California Innocence Project Students

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Sarah is an Innocence Project student from England

Alexandra

Greetings, I am Alexandra Balinsky, a third-year student at California Western School of Law. I attended Kyiv National University of Trade and Economics in my native Ukraine, graduating with a degree in business law. After coming to the United States, I attended California State University, Northridge, graduating with summa cum laude in psychology. An experience early in life made me acutely aware of the notions of law and justice, guilt and innocence, when a man I knew well was wrongly accused and imprisoned. The experience has resonated with me to this day, an important factor in my choice of a legal career. It has also compelled me to join the California Innocent Project. I am honored to be a part of the Project as a Clinical Intern, doing my best in positively influencing criminal justice policies to free those who have been wrongfully convicted. 

Thomas-Innocence-Project-Student from California

Amade

Hello, my name is Amadé. I studied psychology, politics, philosophy, and economics at Pomona College. I am currently a 2L at California Western School of Law specializing in criminal justice.

I am originally from Santa Barbara and hope to serve the people of the great state of California as a prosecutor. CIP is an invaluable learning experience that has better prepared me to fulfil the prosecutor’s dual mandate: Guilt shall not escape but nor shall innocence suffer.

Please donate—there are many more innocent people in California prisons and we simply do not have the bandwidth to help them all.

Diana is an Innocence Project student from New York.

Chelsey

Hello! My name is Chelsey and I am a second-year law student at California Western School of Law.  I attended California State University, San Marcos and graduated with a degree in Literature and Writing Studies. My passion for justice has driven me to work with the Americorps program and with a non-profit organization helping persecuted refugees. 

I am honored to have the opportunity to work as a Clinical Intern for the California Innocence Project (CIP). As soon as I learned about CIP, I was compelled to join the team and work alongside selfless and hard-working individuals working towards freeing the wrongfully convicted. Please donate to help further the innocence movement!

Adam is an Innocence Project student born in Southern California.

Claudia

Hello! My name is Claudia and I am a second-year law student at California Western School of Law. I attended California State University, Fresno where I received my Bachelor of Science in Criminology. During my studies, a Victimology professor introduced me to the Innocence Network during a lecture on wrongful convictions. Thereafter, I learned about the California Innocence Project in San Diego and was determined to be a part of the team.

My interest in becoming a defense attorney first developed when I competed on my high school mock trial team. That passion continued to grow while competing at the undergraduate level where I helped take my team all the way to the national competition for the first time in our college’s history.

My experience in Criminology and the law has afforded me several opportunities including working in a police department, district attorney’s office, public defender’s office, local council member’s office, and a state senator’s office. Now that I have been accepted as a Clinical Intern, I am excited to bring my knowledge and skills to the #XONR8 team and help advocate for the rights of people who suffer injustice by the criminal justice system. Please consider donating to support our mission at the California Innocence Project and make a difference in the life of someone who was wrongfully accused. Thank you!

Christie is an Innocence Project student from Ventura.

Dakota

Hello! My name is Dakota, and I am a second-year law student at California Western School of Law. I grew up in a small town in Imperial County which is about two hours east of San Diego. I attended University of California, Los Angeles and graduated with a major in Sociology and a minor in Film, Television, and Digital Media. 

I wanted to go to law school after participating on my high school’s mock trial team. I was never interested in criminal law, however, during my first year of law school I attended an info session for the California Innocence Project. This kickstarted my interest in wrongful convictions, and I knew I wanted to join CIP. I am excited to be a part of CIP as a Clinical Intern this school year as I work alongside an amazing staff and my fellow students. I look forward to advocating for the innocent and improving the criminal justice system!

Jasmine is an Innocence Project student from San Diego.

Elizabeth

Hello! My name is Elizabeth, and I am a second-year student at California Western School of Law (CWSL). I am from Puerto Rico, “La Isla del Encanto.” I obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Criminal Justice from Georgia State University.  

