Clinic - BLS/EXI Innocence
Prerequisite: Recommended but not required. Wrongful Convictions Seminar or experience in wrongful convictions, criminal defense, or prosecution.
This is a semester long clinic that provides students with the opportunity to provide legal assistance to wrongfully convicted persons in New York with a focus on the most challenging cases - those that lack DNA evidence. The clinic will work in conjunction with the Exoneration Initiative (EXI), a pioneering non-for-profit located in lower Manhattan that litigates non-DNA innocence cases.
Because DNA only exists in approximately ten percent of criminal cases, exonerations based upon DNA evidence represent a fraction of wrongful convictions. The Clinic targets the often forgotten and under-represented, but larger population, of wrongfully convicted. Non-DNA innocence cases are very difficult to select, advance and litigate to exoneration. The work involves a comprehensive understanding of the criminal justice system from investigation, through trial, appeal and post-conviction proceedings. Students in the BLS/EXI Innocence Clinic will learn and develop an appreciation of all phases of the process.
The goal of the Clinic is to work directly with EXI in its efforts to: provide free legal services to indigent inmates with claims of actual innocence; conduct impact litigation to advance legal precedent favorable to potentially wrongfully convicted persons; and to inform and educate the public, the legal profession and the judiciary about the causes of wrongful convictions and the fallibility of the criminal justice system. Students will screen and evaluate potential cases for innocence, work on investigations, meet with clients, prepare post-conviction motions and observe and assist with post-conviction hearings and retrials. Students will also research and write about the rapidly evolving law that is shaping exoneration litigation for articles, amicus briefs, and educational materials.