By: Sarah Patarino
“Life is not about a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”
Pictured: Michael Saunders (left); Carly Chocron (right)
Meet Carly Chocron. Sociology degree holder. Wrongful conviction overturn enthusiast. Inspired third year law student. And future public defender.
Carly spent her undergrad years at the University of Michigan. Through her experience as a sociology major and due to her passion for helping and understanding others, Carly worked with boys under the age of 21 who had multiple felony convictions. Her relationships with these boys taught her about the juvenile system, the criminal system in general, and how difficult it may become to move forward from an experience in the criminal system. After being a part of the program, Carly had the dream to work in criminal defense and upon her arrival at Loyola, Carly took steps toward her dream.
Early in her second year, Carly’s career counselor told her about the Life After Innocence clinic (LAI).
“[She] suggested I reach out to Jarrett Adams about his experience as an exoneree,” Carly said. “After that, I started researching LAI and formed a desire to work with the clinic. The area of law is related to the law I want to practice so I had a natural interest in learning more about wrongful convictions and exonerations.”
As soon as Carly learned about LAI, she knew she wanted to join. Her passion led her to be a member of the LAI team and to become even more inspired to work in criminal defense. As she began her work, Carly built relationships with exonerees. One such exoneree, Michael Saunders, she continues to work with today.
“Working with LAI has allowed me to form close relationships with exonerees,” Carly explained. “Including Michael Saunders among others. Today, after everything he has been through, he is positive and eager to move on with his life. He has been such an inspiration. Getting to know all of the exonerees and listening to their experiences has been truly incredible and has really made me appreciate the more trivial things in like that I would normally take for granted.”
For Carly, it was Saunders’ story that pushed her to take the leap and apply to join LAI.
“When I took the wrongful convictions seminar in the spring and Michael Saunders was a guest in the class, his experience really resonated with me,” Carly remembered. “When he said he had spent more time in prison than he had in the real world for crimes he did not commit, I simply could not fathom that idea. That inspired me to want to get to know him even more and on a more personal level. Since that spring course, I have been working with LAI and I have found it to be one of the most rewarding parts of law school.”
Students like Carly create a safe haven for Saunders and other exonerees. She works to help them find employment and to remind them of the good in the world. Students such as Carly are the center of LAI. Carly brings her personal experiences and her specific knowledge of the elements of a relationship to her work with our exonerees. Carly notes the true inspiration of LAI comes from the exonerees themselves. Together, we learn from each other and hopefully continue to make a difference.