Students in the Post-Conviction Clinic work to exonerate wrongfully convicted individuals and correct other manifest injustices in the Arizona criminal justice system. The Clinic works closely with the Arizona Justice Project which was founded in 1998 as one of the first innocence and post-conviction review projects in the country.
The Clinic presently focuses on cases involving claims of actual innocence. Aiding the Justice Project, the Clinic works to identify, investigate, and analyze state inmates’ substantial claims of actual innocence where DNA or other substantial evidence has the potential to exonerate the inmate.
Because work on these exoneration cases often requires a thorough reinvestigation of the inmate’s conviction and how any new evidence might undermine confidence in the verdict, litigation is not a primary component of the Clinic’s work. Students instead produce written work focused on reviewing and analyzing the history of the conviction, the role DNA or other new substantial evidence could play in exonerating the inmate, analyzing the potential reasons for any wrongful conviction, interviewing witnesses and inmates, locating any biological evidence, evaluating whether a given case should be submitted for DNA testing, and participating in any post-mortem of a wrongful conviction aimed at developing policy recommendations for avoiding similar miscarriages of justice. The Justice Project and Clinic does litigate, however, when necessary in these cases.
The classroom component of the Clinic is designed to help the student perform the Clinic’s work and expose him or her to the issues involved in post-conviction representation and the broader topic of wrongful convictions generally. A two-hour seminar session will be held each week. Some of these sessions involve guest speakers who are experts in their respective fields (e.g., investigators, forensic evidence scientists, eyewitness mis-identification, etc.) or trips to a crime laboratory and police evidence warehouse. In addition, students will attend a weekly two-hour “case rounds” session which focuses on a discussion of students’ cases and their ongoing work.
Students in the Post-Conviction Clinic work to exonerate those wrongfully convicted and correct other manifest injustices in the Arizona criminal justice system.