The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has awarded the Wrongful Conviction Clinic at the University of Arizona College of Law a $278,000 grant. The grant will allow the clinic to pursue DNA testing in criminal cases where testing has the potential to resolve claims of actual innocence.
“This grant greatly expands our capacity to fully represent our clients,” said Vanessa Buch, associate clinical professor and clinic director. “It also gives our students the chance to learn about the science of DNA testing and its increasingly important role in the criminal justice system.”
The Wrongful Conviction Clinic was established in 2014. Since then, 34 law students have participated in the yearlong clinic, in which they investigate and litigate wrongful convictions and claims of actual innocence on behalf of inmates throughout Arizona.
The clinic currently has cases awaiting DNA testing and has identified more than 50 potential DNA cases for further review.
“Students interact with many experts in areas like DNA and ballistics. The clinic opens your eyes to the amazing technological advances in the criminal field today,” said former clinic student Fernanda Muñoz (2018).
Grant funds will also be used to hire an assistant director for the clinic.