Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility welcomes inaugural fellow

August 7, 2008Duke Law News

Aug. 7, 2008 — Christian Dysart ’07 has been named the inaugural fellow of the Law School’s Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility. A member of the North Carolina State Bar, Dysart began his fellowship Aug. 4, following a clerkship with Associate Justice Edward Thomas Brady of the Supreme Court of North Carolina.

“Christian was a standout student while he was here, with a deep interest in criminal justice issues, and he will be an excellent center fellow,” said Clinical Professor Theresa Newman, associate director of the center. “Whatever avenue of law Christian pursues in the long term, his exposure during his fellowship to the causes of wrongful convictions, the available remedies, and the obstacles to exoneration will be enormously beneficial to him and to the cause of justice.”

Directed by James Coleman, the John S. Bradway Professor of the Practice of Law, the center was launched in 2007 with a $1.25 million gift from Duke University in order to promote fairness in the criminal justice system and train lawyers to fight against wrongful convictions. In addition to helping develop and advance the center’s agenda, Dysart will assist with the Wrongful Convictions Clinic at the Law School and develop an undergraduate-level course on the subject. He will also serve as an adviser to law student volunteers in Duke’s Innocence Project and engage in scholarly and case-specific research projects.

Dysart had an extended externship in the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina during his third year of law school. He also worked on cases in two Wrongful Convictions classes, and said he is delighted have the opportunity to deepen his criminal justice experience.

“This is very thoughtful work. Our goal is not to get everyone out of prison — our goal is to get the innocent people out of prison,” he observed. Now contemplating a career in academia, Dysart said he is particularly looking forward to teaching others about wrongful convictions. “Irrespective of what people choose to do with their lives, greater exposure to this issue is beneficial,” he said. “People in every walk of life can help make sure that this doesn’t happen.” And he’s delighted to be back at Duke.

“My time at Duke Law School was as wonderful a time as I’ve had in my professional life,” said Dysart, who served as athletic director at Peace College before entering law school. “I like the energy here, I like the students. I had a great experience as a student, and I think it’s going to be even a better experience on the other side of the podium.”
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