The legal maneuvers required to free an innocent person after a wrongful conviction are notoriously complex. Yet few criminal law courses address post-conviction law. To help bridge the gap, the Illinois Innocence Project (IIP) serves as an extern site for law schools.
University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) John Marshall Law School (formed in 2019 by UIC’s acquisition of the school) is our newest externship collaboration thanks to the work of IIP Legal Director Lauren Kaeseberg and IIP Staff Attorney Maria de Arteaga. Five law students selected through a competitive process are working with IIP this semester and applicants are lining up already for the summer.
“Being connected to Chicago’s first and only public law school is an honor and a recognition of IIP’s successes in the innocence movement,” Maria says. She leads the externship program, holding weekly classes on the causes of wrongful convictions and assigning law students to cases.
With substantive criminal law classes under their belts when they arrive at IIP, law students are ready to engage in the real work of clients’ cases under the direction of IIP attorneys.
“Our UIC John Marshall and other law externs are conducting legal research, drafting motions and petitions, developing investigation plans and interviewing potential clients at prisons,” Maria says. “They’re learning how to access, review and interpret information critical to determining whether individuals are actually innocent and how to obtain legal relief for those individuals.
“Whatever area of law they choose to practice, these future attorneys will be equipped to recognize when defendants are at risk of wrongful convictions and understand how they can prevent or remedy them.”
We asked two of our UIC John Marshall externs to tell you a little about themselves.
Gabriela “Ellie” Kozlowski
I went to law school right after graduation from the University of Dayton in 2019, where I majored in Criminal Justice and minored in Spanish, Pre-law and Sociology. I learned about innocence organizations in my first year of undergrad and made up my mind that I had to go to law school to help exonerate innocent incarcerated individuals.
I’m originally from Rockford, Ill., and now live in Chicago. I went to Western Illinois University for undergraduate and graduate school where I received my B.S. and M.A. in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration. I first learned about innocence organizations like IIP in undergrad and it has been a passion of mine since. I’m also an avid sports fan and love talking about legal issues within the sports industry!
The Plight of Wrongfully Convicted Women – In Recognition of Women’s History Month
(The following information is provided by The Innocence Project and based on data from the National Registry of Exonerations.)
Over the past three decades, 241 women (9% of total exonerations) have been exonerated. Here are some facts to know:
- It’s hard to imagine being convicted of a crime that didn’t occur. But that’s what happened to 73% of exonerated women. These “crimes” included events later determined to be accidents, deaths by suicide and crimes that were fabricated.
- About 40% of female exonerees were wrongfully convicted of harming their children or other loved ones in their care.
- Only 11 women have been exonerated with the help of DNA evidence, significantly lower than the number of men, in large part due to the types of crimes for which they were wrongfully convicted. More men than women are convicted of crimes like rape and murder, which are more like to leave behind DNA evidence.
For more …
8 Facts About Incarcerated and Wrongfully Convicted Women (The Innocence Project)
Stories of Women Exonerees (Center on Wrongful Convictions)
Learn more about how you can help the Illinois Innocence Project
bring justice to the innocent!