the student volunteer who exhibits tremendous dedication to MTIP’s work. Students in our clinical program pore through legal files, help us organize and summarize complicated documents, research legal issues and track down witnesses.
Eric Speer, a sociology/criminology student, has stood out this year. From Helena, Eric is a careful worker who has significantly helped with inmate correspondence and case screening. Eric will be graduating from the University of Montana this May and attending law school next year. We are thankful for his service and know that he will go on to help many more people in the years to come.