Innocence Project Presentation feat. Ronnie Cooper
Hosted by the St. Thomas Criminal Law Association.
Date & Time:
12:30 PM - 1:25 PM
Zoom / Online
In 2010, Ronnie Cooper was convicted in federal court in Tennessee based on allegations that he participated in a drug trafficking ring. Ronnie was tried alongside several codefendants. While the government presented overwhelming evidence against each of Ronnie's codefendants, the evidence against Ronnie was strikingly thin and relied largely on the testimony of two jailhouse informants, both of whom were seeking leniency in their own cases. Indeed, one of those jailhouse informants received a large downward departure in sentencing to about half his guidelines range following his cooperation in this and one other case. In many ways, Ronnie's story was a case study in the dangers inherent in joint trials where jurors can struggle to disentangle each defendant's individual guilt from the group's perceived collective guilt. Despite the weak evidence against him individually, Ronnie was convicted on all counts and sentenced to 30 years in federal prison. Faced with a crumbling case, in May of 2020, the government agreed to have Mr. Cooper re-sentenced to time served. As a result, Ronnie has rejoined his wife and children in Utica, New York approximately 20 years before his sentence was to expire.