Stanford Law School Three Strikes Clinic Opens, Is Looking for Appropriate Cases

In January 2007, Stanford Law School is formally launching a clinic devoted to challenging convictions under California's Three Strikes law in state and federal habeas proceedings. Panel attorneys representing inmates serving third strike sentences for non-violent offenses and who would like student help investigating and litigating these appeals are invited to contact the clinic.

The clinic is supervised by attorneys with extensive experience in state and federal post-conviction proceedings. Up to twelve second- and third-year students selected through a competitive process will staff the clinic. The clinic's twin goals are to litigate Three Strikes cases and to advocate for changes in the law. Students in the clinic will focus on legal research and field investigations when appropriate,

Once the clinic accepts a case, it wil commit to offer student assistance, supervised by staff attorneys, through the direct appeal and the habeas process at both the state and federal levels. The clinic expects to carry four to six cases at any given time and assign two students to each case. Students typically spend 20 hours each week on clinic cases.

Because the clinic seeks to link litigation and policy reform, it is considering only a narrow class of cases for student participation. First, the case must be a nonviolent "third strike" case. Second, the defendant's prior two strikes, regardlesss of how they are classified, ideally would be non-violent or involve only threats or minor physical harm to another. Third, the defendant's criminal history is ideally sympathetic or short.

By way of example, the clinic has recently agreed to assist in a case in which the thrid strike was possession of 0.03 grams of methamphetamine, and the prior strikes were residential burglaries. The clinic understands that cases like this might be rare and encourage attorneys to come with borderline cases until the clinic's standards are further clarified.

If you have been or are assigned a case that appears to fit this profiel, and would lke assistance from the Stanford clinic, please call Michael Romano, a supervising attorney at the clinic, at 650-724-1900 or 650-736-8670. Or you can call his paralegal, Irma Perez, at 650-724-9068. If the case sounds promising, the clinic will ask you to send a copy of the probation report before making a decision to take the case.

Decenber 27, 2006

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