Discovering Justice Events

In Pursuit of Justice: What Do We Do When the System Gets it Wrong?

A Conversation with Sean Ellis & Radha Natarajan, Executive Director of The New England Innocence Project

April 14, 2022

In 1995, Sean Ellis, a 21 year old Boston resident and detainee at Nashua Street Jail, was wrongfully convicted of killing a Boston police officer. He spent 22 years in prison until 2015, when he was released on $50,000 bail. Ellis is the subject of Netflix’s “Trial 4” documentary, which tells the story of his wrongful conviction and his eventual exoneration.

Sean and Radha Natarajan, Executive Director of the NEIP talk about their work in pursuit of justice and what can be done when the system gets it wrong. The conversation is followed by a Q&A session for students. This panel is an example of the learning opportunities Mock Trial & Mock Appeal Program students can partake in.


Radha Natarajan | After 12 years as a public defender, Radha joined the New England Innocence Project bringing her litigation skills, compassion and a fierce determination to bring an end to wrongful convictions. Nationally recognized as an expert in eyewitness identification, Radha applies the lessons learned in the reform of eyewitness identification to other flawed uses of forensic sciences. She provides trainings across the country to the judiciary, the defense bar, prosecutors and law enforcement.

Sean Ellis | Sean K. Ellis was wrongly convicted for the 1993 robbery and murder of Boston Police Detective John J. Mulligan. Finally, in December 2018, the Suffolk County District Attorney dropped the robbery and murder charges against Sean but stopped short of fully exonerating him. In 2021 his 1995 weapons possession conviction was overturned. Now a free man, Sean is busy reclaiming his life. He works full time as a Development Associate at the Boston non-profit Community Servings. From 2020-21 he was a Community Fellow in Tufts University’s Institute for Nonprofit Practice. Sean speaks frequently about his experiences in forums around Boston, including events sponsored by the New England Innocence Project, for which he is a trustee. He has told his story at three national Innocence Network conferences: San Diego (2017), Memphis (2018), and Atlanta (2019).

Kayla Nordman

Kayla Nordman believes strongly in expanding access to comprehensive civic education to provide the next generation with the resources they need to uphold and expand upon the values of American democracy and create a more equitable future. Before joining Discovering Justice, she worked as a Legislative Intern at the Massachusetts State House and as a Program Manager for the Massachusetts Center for Civic Education. Kayla graduated from Suffolk University with a BA in International Relations.