Sara H. Jones
Sara Jones received her law degree from the University of Minnesota, and her B.S. from Northwestern University. She began her legal career as an Assistant Attorney General under Hubert H. (“Skip”) Humphrey, III, practicing in the Solicitor General section. Following that, she practiced commercial litigation at Popham Haik and Nilan Johnson & Lewis.
Her commitment to public service evolved into a career shift to the nonprofit sector, including working in advancement at William Mitchell College of Law (now Mitchell Hamline) and the University of Minnesota Law School. Sara is a Past-President of Minnesota Women Lawyers and serves on its Advisory Board. She also is a member of the board of We Are All Criminals and served on the board of the Council on Crime and Justice.
The roots of Sara’s commitment to the cause of justice were planted by her father, C. Paul Jones, who served as Minnesota’s (first) State Public Defender for nearly 25 years and taught criminal and constitutional law at William Mitchell throughout his career. She grew up learning from him about justice, mercy, opportunity, and seeing the humanity in everyone. She gained the understanding that, for our justice system to work as it should, all participants (law enforcement, prosecutors, defenders, the courts, and lawmakers) have to work cooperatively and be equally committed to upholding the law, seeking justice, using best practices, and serving with integrity.
As Executive Director of the Innocence Project of Minnesota, Sara leads IPMN’s vision and strategy, financial management and fund development, community outreach and public relations, criminal justice policy initiatives, and staff and volunteer management.
Julie Jonas completed her undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Minnesota. After law school, she practiced for eight years with the Ramsey County Public Defender’s Office, where she handled a large caseload, representing clients in felony and misdemeanor cases.
She is the Legal Director for the Innocence Project of Minnesota, where she has worked since 2003. Julie leads litigation strategy for the Innocence Project and directs the screening, investigation and litigation of all IPMN cases. Julie supervises the Innocence Project's volunteer attorneys, law clerks, and legal interns, in addition to coordinating all expert witnesses and investigators.
She also works on critical criminal justice policy reform issues. Her work was instrumental in Minnesota’s passage of its 2014 Imprisonment and Exoneration Remedies Act awarding compensation to innocent Minnesota exonerees.
In addition to her work for the Project, Julie teaches at the University of Minnesota Law School and Mitchell Hamline School of Law, focusing on the prevention of wrongful convictions and working with clinical students to re-investigate cases of potential innocence.
The highlights of her career are the days when she can help innocent people secure their release from prison.
advancement and operations manager
Emily began her career with the Innocence Project of Minnesota as the Non-Profit Management and Development Intern. Following her internship, Emily served as IPMN's Interim Executive Director, as well as the lead for the 2017 Benefit for Innocence. In addition to her earlier service to IPMN, Emily has worked as the Events and Marketing Manager for Summit Private Wealth Group.
Emily received her B.A. in Political Science, Economics and Politics, and Pre-Law from Benedictine College.
Her passion for being a champion of the voiceless began at a young age and has played an influential role in her path and professional development, as seen in her leadership and volunteer experience.
As the Advancement and Operations Manager of the Innocence Project of Minnesota, Emily plays a key role in advancing the mission of IPMN and in the successful operations of the organization. Her work includes development and constituent relations, events, communications, and office management in collaboration with IPMN's Executive Director and Legal Director.
Jim is an outstanding, seasoned attorney, with a wealth of complex litigation and courtroom experience over his more than fifteen years of practice. Equally important, Jim has devoted over 3,000 hours to pro bono representation in death penalty, post-conviction, asylum, and other matters. He has deep investigation, trial, and appellate experience, experience leading and mentoring teams, and exceptional oral and writing skills. His gifts at building trusting relationships with clients, witnesses, and colleagues, even under challenging circumstances, are important factors in his ongoing success.
He says the most meaningful litigation matter of his career so far was serving as co-lead counsel for Michael Wearry, a death row inmate at Angola Prison in Louisiana, in his post-conviction case. Over the course of seven years, Jim traveled to Louisiana more than 20 times for purposes of meeting with Mr. Wearry to build a trusting relationship with him, performed a thorough fact investigation, and presented evidence and argument at court hearings. The team’s efforts culminated in an evidentiary hearing involving five weeks of testimony by more than fifty fact and expert witnesses. After the trial court’s denial of Wearry’s Petition for Post-Conviction Relief was affirmed by the Louisiana Supreme Court, Jim and his team filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court summarily reversed Wearry’s conviction based on the prosecution’s withholding of material exculpatory evidence in violation of Brady v. Maryland, the issue over which Jim had responsibility at the evidentiary hearing and in the Petition. Jim also performed significant work on post-conviction matters on behalf of Damon Thibodeaux (Louisiana), LeRoy Odenbaugh (Louisiana), and Keith Kutska (Wisconsin).
In recognition of the depth and quality of his capital post-conviction work, Jim was a featured speaker at the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Conference where he made a presentation titled, “Barriers to Justice in Post-Conviction Death Penalty Defense.”
Jim is responsible for screening, investigating, and litigating cases in our three-state region in which an incarcerated individual is claiming actual innocence and evidence of innocence can be found.
Volunteer staff attorney
Marie Wolf received a B.A. from Macalester College, an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Minnesota, and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School. She specialized in criminal appellate law, and was employed by the Minnesota Appellate Public Defender’s Office. She was also an adjunct professor at William Mitchell College of Law (now Mitchell Hamline), teaching the Criminal Appeals Clinic and the Legal Practicum. She is now retired, and devotes her time volunteering for the Innocence Project of Minnesota and playing with her grandchildren. Marie's depth of experience greatly benefits IPMN's clients and IPMN is grateful for her willingness to serve as a volunteer attorney. Marie also serves as a board member of IPMN and is on the executive committee.