Equal Justice and Capital Defender Clinic
Professor Bryan Stevenson
Professor Anthony Amsterdam
Professor Randy Susskind
3L students preferred
Maximum of 16 students
Pre-Requisite: Capital Punishment Law and Litigation is strongly recommended (see "Qualifications for Applicants" below)
Students should not have scheduled classes on Monday in the Fall or on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday in the Spring
Class times: Monday and TBA
The Equal Justice and Capital Defender Clinic will accept 12-16 students for a year-long 14-credit course. Students in the clinic will have the opportunity to provide legal assistance to condemned prisoners on Alabama’s death row and 13 and 14-year-old children sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole; they may also engage in research, writing and strategic project work aimed at confronting bias against the poor and people of color within the criminal justice system.
The course will focus on the preparation of appellate briefs and collateral litigation in Alabama capital cases where many death row prisoners are indigent and without legal assistance, and on providing legal assistance to young children condemned to die in prison for offenses that were committed at age 13 or 14. Students will be involved in the development of strategies for successfully challenging unconstitutional convictions and sentences, the investigation and collection of information from clients and witnesses, and the review of documentary evidence. Students will also aid in the development of non-litigation advocacy for indigent and condemned prisoners.
Over the course of the year, students will make frequent trips to the Deep South and work with death row prisoners, children sentenced to death in prison, and poor and minority communities traumatized by criminal justice system control. Students will work on pending cases that are currently being managed by the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. Fieldwork may include interviewing clients, client family members, and other potential mitigation witnesses, reviewing local court files, examining state documents and evidence, and collecting information through interviews with jurors, lawyers and other critical witnesses.
Students will prepare pleadings for uncounseled death row prisoners facing imminent deadlines, work on litigation challenging LWOP for children and conduct research and writing projects that are designed to strategically confront abuse of power, racial discrimination and inadequate indigent defense. Students will study constitutional law, criminal procedure, complex litigation and advocacy by thinking strategically about complex problems related to criminal justice and human rights. Communication strategies, client services and the dynamics of impact litigation will be given a great deal of attention throughout the year.
The seminar component of the course will complement the fieldwork with an intensive analysis of the legal, strategic, ethical and cultural issues which students confront in their cases, as well as a study of the broader political, social and institutional norms which influence litigation involving the death penalty or extreme sentences imposed on young children. The seminar will stress the importance of developing skills with respect to building relationships with clients, interviewing witnesses, identifying legal issues, and developing theories of relief. Cases assigned to students will be litigated in state and federal trial and appellate courts.
Qualifications for Applicants
The Equal Justice and Capital Defender Clinic will be offered for the full year. There are no prerequisites for enrolment, but applicants should note that the clinic requires its students to not have other classes scheduled during these times: Mondays in the Fall Semester; Mondays, Tuesdays or Fridays in the Spring Semester.
Students should submit via CAMS the standard application, résumé and unofficial transcript. The clinic assistant, Teri Sulmers, will contact you via email to schedule an interview. If you have questions regarding the application procedure, please contact Teri Sulmers at (212) 998-6459 or via email at email@example.com.
Former clinic students currently employed by EJI can be contacted at 334-269-1803:
Meagan Sway (’08), Tricia Bushnell (‘07) and Marc Shapiro (‘03).
The students in the 2009 clinic are:
* 14 credits includes 4 credits in the Fall and 10 credits in the Spring semester).