MSU College of Law

Civil Rights Clinic

From ensuring that prisoners’ religious-dietary or dental care needs are met to gaining access to safe drinking water in Flint jails, the Civil Rights Clinic advocates for prisoners whose civil rights have been violated in the prison system. We represent our clients in federal court, with a focus on assisting prisoners incarcerated in Michigan prisons. Cases include individual representation and class actions.

The Civil Rights Clinic was the best part of being a law student—it’s absolutely useful, and far and away the best activity a student can do to prepare for the real world of practicing law.

Anna Stephens, ’15

The clinic gives students a chance to apply their academic learning to the practical aspects of litigation, such as drafting discovery requests, taking depositions, arguing motions, picking a jury, doing opening and closing statements, and—probably the most fun part of litigation— cross-examining defendants and their witnesses.

Daniel E. Manville, director

Our students go to trial in federal court. They spend two semesters working under the close supervision while investigating cases and developing facts, performing legal research, conducting depositions and other discovery, developing trial strategies, and representing their clients in court. They engage in all aspects of bringing a case to trials, including any necessary discovery and motion practice. Students will also prepare briefs for filing with the Court.

Civil Rights Clinic students can:

  • Investigate and develop cases
  • Research and draft legal documents
  • Develop and implement trial strategies
  • Represent clients in federal court

Students and staff assist incarcerated individuals whose civil rights have been violated. We represent clients on matters such as suppression of free speech and free practice of religion, instances of cruel and unusual punishment, and other infringements of civil rights. Examples of class action matters include a successfully settled class action lawsuit to ensure that all prisoners in Flint are provide with safe drinking water.

I worked on a case where a man came to prison with an injury and the prison doctors refused to treat him for years. He suffered from extreme pain for a long time and it was rewarding to be able to help someone who had nowhere else to go for help.

Sharron Seaton, ‘15