TIP has worked with Bass, Berry & Sims to exonerate Clardy who was sentenced to life in prison after being wrongfully convicted of a 2005 murder.
(NASHVILLE, TN – October 20, 2023) Following a June 2023 ruling overturning his 2007 murder conviction and life sentence, Thomas Clardy was released from prison today after seventeen years of incarceration. The Tennessee Innocence Project (TIP) has been working for nine years to exonerate Clardy. For the last four years, TIP has been joined by attorneys from Bass, Berry & Sims on the case. TIP and Bass, Berry & Sims will continue to represent Clardy in proceedings on appeal while advocating for his full exoneration.
“Mr. Clardy has lost years of his life serving a prison sentence for a crime he did not commit,” said Tennessee Innocence Project Executive Director and Lead Counsel Jessica Van Dyke. “We believe in Mr. Clardy’s innocence, and we will continue to fight for his innocence and freedom. We appreciate the opportunity to work with Bass, Berry & Sims to help exonerate Mr. Clardy.”
Clardy was convicted of a 2005 murder at an auto body shop in Madison, TN. The only evidence supporting Clardy’s 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 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. Clardy has steadfastly maintained his innocence for nearly two decades.
In June 2023, after years of court proceedings, a federal district judge in Nashville overturned Clardy’s conviction. Judge Aleta Trauger held that 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, Clardy’s legal team filed a motion for his immediate release, which was granted by Judge Trauger. On October 20, Clardy walked out of prison and was reunited with friends and family after seventeen years of incarceration.
“We are pleased with the federal court’s decision to overturn Mr. Clardy’s conviction and are thrilled that he was released from prison today,” said Scott Gallisdorfer, an attorney at Bass, Berry & Sims who has worked on the Clardy case since 2019. “We firmly believe in Mr. Clardy’s innocence, and we are proud to partner with TIP as we continue the fight for his exoneration.”
To learn more about the Tennessee Innocence Project and Thomas Clardy, visit www.tninnocence.org.
About the Tennessee Innocence Project
Launched in February 2019 as the first full-time innocence organization in the state, the Tennessee Innocence Project (TIP) is a non-profit law firm working to free wrongfully convicted Tennesseans. To date, more than 3,200 people have lost more than 25,000 years due to wrongful convictions across the United States. TIP has three primary focus areas: 1) investigating and litigating wrongful conviction cases for those in Tennessee prisons to obtain exonerations, 2) training law students and attorneys about how to litigate these cases and how to prevent future wrongful convictions, and 3) bringing about changes that lead to the discovery of wrongful convictions and remedies to the wrongfully convicted. To learn more, visit www.tninnocence.org.
About Bass, Berry & Sims
Bass, Berry & Sims is a national law firm with nearly 350 attorneys dedicated to delivering exceptional service to numerous publicly traded companies and Fortune 500 businesses in significant litigation and investigations, complex business transactions, and international regulatory matters. For more than 100 years, our people have served as true partners to clients, working seamlessly across substantive practice disciplines, industries and geographies to deliver highly-effective legal advice and innovative, business-focused solutions. For more information, visit the firm’s website.
The news was covered in several media outlets, includig:
- “Nashville Man Exonerated After Spending Nearly Two Decades in Prison for 2005 Murder,” News Channel 5
- “Tennessee Inmate Freed After Overturned Conviction, 17 Years in Prison,” WSMV
- “TN Man Released from Prison After 2007 Murder Conviction Overturned,” WKRN
- “Man Exonerated of 2005 Madison Murder After 17 Years in Prison,” Fox 17
- “Tennessee Inmate Freed After Overturned Conviction, 17 Years in Prison,” WVLT