Certificate(s): Public Interest and Social Justice Law (List A)
The Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP) is a law school clinical program providing a unique educational opportunity for law students to investigate and litigate possible wrongful convictions. NCIP also works to promote legal reforms aimed at remedying the systemic problems within our criminal justice system that lead to wrongful convictions.
Supervised by experienced legal staff, NCIP law students evaluate innocence claims by reviewing case histories, appellate briefs, transcripts, and other records. They participate directly in the investigation process by interviewing prisoners, witnesses, crime lab personnel, law enforcement, defense attorneys, and prosecutors. As part of their case work, NCIP students draft legal documents including motions, declarations, briefs, legal memoranda, and letters to attorneys, clients, and case rounds memos. Students also attend and participate in court proceedings.
Credit: NCIP is a year-long program (Fall and Spring semesters), available to 2L and 3L students. Students enroll for at least three units of academic credit per semester. For each unit of credit, a student is responsible for 50 hours of participation, including case work and class attendance. To enroll in NCIP for a grade, you should enroll under 505A. If you would like to enroll for credit/no credit, enroll under course number 505B. If you would like to enroll for more than three units of class per semester, you must enroll in those additional units under 505B for credit/no credit. Because NCIP is a year-long course, no grade will be awarded until the end of the second semester. NCIP meets the Professional Skills Requirement and is a Public Interest and Social Justice Law Certificate course. Students can take a maximum of 6 units of graded credit from any combination of NCIP course credit (i.e., NCIP A and B and Advanced Practice A and B). Any additional units will be graded on a Credit/No Credit basis only.
Training and Education: All NCIP students are required to attend an intensive two-day training session known as “NCIP Boot Camp” near the beginning of the fall semester. Students attend classes twice weekly which focus on post-conviction law and issues relevant to wrongful conviction. Class topics include federal and state habeas corpus procedures, post-conviction DNA testing, investigation techniques, witness interview strategies, the science of DNA testing, and the causes and possible remedies for wrongful convictions. Students engage in more specialized writing projects such as motions for post-conviction DNA testing and petitions for writs of habeas corpus. Students also may have an opportunity to tour a local crime lab or coroner’s office and conduct legal interviews with prison inmates.
NCIP will be meeting remotely Fall semester with perhaps some in-person events and meetings – but all such activities will be optional or mixed with participants online and held only if all health and safety concerns can be met.
Credit/No Credit. NCIP is a year-long program (Fall and Spring semesters), available to 2L and 3L students. Students enroll for at least three units of academic credit per semester. For each unit of credit, a student is responsible for 50 hours of participation, including casework and class attendance. To enroll in NCIP for a grade, you should enroll under 505A. If you would like to enroll for credit/no credit, enroll under course number 505B. If you would like to enroll for more than three units of class per semester, you must enroll in those additional units under 505B for credit/no credit. Students must obtain a permission number from NCIP to register for this course (contact Linda Starr,Lstarr@scu.edu). Students who enrolled in NCIP 505A in Fall 2020 will automatically have permission to register for this course through eCampus in Spring 2021. Requirements: ALL NCIP students must attend the first week of class, as well as our training session “NCIP Boot Camp” on Friday, August 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. or they will be dropped from the program. NCIP required texts must be purchased before the first day of class through the University bookstore. Readings and other important announcements will be posted on Camino. Work and classes at the Innocence Project provide insight into our criminal justice system and the causes of wrongful conviction. You will receive professional skills training including case management, organization, and development as well as interviewing and counseling skills. You will have the opportunity to develop your legal writing ability through edited work on legal pleadings, professional communications and legal memoranda. These important skills transfer to professional work in law firms and government agencies, as well as criminal law practice.
Note: Students can take a maximum of 6 units of graded credit from any combination of NCIP course credit [i.e., NCIP and NCIP Advanced Practice Clinic (Catalog numbers 505 and 515)]. Any additional units will be graded on a Credit/No Credit basis only.