Racial Justice Clinic

In the Racial Justice Clinic, law students represent clients who have been affected by racial discrimination. Projects include overturning wrongful convictions, proving that falsely arrested clients are factually innocent to clean up their records, challenging California’s inequitable bail system, and assisting college students at risk of expulsion.

At the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, students work to advance the office’s campaign to eradicate California’s bail system. Under the system, wealthy clients can post bail and poor clients cannot, regardless of whether they pose a risk of flight or a threat to the community. The system disproportionately impacts communities of color, often leaving low-income people in overcrowded jails or forcing them to take out loans that quickly accumulate interest.

In addition, some students work on wrongful conviction cases — such as the case of inmate Kevin Cooper, who is on death row for murder, even though a federal judge has said he was framed. Other students are working on factual innocence petitions. And others represent students of color charged with expellable offenses in campus disciplinary proceedings. These are high stakes cases in which a student’s right to continue with his or her education is at stake.

Students attend a weekly seminar together with students in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Law Clinic. In the seminar, students learn the skills necessary to defend a criminal case from investigation to closing argument, while connecting with guest speakers who often become mentors.

In fall 2020, San Francisco's District Attorney appointed Professor Bazelon chair of the city's new Innocence Commission. Racial Justice Clinic students work with Bazelon and Staff Attorney Charlie Nelson Keever to review claims of wrongful conviction and submit recommendations to the Innocence Commission. In addition to working with the Innocence Commission, Clinic students and Staff Attorney Nicole Fuller assess the approximately 900 cases with sentences that may be disproportionate to the harm caused and in which the defendant may no longer pose a danger to society. They make a recommendation in each case to the District Attorney's Post Conviction Unit.

Staff Attorneys

Nicole FullerNicole Fuller

Nicole Fuller graduated from USF School of Law in 2019. A Bay Area native, Nicole’s main focus has always been to serve her community. She received a BA from Clark Atlanta University majoring in Criminal Justice. During law school, Nicole advocated for the underserved community and worked at several public defender offices throughout the Bay Area. Following her first year in law school, Nicole was an intern with the Keta Taylor Colby Death Penalty Project, working on capital cases in Jackson, Mississippi and was part of a team that spared a man from receiving the death penalty. In her second year of law school, as a member of the Black Law Students Association, Nicole founded a youth mentoring program called STARS Youth Mentoring that partnered BLSA members with youth going through the juvenile justice system in Alameda County and the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office. The STARS program focused on setting the youth on the right path by finding employment as well as other opportunities.

Charlie Nelson KeeverCharlie Nelson Keever

Charlie Nelson Keever graduated from Loyola Law School in 2018 with a concentration in Public Interest Law. During law school, Charlie worked as a judicial extern to the Honorable Audrey B. Collins of the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, and served as editor-in-chief of the Loyola of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Review. As a clinical law student and research assistant for Loyola Law School's Project for the Innocent, Charlie worked to secure the release of four wrongfully convicted clients. Prior to joining USF's Racial Justice Clinic, Charlie practiced civil litigation at the Los Angeles and San Francisco offices of a national law firm. She is a proud 2012 Teach for America New York Corps alumna.

 

Faculty


Lara Bazelon

Program Director, Full-Time Faculty
(415) 422-6202

Lara Bazelon is a professor of law and the director of the Criminal Juvenile Justice and Racial Justice Clinical Programs at the University of San Francisco School of Law. From 2012-2015, she was a visiting associate clinical professor at Loyola Law School and the director of the Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent. Professor Bazelon was a trial attorney in the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Los Angeles for seven years. Prior to that, she was a law clerk for the Honorable Harry...

Education:

BA, Columbia University, JD, New York University

Expertise:

Advanced Legal Writing, Clinical Education, Criminal Procedure, Ethics, Habeas Corpus, Trial Advocacy, Wrongful Convictions

Jacque Wilson

Part-Time Faculty
(510) 289-2178

For the past 15 years, Jacque has worked with or mentored USF law students in the Criminal and Racial Justice Clinics. A senior trial lawyer at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, he serves as the growth and development training director, working with new attorneys, running the intern program, coordinating office training, and handling post-conviction cases. As a trial attorney, Jacque helped reform California’s felony murder rule though the passage of SB 1437. SB 1437 significantly...

Education:

Golden Gate University School Of Law, JD, 2000, California State University Stanislaus, BA in Criminal Justice, 1997

Expertise:

Felony Murder, Covid 19 in Jails, Criminal Discovery Litigation