Illinois Innocence Project | School of Law | SIU

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Illinois Innocence Project | School of Law | SIU

Illinois Innocence Project

Under the direction of Associate Dean Christopher W. Behan and adjunct Professor Erica Nichols-Cook students at the SIU School of Law work with the Illinois Innocence Project to help exonerate wrongfully convicted prisoners.

The innocence project reviews evidence and uses post-conviction advanced forensic DNA testing. Evidence is reviewed for eyewitness misidentification, false confessions, ineffective counsel, unreliable forensic evidence and misconduct by prosecutors and police. If a case is taken the services are provided for free.

Student externs review case files, including transcripts, police reports, and evidence. They research and investigate the facts and legal theories supporting actual innocence. They prepare motions for DNA or other forensic testing under 725 ILCS 5/116-3, and/or petitions for post-conviction relief under 725 ILCS 5/122-1. Externs with their 711 student practice license may be able to assist with court proceedings. Externs are encouraged to attend prison visits to meet with clients and witnesses. Externs must be able to work independently and take initiative.

Students are required to register for 1 – 3* credit hours for the fall and spring semesters of their 2L and/or 3L year. One credit hours requires 47 “clock” hours.  

The externship is limited to a small number of students per semester depending upon case work and available attorney supervision by the Illinois Innocence Project.  

Applications are available here and should be submitted directly to Professor Erica Nichols Cook at ericanichols01@gmail.com. Applications should be received by April 15th for the following academic year. Applicants will be notified by May 1st of their acceptance and ability to register for the course.

The Illinois Innocence Project is a member organization of the Innocence NetworkMore information about the project can be found hereMore information about The Innocence Project which founded the innocence movement can be found hereYou can also follow the Illinois Innocence Project on their facebook page.


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