Innocent until proven guilty: Wrongly convicted man speaks to criminal law class on his experience

Ryan Albert

Ruben Pinuelas, a wrongfully imprisoned ex-inmate, spoke to the Criminal Law and Advocacy classes about his experience being erroneously convicted and how spending 10 years in solitary confinement impacted his life Feb. 5.
Carly Burdorf ’19 said she thought the speaker was interesting and provided a new perspective on a subject they studied in class.
“He told us to believe in the justice of the law and be thankful to have the freedom we have,” Burdorf said.
Burdof also said Pinuelas was motivational and the class was a success.
“I really enjoyed his speech because it made me realize how much we can help others and how important it is to appreciate what we have,” Burdorf said. “He has gone back to school and has a passion for life because of how much he missed while in solitary confinement. It was very inspiring.”
Pinuelas currently attends Pierce College and has offers to attend multiple major colleges after he finishes studying at Pierce.
As a Professor of Law, Levenson runs Loyola Law School’s Project for the Innocent, which is dedicated to exonerating wrongly imprisoned people and reforming the legal system to prevent further injustice.
Levenson has invited many other colleagues, friends and former students to present to her students in the class.
These speakers have included exonerees helped by the Project for the Innocent, LAPD officers, deputy district attorneys, judges and cybercrime experts.
Levenson said she hopes to improve classroom experience by bringing in these experts and said she feels the students enjoy these experiences.
“Unquestionably the speakers have a dramatic impact on the students,” Levenson said. “They give a real-life perspective on the issues we are discussing in class and they make the criminal justice world come alive for the students.”
Levenson uses these speakers to give her students an experience similar to a higher law education and practice through simulated legal exercises.
“I’m so proud of my HW students,” Levenson said. “They care deeply about what happens to people in our criminal justice system and world.”
Other exonerees, Obie Anthony and Kash Register, have presented to the class in the past.