Civil Justice Clinic client has sentence commuted

A client of the School of Law’s Civil Justice Clinic convicted for the murder of her abusive husband had her sentence commuted by former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt in one of his final gubernatorial acts.

Since 2005, the clinic has worked to bring to light the extreme physical and sexual violence that 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 sentence of Carey, 35, of Sikeston, Mo., was commuted from 30 years to 10 years by Blunt, making Carey eligible for release in April.

“The clinic and Ms. Carey received this incredible news on Jan. 12,” said Brendan Roediger, J.D., managing attorney for the clinic. “Ms. Carey was overtaken with joy, and her thoughts turned immediately to reuniting with her teenage son.”

“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,” said third-year 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.

“My team was overjoyed to hear that Gov. 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,” Siarnacki said.

Said Jane Aiken, J.D., a former law school professor who was directing the clinic at the time it took the case: “I am happy for Charity. Clemency is always a long shot.

“This success is due to Brendan Roediger’s and Kathy Goldwasser’s instincts to pursue all options for this case,” Aiken said.

The Civil Justice Clinic operates as a public interest law firm within the law school. In addition to Aiken, Roediger and Goldwasser, J.D., professor of law, many faculty, staff and students worked tirelessly on Carey’s case.

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