California Innocence Project Students
Hello! My name is Marley, and I am a second-year law student at California Western School of Law. I graduated from California State University, Long Beach in 2018 with a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in History.
Ever since I was young, I knew I wanted to go to law school and become a lawyer, because I saw it as a way to help people. But it wasn’t until my first semester of law school, in my criminal law class, that I really became aware of how prevalent a problem wrongful convictions are and just how often they happen. From then on, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in criminal defense with a focus on post-conviction law. I came to law school because I want to be a part of the solution for creating a more equitable society for everyone and I could not imagine a better place to start than with helping to right the wrongs that have caused innocent people to spend their lives in prison.
I am honored to have this opportunity to work with and learn from the California Innocence Project.
Hi! My name is Cettina and I am a second-year law student at California Western School of Law. I graduated from the University of California, Riverside with a degree in Political Science and an emphasis in Law and Society. While reading about political theories in the classroom, I was living through significant social changes such as public response to immigrant detainees, the Me Too movement, shared responsibility for our environment, etc. Together these changes fueled both my aspirations and my convictions regarding individual responsibility, justice, collaboration for the public good, and simply being a voice for the voiceless.
After coming to California Western and learning more about the California Innocence Project, I could not think of a better opportunity to get involved in social change. This opportunity will not only aid my development as a future attorney and an advocate for justice but will also have life-changing impacts on the victims of wrongful convictions and their families. I am honored to be a part of an organization that is making lasting impacts on the justice system and aiding in its reform.
My name is Soleil, and I am a part-time second-year law student (2L) attending California Western School of Law. My ethnic background derives from Caribbean roots, being a first-generation Haitian American. I was born and raised in Detroit, MI, but have a nice home life here in San Diego and am a mother of an amazing and bright seven-year-old girl. I have dedicated my life to social justice and service to all mankind being a woman of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, contributing to a number of non-profit organizations, and participating in community service when able. Some hobbies of mine include singing, hiking, completing puzzles/escape rooms, and traveling/staycations.
I am excited to participate in the California Innocence Project and continue to be inspired and hopeful for all the project does. I truly believe the project is doing the good work that more of the world needs to be doing. I am looking forward to an amazing year with the project. XONR8!
Hello! My name is Hayley and I am a 2L at California Western School of Law. I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law, and Society at UC Irvine.
At UC Irvine, I broadened my understanding of the criminal legal system. I took numerous courses that introduced me to elements of the system that tend to be overlooked, such as the inaccuracy of eyewitness testimony, the prevalence of false confessions and police misconduct, and more. I extensively studied the Exonerated Five and analyzed how media, and other social pressures, play a massive role in wrongful convictions. I learned about the incredible work the California Innocence Project does to change the system and knew I had to take part in the change.
I am honored and ecstatic to be able to work with the California Innocence Project and to be a part of an organization whose goal is to actively change law and policies in California, as well as exonerate those who have been wrongfully convicted.
Hi! My name is Mariah and I am a second-year law student at California Western School of Law. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point with a degree in Political Science, International Relations, and Peace Studies. I began law school with my heart set on doing International Human Rights work. While I would still like to learn more about it, criminal defense, prisoner’s rights, and exoneration work have grabbed my attention since my first few weeks at school. I have always recognized that mass incarceration was a human rights issue here at home, and exoneration work was one way to alleviate that suffering. Work like this is exactly why I wanted to be a lawyer, to better the system from the inside.
The stakes in criminal law are incredibly high and the work is life or death. Similar to how I feel a call to nontrivial work such as international human rights advancements, I feel a calling to do what I can to fix the harmful mistakes of our own legal system. Exoneration work, although not always fruitful, (and I imagine sometimes frustrating) is passionately fixing those mistakes.
A favorite quote of mine I think perfectly encapsulates why I’m so passionate about advocacy like the California Innocence Project;
“Everything in this world can be robbed and stolen, except one thing; this one thing is the love that emanates from a human being towards a solid commitment to a conviction or a cause.” -Ghassan Kanafani.
I am honored and excited to have this opportunity to work for the California Innocence Project.
My name is Kristen, and I am a 2L at California Western School of Law. I am an alumna of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where I obtained my BS in Criminal Justice as a first-generation college student.
I am originally from New York; I migrated to San Diego in pursuit of following my life’s mission of becoming a lawyer and creating the change I want to see. I have an unwavering passion for justice which has made this experience all the more rewarding. I am honored to be on the innocence project as I believe that the work that we do here will ultimately change the world one exoneration at a time.
Greetings! My name is Nick. I am a second-year law student at California Western. I was born and raised in Placerville, California. I went to San Diego State University where I discovered my life’s first passion and earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy. Existentialism was my primary focus. I learned many powerful lessons about the importance of personal responsibility and I found meaningful answers to some of life’s big questions in helping others.
After coming to California Western and taking my first course in Criminal Law, I was fortunate to find my life’s second passion in criminal defense. As a member of the California Innocence Project team, I feel a responsibility to follow my passion for criminal defense and incorporate the lessons I learned from studying philosophy. I am driven to be an exemplary person and attorney so that I may be of service to others. I am humbled to be part of a team of so many kind, caring, passionate, and impressive individuals.
