Experienced Advocate and Teacher Suzanne Hopf Named New Director of Kentucky Innocence Project
The Department of Public Advocacy is excited to announce that Suzanne Hopf is the new leader of the Kentucky Innocence Project (KIP), a unit of DPA's Post-Trial Division dedicated to investigating and litigating cases of those serving prison sentences for crimes they may not have committed.
Suzanne earned a Master’s Degree in Sociology from Colorado State University in 1993, and graduated from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law in 1996. Since 1998, Suzanne has been a staff attorney with DPA, working in a variety of roles with the Juvenile Post Disposition Branch. As an appellate advocate, Suzanne is responsible for a number of important, published decisions including D.R. v. Commonwealth, 64 S.W.3d 292 (Ky.App. 2001)(juveniles cannot waive counsel without first speaking with counsel); X.B. v. Commonwealth, 105 S.W.3d 459 (Ky.App. 2003)(juvenile court cannot commit a child to the state without first making findings that commitment was the least restrictive alternative); D.R.T. v. Commonwealth, 111 S.W.3d 392 (Ky.App. 2002)(a person who was charged as a juvenile cannot be placed in an adult facility when they turn 18); and Commonwealth v. Jeffries, 95 S.W.3d 60 (Ky. 2002)(youthful offender is entitled to a hearing at 18 years of age, prior to a decision being made on whether to probate the youth or send them to the Department of Corrections). Suzanne followed a successful career as an appellate attorney with work as the coordinator of a Juvenile Accountability Incentive Block Grant (JAIBG) awarded to DPA, where she worked with trial attorneys in juvenile matters. For the last several years Suzanne has been working with youth committed to DJJ’s facilities. In that capacity she successfully represented Samuel Marra, who was convicted of complicity to a murder committed by his older brother when Samuel was 16 years of age, and who was probated by the Court at age 21. Samuel’s case was the focus of a video presentation at the DPA Annual Conference Opening session last year in Owensboro. For her exceptional representation of juveniles, Suzanne was given the In re Gault award in 2012.
In addition to her work with DPA, Suzanne has also worked as adjunct faculty for the Indiana University Criminal Justice Division, for the University of Virginia at Wise, VA, Spalding University in Louisville, Bellarmine University and for the University of Louisville Department of Sociology during the past twenty years.
According to Tim Arnold, DPA Post-Trial Division Director, Suzanne "has the highest standards for herself and for her work of anybody I know. She is an exceptional leader in the agency already, and I am happy for her to take on this important new role in the Kentucky Innocence Project."
In its history, KIP attorneys have won relief for 20 inmates who were convicted despite being innocent, as later proven. In addition to direct representation of clients, the KIP leader also leads externship programs at all thee Kentucky law schools.