The Clemency Project has partnered with the Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers since 2014, when it partnered with MACDL members to represent clemency applicants in federal cases, and also to represent individual clients in sentencing proceedings. Of the 35 clemency petitions the Project filed under President Obama’s initiative, two were filed in partnership with local Minnesota defense lawyers. In addition, eight local lawyers filed ten petitions for Minnesota-based clemency applicants that were screened by the Law School’s Clemency Project. MACDL is Minnesota’s pre-eminent defense bar association, with more than 350 members statewide.
In addition, Professor Murray, who joined the MACDL board in 2021, is developing the Minnesota State Clemency Project with MACDL to recruit and train volunteer lawyers to represent incarcerated individuals in their Minnesota state clemency petitions.
In 2020, the Clemency Project partnered with the University of Minnesota Medical School to assist with medical declarations in support of its clients seeking compassionate release. One of these clients did not get a judicial grant, but ultimately got a presidential commutation, in part due to the declaration from Professor Daniel Mueller, Professor of Medicine and Director of Rheumatic and Autoimmune Diseases at the University of Minnesota Medical School. On April 4, 2021, the Project, including Prof. Murray and then 3L student Bree Crye, along with Prof. Mueller presented this case to the Medical School’s Grand Rounds. The Medical School continues to provide declarations and forensic reports relating to the medical needs of the Project’s clemency clients
NACDL/FAMM Clearinghouse Project
The Clemency Project partnered with the NACDL/FAMM State Clearinghouse Project in 2020 to represent and advocate for individuals seeking reductions in their sentences due to their vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic (so-called “compassionate release” motions). Through this program, the Clemency Project filed 12 compassionate release motions, winning release for two clients.
The Clemency Project partnered with the NACDL/FAMM State Clemency Project to represent clemency applicants under New York Governor Cuomo’s clemency initiative. In 2017, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and FAMM launched the State Clemency Project, deploying core staff and infrastructure to support clemency initiatives focusing on state inmates. The State Clemency Project partners with governors to assist with their executive clemency goals, and develop tailored programs to best accomplish those goals.
The Clemency Project partners with staff attorneys at the Neighborhood Justice Center, Inc. (NJC) to represent indigent defendants in sentencing proceedings in Ramsey, Washington and Dakota counties. The NJC is a non-profit, community-based law office that provides comprehensive and high-quality criminal defense services to assist low-income persons, largely persons of color, in receiving fair treatment in the legal system as well as achieving equitable outcomes and helping prevent future legal problems.
The Clemency Project has partnered with King & Spalding to represent inmates seeking “second looks” at their lengthy sentences. In June 2018, after 18 months of litigation in federal and local courts in D.C., Prof. Murray and Pro Bono King & Spalding partner, Joshua Toll, finally secured release for Derrin Perkins, previously sentenced to life plus 18 years. King & Spalding is an international law firm with a vibrant pro bono program that represents a broad array of clients, including half of the Fortune Global 100, with 1,000 lawyers in 20 offices in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.