Wrongful convictions devastate individuals, families, and communities.
NYLS’s Post-Conviction Innocence Clinic seeks to right these wrongs while providing NYLS students with valuable investigative and criminal procedure skills training. The clinic is led by Distinguished Adjunct Professor Adele Bernhard, a highly accomplished criminal defense attorney. Students in the clinic represent a small number of clients, sometimes for years at a time.
Overturning the Conviction of a Man Who Wrongfully Served 33 Years
For 13 years, clinic students worked diligently to reverse the murder conviction of a man who served 33 years—most of his adult life—in prison. After re-investigating the entire case, the clinic uncovered reports hidden for 40 years confirming that police were quietly investigating another suspect with direct links to the crime scene. In May 2019, the client’s conviction was reversed—a landmark victory.
Winning a New Trial for a Man Imprisoned for 22 Years
In May 2019, the clinic won a new trial for a man who has spent more than 20 years in prison, in connection with the tragic disappearance and death of a child. New evidence indicates that a different man is the true perpetrator. The client, who has maintained his innocence, was 18 years old when he was arrested.
Protecting a Non-English Speaking Client’s Right to Appeal
The clinic worked for over a year to ensure that a man serving a life sentence could appeal his conviction, as allowed by law. The man, who does not speak English, was unaware of his legal options. In early 2019, clinic students convinced an appellate court to allow the client to move ahead with his appeal.
Support This Work
In honor of Wrongful Conviction Day—October 2, 2019—consider making a gift to support the clinic’s work. Your support can help offset costs associated with research and expert witnesses.
On NYLS’s giving page, choose Clinics and Experiential Learning from the designation menu. Giving is quick and easy online.