Created in 2000, the Texas Innocence Network, based at the University of Houston Law Center, is Texas’ oldest innocence network.
The Capital Division represents death-sentenced inmates in their state and federal habeas appeals. TIN attorneys rely largely on student interns to conduct the exhaustive investigations necessary to develop the claims raised in these proceedings. The Capital Division also responds to requests from inmates who have been denied relief in their habeas proceedings and for whom an execution date is imminent. In these “crisis cases,” TIN attorneys and interns work tirelessly to identify and develop potential claims in an attempt to stop the execution. The Capital Division also provides research and investigative support for other attorneys representing Texas death row inmates.
The Non-Capital Division works to exonerate inmates who did not commit the crimes for which they were wrongfully-convicted. In order to fulfill its mission, the Non-Capital Division evaluates, investigates, and litigates claims of actual innocence. Letters from inmates and their agents are initially reviewed to ascertain whether an actual innocence claim that falls within project parameters has been presented. If so, the Non-Capital Division requests additional information to provide a better understanding of the inmate’s case and claim. Upon receipt of this information, the Non-Capital Division reviews the case file to determine whether there is any evidence that indicate that the inmate was wrongfully convicted, then attempts to locate the exonerating evidence. Once evidence of actual innocence has been established, the Non-Capital Division provides post-conviction legal assistance to wrongfully-convicted inmates by filing petitions for a writ of habeas corpus, clemency applications, or both.
Student interns from the University of Houston Law Center (UHLC) are integral to this process. The Non-Capital Division was founded by UHLC Distinguished University Professor David R. Dow in 2000. It started as a student volunteer organization and quickly evolved into a class offered year-round. Consequently, UHLC students constantly work on the literally hundreds of investigations that are open and ongoing at any given time. UHLC students provide invaluable assistance and support, in order to free innocent men and women who are incarcerated for crimes they did not commit.