I first learned about the California Innocence Project during undergrad. One of my professors lectured about wrongful convictions and mass incarceration. I already had an interest in criminal law, and I immediately began researching the CIP. I fell in love with what they were doing, and I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. I came to CWSL not only to chase my law degree, but to become a part of the California Innocence Project.  

Aislinn is an Innocence Project student from Banning, CA.

Eloise

Hi! My name is Eloise and I am a second-year law student at California Western School of Law. I grew up in East Tennessee and attended Chapman University in Orange County for two years then graduated from the University of Tennessee. I knew from a young age I wanted to be a lawyer, and I knew from the first time I visited San Diego in high school that I needed to pursue law school and my career in San Diego, but I did not know why. However, as soon as I learned of the California Innocence Project it all made sense, and I knew I must attend California Western to be a part of the Project. 

I have always been interested in justice and helping underserved and underrepresented communities, but I was not certain how I could combine my passions and career into one. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson changed my life and perspective forever, and the stories affirmed my desire to work for people who have been wrongfully incarcerated and whose voices are not heard in our society. I am so honored to be a part of the California Innocence Project and the work they are doing. They are not only making a difference in individuals’ lives but making a difference in the justice system. It feels good to know I am working alongside amazing people to make a difference in the world and helping others regain their deserved freedom.

Ching Yun is an Innocence Project student from Hong Kong.

Emani

Hi! My name is Emani and I am a second-year law student at California Western School of Law. I attended Roosevelt University in Chicago and graduated with a bachelors in Marketing Communications with a minor in Psychology. I recently interned with the County of San Diego Office of the Public Defender. My passion for law stems from my drive to make a difference in underprivileged communities.

During my undergraduate career, I took a course in the Psychology of Eyewitness Testimony that studied the inherently flawed system that plays a vital role in securing a criminal conviction. This course fueled my interest in criminal law because there is so much riding on the wrongful prosecution of individuals. While enrolled in this course, I had the opportunity to read a book called Picking Cotton, where the main character, Ron, was wrongfully convicted of raping Jennifer Thompson while she was living alone on campus. The entire investigation was tainted by various factors like police leading the victims and poor line-ups. The research I conducted painted a sad picture of our current justice system: sometimes the notion of fairness and equality is not valued, and this became a deep concern for me. I was drawn to California Western because of the California Innocence Project.

I am honored to be a part of such an organization that fights to correct the injustice within our criminal justice system. My goal is to advocate for the wrongfully convicted and to do my part in freeing the innocent. Please join me in this fight and donate today to help further this goal!

Dylan is an Innocence Project student from Arizona.

Greg

Hi! My name is Greg and I am a second-year law student at California Western School of Law. I grew up in New York before attending the University of Hartford. Majoring in criminal justice sparked my interest in criminal law and the impact the criminal justice system has.

One of the main reasons I decided to attend California Western was because of the California Innocence Project (CIP). I am very fortunate to be a part of an organization committed to advocating for the wrongfully convicted. I look forward working alongside a team of dedicated and selfless people this upcoming year. I hope you will join me in the fight for justice by making a donation today!

Esther is an Innocence Project student from Los Angeles

Jennifer

Hello! My name is Jennifer and I am a second-year law student at California Western School of Law. I graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Philosophy. I read the book Lockdown America within a year of receiving my degree, and was astounded at the dramatic increase in incarceration and recidivism rates in America. The statistics were a sign of a broken system, and I wanted to help. I took courses in Psychology and Criminal Justice in multiple cities before accepting an investigative internship with the San Diego County Office of the Public Defender. That internship sparked my interest in attending law school.

I decided to attend California Western School of Law after I had dinner with a family friend and Deputy District Attorney in San Diego. After some additional research I concluded, as he thought I might, that California Western School of Law would be the best law school to train me for criminal litigation. The California Innocence Project (CIP) is an amazing opportunity to help those who have been wrongfully convicted while also learning skills crucial for my future legal career. Please consider donating so you too can help CIP free the wrongfully convicted, and to help train future lawyers to do their best to prevent injustices that lead to wrongful incarceration.

