Profile: Clinical Director Khalida Sims Jackson

Posted 2023-02-06 3:37pm

Khalida Sims Jackson recently joined the Cleveland State University College of Law faculty as Director of the law school’s Pardon, Clemency & Reentry Clinic.

Jackson, a Cleveland Heights native and graduate of the Wayne State University Law School, served for seven years as an Assistant Public Defender with the Cuyahoga County Public Defender’s Office and for the past two years as an Assistant Public Defender in the Trial Division of the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio.

“At the public defender’s offices, I learned firsthand how to work with people of various backgrounds, which is very similar to academia,” explained Jackson. “The law is meant to serve and protect people, so I interpret my role as a lawyer and now educator, is to serve people and best prepare future lawyers.”

The Pardon, Clemency & Reentry Clinic was established in early 2022, to represent clients seeking pardon or clemency from the Ohio Governor, as well as reentry after a prior conviction from a court. The Clinic was developed through a partnership with the Ohio Governor’s Expedited Pardon Project (OGEPP). Governor Mike DeWine launched the OGEPP in 2019 to fast-track the pardon applications of specific candidates who have become law-abiding and contributing members of society. CSU|LAW receives renewable funding through the partnership and through Cuyahoga County to sustain the Clinic’s operations.

“This area of law is important because it allows a different ending for those convicted of a crime,” said Jackson. “The law is the sword and the shield. Post-conviction relief is one form of the shield. It’s important for that shield to be understood, supported, and protected.”

Jackson’s mother is a retired teacher and my father is an attorney. Jackson has long been interested in becoming a law professor, seeing it as a perfect blend of two professions she has been exposed to her entire life. She feels the role of clinical professor allows for the intersection of theory and practice that best aligns with her skillset.

As director of the CSU|LAW Clinic, Jackson engages in practical instruction of students as the supervising attorney in the area of pardons, record sealing, expungements and reentry. She also coordinates clinics and partnerships with community organizations to identify, screen and assist those need of reentry services.

“Clinics such as this prepare students for the practice of law,” said Jackson. “Learning and arguing the law is very different from client rapport and management and both skills are equally important.”

In her brief time leading the clinic thus far, Jackson has been impressed with the work and level of experience of CSU|LAW students. She believes the clinic students will continue to provide successful outcomes for their clients.

An avid proponent for connecting with community through service, Jackson is prominently involved in the Cleveland legal community and has developed relationships that can open opportunities for the Clinic and its students.

Jackson is Co-Chair and Team Lead of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association’s 3Rs Program where she co-created and developed a curriculum of six lessons to connect lawyers, judges, and law students with high school students to improve an understanding and appreciation of the U.S. Constitution.  Jackson is also an active member of the Norman S. Minor Bar Association and services as a representative for the organization with, a Judicial Candidates Rating Coalition that conducts interviews for candidates in every contested race for judge and review their answers to questionnaires.

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