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California Innocence Project

The California Innocence Project (CIP) is a law school clinical program that frees the wrongfully convicted, works to change the criminal justice system, and trains students enrolled in the clinic to be zealous advocates.

Founded in 1999, CIP reviews more than 2,000 claims of innocence from California inmates each year. Students who participate in the year-long clinic work alongside CIP staff attorneys on cases where there is strong evidence of factual innocence. Together, they have secured the release of dozens of innocent people who otherwise may have spent the rest of their lives wrongfully incarcerated.

Through their work with CIP, clinic students receive a unique experience that oftentimes differs from traditional legal internships. Clinical interns assist in case investigation and litigation by locating and re-interviewing witnesses, examining new evidence, filing motions, securing experts, and providing support to attorneys during evidentiary hearings and trials.

Since its inception, CIP has been involved in changing laws and policies in California related to preserving evidence, litigating innocence cases, and compensating exonerees. CIP has also trained hundreds of students who have become highly successful criminal defense attorneys, criminal prosecutors, Assistant Attorneys General, and civil attorneys; all of whom, after their experience in CIP, are instilled with a firm belief in fairness and justice, and an awareness that bettering our criminal justice system is a constant work in progress.

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