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Innocence Project selects Sings In The Timber as new executive director

Thursday, January 2, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Joe Menden
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The Montana Innocence Project has chosen Amy Sings In The Timber as the organization’s next executive director.

Prior to joining the Montana Innocence Project, Sings In The Timber served in senior leadership roles with Covenant House Illinois. Covenant House is an international organization that has provided housing and support services to more than a million homeless, runaway, and trafficked young people. Prior to the Covenant House Illinois, Sings In The Timber served in senior management positions with The Chicago Bar Foundation, the Montana Justice Foundation, and the Indian Law Clinic at the Alexander Blewett III School of Law.

“Amy’s substantial and successful legal, legislative, and nonprofit management experience made her the unanimous choice of the Montana Innocence Project’s Board of Directors,” said Ron Waterman, Board Chair of the Montana Innocence Project. “In the past three alone, the Montana Innocence Project has helped to exonerate six wrongfully convicted people. Amy’s experience, vision, and drive are just what the Montana Innocence Project needs to build on this successful legacy.”

Sings In The Timber will begin her position on Jan. 6, succeeding Frank Knaack as the Montana Innocence Project’s Executive Director. Knaack departs to serve as Executive Director of the ACLU of South Carolina

Sings In The Timber received her J.D. from the University of Montana School of Law and B.A. from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. Sings In The Timber also completed graduate work in Anthropology, Museum, & Native American Studies at the University of Wisconsin. She lives in Missoula.   

“Exoneration of the innocent and ensuring the prevention of future wrongful convictions is among the most important work taking place in the U.S. today,” Sings In The Timber said. “I am honored to lead and work alongside a team dedicated to such a critical mission.”

The Montana Innocence Project has also appointed Jordan Gross, Lars Phillips, Maylinn Smith, and Bobbie Zenker to its Board of Directors.

Gross is a Professor of Law at the Blewett School of Law at the University of Montana, where she teaches courses in criminal law and procedure, and professional responsibility. Gross supervises the Law School's Montana Innocence Project Clinic, along with the Criminal Defense and ACLU Clinics. Prior to joining the law faculty in 2010, Gross was a partner in a litigation firm in Seattle practicing primarily federal criminal defense. She served on the Board of Trustees of the Montana Legal Services Association from 2016-2019, and on the Pro Bono Committee of the Western Montana Bar Association from 2010 to 2019. She is the founder and Faculty Supervisor of the Law School's Student Pro Bono Program, and the founder of, and a regular volunteer at, the Law School monthly low-income family law clinic, a partnership with MLSA.

Phillips is an attorney with Tarlow Stonecipher Weamer & Kelly, PLLC in Bozeman. Phillips has been a long-time pro-bono attorney with the Montana Innocence Project and successfully argued Marble v. State before the Montana Supreme Court, a matter involving the interpretation of Montana’s post-conviction statutes. Phillips’ appellate work set the stage for the exoneration of the Montana Innocence Project client Cody Marble. Phillips clerked for Justice Patricia Cotter of the Montana Supreme Court upon his graduation from the Alexander Blewett III School of Law.

Smith is the civil prosecutor for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Smith was a clinical supervisor and a director of the Margery Hunter Brown Indian Law Clinic at the Blewett School of Law for almost 25 years. In that role she supervised third-year law students working in the Indian Law Clinic on a variety of projects and legal matters impacting tribal governments, organizations and individuals. She also taught numerous courses dealing with Indian issues and does a variety of training on Indian issues. Smith’s legal experience also includes sitting as a Tribal Appellate Court Justice and lower court judge for several tribes and practicing in tribal, federal and state systems.

Bobbie Zenker is an attorney with Disability Rights Montana where she litigates cases on behalf of individuals with disabilities to insure their rights to employment, education, health care, transportation, housing, and other services. Prior to joining Disability Rights Montana, Zenker spent 14 years as a deputy Madison County Attorney and as the Madison County Attorney and three years as an Appellate Defender for the State Office of Public Defender.

“Jordan, Lars, Maylinn, and Bobbie bring unique experience, expertise, and connections to our board,” Waterman said. “We are grateful for their willingness to serve and expand our capacity to exonerate the innocent and prevent wrongful convictions.”

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