PCJP provides deserving clients with zealous representation and develops law students’ potential to be skilled and ethical advocates.

Since 1981, the Post-Conviction Justice Project (PCJP) has trained hundreds of law students to stand for justice and contribute to legislation that is transforming our legal landscape.

Under the direction of PCJP Director Heidi Rummel and Co-Founder Michael Brennan at the USC Gould School of Law, the Project has advocated for thousands of clients at parole hearings, on habeas corpus in state and federal courts, at resentencing hearings, and in prison workshops.

The Project hires six supervising students each summer and enrolls ten additional students in the fall for the academic year. In addition to developing critical lawyering proficiencies through hands-on experience, students examine and discuss broader criminal justice issues.

the Directors

Heidi L. Rummel

Heidi Rummel co-directs the Post-Conviction Justice Project. Under her supervision, second and third-year law students represent California life-term inmates, primarily women and youth offenders. 

Michael J. Brennan

A specialist in clinical legal education, Brennan co-directs the Post-Conviction Justice Project and teaches trial advocacy.

Our Story

Our story is centered around training law students to be “justice warriors” – inspired to challenge laws that are outdated and verdicts and sentences that were mishandled or simply unjust.

It is also a story of Edel Gonzalez, of Glenda Virgil and a woman they call “Mother Mary” Jones. It’s a story of youth offenders serving adult life sentences. And women defending themselves from their abusers only to be sent to prison for the rest of their lives. It’s a tale of hundreds more California prisoners seeking the hope that PCJP can bring.

Since our founding, criminal justice reform has stepped much further into the spotlight, but there remain thousands of incarcerated men and women awaiting someone to fight for their second chance.