Law professor honored by Grand Rapids Business Journal



Tracey Brame, Western Michigan University Cooley Law School associate dean, professor and director of the law school’s Innocence Project, was among three finalists in the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s Newsmakers of the Year for law in 2021. The award ceremony took place on January 26 at Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids.

GRBJ determines the top news stories of 2021 and the people behind the headlines, selecting three finalists in 16 categories: arts and entertainment, beverages, economic development, education, finance, food, health care, law, manufacturing, nonprofits/philanthropy, real estate/construction, retail, sports, startups, sustainability, and technology; and an overall newsmaker of the year.

“It was great to see Tracey’s important work celebrated at the ceremony,” said WMU-Cooley President and Dean James McGrath. “Being a finalist among a stellar group of community-minded lawyers is very impressive. She brings great credit to the school with this public recognition of her hard work.”

Brame, who has been with WMU-Cooley since 2006, was named director of the law school’s Innocence Project in 2021. The Innocence Project is part of the Innocence Network, which has been credited with the release of over 375 wrongfully convicted prisoners, mainly through the use of DNA testing. Staffed by WMU-Cooley students who work under the supervision of WMU-Cooley Innocence Project attorneys, it is the only post-conviction DNA innocence organization in the state.

“Advocacy work has been my passion since the beginning of my law career,” said Brame. “It’s an honor to be recognized by the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s news editors and reporters for the work we do fighting for the wrongly accused and helping to exonerate them.”

Since its inception in 2001, the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project has screened over 5,800 cases and is responsible for the exoneration of seven men: Kenneth Wyniemko (2003), Nathaniel Hatchett (2008), Donya Davis (2014); LeDura Watkins (2017), and most recently in 2021; Kenneth Nixon (Feb. 18, 2021), who spent over 15 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Gilbert Poole (May 26, 2021), who spent 32 years for wrongful imprisonment, and Corey Quentin McCall (June 25, 2021), who spent nearly 16 years for wrongful imprisonment.

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