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Wrongful Convictions Clinic

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The Wrongful Convictions Clinic investigates plausible claims of innocence made by North Carolina inmates convicted of felonies. 

Students in the clinic study the causes of wrongful convictions, including mistaken eyewitness identification, false confessions, faulty forensic evidence, and “jailhouse snitches.” Together with the Duke Law Innocence Project, a student-run organization with the same mission, student-attorneys work under the supervision of faculty to manage cases and perform a wide range of duties, including interviewing the inmates, locating and interviewing witnesses, gathering documentation, writing legal documents and memos, and working with experts. Most clinic cases do not involve DNA.

Many students describe their time in the clinic, working to exonerate individuals incarcerated for crimes they didn't commit, as their most rewarding experience during law school.

Testimonial

One of the resounding reminders we’ve gotten from clinic professors is that quitting isn’t an option. Things that are worth fighting for are worth fighting for no matter how messy they get.

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Sarah Milkovich '19

Exonerated Clients

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Dontae Sharpe

Dontae Sharpe was exonerated on August 22, 2019, after serving 25 years in prison. 

Ray Finch

Charles Ray Finch was exonerated on May 23, 2019, after serving 43 years in prison.

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Howard Dudley

Howard Dudley was released from prison on March 2, 2016, after 23 years of incarceration.

Michael Parker

Michael Alan Parker was released from prison on August 26, 2014, after 22 years of incarceration.

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Noe Moreno

Noe Moreno was released on August 31, 2012, after serving six years in prison.

LaMonte Armstrong

LaMonte Armstrong was released on June 29, 2012, after serving 17 years in prison.

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Scott Pierpoint

Jonathan Scott Pierpoint was released on July 6, 2010, after serving 17 years in prison.

Shawn Massey

Shawn Giovanni Massey was released on May 6, 2010, after serving 12 years in prison.

Clinic Faculty

Jamie T. Lau

Clinical Professor of Law
Supervising Attorney, Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility

  919-613-7764

 jamie.lau@duke.edu

Theresa A. Newman

Charles S. Rhyne Clinical Professor of Law
Co-Director, Wrongful Convictions Clinic

  919-613-7133

 Newman@law.duke.edu

James E. Coleman, Jr.

John S. Bradway Professor of the Practice of Law
Director, Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility
Co-Director, Wrongful Convictions Clinic

  919-613-7057

 jcoleman@law.duke.edu

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Course Description
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Wrongful Convictions Clinic, 493
The Wrongful Convictions Clinic is an investigative and litigation clinic.  With the assistance of supervisors, outside counsel, and other professionals, students work in teams to help free innocent inmates in North Carolina by developing their claims of innocence and, when necessary, pursuing relief on their behalf in state and federal court. Each team of students,  under the supervision of Clinic faculty, undertakes a wide range of work, which can include corresponding and meeting with the client, identifying and interviewing witnesses, developing an investigative and legal strategy for advancing the client’s case, researching and drafting complex complaints and briefs, assisting in court proceedings, and, eventually, assisting the client in transitioning from wrongful imprisonment to freedom.

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Innocence Project
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The Duke Law Innocence Project is a volunteer student organization that works to exonerate victims of wrongful convictions by investigating claims of actual innocence. After completing a careful review according to set criteria and guidelines, the various student teams present their conclusions to the Project leadership and faculty advisers.

The Duke Law Innocence Project looks at wrongful convictions not only on an individual case-by-case basis, but also engages in policy reforms, and outreach to the community in education. The organization also helps its exonerees in their reintegration to society.

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Contact Us
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Wrongful Convictions Clinic
Duke Law School
Box 90360
Durham, North Carolina 27708-0360
Phone: (919) 613-7169
Fax: (919) 613-7262