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Memoir of an Exoneration: Who Really Is Innocent After We Correct a Wrongful Conviction?

By Sejal H. Patel

Almost 80 years old, Ruth Johns said earlier this year, “I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be around to take care of my son.” Ruth’s son, Guy Randolph, is schizophrenic. He was also a child molester. Guy insisted that he had not committed the crime for which he was convicted: molesting a six-year-old girl at knifepoint in Roslindale, Mass., on New Year’s Eve in 1990. Ruth believed in her son’s innocence and fought to have his name cleared. I was assigned to be Guy’s court-appointed attorney in November 2005, 15 years after his arrest. When we met, Guy had served 10 years in prison and had been living with his mother for five more as a “high risk” registered sex offender. My job was to investigate whether or not this man had been wrongfully convicted.

I had moved to Boston from San Francisco with my husband and five-month-old daughter a year before I met Guy. I worked as a federal prosecutor earlier in my career and hoped to resume government life in Boston. I relish

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