Criminal Litigation Clinic: Pennsylvania Innocence Project
Fall 2021 • Section F21
• CRN 27611
This clinical program offers students the unique opportunity to exercise their lawyering skills by reviewing and investigating actual claims of innocence on behalf of Pennsylvania inmates and, where appropriate, pursuing legal avenues for exoneration and release from prison. Each student will be assigned cases under the supervision of the Director of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project or one of the mentoring attorneys. In the course of investigating factual claims and researching legal issues, students may review criminal files, interact with investigators, contact other attorneys, interview the client and witnesses, gather documentation and prepare legal documents and memoranda. Students will have the opportunity to observe court appearances and visit Pennsylvania prisons. As a consequence of this work, students will have many opportunities to develop and hone their lawyering skills in interviewing, fact investigation, factual and legal analysis, legal writing and problem-solving. The classroom component will cover topics including the definition of a claim of innocence, investigating and raising claims of innocence under Pennsylvania law, preservation of innocence claims for federal review, post conviction discovery rules, state and federal post conviction procedures and problems, investigative techniques and skills, the nature and uses of DNA and other scientific evidence and the state and federal rules governing admissibility of such evidence. As the semester progresses, students will explore the substantive and procedural issues in the context of the actual cases on which they are working as well as discuss the ethical issues common to this areas of practice.Note: This can be a time intensive clinic that may require your availability at irregular hours. You must be available for the FULL DAY ON WEDNESDAYS.
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Additional Time Requirements
Students meet at the Pennsylvania Innocence Project office on Wednesdays each week, and are responsible to the Project for the FULL DAY ON WEDNESDAYS. The first two weeks are full day trainings after which there are weekly check-ins on cases and hour-long presentations on various legal issues related to innocence work. Students must complete a minimum of 10 hours each week of the semester of experiential work, classroom learning, or out of class assignments.
No Registration Restrictions.
No book purchases are required or recommended for this course.