IPNW students play pivotal role in freeing innocent prisoners
Students learn why the criminal justice system makes errors, possibilities for reform
The Washington Innocence Project Clinic, formerly Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW), the only resource of its kind in Washington state, works to free innocent prisoners, remedy causes of wrongful conviction and offer law students an outstanding education. The efforts of Washington Innocence Project attorneys, clinic students and volunteers have exonerated 14 men and women who collectively served over 100 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. Clinic students at the Washington Innocence Project gain an understanding of why the criminal justice system makes errors and learn about ways the system can be reformed to decrease the number of wrongful convictions.
In just the past two years IPNW fielded nearly 1,000 requests for help. Currently, there are 49 cases under active investigation or being litigated in Washington state and federal courts and over 100 eligible cases awaiting further review.
Clinic students have the opportunity to work on these cases. They conduct fact investigation – including client and witness interviewing, detailed review of police reports and trial transcripts – and work with expert witnesses in various areas of forensic science. Students have co-authored petitions for post-conviction DNA testing, motions for new trials and appellate briefs. Students have worked with their supervising attorneys to negotiate agreed orders for DNA testing and reversals of conviction.
Students have presented oral argument in state trial and appellate courts and in the federal court of appeals in the following cases: