Colton - Innocence Project StudentColton, 2018-19 clinical intern, shares lessons he’s learned during his time with the California Innocence Project (CIP).

Interning for the California Innocence Project has been the best part of my law school experience. Although the workload is demanding, it is immensely rewarding. I will always remember what it was like seeing Horace Roberts and Quintin Morris walk out of prison.

CIP was on the reasons I came to California Western. I first heard of CIP from a professor during undergrad at Fresno State. He knew I wanted to be a public defender, so he thought CIP and post-conviction work would interest me. After I read about CIP on their website and looked into the exonerees’ stories, I knew I wanted to help in any way I could.

The most important lesson I have learned during my time interning for CIP is wrongful convictions can happen to anyone. They happen to people of all age groups, races, and genders. Wrongful convictions are an issue that affects us all.

In the future, I want to practice criminal defense and work in the San Diego Public Defender’s office. My experience in CIP has helped me better understand the criminal justice system and the world of post-conviction work. I hope my knowledge and experience will help prevent wrongful convictions from happening in the first place.

One of the California Innocence Project’s three missions is to provide real-world training to law students. As such, each school year, CIP chooses 12 law students from California Western School of Law to join its clinical intern program. Over two semesters, the students learn about wrongful convictions, present cases to CIP attorneys for review, assist with case investigation, provide litigation support, and more.