Founded in 2009, the Michigan Innocence Clinic was the first innocence clinic in the country to focus exclusively on non-DNA cases. In the MIC’s fifteen-year history, it has achieved victories in 42 cases on behalf of clients who had been wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit.
Students registered in the MIC investigate and litigate cases on behalf of incarcerated people who are actually innocent of the crimes for which they have been convicted. Students work on all aspects of the cases, including researching claims of innocence and the law pertaining to them, investigating new evidence, writing and editing court briefs and motions, and participating in courtroom activities when there are hearings scheduled in their cases. The clinic also features a seminar component, where students explore in class the legal and policy issues underlying wrongful convictions. There are no exams or papers; students are graded on their preparedness and contribution to class, various in-class exercises, the progress they make in their cases, and the quality of their case-related work product.
The MIC’s docket spans both state and federal courts and is quite diverse and novel. No two cases are the same, and non-DNA innocence litigation continues to be a fascinating challenge within the field of criminal litigation. Students work with supervising attorneys to craft legal strategies and explore evidentiary and procedural avenues for obtaining relief?many of which have been expanded in recent years due to the work of the MIC and other such organizations. Students interested in criminal law/procedure, appellate practice, brief writing, public interest work, innocence litigation, or courtroom advocacy would be especially suitable for the MIC. That said, there are no specific prerequisites (outside of the regular first-year courses), and no prior specialized knowledge of criminal defense or innocence litigation is required or expected.
* Clinic spans fall and winter semesters of one academic year. Students may register during winter of 1L or 2L year for enrollment during 2L or 3L year, respectively.