Monday, March 17, 2008
The Arizona Justice Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to
exonerating those wrongfully convicted and correcting other manifest
injustices, is moving to the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at
Arizona State University. For 10 years, the Project has been housed at
Osborn Maledon, P.A., where attorney Larry Hammond has served as chair.
The move is made possible by a $150,000 grant from the Arizona State Bar's non-profit foundation, the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education, which also will allow the Project to hire its first permanent staff, including an executive director, a development director and an administrative assistant.
"The Arizona Justice Project has long set a high standard for the quality of its work in its pursuit of the rights of those who have been denied the justice our legal system has been set up to guarantee," said Dean Patricia White of the College of Law. "The quality of the legal work its volunteers have provided, and the enormous commitment to justice that they have shown, have made it a national exemplar.
"We are very proud to welcome the Project to the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law and are confident that those standards will continue and that our students and faculty will benefit enormously from the opportunity presented by its being here." Hammond praised the move.
"The Arizona law schools have been the lifeblood of this Project from the beginning, but this relocation will allow us to work at levels never before possible," Hammond said. "Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice (AACJ) and all of those who have volunteered with the Project over the last decade owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Dean White, the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, and to the Bar Foundation's leadership."
Professors Bob Bartels at Arizona State University and Andy Silverman at the University of Arizona have coordinated work at the law schools. Students from Phoenix School of Law also will participate.
"The project runs on volunteer work, and the best source is law students," Bartels said. "Moving to the law school will make it easier for the students and will forge a connection with faculty members who are experts in the area." Bartels said it is also more feasible for the Project to conduct its research in an academic environment.
CrimProf Carrie Sperling, a visiting associate clinical professor at the College of Law, has been chosen as executive director. Sperling spent five years as an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law in Norman, Okla., and has more than a decade of experience in civil rights and post-conviction relief litigation.
"You learn that mistakes can be made, innocent people convicted," Sperling said. "Someone has to hold the system accountable. My real excitement is the ability to bring in students to get hands-on experience in the real world. It exposes them to a side of the law they might not have thought about. And these are rewarding cases." [Mark Godsey]