In the fall, the Innocence Project Clinic at the Law School will commence its sixth year of operation and add clemency petitions to its work, hence the modification to the name of the clinic.
The clemency work will involve representation of individuals convicted in federal courts who, having served some or all of their sentences, wish to seek either a commutation of sentence or a full pardon from the President. Persons seeking assistance from the Clinic with their
clemency petitions are not claiming actual innocence. Rather, they have acknowledged their guilt but have compelling reasons to advance why their sentence should be reduced or, if they have been released, their conviction forgiven.
The addition of these cases to the work of the Clinic will permit enrolled students to complete one or more clemency petitions during the year of enrollment in the clinic, from the acceptance of the case to the filing of the petition, thus providing some closure to the work that the innocence cases do not typically provide. Many of the same skills needed in the innocence work are also needed to present a successful clemency petition – skills of investigation, interviewing, counseling and persuasive writing.
As the work of the Clinic becomes more established, the Clinic will likely seek to invite alumni of the law school – and especially of the Clinic – to participate on a pro bono basis in the clemency work. Also, the Clinic’s work will likely result in the expansion of pro bono opportunities for CUA law students not enrolled in the clinic as it prepares to expand its focus beyond federal inmates to inmates convicted in state courts.
The clemency work in the Clinic is part of a larger Clemency Project initiative at the law school. In partnership with former Maryland Governor Robert F. Ehrlich, Jr., the law school plans to be a focal point for revitalizing the clemency process at the state and federal levels. The partnership between the Law School and Governor Ehrlich was announced February 20th at an event held at the National Press Club featuring Dean Attridge, Professor Cara Drinan, Governor Ehrlich, Rep. Scott (D-OH), former US Pardons Attorney Margaret Colgate Love, and former Attorney General Edwin Meese.
The initiative will include the development of programs to educate newly elected governors in the clemency process, especially how to administer the clemency process in an efficient, effective, and politically sound manner. Faculty spearheading the initiative will also seek to bring to campus scholars and activists concerned with the clemency process to engage in dialogues aimed at bringing much-needed attention to the issues with the ultimate goal of improving the system of executive clemency in this country. The education and programming features of the project will be overseen by Professor Cara Drinan.
Progress on the innocence cases in the Clinic continues to be made, slowly but steadily. One of the cases is now with private, pro bono counsel and funding is currently being sought for the estimated $7500 needed to obtain new DNA testing on the evidence in the case. In another case, the 2012-13 students have drafted a Motion for Post-Conviction DNA, which if granted, would require the clinic to find additional funds for the new DNA testing. Also in the past year, the clinic closed two of its long-time cases as Clinic students had been unable to find credible evidence of actual innocence and the Clinic transferred one case from Baltimore back to reassignment to the Innocence Project at the University of Baltimore.
|Several alumni and friends of the Clinic recently provided updates on their professional activities. A brief summary of what they reported appears below:
Faith Shaw Winstead (‘06) is currently working as an Assistant Capital Defender for the state capital defender’s office in Norfolk, Virginia.
Billy Martin (Clinic ‘08-09) has recently returned to the United States after working in the U.A.E. and Qatar from September 2010 until the latter part of 2012.
Denny Clark (Clinic ’09-10) is an Assistant States Attorney for Prince George’s County.
Ashley Lawson Tuite (Clinic ’09-10) is an Associate at Gammon & Grange, P.C. in McLean, Virginia.
Chris Hall (Clinic ’10-11) became Director of Contracts and General Counsel at SEV1TECH in December 2012.
|Tina Lee (Clinic ’10-11) reports that she has been living in Europe for the past several years, “bopping around” from Brussels to Budapest to Belgrade to Berlin. She has worked on a variety of projects, including the European Roma Rights Centre (defending the rights of Roma or Gypsies, Europe’s most vulnerable minority) and Praxis, an organization in Belgrade that helps refugees from the Balkan Wars that are vulnerable to eviction and discrimination. Currently, she is working at Human Rights Watch. Also she is blogging (http://noncitizensoftheworld.blogspot.de/ ) and writing occasional news articles and opinion pieces on migration, human rights, and the Balkans.
Debbie Carfora (Clinic ‘11-12) is finishing her clerkship with Judge Anne Albright (Montgomery County Circuit Court) and begins a two-year clerkship with Judge Russell (D. Md.) in August.
Dan McGraw (Clinic ’11-12) is clerking for a Fairfax County, Virginia, Circuit Court and at the end of August will begin clerking for Magistrate Judge Lawrence Leonard (E.D. Va. in Norfolk).