Posted: October 23rd, 2012 | By: Winston-Salem Journal Editorial Board
In wake of several high-profile cases in which defendants have been wrongfully convicted of serious crimes, the Innocence and Justice Clinic at Wake Forest is much needed and welcome.
The clinic, which recently moved into an off-campus building that provides more space, is largely the result of a combination of efforts by Winston-Salem lawyer Mark Rabil, former Forsyth County District Attorney Tom Keith and Wake Forest law-school dean Blake D. Morant, the Journal’s Michael Hewlett reported. Their ideas and determination to help those wrongfully convicted came together to create the clinic, which utilizes the experience of legal professors and professionals and the work of law-school students — 61 so far — who receive hands-on experience to help them prepare for their future careers.
The clinic works on claims from inmates who believe they were wrongfully convicted, provides public awareness about issues in the criminal justice system that could lead to wrongful convictions and provides pro bono assistance to help felons released from prison overcome obstacles in getting housing and employment. Law students do a lot of leg work, screening cases, gathering court documents and on occasion interviewing witnesses.
The North Carolina legal system is far from perfect. But it’s slowly getting better, thanks to the hard work Rabil and others have long been doing. The Innocence and Justice Clinic is also important in that work. Some of the students who participate will probably stay involved in the fight.
Too many mistakes have happened. But an error corrected is a victory for justice and for all of us.
Find the editorial here at this link to the Winston Salem Journal.