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Criminal Law Clinic Makes National Headlines

May 30, 2006

Tulane Law School's Criminal Law Clinic has made national headlines lately as the City of New Orleans tries to get its court system back on its feet.  Just last week, the Clinic Director Pamela Metzger was featured on PBS's News Hour with Jim Lehrer discussing the crisis. Click here for the video .

Metzger was appointed  by the Orleans Parish criminal court system to try and sort out the population of defendants serving time since Katrina. Thousands of people remained in jail without representation.  Some have been imprisoned longer than the maximum possible sentence for which they are charged. The state’s indigent defense fund is broke and can’t afford to send public defenders to do the job. Metzger had to look no further than the law students studying in her clinic to find eager young lawyers ready to help, with her supervision.

Tulane student attorney Sarah Turberville tracked down Greg Davis in a jail near Shreveport. When the storm struck Davis, 50, was in prison for failing to pay $448 in court fines, which stemmed from a misdemeanor drug paraphernalia charge. He was supposed to have been released on August 20, 2005, a week before Katrina hit but because of a procedural issue, he remained in jail.

Early in the spring semester, Turberville and ten other student lawyers from the Tulane Criminal Law Clinic made the trip to the Concordia Parish jail where they found Davis and 200 other prisoners in the same situation.   Sarah interviewed Davis, appeared in court on his behalf and he was released in March, eight months after Hurricane Katrina.

"He had no idea why he was still in there," Turberville told the Washington Post in an interview. "He needed someone to plead his case."

To read more visit:

Washington Post, "In New Orleans, Justice on Trial"  - Click here .

USA Today, "New Orleans plans first criminal trials since Katrina"  - Click here .  

New York Times, "Judge Steps In for Poor Inmates Without Justice Since Hurricane" - Click here to registrer with NYTimes.com, then search using the article's title.


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