Duly Noted

WMU-Cooley Law School receives grant for Innocence Clinic, settles lawsuit with ABA

The Bureau of Justice Assistance has awarded Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit, Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Innocence Project and the Urban Institute a $249,948.00 grant.  The 24-month long grant program is entitled “Upholding the Rule of Law and Preventing Wrongful Convictions.”

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said, “This generous grant allows us to partner with the Urban Institute, who have a long track record in research and reform. The data management system they create will be invaluable to understanding wrongful convictions. I believe this project will have a significant impact upon prosecutors, conviction integrity units and innocence projects across the country for years to come.”

Wayne County CIU and Cooley Innocence Project staff—in partnership with the Urban Institute— will work to determine gaps in the data currently collected by the WCPO CIU, and to develop a comprehensive new system for data entry and management.  These improvements will allow for better case management and provide a platform by which to examine broader trends and contributors to justice system errors. The Urban collaboration will be led by Dr. Jeanette Hussemann and Dr. Kelly Walsh, senior researchers affiliated with Urban’s Justice Policy Center.

In other news, WMU-Cooley Law School and the American Bar Association have settled litigation pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The suit will be dismissed with prejudice by agreement of the parties.

WMU-Cooley has been fully approved by the ABA continuously since 1978.  WMU-Cooley filed suit following a finding in November 2017 that the law school was out of compliance with a subpart of one ABA standard.  The ABA asked the law school to submit information to show that it was in compliance, and the ABA determined that the school was in compliance after reviewing that information, in March 2018.  In August 2018, the ABA granted the law school acquiescence to open a 60-credit program on Western Michigan University's main campus in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

“On behalf of the law school, we are very happy to put this lawsuit behind us,” said WMU-Cooley Law School Interim President Jeff Martlew.  “The circumstances that led to the litigation have been largely resolved and there was simply no point in continuing. Importantly, we have had very cordial communication with representatives from the ABA Council on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar. 
WMU-Cooley is committed to pursuing a collaborative approach in working with the Council, to continue meeting ABA standards.”