The Clemency Clinic engages students in drafting, filing and prosecuting clemency petitions for (a) presumptively qualified federal inmates under the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) clemency initiative, and (b) state inmates sentenced to life without parole for non-violent felony offenses. The clinic will work in conjunction with the Clemency Project, a group of non-government affiliated organizations (composed of the American Bar Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Federal Defenders, the American Civil Liberties Union, and others) created to assist lawyers and law school clinics participating in the DOJ clemency initiative. The course is open to 2L, 3L, 3LE, and 4LE students, with a registration priority for evening students.
Students will take a mandatory eight-hour online training program at the beginning of the semester, then participate in a weekly seminar and fieldwork. The seminars will involve discussion of the law of clemency and its historic and current role in the criminal justice system, as well as the analytical, drafting and other skills involved in presenting clemency petitions. They will be a combination of lecture/discussion in which the law and history of clemency is considered and case rounds that focus on the legal, tactical and drafting considerations in the students’ cases. In the fieldwork, students will conduct investigations and document reviews about the circumstances of the inmate’s crime and conviction, disciplinary record during incarceration and suitability for release, and ultimately draft, file and prosecute a clemency petition. The seminar and fieldwork will be separately graded on a letter basis.
Students may take the clinic in either or both the fall and spring semesters.
Recommended for the Following Professional Pathways: Civil Rights/Civil Liberties; Criminal Defense; Criminal Prosecution; Family Law; Government/Public Sector; Immigration
Please note: The seminar and fieldwork are graded separately, 1 credit and 2 credits respectively, for a total of 3 credits.