1) Facilitate guest lectures and related presentations on pertinent issues.
This is critical to the success of the Project. It is important that students - - future advocates - - recognize the catastrophic results of “bad lawyering,” bad police work, and apathy. Many of the cases you will learn about contain elements of “bad lawyering.” This could be apathy by attorneys who fail to zealously advocate for their clients, lack of preparation, or simply failures due to inexperience. Additionally, many cases involve poor police work. Some of these issues have been eliciting false confessions, failure to follow up on credible leads and laziness. Finally, though an element of both frequent problems in Innocence Project exoneration cases, apathy by law students, by practitioners, by government, and by society as a whole contributes to the wrongful conviction for too many prisoners.
To educate students and the community about behavior, attitudes, and actions that lead to wrongful convictions, the Innocence Project at CUA invites to campus guest speakers from police departments, prosecuting attorney’s offices, the criminal defense bar and exonerees, among others. Further, we sponsor documentary film presentations on resolved cases. In the past, we featured Murder on a Sunday Morning and The Trials of Darryl Hunt. This year we had a movie watch for the independent film “Conviction” and the PBS special titled “The Confessions”. Also, in conjunction with the Clinic, we are able to arrange visit to the D.C. Medical Examiner’s office to observe an autopsy for some members of the Student Group.
Many of our activities satisfy the elective Honors Education requirements needed for graduation.
CUA also supports MAIP by offering law students an opportunity to participate in a full-year, six-credit clinic. The clinic investigates the claims of actual innocence on behalf of inmates referred to the Clinic by MAIP and provides hands-on training for law students. In the past, some CUA Innocence Project Student Group members have been able to work with Clinic students to assist with the investigations.