Was English jurist, Sir William Blackstone, correct when he said it is, “…better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer?”
How reliable are the types of evidence used when supporting a legal argument?
How does one formulate and support an argument with evidence?
Why are people wrongfully convicted? Who is wrongfully convicted? Why is it difficult to exonerate the wrongfully convicted?
Is the U.S. criminal justice system just?
In the United States, we live in a society governed by laws. When an individual breaks those laws the criminal justice system steps in to investigate the crime and potentially prosecute the individual who committed the crime. But sometimes, people who get convicted of crimes claim they are innocent. When they need legal counsel to navigate the justice system after being imprisoned, convicted persons contact The Innocence Project, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of persons who do not have the resources to pursue long, expensive court battles to prove innocence. HTHCV XONR8 is a projects that allows students to explore this system and learn about its strengths, weaknesses, and the scope of its power. The content focus of this project is the history and process of law.
For this project, we are extremely lucky to partner with the California Innocence Project in addition to many other professionals working within the justice system in our community:
- Instructors from the Southwestern College Police Academy
- The San Diego District Attorney’s Office
- Chula Vista Police Department – Forensics
- North County Public Defender’s Office
- The American Civil Liberties Union
- Judges, attorneys, and law enforcement from a variety of departments
- Individuals who have been exonerated after wrongful conviction
- Part I —Legal Arguments – we will work with the CIP who will assign students actual applications from currently incarcerated inmates who are claiming they have been wrongfully convicted. In groups, students will examine their individual cases and write up a case memo recommending whether or not CIP should take on the case. They will then present their argument to a panel of CIP staff members and law students at the California Western School of Law (CWSL) in downtown San Diego.
- Dates: September 5 – November 1
- Deliverable: Case Memo & Legal Presentation
- Exhibition: November 1 at the CWSL (tentative, awaiting confirmation)
- Part II – Stories of the Justice System – students will interview an individual of their choice connected to the justice system. Students will tell the individual’s story through a short vignette that will be displayed alongside a photograph of the interview subject (and/or a photograph of the work they do, the organization they work for, etc.). Students will exhibit their work at HTHCV in December that will include student panels, exonerees, staff of the CIP, as well as interview subjects to share their work with the community.
- Dates: November 2 – December 7
- Deliverable: Interview, vignette, photograph
- Exhibition: December 7 at HTHCV (tentative on date of all-school exhibition)