In 2007, the University of Missouri System provided funding to launch a joint innocence project involving the UMKC Law School, MU Law School, the MU School of Journalism and a non-profit group, The Midwestern Innocence Project. System funding allowed UMKC to hire an experienced lawyer /clinical professor, Tiffany Murphy, who serves as legal director for The Midwestern Innocence Project and supervises law students from both UMKC and MU. The law students will work on cases of possible actual innocence from six states. Most of the work will involve reviewing case transcripts, gathering documents and other evidence, searching for witnesses and conducting interviews. MU Journalism students will also participate in the project by enrolling in a course at the J-School taught by Prof. Steve Weinberg.
In the fall semester, Professor Rod Uphoff offers a three (3) credit course entitled “Wrongful Convictions.” This course is designed not only to examine the features of the criminal justice system that produce wrongful convictions and to discuss systemic reforms that might minimize such convictions but also to prepare students to do intensive fieldwork in a second-semester clinical course, entitled “Innocence Clinic.” Students in the clinic will have a weekly class and work on cases with other students.
Although sixteen (16) students can enroll in the Wrongful Conviction course, only eight (8) students from Mizzou would be permitted to enroll in the four (4) credit Innocence Clinic. Students in the clinic will be required to work 240 hours a semester or roughly eighteen (18) hours a week on their clinic cases. They will participate in a weekly clinic meeting in which they will discuss their cases and issues raised in those cases. The students will be required to keep timesheets documenting the time spent working on the cases. This four (4) credit clinic will be graded on a pass/fail basis. Since Professor Murphy will also be working with UMKC law students and with Steve Weinberg and his journalism students, we do have to limit the number of MU students who can participate in the clinical course.
The physical offices of The Midwest Innocence Project are in Kansas City. Nonetheless, Prof. Murphy will be readily available by email and phone and will come regularly to Columbia to meet with her students. Most importantly, all of the case files will be housed online and accessible to the students and those faculty working with The Midwestern Innocence Project.
If selected for the clinic you will be allowed to register for both the clinic and the wrongful conviction class. You actually will be required to enroll in the wrongful conviction class. Students not selected for the clinic may still gain one of the 8 remaining spots in the wrongful conviction course. We will hold a small waitlist for those students not selected but who are still interested in the Clinic. This is one of a very few select courses that we will hold a waitlist for. To Register for the Wrongful Convictions course only, email Denise Boessen and let her know if you are interested in ONLY the Wrongful Convictions course she will get back with you letting you know if you will be able to Register or if you need to go on a waitlist.