Students in the Innocence and Justice seminar work to provide post-conviction relief for inmates who have been wrongly convicted and who have a credible claim of factual innocence of the charged offense(s). During the first several weekly sessions, students will be provided with an overview of habeas corpus law. The next several sessions will be devoted to initial review and brainstorming of inmates' files; each student will be expected to present a short written case-brief of a number of inmates' files and a short oral presentation of pertinent information about the inmates' cases to the seminar participants, who will provide input on the strengths and weaknesses of the cases. Sessions on investigative techniques will follow. A second wave of case reviews will focus in greater depth on a subset of the cases reviewed in the first wave. Additional sessions may include other post-conviction remedies, such as executive clemency.
Course work used for grading includes active participation in seminar, short written case-briefs during first wave of case reviews, a more detailed written analysis of a case during the second wave, presentations on miscellaneous topics throughout the semester, and preparation of a habeas corpus petition using one of the cases in the New Mexico Innocence and Justice Project files.
In this unique seminar, students will apply newly-gained knowledge about the Great Writ to real cases involving inmates in New Mexico prisons who have submitted information about their cases to the New Mexico Innocence and Justice Project and who have a colorable claim of factual innocence. Seminar participants will learn invaluable investigative techniques in the process of uncovering the facts that eluded the trial court that convicted the inmates. Students will be responsible for several cases initially, which may be narrowed down to a single case. Students may also have the opportunity to work with practicing attorneys by drafting motions and pleadings.
Enrollment is limited to twelve students in their second or third year.