Accessible Navigation.

Montana Innocence Project Clinic

Variable Credit(s)
Fall: LAW 601 22 | Spring: LAW 601 21

Academic Year/Summer

Montana Innocence Project
Supervising Attorneys: Larry Mansch, Brendan McQuillan

Faculty Supervisor: 
Clinical Professor Jeff Renz
406.243.5127
jeff.renz@umontana.edu

 

Prerequisites:

  • Professional Responsibility (effective for all classes entering Fall 2011 and thereafter).
  • Criminal Procedure, effective Fall 2012

Areas of Law: Criminal Law; Post-conviction Litigation

Lawyering Skills: Investigation; Research and writing; Complex post-conviction litigation; Client communication

Sample Projects:  Complete pre-litigation/litigation prep to seek DNA testing in innocence case; Review and analysis of trial and appellate record in innocence case; Evaluate inmate innocence claims; Correspond with inmates and investigate case; Research legal issues for preparation of appellate brief.

The Montana Innocence Project (MTIP) is located in Room 158 of the Law School. MTIP is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to exonerating the innocent and preventing wrongful convictions in Montana.

Using DNA and other evidence, MTIP provides the charitable legal and investigative assistance necessary to pursue credible claims of innocence. Innocence Projects nationwide have helped to free hundreds of wrongly convicted Americans, including three Montanans.

Students in the MTIP Innocence Clinic will assist in the initial screening, research, development and litigation of innocence claims. In appropriate cases, clinic students will be assigned to further investigate and address two key questions: 1) whether the innocence claim is credible and provable; and 2) whether there are legal avenues through which to pursue the innocence claim. Instruction will address the laws and procedures governing attempts to reopen cases, including state and federal habeas practice, claims of new evidence, and ineffective assistance of counsel. It will also include other essential components of criminal appellate practice, including review of trial documents and transcripts, evaluation and research of legal issues, brief writing, and skills in the presentation of oral arguments. The interdisciplinary Innocence Clinic also engages UM journalism students in case investigation, and clinic students may have an opportunity to collaborate on cases. Besides working on individual cases, students will gain a broader understanding of wrongful convictions and how to address and prevent them.