The PCIC represents a small number of clients who have been convicted of serious crimes in New York State but who present a colorable claim of actual innocence that cannot be proven through DNA evidence alone. NY Criminal Procedure Law §440.10 creates a pathway for such clients to request reversal of their conviction based upon newly discovered evidence.
The Post-Conviction Innocence Clinic (“PCIC”) provides an opportunity for 2L and 3L day and 3L and 4L evening students to represent clients in post-conviction matters under the direct supervision of a faculty member.
PCIC students represent our clients in teams. Students engage in fact investigations geared towards filing post-conviction motions by tracking down court records and transcripts, locating and conferring with prior counsel, conducting prison interviews of clients, and locating and interviewing witnesses. Students develop legal arguments and draft affidavits and memoranda of law.
In addition to our case work, students attend an hour-and-forty minute seminar once weekly. In seminar we discuss the progress of our cases, as well as relevant criminal law, procedure and evidence, and we examine the policy issues related to wrongful convictions and claims of actual innocence.
Students should expect to devote a minimum of 16 hours per week to the clinic, including the fieldwork and the seminar.
Recommended for the following Professional Pathways: Civil Rights/Civil Liberties; Criminal Defense; Family Law; Government/Public Sector
“It’s much more rewarding to be in a class where you get your own clients and you get your own hands-on material. It’s not just sitting around reading all day long; you get to really experience what it’s like to have your own cases. I would recommend it to anyone who wants that sort of experience.”
–Clinic Student ’15
Links and Logistics
Instructor: Distinguished Adjunct Professor Adele Bernhard
Seminar: 2 Credits, Fieldwork: 2 Credits (One Semester Course; Fall or Spring)
Approved for the Experiential Learning Requirement
Enrollment is limited. Registration is binding.
To Apply to the Post-Conviction Innocence Clinic, please visit the OCEL Application Information Page