On October 20, 2023, Thomas Clardy walked out of prison and was reunited with friends and family after 17 years of incarceration. His freedom was secured by a team of pro bono attorneys at Bass, Berry & Sims working alongside attorneys with the Tennessee Innocence Project (TIP).

Mr. Clardy was convicted of a 2005 murder at an auto body shop in Madison, Tennessee and has steadfastly maintained his innocence for nearly two decades. The only evidence supporting his conviction was a single, cross-racial eyewitness identification, which was not made until nearly a month after the crime. No physical evidence has ever tied Mr. Clardy to the crime scene, nor has any other witness placed him there. Evidence collected before the trial, but not tested until later, connected different, unrelated suspects to the scene.

In June 2023, Judge Aleta Trauger overturned his conviction, holding that Mr. Clardy was denied effective assistance of counsel at his original trial in violation of his constitutional rights. Judge Trauger held that Mr. Clardy’s original lawyer performed deficiently by failing to present expert testimony on the well-documented limitations of eyewitness identifications. The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office has appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. While the proceedings on appeal continue, Mr. Clardy’s legal team filed a motion for his immediate release, which was granted by Judge Trauger in October.

Scott Gallisdorfer, lead attorney on the case since 2019, stated “We are pleased with the federal court’s decision to overturn Mr. Clardy’s conviction and we are thrilled that he was released from prison today. We firmly believe in Mr. Clardy’s innocence and will partner with TIP as we continue the fight for his exoneration.”

To read more about the case, click here.

The news about Mr. Clardy’s release was covered in several media outlets, including: