Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Clinic Triumphs

Law school clinics have come under criticism lately, so it is heartening to read about a clinic that has helped to do justice in a case that dated back to the civil rights era. An article in today's Boston Globe highlights the work of Northeastern University Law School's Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project. Students working under the direction of Professor Margaret A. Burnham helped bring about a settlement of a "federal lawsuit that had accused Franklin County [Mississippi] law enforcement officials of assisting Klansmen in the kidnapping, torture, and murder" of two African American teenagers who were hitchhiking at the time they were abducted in 1964. Professor "Burnham and about 15 law students spent roughly 2 1/2 years ... combing through thousands of pages of old FBI files and police reports, interviewing dozens of witnesses in Mississippi, and researching the history of racial bias by law enforcement in the county." The suit was settled out of court and the terms are confidential; money was paid to the victims' surviving family members, although officials continue to deny that the county in any way contributed to the horrific murders. Click here to hear Professor Burnham discuss the case on NPR's All Things Considered or to read a transcript.

1 comment:

Terry said...

I'm glad you have highlighted the positive role of law school clinics. The University of Texas has 17 clinics that provide students exceptional experiences. Texas has a rich history of producing outstanding trial lawyers and provides fertile soil for all sorts of pro bono advocacy. UT law students have helped exonerate 2 men in a robbery-murder case, taken a case to the U.S. Supreme Court for the fourth time in four years, won a new penalty hearing for a death row inmate, and created a Community Development toolkit for Texas communities to combat problem properties. Good experiences, all.
-Tery Martin