The Exoneration Project
David B. Owens
The Exoneration Project clinic focuses on cases involving convicted men and women who claim to be, and we believe to be, innocent of the crimes for which they stand convicted. In this course, students work on actual post-conviction litigation representing individuals who are asserting their innocence as well as advancing related claims associated with their wrongful convictions. Students work on all aspects of post-conviction litigation. This includes selecting cases, investigating, drafting pleadings and motions, in-court representation, and meeting with clients and witnesses. The needs of every case are different, and each student is assigned to specific cases and will be responsible for various tasks on those cases. The course also includes a seminar portion, where the class meets as a group roughly every other week.
After taking this course, we hope students will gain a better understanding of the field of wrongful convictions and criminal justice, including the causes of (and potential remedies for) systemic flaws in the system. We also expect students will develop their lawyering skills in a manner transferable to all fields of legal practice, including strategical thinking, legal research and writing, client and witness interviewing, legal ethics, oral advocacy and trial practice, and professionalism. Finally, it is our goal to demonstrate that every attorney has a tremendous amount of power that can be used to achieve positive outcomes for her clients and to produce systemic reform even when, at first glance, the legal system appears to prevent those outcomes.
The Exoneration Project is an intensive, rigorous experience. Second-year law students wishing to enroll in the Project are encouraged to take Evidence in their second year. Third-year students are strongly encouraged to complete, prior to their third year, Evidence and the Intensive Trial Practice Workshop. Students are also encouraged to take Pretrial Advocacy, Criminal Procedure I, and Criminal Procedure II. Students selected for this project will receive credit for the work they do in accordance with the credit rules for all other clinical programs.
Contact: (773) 702-9611