As the Cleckley Fellow, DeLap will assist in selecting cases, supervising students in the West Virginia Innocence Project Law Clinic (WVIP), and helping litigate claims of innocence in state and federal courts. She is working under the supervision of Melissa Giggenbach, WVIP staff attorney, and professor Marjorie McDiarmid.
DeLap will also have the opportunity to produce legal scholarship at WVU Law and provide outreach to the West Virginia legal community.
“I went to law school with the hope of one day advocating for those who have been silenced by the justice system. As the new Cleckley Fellow, I am so thrilled to help give our clients back their voice while hopefully inspiring our student attorneys to continue on with this work after they graduate,” said DeLap. “While at WVU Law, I hope to learn more about the forensic fraud issues most relevant to criminal work here in West Virginia. I am also excited to be part WVIP’s work to reform policies and spread awareness of flawed forensic science to address the causes of wrongful convictions with the aim of preventing new miscarriages of justice.”
DeLap received her J.D. in 2018 from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was a clinical student in the Exoneration Project. She was also a judicial extern for the Honorable John Z. Lee of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and she worked on cases involving police misconduct and prisoners’ rights as a summer intern for Loevy & Loevy, a civil rights litigation firm in Chicago.
While in law school, DeLap also served as a staff member on the Chicago Journal of International Law and as a member of the Independent Review Committee for the University of Chicago Police Department.
“Hope is a talented, committed young attorney who has already shown a quiet aptitude for connecting with clients and encouraging WVIP students,” said Valena Beety, director of the WVIP. “She is tenacious, incredibly thorough, and forward-thinking. We are all thrilled to have her as part of the WVIP team.”
DeLap is from San Diego, California. She earned a B.A. in Criminology, Law and Society from the University of California, Irvine in 2015. During college, she interned for The Justice Policy Institute in Washington, DC, where she collected correctional data and crime statistics for inclusion in impending Justice Policy reports. She also completed mediation training and an internship with Community Service Programs’ Dispute Resolution Services.
The Justice Franklin D. Cleckley Fellowship is a partnership between the WVU College of Law and the University of Chicago Law School. Through the fellowship, a recent University of Chicago Law School graduate committed to serving the public interest has the opportunity to work at WVU Law and represent indigent prisoners wrongfully convicted of crimes.
The Fellowship is named in honor of Cleckley, the first African American Justice on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and a renowned legal scholar. Cleckley was as the Arthur B. Hodges Professor of Law Emeritus at the West Virginia University College of Law. He passed away in 2017.