Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic

  • If you wish to support Kiera Newsome's transition since her recent release, please visit her GoFundMe page here.

Watch "The People vs. Kiera Newsome," a KCET/SOCAL CONNECTED documentary featuring the JIFS Clinic and wrongly convicted client Kiera Newsome, who has been behind bars for 17 years

The generosity of The Kalmanovitz Charitable Foundation enabled the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy to establish the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic in 2013. The JIFS Clinic expands the Center’s advocacy efforts on behalf of court-involved children beyond the Los Angeles juvenile justice system to include the representation of youth who have been wrongfully convicted and youth who are sentenced to unjustly disproportionate adult prison sentences. 

Each year, well over a thousand juveniles are prosecuted as adults in California and hundreds are sentenced to lengthy prison sentences.  While there are undoubtedly youth who suffer valid convictions and who need to be segregated from society, we know that there are juveniles who do not belong in adult prison, either because they are factually innocent, or because their punishment is inconsistent with their moral and legal culpability. The Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic is a vital step toward remedying a heart-wrenching and important problem.  

JIFS Clinic Course Information

The course is a year long, and will be comprised of a five-unit substantive course and a five-unit clinic.

In the clinic, the students will represent persons who have been convicted of offenses committed when they were under 18. Students will be assigned cases at varying stages of the appellate process, and will have the chance to conduct investigations, meet with clients, evaluate cases for innocence/sentencing claims, conduct evidentiary hearings in court, research and write appellate, habeas and amicus briefs, and if possible, conduct oral arguments in the court of appeal. Students may also have the opportunity to work on legislation and policy work related to the clinic’s goals. Course work will include methodology of investigation, causes of wrongful convictions, and state and federal appellate and habeas processes. All aspects of the students’ involvement will be personally supervised by clinical professors.  The substantive component will be graded, while the clinical units will be ungraded.

Minimum requirements for enrollment are: Criminal Law, Civil Procedure and Evidence. Criminal Procedure is strongly recommended, but not required.  Students must be California Bar certified and in good academic standing.  Prior academic performance will be considered, however, weight will be given to those students who can demonstrate an interest in the issues presented as well as to those who have prior experience in a related field.  In addition to completing an application with a resume, students must interview with Professor Hawthorne in order to be considered for the class.  Please note that there will be a three-day orientation to be held one week before the official school year begins.  Participation in orientation the week before classes begin, is mandatory.

Application information for interested law school students is available on Symplicity.