Tommy is an Innocence Project student from the midwest.

Joe

Hello, my name is Joe and I am a second-year law student at California Western School of Law. I earned my Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at San Diego State University. As a child I would make my mom dress me up in a suit and I would stand in front of the mirror with a briefcase half the size of my body, pretending to be a rich, charismatic lawyer. I wanted to go to law school for the wrong reasons, until I heard about the California Innocence Project in undergrad from a speech by Justin Brooks. I was dismayed when I learned innocent people are sitting in prison for crimes someone else committed. After learning this, I knew I had to join California Innocence Project and fight for those who have nowhere else to turn.

Time is the most precious thing we have, and to think it is being wrongly taken away from people is unjust. I am, and will forever be, grateful for the chance to help those who need it most. It brings me joy knowing we give innocent people in prison hope they can one day live a life not behind bars.  

Rebecca is an Innocence Project student from Orange County.

Kristin

My name is Kristin and I am a second-year law student at California Western School of Law. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies at Azusa Pacific University. During my time there I had the opportunity to live in Medellin, Colombia and work in two prisons. I was able to assist with the Restorative Justice Program alongside the inmates and see the direct effects a prison system can have on those convicted of crimes. This experience gave me a passion towards helping people in a legal aspect when facing adversity in the system. I knew I needed to be a part of California Innocence Project!

I am grateful to have the opportunity to be a clinical intern with CIP. The organization is filled with advocates who seek justice and to find the truth. I hope to expand my knowledge of the criminal justice system and to learn how to be a better advocate. Please donate today to support CIP and help those who are wrongfully convicted. Join me to help reunite families and reform the system!

Rebecca is an Innocence Project student from Orange County.

Lationa

Hello! My name is Lationa. I am a second-year law student at California Western School of Law. I attended Arizona State University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications and behavioral science. I have been passionate about law and advocacy for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my mother ran a foster care agency for teens who survived through abuse. Seeing how the justice system treated these foster care kids was beyond frustrating.

I decided to attend California Western School of Law specifically to be a part of the California Innocence Project. I know firsthand what it feels like to lose someone to a wrongful conviction. It has motivated me to help in any way I can to not only prevent this from happening to anyone else, but to work hard to help others who are in prison right now for a crime they did not commit. The California Innocence project has taught me so much already and I am so honored I was selected to be a part of this life changing project!

Rebecca is an Innocence Project student from Orange County.

Sarah

Hello, my name is Sarah. I am a second year law student at California Western School of Law. I graduated summa cum laude from University of California, Los Angeles, with a double major in History and Middle Eastern Studies. My mother graduated from California Western School of Law when I was a freshman in high school. My mom brought my sister and I to some of her law classes during her time there. She told me about the California Innocence Project and how they free innocent people who are imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. It was so maddening to think about such injustice in the world, but at the same time, I knew there was still hope to right these wrongs because there were people who fight for their freedom. From an early age, I wanted to become someone who righted the wrongs and California Innocence Project presented a tangible place where I could right injustices. 

This hope drove me to apply to become a Clinical Intern at California Innocence Project and help innocent people who were wrongfully convicted get out of prison. I am honored to be a Clinical Intern for the next school year 2019-2020 and look forward to making a real difference and learning as much as I possibly can. Please donate to help us to right injustice!

Rebecca is an Innocence Project student from Orange County.

Taylor

HI! My name is Taylor and I am a second-year law student at California Western School of Law. I graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a degree in Political Science, Public Law. During my undergraduate career, I became more aware of the gross disparities within our criminal justice system. After taking a criminology class, it became my passion to use my voice to bring light to the social injustices facing people in our communities. After coming to law school, I found out about the California Innocence Project (CIP). CIP brings hope to those burdened by the broken system by fighting for the wrongfully incarcerated. As a clinical intern, I hope to further my passion for freeing the wrongly incarcerated and hope to continue to make a difference in the criminal justice system