Wrongful Convictions Clinic

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. During the semester, students are required to perform a minimum of 100 hours of client work (in addition to weekly seminar preparation and attendance). Students must also attend the Clinic Intensive Training Day scheduled early in the semester, which is conducted collectively with the other Duke Law Clinics.

Enrollment Prerequisite
Any ethics course (Law 237, Law 238, Law 239, Law 317, or Law 539)
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Course Learning Outcomes: 
(b) Legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, problem-solving, and written and oral communication in the legal context
(d) Other professional skills needed for competent and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession


*Please note that this information is for planning purposes only, and should not be relied upon for the schedule for a given semester. Faculty leaves and sabbaticals, as well as other curriculum considerations, will sometimes affect when a course may be offered.