Evidence, Civil Procedure, and Civil Rights all seemed like separate subjects until the Civil Rights & Justice Clinic put the pieces of the puzzle together. Professor Owens provides a rigorous syllabus that includes practical litigation skills building and meaningful client interaction. Because of this clinic, I am ready to be a civil rights attorney.
— Marcena Day ‘22

About the Civil Rights and Justice Clinic

The Civil Rights and Justice Clinic (CRJC) aims to be a national leader in focusing on issues of constitutional rights, race, and criminal justice. These issues are acutely present in both post-conviction and civil litigation concerning wrongful convictions, and in the myriad ways in which policing—through “everyday” interactions, uses of force, and in responses to public pressure—impacts our communities.

The mission of the clinic is simple: to address the violation of people’s rights, to confront racial and social inequity, and to pursue measures of accountability and reform that will prevent and deter wrongs in the future. To do so, the CRJC has four principal components: (1) representing people who have been wrongfully convicted in post-conviction proceedings, as the Washington Innocence Project (formerly the Innocence Project Northwest) has done for decades; (2) representing people, and classes of people, who have been abused or harmed by the police or other public officials in civil rights actions pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (3) collaborating in non-litigation, community-driven initiatives that improve policy, practice and legislative efforts at reform and that address race, accountability, transparency, policing, and criminal justice; and (4) engaging in research and advocacy to address systemic issues (e.g., by conducting research studies, authoring amicus briefs on important issues in state and federal courts, and surveying public records).


Students will actively participate in all aspects of civil and criminal litigation, both in Washington State Courts and in federal courts throughout the country. For wrongfully convicted clients, as they have done with the Innocence clinic in the past, this representation shall include conducting investigations, drafting motions seeking forensic/DNA testing, seeking new trials, client counseling, and conducting oral advocacy and witness examination at hearings. In §1983 suits, students will participate in all aspects of litigation, including drafting pleadings and motions, participating in discovery, depositions, motion practice, evidentiary hearings, trials, and appeals (including, where feasible and permitted direct advocacy to courts). Students will also be given the opportunity to conduct research and investigate policy and transparency issues that address broader reform efforts, particularly concerning police accountability, race, reconciliation, and restorative justice.

Related Publications

Civil Rights and Justice News