Miami Law Innocence Clinic

Innocence Clinic

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The Innocence Clinic is dedicated to identifying and correcting wrongful convictions and is committed to exonerating innocent individuals and combating injustice. The clinic handles cases involving innocent individuals incarcerated for a minimum of 10 years who have new evidence ranging from recanting witnesses to new witnesses discovered by students to prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel. The clinic also accepts cases involving DNA evidence. The majority of the cases handled by the clinic involve serious offenses such as rape and murder and the majority of our clients are serving life sentences.

In this hands-on project, law students have the opportunity for live client representation and the responsibility of:

  • Investigating innocence claims and litigating post-conviction motions when appropriate
  • Reexamining cases in their entirety and providing post-conviction representation to defendants with compelling claims to innocence
  • Contributing to the project through fact investigation, interviewing defendants and witnesses, and legal research and analysis

Students may also have the opportunity to research, draft, and file motions for post-conviction relief, and appear in court on behalf of those wrongfully convicted. Project responsibilities include detailed knowledge of the project's procedures and thorough documentation of actions taken on cases through memo writing. The entire project is paperless and requires extensive emailing and software involvement. Investigation of innocence claims includes case screening, witness and client interviews, motion writing, and research. Students may have the opportunity to litigate motions for post-conviction relief.

Time Commitment

Ten (10) hours per week of field work/litigation/investigation/screening/memo writing and case documentation, and one hour of class time per week. Also (2) two hours of individual case staffing per week is required.

Students may not work, volunteer or intern at any prosecuting agency while they are participating in the clinic. Additionally, students may not be a part of any credit bearing externship.

Class Requirements

Class time will include a discussion of how to screen and investigate cases, case rounds, brainstorming, and post-conviction law.

Pre-requisites

  • Students without CLI status will not be permitted to appear in court on behalf of clients.
  • Non-CLI may participate in all other aspects of the clinic (interviewing clients and witnesses, fact investigation, and screening).

Co-requisites

Wrongful Convictions: Causes and Remedies

In this companion course to the Miami Innocence Clinic students will explore areas such as federal and state habeas corpus, collateral remedies, and causes of wrongful convictions, scientific evidence, and DNA science. This course is a graded 2 credit lecture class. Students may not work, volunteer or intern at any prosecuting agency while they are participating in the clinic.

Grading/Class Size/Credits

The clinic is graded and meets the writing or skills requirement. It is also a University wide CIVIC engagement course. Enrollment is limited and students will be selected by Professor Mourer. The clinic is 4 credits per semester. Students who show exemplary performance may be permitted to continue in the clinic subsequent semesters.

FRAUD ALERT - We have heard that there are people who fraudulently represent themselves as working for the Innocence Project, promising legal representation in exchange for money. These people do not work for the Innocence Project. The Innocence Project provides all legal representation for free. While we rely on charitable donations to support our work, we never solicit money for our services from our clients.

OUR DIRECTORS

Sarah MourerAssociate Professor, Sarah Mourer directs the clinic. She was a past training attorney with the Dade County Public Defender's Office.

Craig TrocinoCraig Trocino is the Associate Director & Director of Summer Innocence Clinic



STUDENT PERSPECTIVE



Hear why students say if you are interested in criminal law at all, this clinic is for you, how interesting it is to do the investigation process and "try to figure out what really happened and get clients a new trial with new evidence."


WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS PANEL DISCUSSION

In October 2011, some of the top experts in wrongful convictions spoke at Miami Law. The panel was moderated by Craig Trocino, Co-Director of Innocence Clinic. The panelists included:

  • Steven Drizen, Director of Northwestern Law's Center on Wrongful convictions
  • Keith Findley, Co-Director of Wisconsin Law's Innocence Project and current president of the Innocence Network
  • Robert Schehr, Executive Director of N. Arizona Justice Project
  • Billy Corben, Director and Producer of Cocaine Cowboys
  • Sarah Mourer, Director Miami Law's Innocence Clinic and Death Penalty Clinic

NATIONAL RECOGNITION

In the Innocence Clinic's first semester, it was reviewed and accepted to be a member of the National Network of Innocence Projects. This honor provides the Project with opportunities and resources across the nation.


COMMUNITY CONNECTION

University of Miami Office of Civic and Community Engagement

This clinic has been chosen by The University of Miami's Office of Civic and Community Engagement as Academic Service Learning Courses as it:

  • Promotes the interrelationship of teaching, research, and service through theory, action and reflection in response to community needs.
  • Develops and translates academic knowledge, critical thinking, and community engagement into civic responsibility.
  • Fosters mutually beneficial collaborations between the university and the community to promote positive social change.