Civil Justice Clinic Client Receives Governor's Commutation
A client of Washington University Law’s Civil Justice Clinic, who was convicted for the murder of her abusive husband, has had her sentence commuted by outgoing Missouri Governor Matt Blunt.
Since 2005, the clinic has worked to bring to light the extreme physical and sexual violence that their client, Charity Sue Carey, suffered at the hands of her husband. Carey was convicted before much was known about “battered wife syndrome,” and her 30-year sentence for his murder would now be considered excessive. Thanks to the clinic’s efforts, the 35-year-old Sikeston, Missouri woman's sentence was commuted last week from 30 years to 10 years, making her eligible for release in April.
“The clinic and Ms. Carey received this incredible news on January 12,” Clinic Attorney Brendan Roediger said. “Ms. Carey was overtaken with joy and her thoughts turned immediately to reuniting with her teenage son.”
Carey’s mother, who will help with her daughter’s transition, responded: “This is the best news I have ever heard.”
“When my fellow clinic students Tom Smith, Erin Nave, Emily Vance, and I reviewed Charity’s case, we were shocked by the injustice that had occurred,” recalled third-year-law student Anne Siarnacki. “Charity had endured years of the most severe abuse imaginable, and, yet, was serving a sentence that would keep her imprisoned and separated from her son until well into her 50s.
“To have the opportunity to work on such a case, where the injustice was so clear, and to then be able to see true justice occur was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Siarnacki continued. “My team was overjoyed to hear that Governor Blunt granted clemency and gave Charity a chance to start her life anew. We all feel so fortunate to have played a role in seeing justice at work.”
Jane Aiken, a former Washington University Law professor who was directing the clinic at the time it took the case, added: “I am so happy for Charity. Clemency is always a real long shot. This success is due to Brendan Roediger's and Professor Kathy Goldwasser’s instincts to pursue all options for this case.”
The Civil Justice Clinic operates as a public interest law firm within the law school. In addition to Aiken, Goldwasser, and Roediger, numerous faculty, staff, and students worked tirelessly on Carey’s behalf, including: Professors Adele Morrison, Kim Norwood, C.J. Larkin, and Steven Gunn; Clinical Administrative Coordinator Katie Herr; and students Tom Smith, Erin Nave, Emily Vance, Anne Siarnacki, Colin O’Brien, Michelle Weltman, Sarah Kuehnel, Claudine Chastain, Tonya Oliver, Sarah Schneider, James Beal, Meredith Schnug, Laura Bernatowicz, Christallyn McCloud, Anna Scheible, Catherine Guy, Nnamdi Ezeife, and Pamela Dixon.
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