Emanual Williams ’23 and the Clemency Project Clinic Successfully Advocate to Have a Client's Sentence Commuted

Emanual Williams ’23 had just graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School and was studying for the bar when he argued for and won a commutation from the Minnesota Board of Pardons (BOP) for the client he had represented as a student in the Law School’s Clemency Project Clinic. The client, Hansakda Souvannarath, had been the driver in a drive-by shooting when he was just 19 years old. In 1995, he was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole, followed by an additional sentence of 17 consecutive years.

This past summer, the BOP agreed to commute Souvannarath’s sentences from consecutive to concurrent, based on Williams’ oral advocacy and the application submitted by the Clemency Project Clinic that Williams drafted with fellow students Emily Doyle ’22 and Stephanie Huisman ’22. As a result, Souvannarath is eligible for release in April 2024 once he concludes 30 years of his original life sentence.

“Hans has made truly extraordinary strides in prison,” says Williams. “His accomplishments in education and community service are amazing, as is the number of lives he has touched. Hans is one in a million and if there is ever a person who is ready to return to society, it is him.”

Read the full story in Minnesota Law magazine

JaneAnne Murray
Associate Clinical Professor of Law