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Marla Mitchell-Cichon

Marla Mitchell-Cichon

Distinguished Professor Emeritus, and Counsel to the Cooley Innocence Project

B.S. Youngstown State University 1981
J.D. The University of Akron School of Law 1984

[email protected]

I began my teaching career in 1986, following service as a public defender in Stark County, Ohio. I was the director of the Trial Litigation Clinic for the University of Akron School of Law, 1986-1992.

I joined Case Western Reserve University Law School as a Visiting Assistant Professor and Assistant Professor, 1992-94, where I designed and taught Appellate Advocacy and team-taught a trial practice course. I also supervised third-year law students in the Kramer Law Clinic.

I served as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Dayton School of Law, 1994-1995, where I taught a judicial externship course and supervised students in the school's in-house clinic.

I joined Cooley Law School in July 1995, teaching in the Sixty Plus, Inc., Elderlaw Clinic (1995-2008) and the Cooley Innocence Project (2002-present). I have served as the school’s Faculty Externship Coordinator (2009-2014) and taught Professional Responsibility. I have also taught in the Innocence Project and Access to Justice Clinic.

I was the director of the Cooley Innocence Project. The project works to secure the release of factually innocent Michigan prisoners through the use of post-conviction DNA testing. The project's faculty and students have successfully exonerated three clients. In 2006, I received the Justice for All Award from the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan (CDAM) and in 2014 the Cooley Innocence Project received the Outstanding Community Contribution award from the Cooley Student Bar Association.
I worked closely with the Access to Justice Clinic, a clinic I helped to develop. The Access to Justice Clinic assists individuals with the collateral consequences related to their involvement with the criminal justice system and family courts. The clinic focuses on expungements and removal from the Central Registry and Sex Offender Registry.

I have extensive practice experience in criminal and poverty law. My litigation experience includes cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the Ohio Supreme Court, the Michigan Supreme Court and trial and appellate courts in both Ohio and Michigan. I also work on legislative reform to improve the criminal justice system.

My publications are in the areas of criminal law, elder law, ethics, and clinical teaching.


  • Marla Mitchell-Cichon, "What's Justice Got To Do With It? When the Prosecutor Has an Ethical Duty to Agree to Post-Conviction DNA Testing," 16.2 T.M. Cooley J.Prac.& Clin.L. 95 (2014).
  • Marla Mitchell-Cichon, Kimberly E. O'Leary, Norman Fell, and Terry Cavanaugh, Teaching Interviewing and Counseling in the Criminal Defense Clinic: Following Up on the Criminal Defense Session through a Roundtable Conversation, 8 Thomas M. Cooley J. Prac. & Clin. L. 291 (2005).
  • Mitchell-Cichon, Marla L., "What Mom Would Have Wanted: Lessons Learned from an Elder Law Clinic About Achieving Clients' Estate-Planning Goals," 10 Elder LJ 289 (2002).
  • Mitchell-Cichon, Marla L., "Teaching the Law Student to Become a Lawyer: How Personal Perceptions Form Realities and Impact on Our Role as a lawyer," 2 TM Cooley J Prac& Clin L 135 (1998)
  • Mitchell, Marla L., "Beyond a Book Review: Using Clinical Scholarship In Our Teaching" (Review of "Ethical Problems Facing the Criminal Defense Lawyer). 2 CLINICAL L REV 251 (Fall 1995).
  • Mitchell, Marla L., "The Wizardry of Harmless Error: Brain, Heart Courage Required When Reviewing Capital Sentences," 4 KANSAS J L PUB POL'Y 51 (Fall 1994).

