Students in the Innocence/Wrongful Convictions Clinic join organizations throughout the United States in seeking to free or obtain new trials for wrongfully convicted individuals. Students in the clinic directly represent wrongfully convicted—including potentially innocent—defendants and provide pro bono legal and investigative assistance. Using a team approach, students investigate wrongful conviction and innocence claims while taking a criminal law seminar, which introduces them to many common issues in the criminal justice system, including mistaken eyewitness identification, false confessions, faulty forensic evidence, police and prosecutorial misconduct, inadequate defense funding and resources, and ineffective assistance of defense counsel.
By taking the seminar and the clinic together, the students are able to apply the lecture and trainings from the seminar component to the clients’ cases on which they are working. Students in the clinic meet regularly to participate in “case rounds” during which the facts and investigative strategy of each case are analyzed by the entire clinic.
Students in the clinic devote a full year to working on all aspects of their cases, including:
- fact investigation
- client interviewing and counseling
- preparing post-conviction petitions and motions
- conducting hearings
- arguing motions
- filing appeals
The Innocence/Wrongful Conviction Clinic is a year long, eight-credit hour course, with students enrolled for five-credit hours in the fall and three credit-hours in the spring. The students’ case work is supervised primarily by adjunct professor and UT Law alumnus Stephen Ross Johnson, a respected criminal defense attorney.
Innocence/Wrongful Convictions Clinic
University of Tennessee College of Law
1505 W. Cumberland Ave.
Knoxville, Tennessee 37996-1810