Innocence Clinic – 7010
Students work side-by-side with staff attorneys from the Innocence Project of Minnesota (IPMN) as they investigate and litigate inmates’ claims of actual innocence. These investigations go to the heart of current issues in the criminal justice system, such as the reliability of eyewitness identification, the problem of false confessions, the use of snitches and informants, government misconduct, ineffective assistance of counsel, and forensic sciences including DNA testing. Class time is devoted to training and case work.
Students are assigned cases and expected to gather source materials such as police reports and transcripts. They will organize and summarize those materials. After educating themselves about their cases, students will design and implement an investigative plan with their supervisor and pursue that investigation. This may include locating evidence, experts and witnesses. If proof of innocence is developed they may draft post- conviction motions. Interested students may also participate in policy work.
This clinic puts students on the cutting edge of scientific and social science issues that affect the practice of law in the criminal justice system as well as hands-on experience in managing and analyzing large-scale cases for litigation.
Additional Commitments: • Students must be willing and able to meet with and interview witnesses at a variety of locations. Some local travel will be required. • Students must have regular access to a computer with internet. Students will be required to track their hours and work on a cloud based program. • Students must also communicate regularly with IPMN staff via email. • Students may not work for a prosecutor’s office while in this clinic. • There will be a single night weekend retreat required for students in this clinic. It will be held the weekend after Labor Day.
What to expect when working on cases and with clients: Students will generally work on between 3-6 cases through the course of the year and will sometimes work in pairs on a case. Most of the cases will involve applicants who are incarcerated and serving lengthy prison sentences.
NOTE: This course requires certification pursuant to the student practice rule and is open to JD students only.