LPI Hosts Volunteer Night for Evening Students

Loyola Project for the Innocent (LPI) hosted a volunteer night for evening students on Feb. 22, 2024. Under the supervision of LPI Investigating Attorney Stacey Nelson, 25 students participated in a hands-on review of over 100 innocence cases, with support from Ryan Livigni, Administrative Coordinator for Loyola Social Justice Law Clinic.  

LPI receives hundreds of letters from petitioners across the nation who allege that they have been wrongfully convicted. LPI volunteers help to read these letters to screen for claims of innocence and ensure the writer is in Los Angeles County before LPI can consider their case. 

LPI responds to every single letter received from someone seeking assistance. “We might not have the resources to represent all of them, but we refer them to other organizations and programs that might be able to assist. And we always explain why we cannot move forward with their case,” says Nelson. Volunteer support is critical to enable LPI to provide this kind of attention for all inquiries. 

As part of the volunteer night, Nelson taught students how to screen for potentially meritorious innocence cases, verify information provided in the letters, find legal documents including appellate briefs, and Livigni demonstrated the step-by-step process of inputting client information in the clinic’s database.  

Loyola Law Students are required to perform 40 hours of pro bono work before graduation, which means evening pro bono opportunities like LPI’s volunteer night are especially helpful for evening students like Tanika Smith, who works full-time as an accounting manager during the day.  

"It was very interesting reading various letters from several inmates asking for help. I felt as if I was making a small but huge step in helping potential innocent inmates get exonerated, says evening student Tanika Smith. 

“Flexibility and access to pro bono opportunities for our evening students is a top priority for us,” says Elizabeth Bluestein, Executive Director of the Loyola Social Justice Law Clinic. “We want all students to have meaningful opportunities to participate in our pro bono and clinical offerings and other experiential learning programs.