Speaker Series Welcomes the Boston College Innocence Project

Lauren Rossman_Sarah Carlow_BCIP

The Frederick Gunn School will host the second event in its 2021 Speaker Series on Thursday, October 7, featuring Sarah Carlow and Lauren Rossman, who are both clinical legal fellows and staff attorneys with the Boston College Innocence Project (BCIP).

“In the Boston College Innocence Program, students study the problem of erroneous convictions and work to remedy and prevent these injustices. Clinic students and faculty represent individuals wrongly convicted in Massachusetts for crimes they did not commit and collaborate with public, private, and nonprofit partners in litigation and public policy reforms,” the college explains on its website.

This week's program, which is open to students and faculty only, is intended to build on the themes of this summer’s all-school reading of “Just Mercy: Young Adult Edition,” by Bryan Stevenson, noted Speaker Series Coordinator Steve Gritti of the History Department faculty.  An attorney and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), Stevenson has dedicated his practice to defending the poor, the incarcerated, and the wrongly condemned. “Just Mercy” tells the stories of the people Stevenson has helped, including innocent death row inmates who were exonerated.

“Mr. Stevenson has argued and won multiple cases at the United States Supreme Court, including a 2019 ruling protecting condemned prisoners who suffer from dementia and a landmark 2012 ruling that banned mandatory life-imprisonment-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger. Mr. Stevenson and his staff have won reversals, relief, or release from prison for over 135 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row and won relief for hundreds of others wrongly convicted or unfairly sentenced,” according to EJI.

Students in BCIP share a similar commitment. “Our students represent clients, investigate the crime scene, work with forensic experts, collaborate with co-counsel, draft motions, affidavits, and legal memos, and appear in court on behalf of our clients,” said Charlotte Whitmore, a Boston College professor and supervising staff attorney with BCIP. “In just over a year, our clinic has freed three people, who together had served over 64 years in prison for murders that they did not commit.”

About our Speakers
Sarah Carlow graduated from Boston College Law School in 2020. She was part of the Boston College Innocence Program as a law student, playing a key role in securing the exoneration of Frances Choy, a woman who was incarcerated for 17 years for a crime she did not commit. 

Carlow is a Clinical Legal Fellow with the Center for Experiential Learning. She is a resource for all of the criminal clinical programs, but spends the majority of her time working with the Boston College Innocence Program where she co-supervises students, represents clients who have been wrongly convicted of crimes they did not commit, and collaborates with community partners on policy initiatives aimed at remedying wrongful convictions and preventing these injustices.

Lauren Rossman, BC Law ’19, is a Clinical Legal Fellow in the Boston College Innocence Program (BCIP), where she supervises law students in the innocence clinic and litigates cases of wrongful conviction. Lauren’s two-year fellowship with BCIP is supported by a U.S. Department of Justice Grant for Upholding the Rule of Law and Preventing Wrongful Convictions.

Lauren enrolled in BCIP as a law student in 2017. Throughout her second and third years of law school, Lauren worked on two different innocence cases, assisting in the investigation and litigation which ultimately led to the release of those clients after decades of wrongful imprisonment. Having discovered her passion for representing the wrongly convicted, Lauren applied for and received the BC Law Public Service Legal Fellowship which enabled her to work as a Fellow at the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) Innocence Program for her first year as an attorney. The Innocence Program is a specialized unit within CPCS which aims to identify and litigate meritorious post-conviction claims of innocence and provide advice and training for other lawyers handling innocence cases.

In 2019, Lauren was awarded the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Adams Pro Bono Publico Student Award for her work with BCIP. Lauren is also the recipient of the 2019 BC Law Award for Clinical Excellence.

Prior to law school, Lauren worked at EMPath, a Boston-based non-profit organization which provides direct services and programs to homeless families in the greater Boston area. Lauren’s experience working at one of EMPath’s women’s shelters inspired her to apply to law school and spend her career advocating for underserved communities.

On September 23, The Frederick Gunn School welcomed Marc Morial, who since 2003 has served as President and CEO of the National Urban League,  the nation’s largest historic civil rights and urban advocacy organization, as the first featured guest in our 2021 Speaker Series. 

Above: Lauren Rossman and Sarah Carlow are both clinical legal fellows and staff attorneys with the Boston College Innocence Project.

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