Notre Dame grad awarded inaugural Exoneration Clinic fellowship

The Exoneration Justice Clinic at Notre Dame Law School has selected its inaugural postgraduate fellow.

Nikolai Stieglitz has been named the first recipient of the new fellowship that will cover his salary and benefits to work at the clinic full-time for two years.

Stieglitz, who graduated from Notre Dame this month, began working on exoneration cases as a 1L when the program was a student-run organization, he previously told Indiana Lawyer. By his 2L year, the program had developed into the Wrongful Conviction Externship, which Stieglitz also participated in. The clinic was officially formed during Stieglitz’s 3L year at Notre Dame Law.

“There is a large gap between the needs and resources available in exoneration work. There is a lot of work to be done in this area,” Stieglitz said in a news release. “I am grateful to the benefactors who made this possible, and excited that Notre Dame Law School is investing resources into this area and that the Exoneration Justice Clinic has become formal. As more people start to talk about wrongful convictions and exoneration, the system can make concrete, positive changes.”

The program is led by professor Jimmy Gurule and will be run by a small professional staff including Stieglitz as well as a contingent of students handling wrongful conviction cases from across the country. Their work so far has included clients such as Andy Royer, a man with a mental disability whose murder conviction was reversed last year.

“Our clients are fortunate to have someone as talented, dedicated, and hardworking as Nikolai investigating and litigating their cases, and fighting to help them regain their freedom,” Gurule said.

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