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Award-winning criminal justice attorney Marissa Boyers Bluestine joins Quattrone Center as Assistant Director

June 19, 2019

Marissa Boyers Bluestine has been named Assistant Director of the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Bluestine joins the Quattrone Center after a decade leading the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, a non-profit dedicating to securing exoneration for individuals wrongfully convicted of crimes. As Legal Director and then Executive Director, Bluestine built the organization into a statewide leader in criminal justice reform, spearheading successful efforts to reverse 14 wrongful convictions during her tenure.

Under her leadership, the organization also worked with law enforcement throughout Pennsylvania, including prosecutors, to promote evidence-based techniques to prevent wrongful convictions. Bluestine has repeatedly been recognized for her important work, receiving the Andrew Hamilton Award from the Philadelphia Bar Association and the Woman of Distinction Award from the Philadelphia Legal Intelligencer.

As Assistant Director of the Quattrone Center, Bluestine will bring a wealth of legislative policy experience and a deep understanding of exonerations and related issues to bear in executing the Center’s mission to prevent errors in the criminal justice system. 

“I am thrilled to be joining the Quattrone Center to be a part of the cutting-edge work being done to ensure our criminal justice system fairly adjudicates cases, and that all stakeholders together work toward meaningful systemic change to achieve our collective goal of justice for all,” said Bluestine. “In a short period of time, the Quattrone Center has emerged as a national thought leader in criminal justice reform, garnering respect and buy-in from stakeholders and legislators. I am excited to work with their team of experts and explore new ways to continue to bring their research and policy developments into practice.” 

Bluestine has dedicated her legal career to fighting for fairness in criminal justice. After graduating from Temple University School of Law, she was an Assistant Defender at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, where she represented both adults and juveniles in hundreds of jury and bench trials and wrote and argued appeals. During her years at the Defender Association, Bluestine also worked toward legal reform, leading efforts to prevent wrongful convictions in cases involving eyewitness or forensic science evidence, a push to expand voir dire in jury selection, and developing stronger jury instructions. Bluestine worked with the Defenders for nearly 10 years combined, with her tenure there interposed with several years of experience as a civil litigator in private practice at Duane Morris LLP.

Throughout her career, she has also shared her experience with the next generation of law students, teaching trial advocacy and leading a clinic and research seminar on innocence and wrongful convictions at Temple and, most recently, Dickinson Law School. Bluestine also works to educate other lawyers and the public on exonerations and criminal justice reform: she has led numerous Continuing Legal Education presentations on the subjects and is routinely quoted in outlets such as The American Lawyer, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Washington Post.

“Marissa has a unique talent for building consensus among people in different parts of the criminal justice system,” said John Hollway, Executive Director of the Quattrone Center. “Her passion for quality and excellence transcends the adversarial nature of the system and helps to create sustainable system change, which is precisely the work we strive to do.  She will enhance our capabilities in a myriad of ways, from her work with Conviction Integrity Units to her training and education of police officers to her experience in legislative advocacy. We could not be more exited to add her to our team.” 

Penn Law’s Quattrone Center is a nonpartisan national research and policy hub that produces and disseminates research designed to prevent errors in the criminal justice system. The Center takes an interdisciplinary, data-driven, “systems approach” to identifying and analyzing the most crucial problems in the justice system and proposing solutions that improve its fairness for the benefit of society. Its independent and unbiased research and programs engage the full range of stakeholders necessary to bring about substantial improvement in the criminal justice system, including scholars, judges, law enforcement, defense attorneys and prosecutors, legislators, forensic and social scientists, victims’ rights advocates, the media, and others.