Book Reviews and Other Short Works


  • "Prosecutor Cooperation in Post-Conviction Cases: Learning to Talk the Talk," Innocence Summit Center for Prosecutor Integrity, Arlington, Virginia (June 12, 2015).
  • "Advanced Teacher Training: Giving Formative Assessment in Difficult Situations," Midwest Clinic Teachers Conference, Michigan State University (September 13, 2014).
  • "Wrongful Convictions: The Cooley Innocence Project’s Casework," Association of Legal Administrators (May 15, 2014).
  • "What’s Justice Got To Do With It? When the Prosecutor Has an Ethical Duty to Agree to Post-Conviction DNA Testing," Innocence Scholarship, Innocence Network Conference, Portland, Oregon (April 12, 2014).
  • "Let Her Sing," Women’s Empowerment event, Lansing, Mich. (April 5, 2014). "The Cooley Innocence Project," National Association of Legal Assistants (NALS) (January 22, 2014).
  • "The Cooley Innocence Project," Rotary Club, (May 31, 2013).
  • "What’s Justice Got to Do with It? When the Prosecutor Has an Ethical Obligation to Agree to DNA Testing," International Access to Justice Conference, Durban, South Africa (December 12-15, 2012).
  • "Collateral Consequences of Wrongful Convictions," Saginaw County Bar Association, Pro Bono Luncheon, Saginaw, Mich. (October 24, 2012).
  • "Point/Counterpoint: Public Interest Placements v Private Firms," Externships 6: Preparing Lawyers – The Role of Field Placement, Panelist, Boston, Mass. (March 1-2, 2012).
  • Audience Talkback panelist for the play "The Exonerated," The Wharton Center, East Lansing, Mich. (January 27, 2012). Keynote Speaker, The Cooley Innocence Project, Thomas M. Cooley Barrister’s Ball, Lansing, Mich. (March 26, 2011).
  • Wrongful Conviction Forum, UU Social Justice Forum, East Lansing, Mich. (June 21, 2010).
  • "Searching for Evidence," and "Starting an Innocence Project," Innocence Network Conference, Atlanta, Georgia (April 15-17, 2010).
  • "Wrongful Convictions," Royal Oak Public Library, library series (April 2, 2010). Wrongful Imprisonment forum, UU Social Justice Center Committee, Bloomfield Hills, Mich. (March 21, 2010).
  • "Wrongful Convictions," Bloomfield Hills Township Library, library series (March 16, 2010).
  • "The Anatomy of an Innocence Case: Karl Vinson," Wayne State University Criminal Justice Department, Detroit, Mich. (October 21, 2009).
  • "Arc of Justice: One Book, One Community," Small Group Leader, Midwest Clinical Conference, Detroit, Mich. (October 2009).
  • "Innocence Project: Exploring Careers in the Law," sponsored by the Michigan Supreme Court Learning Center for 7th-9th graders, Lansing, Mich. (July 2009).
  • Keynote Speaker, with Kenneth Wyniemko, Genessee County Law Day Program, Flint, Mich. (May 2006).
  • Audience Talkback panelist for the film "After Innocence," Cooley Law School and the Detroit Art Museum (March 2006).
  • "Clinic Development and Case Screening," University of South Dakota, (February 24, 2006).
  • Mitchell, Marla L., "Achieving Social Justice for Clients Through Art," presented to the Clinical Conference, American Association of Law Schools, Pittsburgh, Pa. (May 21, 2002).
  • Mitchell, Marla L., "Planning for the Future: Medical Powers of Attorney and Powers of Attorney," presented to Community Mental Health, Lansing, Mich. (June 25, 2001).
  • Mitchell, Marla L., "Conflicts of Interest," presented to Michigan Legal Services Training, East Lansing, Mich. (May 18, 2001).
  • Mitchell, Marla L., "Creating Scholarship to Make Us Better Teachers," presented to the Clinical Conference, American Association of Law Schools, Montreal, Can. (May 10, 2001).
  • Mitchell, Marla L., "Medical Powers of Attorney and Everything You Wanted to Know About Sixty Plus," presented to the Advisory Board and Policy Board, Tri-County Office on Aging, Lansing, Mich. (1998).
  • Mitchell, Marla L., "Client Interviewing and Counseling--A Demonstration," presented at the Ohio CLE Institute (August 25, 1994).
  • Mitchell, Marla L., "Alice and the Looking Glass: Will Student Evaluation of Clinic Supervisors Distort or Clarify Our Roles As Teachers and Lawyers?," presented at the Midwest Clinical Conference, Iowa University (October 1992).
  • Mitchell, Marla L., "Sexism in the Profession" team presentation, presented at the Scanlon Inn of Court Meeting, Cleveland, Ohio (April 1989).
  • Mitchell, Marla L., "Teaching Appellate Advocacy," presented at the Midwest Clinical Conference, Drake University (October 1988).