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Faculty News: Professor David Siegel and Students' Wrongful Conviction Efforts Pay Off—33 Years Later

A decade ago, three New England Law students interested in criminal law joined a project of New England Law | Boston's Center for Law and Social Responsibility Criminal Justice Project. Professor David Siegel, CLSR Director and also a founding member of the New England Innocence Project, put the students to work researching the case of Arthur Davis, a man convicted in 1985 of the brutal murder of a Lowell woman.

Innocence Project lawyers review case files of incarcerated individuals who contact the Project, claiming to have been wrongly convicted. Case files are deep and their histories complex, but if volunteer students and lawyers discover flaws in the legal process that led to conviction, this may open the door to renewed evidence analysis and, at times, DNA testing of evidence. In the Lowell case, eventually seven New England Law students participated in the investigation, and with the help of pro bono counsel from the law firm Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, the New England Innocence Project convinced a court that no evidence connected Arthur Davis to the death.

In November of 2018, after thirty-three years behind bars, Arthur Davis was granted a motion for new trial. As in its Innocence Project work, the Criminal Justice Project involves New England Law students in multiple forms of lawyering experiences with significant real-world impacts. For years, CJP students have counseled indigent individuals seeking to seal arrest and minor felony conviction files. Students join Professor Siegel in the researching a writing of amicus briefs and aid him with pro bono cases. Siegel also introduces students to internship and employment opportunities through the New England Law Summer Fellowship Program.

Learn more about Professor Siegel's work and scholarship here