Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW) Clinic
The IPNW Clinic grew out of a volunteer effort, co-founded by Prof. Jackie McMurtrie in 1997, aimed at freeing prisoners wrongfully convicted of crimes. In 2000, the IPNW received the National Law Journal Pro Bono Award for its successful volunteer efforts on behalf of the wrongly convicted. In 2002, the IPNW transformed from a volunteer effort to a clinical law program. The IPNW Clinic represents indigent people in Washington who are serving long prison terms, who claim their innocence, and who no longer have a right to court-appointed counsel. Each month, the IPNW Clinic receives 30-50 new requests for assistance.
The IPNW Clinic’s recent successes include the 2010 exonerations of Ted Bradford, Larry Davis and Alan Northrop, who were exonerated on the basis of newly discovered DNA evidence and the 2008 exoneration of James Anderson, who was freed when probation records were finally produced proving he was in California at the time a Tacoma robbery occurred for which he was wrongly convicted. Ted Bradford of Yakima, Larry Davis and Alan Northrop of Vancouver, and James Anderson of California served a combined total of 47 years in Washington corrections institutions for crimes they did not commit.
Students in the IPNW Clinic receive hands-on experience interviewing and counseling clients, developing facts, drafting motions and briefs, negotiating and presenting appellate arguments. They develop skills in interviewing, fact-investigation, negotiation and trial preparation, as well as collaboration and problem-solving. Students work with experts in the disciplines of medicine, psychology, biology and ethics. They have appeared in Washington State Superior Courts, the Washington Court of Appeals, the Washington State Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
In the 2011-2012 academic year, the IPNW partnered with the Legislative Advocacy Clinic to train students in legislative and public policy advocacy on innocence project issues. Students will learn about the legislative process and bill drafting. They will build a legislative agenda and work with coalitions. Students will advocate in the state legislature to develop and move legislation and respond to proposed legislation.