Tennessee Innocence Project Hosts Successful Inaugural Fundraiser; Announces Bass, Berry & Sims Pro Bono Fellowship

October 25, 2019
Firm News
NFL Legend Eddie George and Bestseller John Grisham Help Raise $135,000 for Organization Dedicated to Exonerating Tennessee’s Wrongfully Convicted


MEMPHIS / NASHVILLE, Tenn. October 25, 2019 – The Tennessee Innocence Project (TIP) held its inaugural fundraiser on October 23 to raise awareness and funds in support of the organization’s mission to exonerate innocent men and women wrongfully convicted in the state of Tennessee. Former Tennessee Titan Eddie George served as emcee of the sold-out event and the keynote featured The New York Times bestselling author John Grisham. Nearly 300 individuals attended the event at Montgomery Bell Academy and raised approximately $135,000 for the organization.

During the event, TIP Executive Director Jessica Van Dyke announced that Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Danielle Dudding Irvine will begin a six-month fellowship at the organization starting January 2020. Irvine will launch the TIP presence in West Tennessee, working on cases in Shelby County and the surrounding areas. Irvine is set to start work on a case involving possible witness misidentification, which will provide a platform to showcase the important work being done by TIP across the state.

Author John Grisham (center) with Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys (left to right) Scott Gallisdorfer, Danielle Dudding Irvine, Ashleigh Karnell and Jonathan Nelson at the inaugural TIP fundraiser. (photo credit: @hunterarmistead).

“Bass, Berry & Sims continues to lead the legal industry in Tennessee by setting a high bar for pro bono commitment in our state,” said Van Dyke at Wednesday’s event. “I am thrilled to have Danielle join the Tennessee Innocence Project in January and am hopeful that through the success of this fellowship, we will be able to recruit even more attorneys to join our work as we strive to overturn wrongful convictions.”

“Our criminal justice system is far from perfect. Innocent people are languishing in prison,” according to TIP’s founding President Stephen Ross Johnson. “We appreciate the dedication of Bass, Berry & Sims in helping us free the innocent. The firm’s commitment to justice and public service is extraordinary.”

Irvine’s fellowship with TIP is part of Bass, Berry & Sims’ Pro Bono Program that allows the firm’s associates and staff attorneys to spend up to six months serving full-time in a pro bono capacity within the community. Earlier this month, Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Angie Bergman completed the firm’s first fellowship – a collaboration with Choosing Justice Initiative that enabled Bergman to advocate for bail reform in Nashville’s criminal courts. The fellowship is just one component of the firm’s comprehensive Pro Bono Program, which recently created a Pro Bono Member position – to which David Esquivel was appointed to dedicate half of his work to pro bono activities and administration of the firm’s program. The Pro Bono Program also provides for increased hours or credit for all attorneys to dedicate to pro bono activities.

“The Tennessee Innocence Project is an important program for our state and for fulfilling the promise of equal justice under the law,” said Irvine. “I’m grateful to be part of a firm dedicated to justice equality and for the great honor to work toward justice for the wrongfully convicted men and women the Tennessee Innocence Project serves.”

About Tennessee Innocence Project (TIP)
TIP was established in February 2019 to focus on representing wrongfully convicted men and women in the state of Tennessee with the goal to help exonerate these innocent individuals. Until the official launch of TIP, Tennessee was only one of two states without an organization investigating and litigating innocence claims in the United States. More information can be found at https://www.innocenceproject.org/policy/tennessee/.

About Bass, Berry & Sims PLC
With nearly 300 attorneys representing numerous publicly traded companies, Fortune 500 businesses and nonprofits, Bass, Berry & Sims has been involved in some of the largest and most significant business transactions, investigations and litigation matters in the country. Our attorneys work seamlessly across substantive practice disciplines, industries and geographies to deliver highly effective service and business-focused solutions. For more information, visit www.bassberry.com.