The clinics at NYLS give students an invaluable opportunity to develop practical legal skills while learning to advance fairness and equity in the law.

Post-Conviction Innocence Clinic


Professor Adele Bernhard

The Post-Conviction Innocence Project (“PCIP”) 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.

NY Criminal Procedure Law §440.10 allows convicted defendants to move to vacate their convictions based upon newly discovered evidence which creates a probability that had such evidence been received at trial, the verdict would have been more favorable to the defendant. The PCIP handles a limited number of such cases carefully selected from among the many requests from convicted prisoners asserting their innocence and requesting assistance and the numerous referrals from a variety of outside groups and public defender offices.

PCIP students will work in teams to handle the post-conviction cases. Students will 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 will develop legal arguments and draft affidavits and memoranda of law in support of the motions.

In addition to the case work, students will attend an hour-and-forty minute seminar once weekly. The seminar will involve discussions about the cases, instruction on relevant criminal law, procedure and evidence, as well as examination of 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.

Prerequisites: Evidence (3Ls and 4LEs)
Criminal Procedure-Adjudication (recommended)

Co-requisites: Evidence (2Ls and 3LEs)