The Wrongful Convictions Clinic investigates North Carolina prisoners' claims of actual innocence and wrongful conviction. Students typically work in teams of two on one inmate's case. Among other things, the teams meet with the client (in prison), read and digest trial transcripts, interview witnesses, consult with experts, prepare investigative and legal strategies, and, if the case is ready, prepare the comprehensive Motion for Appropriate Relief to have the client's conviction overturned. The seminar component of the Clinic examines the principal problems that lead to the conviction of the innocent and the leading proposals for reform, including mistaken eyewitness identification, false confessions, faulty forensic evidence, the role of forensic DNA testing, post-conviction remedies for innocence claims, the use of "jailhouse snitches" and other cooperating witnesses, incompetent defense counsel, and police and prosecutorial misconduct. The seminar also includes skills-training sessions, during which students gain training in negotiation, interviewing, writing, and more. Students are required to perform a minimum of 100 hours of legal work during the semester – and attend the Clinic Intensive Training Weekend early in the semester, which is scheduled collectively with the other Duke Law Clinics.
This course may not be dropped after the first class meeting.
Students MUST be able to attend the day-long clinic intensive training session to enroll in this course.