Project for the Innocent

Loyola Law School’s Project for the Innocent (LPI) is dedicated to the exoneration of the wrongfully convicted. Loyola Law School students are the heart and soul of the clinic, which is yearlong. They investigate cases of incarcerated men and women who claim to be wrongfully convicted. If, after a thorough investigation, a true claim of innocence is provable, clinic students help draft habeas petitions so that the cases can be litigated in court. Each semester, participating students receive a total of four credits for their work on these cases and their participation in the classroom component of the course.

The fieldwork component of the course is designed to provide Loyola Law School students with the practical experience they will need to become zealous and ethical advocates. In addition to screening cases, conducting legal research, and drafting memos, students play a central role in every step of the actual investigations LPI undertakes. They chase down leads, interview witnesses, and visit inmates under the close supervision of experienced attorneys and investigators. For many, this is the most exciting and rewarding part of their clinical experience.

The classroom component of the course is a weekly seminar designed to complement the students' field work and hone their advocacy skills. Students read key cases about the “gateways” to innocence: misconduct, Brady violations, false evidence, ineffective assistance of counsel, and the freestanding claim of innocence itself.  Students also receive an overview of habeas practice, with an emphasis on the basic legal knowledge required to draft a petition. The second half of class is set aside for case rounds, where students present their case work for a brainstorming session during which theories are tested, new avenues of investigation are proposed, and the legal and factual issues are worked through in a way that enriches the understanding of the presenting student and the group.