Greetings! My name is Mali and I am a second-year law student participating in California Western (CWSL) ’s JD-MSW program. Before attending law school, I obtained my bachelor’s degree at the University of Nevada, Reno, with majors in political science, philosophy, and international affairs. Currently (alongside this internship), I am an oral advocate for CWSL’s Philip C. Jessup moot court team, an associate writer for its International Law Journal, and a board fellow for Survivors Against Torture, International.
My interest in criminal justice reform began in 2014 when Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal sentenced my grandfather to death on baseless allegations. Through his proceedings, I quickly discovered how powerful actors can weaponize dishonesty to corrode justice. My grandfather’s guilt relied on three malfeasances: bribed eyewitness testimonies, fabricated confessions, and secret agreements between the presiding judge and charging prosecutor that invalidated any defense he could’ve made. Unfortunately, my grandfather’s appeals could not overcome the corruption at large.
From his case, however, I also discovered how the underdog can wield honesty to fight back against deep-rooted injustice. My grandfather is just one of the many innocent victims trapped in prison for crimes they did not commit. But, unlike my grandfather’s situation, organizations like the California Innocence Project (CIP) are active in the region, working to uncover the truth by exposing the lies.
I am thankful for the privilege to fight for freedom with CIP and hope that someday, what I learn now will help bring justice to places where the fight has yet to begin.
Hello! My name is Gracie, and I am a second-year law student at California Western School of Law. I grew up in the Bay Area in Northern California and spent my undergraduate years at the University of Oregon, where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.
During my time in Oregon, the law courses I took solidified my interest in criminality and forensic science and illustrated the significant overlap between psychology and the law. My first year at California Western has fueled my passion for working for the fundamental rights of those most vulnerable.
I am honored to be a clinical intern for the California Innocence Project this year. The California Innocence Project challenges the complex web of an imperfect justice system and questions current laws and enforcement policies. CIP’s legal representation and compassion for those affected and their families are awe-inspiring. I am eager to advocate and engage with the clients, listen to their stories, hone my legal skills, and understand the impact of imprisonment on their families, friends, and community.
Please donate to support the extraordinary work of the California Innocence Project.
Hello! My name is Michaela, and I am a second-year law student at California Western School of Law. I received my Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice with a minor in psychology from San Diego State University (SDSU).
In community college, I took an Introduction to Murder class that sparked my interest in the criminal justice system. While attending SDSU, I discovered the podcast Wrongful Conviction hosted by Jason Flom, which solidified my interest in pursuing a legal career in post-conviction law and restorative justice. Specifically, I listened to the story of Guy Miles, who was prosecuted based on an eyewitness misidentification. Miles’ tragic story led me to discover the California Innocence Project, and is the reason why I applied to California Western.
I am grateful to work with the California Innocence Project, supporting people who the justice system has failed and ultimately helping to reform the criminal justice system as a whole.
Hello, my name is Sarah and I am a second-year law student at the California Western School of Law. I have a B.A. degree from Pacific University; an M.S. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and an M.B.A. from the University of San Diego. In addition to being a student and an intern with the California Innocence Project, I am also a Human Resources consultant, a mother, and a grandmother.
For several years before applying to law school, I watched as underlying hate and fear once again came boiling to the surface in our country. When George Floyd was murdered, I was struck by the reactions I saw and heard. “How could this happen?” “What can I do?” “Am I part of the problem?”
Gentle nudging is not enough to change our society. After over twenty years of striving to be the “neutral” party while working in Human Resources, I could no longer embrace the gentle-nudge philosophy for social change. Rather, I wanted to be a driving force in creating the change that will lead to a world I want my grandchildren to grow up in.
I am honored to be able to work with and learn from the California Innocence Project as they are one of those forces driving positive social change for equity, fairness, and compassion.
Hello, my name is Mona, and I am a second-year student at the California Western School of Law. I received my undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of California, San Diego, and my Masters in Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
I am attracted to the California Innocence Project because through it, I see a beautiful representation of the world. A world where the independent investigation of truth is at the forefront, a world where science and spiritual values come into harmony, a world where people stand up against arbitrary power, a world where people do not give up because giving up means letting go of the rights of others who are not in the position you are in to help and a world where the justice system holds the oneness of humanity on its shoulders.
Hello! My name is Gabrielle and I am a second-year law student at California Western School of Law. I received my B.A. Degree in Sociology and Psychology from the University of San Diego (USD).
Since I was young I knew I wanted to attend law school and join the criminal law field because I wanted a career where I could try and effect change. I heard about the California Innocence Project and its mission while I was taking a class at the USD entitled “Race and the Criminal (In)Justice System” and I knew CIP was an organization I wanted to be a part of one day. I applied to California Western after graduating from USD where I had the opportunity to learn more about CIP’s work and eventually apply to be a clinical intern. My hope is that I can be an advocate for others while working toward reforming our Justice System.
I am honored to be able to work for the California Innocence Project surrounded by those who fight for people that have been wronged by our Criminal Justice System and are working towards reform of the System as a whole.
Hi, my name is Michelle, and I am a second-year student at California Western School of Law. I graduated from SDSU with a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology with an emphasis in culture, and a Public Law Certificate. Prior to attending law school, I worked in the Criminal Justice Division at the San Diego District Attorney’s Office. My work inspired me to advocate for more community-based and restorative justice approaches.
I am humbled to have been chosen for CIP and help those who were wronged by our flawed justice system. I am excited to gain experience and insight into becoming a better advocate in the legal system. CIP has inspired me to lead with compassion and pursue a career that helps those around me. I am looking forward to working with the amazing staff and clients at CIP.