Engle Joins Innocence Project Clinic
by Rob Seal
Matthew Engle, an experienced death penalty defense attorney, has joined the faculty as the new legal director of the Law School’s Innocence Project Clinic.
Engle joins the Law School from the Office of the Capital Defender, a public defender office that specializes in death penalty cases at the trial level. He joins Deirdre Enright ’92, the investigative director of the Innocence Project Clinic, in what he considers meaningful and important work.
“The focus of the clinic is to identify cases of wrongful convictions and to look for available legal remedies,” he said. “There are many potential cases, and many people who reach out to the clinic looking for help.”
Launched in 2008, the clinic is part of the Innocence Network, an international affiliation of organizations dedicated to overturning wrongful convictions. Twelve students participate in the clinic each year, and dozens more participate in the Virginia Innocence Project Student Group.
“A big focus of my job will be to figure out, once we’ve identified cases where there’s a chance to be successful, what the best avenues are to pursue, and then to work with students to pursue them,” Engle said.
In addition to assisting students in the representation of the wrongfully convicted, Engle said he is excited to work with the clinic on looking for ways to improve the criminal justice system.
“The clinic will address problems such as false confessions, access to DNA testing, ineffective representation, and other issues. I think we have a real opportunity to find ways of improving the criminal justice system, both from the law enforcement and the defense perspectives, in order to prevent wrongful convictions from happening in the first place,” he said.