Innocence Project at the UVA School of Law

Innocence Project at the UVA School of Law

Innocence Project Clinic

Innocence Project at the UVA School of Law

Students in this yearlong clinic investigate and litigate wrongful convictions of inmates throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Some of the cases have forensic evidence (usually DNA) that could be tested, and some are non-DNA cases.

For those seeking assistance or requesting an application for a possible case referral to the clinic, contact Nicholas Cummins at 434-924-3732 or ncummins@virginia.edu

UVA Law Innocence Project Website

Preliminary cases are assigned to individual clinic students for factual development and evaluation to determine whether or not the clinic should accept the case. The decision to accept or decline representation will be made by the full clinic with the final decision being made by Professors Deirdre Enright and Jennifer Givens. Students work in teams of 3-4 to investigate and litigate the cases that are accepted. In every case, students are directed and assisted by the clinic professors, but as students demonstrate competence and confidence, they may earn the opportunity for greater independence. Although the clinic will have a mandatory classroom component, most time will be devoted to casework — interviewing potential clients and witnesses, general investigation, reviewing case files, collecting records, searching court files and drafting pleadings. Students will likely visit inmates at correctional centers, and conduct investigation in a wide variety of socioeconomic settings accompanied by a clinic professor, private investigator or, in some instances, another student.

Students should attempt to arrange their schedules to have at least one full weekday free for investigations. Some weekend and evening investigations are also required. In addition, student teams meet regularly with Professor Enright for supervision and direction. Students earn eight credits for the year, four of which are graded and four of which are ungraded. Students should anticipate that the clinic will require a minimum of 15 hours per week, but the hours required for clinic work will vary according to the demands of the cases. The professors will not always be able to predict or control when the cases will demand intensive hours, so flexibility is important. One enrolled in the clinic, you may not drop.

Enrollment Note: Once enrolled in the clinic, a student cannot drop the course.

Note Regarding Credits: Of the eight credits awarded for this clinic, four will be graded credit/no-credit in the fall, and four in the spring will receive a letter grade. Four credits will be allocated to the fall semester and four credits to the spring semester for academic load purposes.

Applications: Interested students must apply and be accepted to enroll in the clinic. To do so, please forward a resume, an unofficial transcript and a brief letter explaining your interest in the Innocence Project Clinic to Professor Deirdre M. Enright (deirdre@virginia.edu) no later than June 30. Selected students will be notified via e-mail by 5 p.m. on or before July 5. Although grades and experience are relevant considerations, your motivation and commitment to this work will be the primary consideration in selecting clinic students. Remember that your letter of interest is our only source for evaluating those qualities. Although having a car is not a requirement for our clinic, it is relevant information; please indicate in your letter of interest whether you will have a car available next year.

Course Requirements: Interviewing potential clients and witnesses, general investigation, reviewing case files, collecting records, searching court files, developing and implementing litigation strategies, and more. Having access to a car for travel purposes is extremely helpful. Please indicate in your letter of interest whether or not you have access to a car for use in investigations. (You will be reimbursed for your mileage.)

Skills Taught
Investigate wrongful convictions, interviewing potential clients and witnesses, reviewing case files, collecting records, searching court files, developing and implementing litigation strategies
Course Length
Yearlong
Meets
Weekly
Course Credits
8
Application?
No
Instructors

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