Civil Rights and Police Accountability Project
The Civil Rights and Police Accountability Project (PAP) is one of the nation’s leading law civil rights clinics focusing on issues of criminal justice. Through the lens of live-client work, students examine how and where litigation fits into broader efforts to improve police accountability and ultimately the criminal justice system. Students provide legal services to indigent victims of police abuse in federal and state courts. They litigate civil rights cases at each level of the court system from trial through appeals. Some students also represent children and adults in related juvenile or criminal defense matters. Students take primary responsibility for all aspects of the litigation, including client counseling, fact investigation, case strategy, witness interviews, legal research, pleadings and legal memoranda, discovery, depositions, motion practice, evidentiary hearings, trials, and appeals. A significant amount of legal writing is expected. Students work in teams on cases or projects, and meet with the instructor on at minimum a weekly basis. Students also take primary responsibility for the Clinic’s policy and public education work. PAP teaches students to apply and critically examine legal theory in the context of representation of people in need. It teaches students to analyze how and why individual cases of abuse occur and to connect them to systemic problems, often leading to “public impact” litigation and other strategies for policy reform. Through our immersion in live client work, we engage fundamental issues of race, class, and gender, and their intersection with legal institutions. We instruct students in legal ethics and advocacy skills. And we seek to instill in them a public service ethos, as they begin their legal careers. Students are required to complete, prior to their third year, Evidence, Criminal Procedure I, and the Intensive Trial Practice Workshop. Constitutional Law III is also recommended.
Find out more about the different sorts of work in which the Project is engaged.
Get a list of useful resources for those involved in investigating and combatting abuses of police power.