Help those who may have been wrongfully convicted of their crimes.

While our criminal justice system strives for accuracy, when it comes to the determinations of guilt or innocence, it is not perfect, and it will never be perfect. Humans are fallible and the system makes mistakes that are inherent in all of humankind’s work. In the past decade, DNA evidence has been used to exonerate numerous wrongfully convicted individuals and has served to highlight many other unreliable aspects of our justice system, including issues involving junk science, the unreliability of eyewitness identifications, improperly suggestive identification methods, and coercive interrogation techniques. The Wrongful Convictions Clinic offers students a rewarding and fulfilling opportunity to help individuals who claim an unjust result after either a trial or guilty plea, typically in a homicide case, and who need assistance from the legal community in investigating and developing their claims for presentation in the courts.

Students in the Clinic will engage in activities that include the following:

  • Screening prisoners’ applications and reviewing attorneys’ files, pleadings, transcripts, and judicial decisions in the case.
  • Identifying and researching potential areas of investigation including forensic testing and witness investigation that may result in the discovery of exculpatory information or exonerative evidence.
  • Exploring issues including jury contamination, Fourth Amendment violations, mental health, and constitutional limits on sentencing.
  • Conducting legal research and analyzing the legal requirements for obtaining a new trial, and learning about the mechanics and strategies associated with motions for post-conviction relief in the state and federal courts.

Credits

This is designed as a one-semester Clinic offering two graded credits. Students can expect to conduct fieldwork and to meet weekly with clinic instructor Ruth Greenberg to discuss their cases. In addition, students will attend a weekly seminar covering issues raised by their fieldwork and research, as determined by each particular case. Because no two cases are alike, students have the option of enrolling for the full year.

Faculty & Additional Information

The clinic is taught by Lecturer Ruth Greenberg.