Ashleigh Karnell completed a six-month Pro Bono Fellowship with the Tennessee Innocence Project (TIP) in August 2022. A highlight of Ashleigh’s fellowship was helping the TIP team prepare for the evidentiary hearing that led to the exoneration of Claude Garrett – a man who served nearly 30 years for a crime he did not commit. She also continued the work of Bass, Berry & Sims alumna and former TIP Pro Bono Fellow Danielle Dudding Irvine representing Artis Whitehead on a wrongful conviction case involving a 249-year sentence and served as co-counsel on two additional TIP cases.

Commenting on her Fellowship, Ashleigh said, “The fellowship with TIP was one of the most impactful and incredible experiences of my life. I returned to Bass, Berry & Sims not only a better lawyer, but also a better person. I was able to see firsthand the amazing work that TIP is doing and the impact that the organization has made in our state. It was an honor to help them push that work forward.”

Ashleigh further advanced the mission of TIP through her work for multiple TIP clients – drafting petitions for DNA and fingerprint testing and petitions for post-conviction relief; preparing appellate briefs; interviewing witnesses and reviewing evidence. Ashleigh helped address the backlog of requests for assistance, reviewing applications and interviewing applicants seeking representation.

During her Fellowship, Ashleigh also participated in the Innocence Network Conference where she was able to take courses regarding new scientific breakthroughs and legal avenues to assist the wrongfully convicted, and establish relationships with attorneys and expert witnesses from across the world who are tirelessly working to free the wrongfully incarcerated. Many of the 203 freed and exonerated attendees shared their stories and Ashleigh was able to spend time with TIP’s exonerated client, Joyce Watkins.

On returning to the firm, Ashleigh has continued to provide representation for TIP client Artis Whitehead and to share her experience with other attorneys actively working for exoneration of the wrongfully convicted.