CSU Cleveland-Marshall College of Law 3L student Kailey Leary had the opportunity to advocate for Senate Bill 182, bail reform legislation being considered by Ohio’s state legislature as part of the CSU C|M|LAW Criminal Justice Center’s new Pretrial Justice Clinic.
“Researching and preparing my testimony in support of SB 182 was an incredible opportunity and exercise in learning more about the format of bills and the process of passing new bills,” explained Kailey. “I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to work closely with Professor Triozzi during my time in the Pretrial Justice Clinic.
The Pretrial Justice Clinic, taught by Professor Robert J. Triozzi, a former Cleveland Municipal Court Judge with an experiential background in both prosecution and criminal defense, provides students with the opportunity to fill a critical need in the criminal justice system – oral and written advocacy for indigent defendants during the initial bail process. The aim of the Clinic is not only to provide students with meaningful legal experience in the courtroom, but to specifically contribute their efforts toward a significant and growing need in the criminal justice system – the need for effective legal representation for defendants at this early but pivotal stage in the criminal justice process.
“Being a part of the Pretrial Justice Clinic and learning from Professor Triozzi was extremely beneficial and only strengthened my own passion for criminal defense and reform of our justice system,” Kailey said. “The experience I gained in the courtroom and communicating with clients is indispensable. It is an experience that every law student, even those who do not wish to litigate, should have prior to graduating, regardless of the field of law that they wish to practice in.”
Kailey and Professor Triozzi provided written testimony for the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this summer and may have the opportunity to provide in-person oral testimony before the House Criminal Justice Committee. The opportunity to advocate for this legislation came from a relationship with ACLU of Ohio Policy Counsel Claire Chevrier, who leads statewide policy initiatives on pretrial and juvenile justice reform. Claire was a guest speaker in the classroom portion of the Pretrial Justice Clinic earlier this year.
Kailey’s written testimony in support of SB 182 drew upon the issues she was able to witness first-hand in the courtroom during the arraignment process as part of the Clinic. Her testimony discussed the goals of bail and how the current system does not effectively meet these goals, but instead works to punish defendants for crimes they have not yet been convicted of. Kailey argued the passage of SB 182 would be a major step toward implementing important changes in the courtroom and cultivating a more just pretrial environment.
Kailey did not enter law school with a criminal defense focus in mind, but has developed interest in that area throughout her time in law school, in part due to her experience in the Pretrial Justice Clinic, along with her work as a law clerk at a criminal defense firm. After graduation, she intends to work as a criminal defense attorney.
“I was not aware of how important and consequential the bail component of the justice system truly was before my time in the Pretrial Justice Clinic, but I have definitely gained a large interest in bail reform that I hope to explore further in the future,” Kailey said.