Oklahoma Baptist University will hold its 2017 Spring Commencement Friday, May 19, at 3 p.m. The event will take place in Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium on the OBU campus in Shawnee. Tickets are required for admission, but a video stream will be available on Facebook and the website. Nationally renowned Texas attorney John Raley will present the commencement address.
Raley has a national reputation for excellence in the legal community. He also has strong OBU connections, as grandson of former OBU President and Chancellor Dr. John Wesley Raley. He earned a B.A. in Letters (History, Literature and Philosophy) summa cum laude from the University of Oklahoma, where he played offensive guard on the OU football team and was a Rhodes Scholar finalist. While earning his J.D. at Oklahoma University Law Center, he served as note editor of the “Oklahoma Law Review.” He was also awarded a Rotary Fellowship, and obtained an LL.M. in International Law from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
In 2013, the Houston Chronicle named Raley “Houstonian of the Year.” In 2014, the Brazos County Bar gave him their annual “Atticus Finch Award.” He received the 2015 Houston Bar Association President’s Award for Pro Bono Service. He volunteers generously with local community theatres and Chapelwood United Methodist Church. Prior to founding Raley & Bowick, he was a litigation partner at Fulbright & Jaworski, L.L.P., and the managing partner of the Houston office of Cooper & Scully, P.C.
Raley, who led a seven-year fight to free a man wrongfully convicted of murder, was a special guest on OBU’s campus in 2016. Raley worked with the Innocence Project to free Michael Morton, a man who served 25 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife.
Morton was convicted of the 1986 murder of his wife in their Texas home, wrongfully convicted at the hands of a prosecutorial team that made an unfair presumption of guilt after a lack of material evidence. The prosecution withheld evidence and details that would have cast reasonable doubt on his guilt, leading to a wrongful conviction.
The Innocence Project, a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals, learned of Morton’s case and fought to bring DNA evidence to light that could exonerate him. Raley worked on their behalf free of charge, leading the fight to DNA test a bloody handkerchief found near the murder scene. After a seven-year battle, the test confirmed Morton’s innocence and found a new suspect who was ultimately convicted of the crime.
During Raley’s campus visit, the public was invited to a screening of “An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story,” a 2012 documentary about the famous case, which includes Raley’s fight to prove Morton’s innocence.