Students in this year-long clinic will investigate and litigate wrongful convictions of inmates throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Some of the cases will have forensic evidence (usually DNA) that could be tested, and some will be non-DNA cases. Preliminary cases will be 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 discussed and vetted with the full clinic and the final decision will be made by your Professors. Students work in teams of 3-4 to investigate and litigate on cases that the clinic accepts for representation.. In every case, students will be directed and assisted by the clinic Professor, but as students demonstrate competence and confidence, they may earn the opportunity for greater independence. Although the clinic will have a 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 be visiting inmates at correctional centers, and conducting investigation in a wide variety of socioeconomic settings accompanied by the clinic Professors, a private investigator, or, in some instances, another student.
Midterm Type (if any): None
Final Type (if any): None
Final Exam Notes:
Written Work Product
Written Work Product: Writing pertaining to interviewing potential clients and witnesses, general investigation, reviewing case files, collecting records, searching court files, developing and implementing litigation strategies, and more.
Interviewing potential clients and witnesses, general investigation, reviewing case files, collecting records, searching court files, developing and implementing litigation strategies, etc.
Other Course Details
Prerequisites: Criminal Procedure and Evidence recommended, but not required. Because the credits in this course count toward the JD Program Professional Skills requirement, JD candidates will be given enrollment priority for this class. Concurrencies: None
Mutually Exclusive With: None
Laptops Allowed: Yes
First Day Attendance Required: No
Course Notes: Students should attempt to arrange their schedules to have at least one full weekday free for investigations, Monday and Friday being preferable. Some weekend and evening investigations will also be required. In addition, student teams will meet regularly with Professors Givens and Enright for supervision and direction. Students will earn eight credits for the year. Interested students should anticipate that the clinic will require a minimum of 15 hours per week and you will be expected to record your time on clinic timesheets. The hours required for clinic work will vary according to the demands of the cases. The professor will not always be able to predict or control when the cases will demand intensive hours, so flexibility is important. 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 (email@example.com). Selected students will be notified via e-mail in advance of the enrollment lottery. 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. NOTE REGARDING CREDITS: Of the eight credits awarded for this clinic, four will receive a "credit/no credit" grade at the conclusion of the fall semester, and four will receive a letter grade at the conclusion of the spring semester.
*Satisfies Writing Requirement: No
**Credits For Prof. Skills Requirement: Yes
Satisfies Professional Ethics: No
*Yes means professor requires everyone in the course to submit a substantial research paper (which is the requirement standard in Academic Policies), so no paperwork required to be submitted to SRO. No means student must timely submit paperwork to SRO if intending to use a paper in this course to satisfy the Writing Requirement.
**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.