Distinguished Appellate Attorney Paula Mitchell Appointed to Lead Project for the Innocent at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

Paula Mitchell

Loyola Law School, Los Angeles has named Paula Mitchell as the new executive director of the Project for the Innocent (LPI). Mitchell will oversee student advocates pursuing claims of actual innocence on behalf of those wrongfully convicted of crimes under the umbrella of the school’s Alarcón Advocacy Center.

Mitchell is widely known for her expertise in appellate work, groundbreaking scholarship on capital punishment and her long tenure as a federal court judicial law clerk. She also is a 2002 alumna of the law school, and a longtime adjunct professor. Mitchell has taught Habeas Corpus & Prisoner Civil Rights and served as the attorney supervisor of the law school’s Ninth Circuit Appellate Clinic. She joins Loyola from Reed Smith, where she served as appellate counsel representing clients in all stages of civil and criminal appeals.

 “I am honored that Loyola Law School has entrusted me with the opportunity to carry out the mission of the Alarcón Advocacy Center and the Loyola Project for the Innocent,” said Mitchell. “With the help of scores of eager law students, these organizations both strive to bring about much needed reforms in our justice system, particularly on behalf of members in our community who are traditionally underserved.”

A prominent scholar, Mitchell is the co-author of “Executing the Will of the Voters?: A Roadmap to Mend or End the California Legislature’s Multi-Billion Dollar Death Penalty Debacle.” The article and the followup “Costs of Capital Punishment in California: Will Voters Choose Reform this November?” have been widely cited in the media. Mitchell co-authored both articles for the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review with the Hon. Arthur L. Alarcón, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, for whom she clerked.

“Paula has dedicated her to career to righting injustice, so she was the perfect choice to lead the Project for the Innocent,” said Professor Laurie Levenson, David W. Burcham Professor of Ethical Advocacy and founder of the Alarcón Advocacy Center. “Like Judge Alarcón, for whom the center is named, she is committed to asking the question, “Who can I help today?”

Under the direction of supervising attorneys, Project for the Innocent students review inmate correspondence, investigate innocent claims and draft habeas petitions seeking prisoner release. The clinic has secured the release of two prisoners serving life sentences for murders they did not commit. The clinic is part of Loyola’s Alarcón Advocacy Center. Affiliated clinics include the Capital Habeas Litigation Clinic, which seeks relief for clients on California’s death row, and the Pro Se Clinic, which handles prisoners' civil rights cases before the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.