Wrongful Conviction Clinic

In this yearlong clinic, you will investigate and litigate wrongful convictions and claims of actual innocence on behalf of inmates throughout the state of Arizona.

The majority of your time in the clinic will be devoted to casework — screening prisoners’ applications for assistance, reviewing trial transcripts and case files, visiting potential clients at prisons throughout the state, interviewing witnesses, collecting records, consulting subject matter experts, conducting legal research and drafting pleadings.
 

JasonBuch20180324-36.jpg

University of Arizona Wrongful Conviction Clinic team
The Wrongful Conviction Clinic team attends the Innocence Network's annual conference. Pictured L-R: Ana Islas, Olympia Torres, Joshua Messick, Kristen McKeon, Professor Jason Kreag; front row, Professor Vanessa Buch.

You will be assigned preliminary cases for factual development and evaluation, presenting your findings to the group to determine whether or not the clinic should accept the case. You will also work in teams with clinical faculty and other students on developed cases with continuing investigation or ongoing litigation.
 
In addition to casework, you will participate in a weekly classroom component which combines skills training, case discussions, guest speakers and field trips. You will learn to recognize the common causes of wrongful convictions, brainstorm investigative strategies, hear from exonerees and practitioners in the larger innocence community, develop presentation and advocacy skills, and gain a better understanding of the stakeholders in the criminal justice system.

Clinic Details 

Each of the two semesters, you can elect to take the course for between two and four credits. All students will take part in the weekly classroom component, however the number of required hours of casework will vary with the number of elected credits.

  • The clinic requires a yearlong commitment and re-registration for the spring semester. Once enrolled in the clinic, you may not drop the course.
  • To participate in the clinic, you must have taken or be simultaneously enrolled in the Wrongful Conviction seminar (LAW 650D) during the fall semester.
  • Some weekend and evening investigation may be required, and you should anticipate that the hours required for clinic work will vary throughout the semester according to the demands of the cases.

The Wrongful Conviction Clinic is a graded course. There is no final exam. Grades will be based on measures including class participation, completion of required casework hours, periodic written assignments, handling of client cases and time management.

You must apply and be accepted in order to enroll in the clinic. To apply, complete and submit the Clinic Registration Form distributed by the Registrar’s office during the registration period in the spring. All students who select the Wrongful Conviction Clinic on their registration form will be prompted to submit a resume and brief letter of interest to the clinic director. If you are selected to participate in the clinic, you will be notified before the close of the registration period.

I feel confident, prepared, and zealous to serve individuals in the community. Meeting and listening the stories of persons who were wrongfully convicted made all the difference for me.

Glaucia Batista Brannock, Class of 2016


The Wrongful Conviction Clinic allowed me to work with real clients who need real help. I met my client. I wrote to my client. I spoke to my client on the phone, and I went out to visit my client several times. I went into the field and I interviewed witnesses. I felt like an attorney and I felt like I was helping someone.

Kate Kohnen, Class of 2018


I am a better lawyer for having participated in the clinic – it was a truly invaluable experience.

Jessica Salyers, Class of 2015


Whether it was visiting a client in prison, interviewing witnesses, conducting research, or attending the Innocence Network Conference, all of the time I spent working on our cases was valuable. I'm thankful I get to carry all of these experiences with my throughout my career.

Joshua Messick, Class of 2018

Vanessa Buch
Assistant Clinical Professor of Law
520-621-2466
vbuch@email.arizona.edu


Kristen McKeon
Law Fellow, Wrongful Conviction Clinic
520-621-3578
kmckeon@email.arizona.edu