CUA Law Shield

The CUA Innocence Project Clinic & Clemency Project represents persons
convicted in federal
court who are seeking
executive clemency from
the President of the
United States and
conducts investigations
of claims of actual
innocence on behalf
of individuals referred
to the Clinic by
the Mid-Atlantic
Innocence Project.



Brandon Braithwaite
Shantell Davenport
Megan Gibson
Huyn Jin Kim
Ryan Notarangelo
Janette Richardson
Melissa Saldivar
Holly Vandegrift 


Clinic Director
Professor Sandy Ogilvy

Governor Ehrlich and Professor Drinan talk with students



CUA Innocence Project Clinic
& Clemency Project Newsletter

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March 2014

What Is New In The Clinic?

In the spring 2014 semester the Clinic signed retainers with five federal prisoners to assist them in preparing petitions for commutation of sentence to President Obama. Brief summaries of the cases appear below.

One client is from the D.C. Metro area. He lost his job and began selling crack on the streets. He was sentenced to a mandatory minimum sentence of 120 months or ten years. Had he been sentenced only months later, his sentence would have been significantly reduced because of changes in federal sentencing law for crack cocaine.

As a non-violent “deadhead” at the age of 24, this client was sentenced to two concurrent life sentences for possession with intent to deliver, and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute LSD in 1994. He was considered a “career offender,” and therefore subject to a mandatory life sentence due to his two prior felony drug convictions for which he only received probation. He has already served over 20 years in prison, which is about the time he would have received had he not been subject to the mandatory life sentence.                 

This client is serving a life sentence without parole for a nonviolent drug crime. Although only a street-level dealer, he was held accountable for the entire amount of drugs involved in the drug conspiracy. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, he would have received 235-293 months in prison and would have been home by now, as are the majority of his codefendants. Unfortunately, two previous convictions for drug possession triggered the federal mandatory sentencing law, and he was sentenced to a mandatory life term without parole. He has already served 21 years.

This client pled guilty to possession with the intent to distribute cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. He was sentenced to two consecutive 5-year terms. This was his first criminal offense. Due to the mandatory minimum, he was sentenced to 120 months, although based on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines alone, he would have been sentenced to between 46-57 months.

The last client pled guilty to conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. Although he left the conspiracy six months before his arrest, and played only a minor role, he received a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years. Legislation pending in the US Senate would reduce the sentence by half.

News from Clinic Alumni

Denny Clark (‘11) is a prosecutor in Prince George’s State’s Attorney’s Office and helps coach the law school trial teams. Denny and his wife are expecting their first child in May.

Laura Kakuk (‘09) is with the Hannon Law Group managing the firm’s labor contract with the DC Fraternal Order of Police Dept. Corrections and doing civil and criminal litigation.

Annie Khirallah (’12) continues to work at the Law Offices of Steven Kupferberg in Rockville, MD, doing primarily criminal defense work. Annie and her husband are expecting their first child this summer.

Brian Luhman (‘08) is now at the Alexandria, VA Public Defender’s office.

Dan McGraw (‘12) is clerking for a U.S, Magistrate Judge in Norfolk, VA. He will begin a one-year clerkship in September with a federal district court judge in the Eastern District of Virginia.  

Geraldine McIntyre (‘13) just started a job with the Federal Affairs Office of the City of New York. She also is working on a project for the Clemency Project and has taken a clemency case pro bono for us.

Emily Newman (‘12) is with Sidley Austin’s Government Strategies practice, focusing primarily on health law and policy, and now working in the financial services, cyber security and intellectual property spaces as well. Over the past two months, she spent a great deal of time on two pro bono matters. One involved co-authoring an amicus brief for the First Amendment Lawyers Association, which was just filed in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Becky Whitaker (‘12) is working as a criminal defense attorney in NC, defending primarily indigent clients.


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