Joyce Ann Brown Innocence Clinic

unt dallas law students in innocence clinic classroom

In January 2016, UNT Dallas College of Law opened the Joyce Ann Brown Innocence Clinic with funding from the state legislature.

The College of Law’s new innocence clinic expands the capacity for pursuing innocence claims in the state of Texas and introduces an innovative approach to working on behalf of clients.

A multidisciplinary team to work cases

UNT Dallas College of Law has created an approach to the review and investigation of cases that involves multiple disciplines from the criminal justice field of studies. Law students are partnered with teams of students from UNT Denton and UNT Dallas who have studied and worked in other areas such as forensics, criminalistics, and criminal justice. Working together, these student teams have skills and knowledge helpful in evaluating, investigating, and pursuing actual claims of innocence.

Joyce Ann Brown Innocence Clinic is the first law school in Texas to use multidisciplinary student teams in an innocence clinic.

Case Requirements and Criteria

The Joyce Ann Brown Innocence Clinic considers cases with the following criteria:

  • Claims of actual innocence: The person seeking assistance must be in no way responsible for the crimes for which they were convicted.
  • The Clinic does not review claims of self-defense.
  • Sentence requirement: Five years or more remaining on your sentence.
  • Post-conviction status: The trial must be completed and resulted in a conviction and sentence.
  • New evidence: There is new evidence that was not available during the original trial.

How to Apply

If you believe your case meets the requirements and criteria for making a claim of actual innocence, please take these steps to apply to the Joyce Ann Brown Innocence Clinic:

1.  Complete the Texas Prisoner Innocence Questionnaire.

  • Please answer all questions on the questionnaire.
  • If you do not know an answer, please write “I do not know.”
  • If a question does not apply to your situation, please write “Does not apply.”

2.  Sign the Consent for Release of Information form.

3.  Mail both to the following address:

    1901 Main Street
    Dallas, Texas 75201

Naming the Innocence Clinic

While planning for the new Innocence Clinic at UNT Dallas College of Law, the law school decided to connect the identification of our clinic with a person who had lived the experience of wrongful conviction. We want our students to always remember that we are representing people - we are not just handling cases. Naming the clinic after a person who had fought for her freedom and exoneration inspires our students as they work to free others wrongfully convicted.

We are proud to have Joyce Ann Brown as our namesake.

Joyce Ann Brown

Joyce Ann Brown was convicted of murder in 1980. She served nine (9) years, five (5) months and twenty-four (24) days for a crime she did not commit. With the help of Centurion Ministries of Princeton, New Jersey, a CBS 60 Minutes television broadcast, Ms. Brown’s case was brought back before the courts in Dallas, Texas. In 1989, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed her conviction, finding that there had been prosecutorial misconduct. The Dallas County District attorney decided not to retry Ms. Brown. In 1993, her record was expunged. Her exoneration was fully recognized although she never received any monetary compensation from the state of Texas.

After her release, Ms. Brown dedicated her life to telling her story and working on cases of actual innocence. She was the author of the memoir Joyce Ann Brown: Justice Denied which shared her battle for justice, even from behind the prison walls. She founded MASS, Inc., an organization dedicated to aiding the transition of formerly incarcerated persons as well as those persons claiming actual innocence. Until her untimely death on June 13, 2015, Ms. Brown was a nationally recognized strong and devoted advocate for persons who have been incarcerated.