Founded in 2009, the Michigan Innocence Clinic was the first innocence clinic in the country to focus exclusively on non-DNA cases. In the Clinic's four-year history, it has exonerated seven individuals who had been wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit.
Students registered in the Clinic investigate and litigate cases on behalf of inmates who are actually innocent of the crimes for which they have been convicted. Students work on all aspects of the cases, including researching claims and the law pertaining to them, investigating new evidence, writing and editing court briefs and motions, and participating in courtroom activities when there are hearings scheduled in their cases.
This is a full-year clinic with seven credits per semester (four are ungraded and three are graded) and meets the New York Pro-Bono requirement. The Clinic features both the clinical component described above and a seminar component, where students explore in class the legal and policy issues underlying wrongful convictions. There are no exams or papers, and students are graded on their preparedness and contribution to class, the progress they make in their cases, and the quality of the work product they produce in their cases.
The Innocence Clinic's docket is diverse and relatively novel. No two cases are the same, and non-DNA innocence litigation continues to be a fascinating challenge within the field of criminal litigation. Students work with supervising attorneys to craft legal strategies and explore evidentiary avenues that would have been unimaginable even for experienced criminal litigators just a few years ago. Students interested in criminal law/procedure, appellate practice, brief writing, public interest work, innocence litigation or courtroom advocacy would be especially suitable for the Innocence Clinic. That said, there are no specific prerequisites (outside of the regular first-year courses), and no prior specialized knowledge of criminal defense or innocence litigation is required or expected.
The Clinic fulfills the Law School's professional responsibility requirement for graduation applicable to JD students who matriculated in September 2015 and earlier, but does not fulfill the New York State Bar ethics requirement.
The Clinic does not fulfill the professional responsibility requirement for graduation applicable to JD students who matriculated in May 2016 and thereafter.
Those with further questions should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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