Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence & Post-Conviction Remedies

Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies

Watch exoneree Floyd Bledsoe's emotional thank-you to KU Law's Project for Innocence

Former KU Law Professor Paul E. Wilson founded what was then the Defender Project in 1965 to help prisoners who otherwise might not receive legal representation. Students in the clinic represent state and federal prisoners in appellate and post-conviction litigation in state and federal courts, including: 

  • conducting fact investigations
  • drafting pleadings
  • filing motions
  • preparing for hearings
  • creating case strategy

Since 2009, students in the Project have won at least 28 conviction reversals. That same year, a project team won a rare grant of executive clemency for a man convicted of robbery during a racially charged civil rights-era trial in Wichita, Kansas. The project gets more than 200 letters a year from inmates seeking assistance.

Ensuring justice through the Project for Innocence
Brian Vanorsby, L’17

Brian Vanorsby, L'17

Brian Vanorsby recalls a case he handled for an incarcerated client with pending charges. The client’s untried charges prevented him from participating in programs and classes while in prison. Vanorsby was able to get the charges dismissed, allowing his client to participate in anger management classes, job skills training and community college courses. “Now he can participate in programs that might help rehabilitate him into the community,” Vanorsby said. “He can find a job once he’s out.”

The clinic taught Vanorsby the importance of criminal law in ensuring a fair and just society. The skills he gained will serve him well no matter what practice area he pursues.

“You think the system always works, but there are times when it doesn’t,” Vanorsby said. “Unfair things happen. I’ve learned how important criminal law is and the work that lawyers can do helping their clients. It was a good way to use my education to give back early on.”

Students enroll for two semesters, for four credits total per semester or for five credits during the summer. The course is open to second- or third-year students and satisfies the upper-level writing requirement. Criminal Procedure is a co- or pre-requisite.

Download an application (PDF)



Register for the Winter Open House in KC | January 10, 2017

Jean Phillips
Director, Project for Innocence
Clinical Professor of Law

KU Law Magazine

Apply Now
Schedule a visit
Check application status

Office of Admissions
103 Green Hall

Why KU
  • One-third of full-time faculty have written casebooks and treatises
  • 2 KU law faculty were U.S. Supreme Court clerks
  • KU’s Project for Innocence: 34 conviction reversals since 2009
  • 7,600+ alumni in all 50 states, D.C., and 21 foreign countries
  • #18 “best value” law school in the nation — National Jurist Magazine
  • 12 interdisciplinary joint degrees
  • 20th nationwide for lowest debt at graduation. — U.S. News & World Report
  • 80 percent of upper-level law classes have 25 or fewer students
  • More than 600 employment interviews at law school, 2014-15
  • 92 percent overall employment rate for Class of 2014 – top 20 percent nationally
  • 23rd: for number of law alumni promoted to partner at nation’s largest law firms
  • #1 in Kansas and Missouri for July 2015 bar exam performance