C.J. Rice Exonerated After 12 Years Wrongfully Incarcerated

This morning, C.J. Rice was exonerated after spending 12 years incarcerated for a 2011 Philadelphia shooting that left four people injured. His case has received national attention since CNN Chief Correspondent Jake Tapper began reporting on the story in fall 2022, culminating in a 2022 piece for The Atlantic: “My Father’s Quest to Free C.J. Rice” (linked in bio and pictured in slide three). Mr. Rice’s conviction rested on the testimony of a single eyewitness, who claimed to have seen him run away after shooting at her family despite Mr. Rice having been shot himself three weeks prior. Dr. Theodore Tapper, his doctor/Jake Tapper’s father, testified at his trial that given his injuries, he could not “walk standing up straight, let alone run.” Mr. Rice and Dr. Tapper are pictured in the first photo.

Ineffective assistance of counsel also plagued Mr. Rice’s trial. The Eastern District of PA found that Mr. Rice’s trial counsel was ineffective for stipulating that one of the victims was a person of interest in the shooting of Mr. Rice that occurred three weeks earlier. The Commonwealth could not establish any foundation for this evidence and the trial Court seemed poised to exclude it. Instead, Mr. Rice’s trial counsel agreed to its admission, offering a potential motive with no factual basis.

Counsel for Mr. Rice say: “We are thrilled at today’s outcome. This ends a lengthy ordeal for C.J., who was forced to grow up in prison, incarcerated for a crime he did not commit. Today’s decision is an acknowledgement from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the Court of that wrong. C.J. fought for almost thirteen years for this, and we are honored to have been in that fight with him.” CNN’s reporting from today is featured in slide two, and a longer, sit-down special about Mr. Rice’s case will air on CNN’s The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper this Sunday 3/24 at 8pm ET/7 pm CT.

Mr. Rice is represented by Amelia Maxfield of the EP, Karl Schwartz of Wiseman & Schwartz, Nilam Sanghvi of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project (@innocencepa) and Donald Verrilli and Ginger Anders of Munger, Tolles, & Olsen, LLP.



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