Professor Rahn and Successes in Kentucky and New Mexico
Students on the Innocence Project and Classes
The Project provides a valuable opportunity for law students to be a part of something that really matters. Those who participate gain real experience and develop an intimate understanding of how the system breaks down, and what can be done to reform it. As a UNM law student, I took the seminar and spent a semester investigating cases. My law school education would have been incomplete without this opportunity. The wrongfully convicted within our state need someone to advocate for them and our law students deserve to continue filling that role.
The Project has been a wonderful, practical course. Seldom in school do we have the ability to do this level of investigation. We interacted with agencies, visited prisons, and conversed with witnesses and attorneys. The course teaches practical, doctrinal pointers in criminal procedure, issues and arguments. Each student gets extensive experience analyzing the process. The year-long set-up means each case gets a long amount of dedicated time by each student. It was a good experience that I am happy I signed-up for, and have no doubt will be useful in my law practice.
One of the deciding factors that influenced me to apply to UNM is the New Mexico Innocence and Justice Project. It offers invaluable experience to law students while simultaneously providing a service to the community. I am currently taking Wrongful Convictions as an elective with Professor Rahn and it is my favorite class thus far.
The Innocence and Justice Project is a vital program at UNM Law that demonstrates that the school is concerned about injustice within the criminal system. Criminal justice reform is the area of law that I am most concerned with, primarily because people of color are disproportionately targeted by harsher drug and crime legislation.
The Innocence and Justice Project to me is representative of a key component that provides oversight of the judicial system which does not always provide equal opportunity to all people.
I believe that the Innocence and Justice Project is vital to uphold the dignity and integrity of the legal profession in New Mexico. This project provides recourse and justice for those who have been wronged by our criminal justice system. Our justice system is meant to provide relief for victims of injustice. However, without the Innocence and Justice Project, there is no relief for victims of injustice in our criminal law system.
The Innocence and Justice Project is more than a project to my classmates and me. We are passionate about trying to find justice for the irreparable harm of a wrongful conviction and the harm that it does to our community.
The New Mexico Innocence and Justice Project is the only option for many wrongfully convicted people. I believe that it is also one of the school's greatest selling points, and it certainly helped convince me to enroll.
UNM’s Innocence and Justice Program is what drew me to attend UNM; not the bar passage rate and not the tuition costs. While these were added benefits of choosing UNM over other law schools I was accepted to, the prospect of being able to work on wrongful conviction cases and get practical experience in a post-conviction setting was the largest draw point for attending UNM.
Taking the New Mexico Innocence and Justice Project class has given me invaluable information and perspective. I have been taught how to look at cases specifically for mistakes in procedure, facts, and evidence. Learning these types of traits is so beneficial to representing any client. This class provides tons of knowledge and hands on experience in providing adequate representation to a client. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to take this class, as I will be a better attorney because of it.
As a student, what's interesting about IJP is that you have a real person in front of you, you have a real investigation that produces actual outcomes. "It's one of several programs that the Law School offers that gives students practical experience. IJP helps distinguish UNM not just as a law school, but a lawyer's school.
Professor Rahn has provided long and highly successful service in this field, serving as leader of the Kentucky Innocence Project for ten years. The Kentucky Project filed successful motions and petitions for relief in both DNA and non-DNA cases in which 10 persons in Kentucky were exonerated in the ten immediately preceding years before Professor Rahn came to New Mexico. Fortunately, another four men and women whose cases Professor Rahn worked on during his tenure with the Kentucky Innocence Project have been exonerated since he joined the New Mexico project.
In New Mexico
Professor Rahn today serves as Director of the New Mexico Innocence and Justice Project, teaching UNM law students in the classroom as well as supervising their work investigating potential cases selected by him as worthy of further investigation. This year, Professor Rahn is teaching two classes—the Innocence and Justice Seminar and Wrongful Convictions, with a total of 29 students in his spring and fall classes. He has taught more than 110 students since he joined the faculty in 2010. Students learn the law of due process in post-conviction settings, and provide the time and resources to thoroughly investigate the more than 20 cases currently under investigation. They uniformly describe it as their best law school experience in learning how to investigate facts in complex cases.