Mary-Kathryn Takeuchi ‘20 J.D. joins ND Law’s Exoneration Justice Clinic as legal fellow

Author: Libbey Detcher

Mary-Kathryn (“Katie”) Takeuchi
Mary-Kathryn (“Katie”) Takeuchi

Notre Dame Law School’s Exoneration Justice Clinic has hired alumna Mary-Kathryn (“Katie”) Takeuchi ‘20 J.D. as a legal fellow.

In this capacity, Takeuchi will play a leading role in the EJC’s process of selecting new cases for legal representation, oversee the work of clinic students, and assist with the clinic’s active cases.

Takeuchi returns to the Law School after working as an associate attorney for Heise Suarez Melville, PA, in Coral Gables, Florida, where she successfully represented her client in a wrongful-death jury trial involving police misconduct, resulting in a $3 million jury verdict against Miami-Dade County. She also clerked for Judge Charles R. Wilson, United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and Judge Federico A. Moreno, United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

While at Notre Dame Law School Takeuchi was the recipient of the Faculty Award for Excellence in Criminal Law and the Faculty Award for Excellence in Legal Research and Writing. She was also the executive editor of the Notre Dame Law Review, a member of the Notre Dame Moot Court Board, externed for the St. Joseph County Public Defender’s Office, and served as a research and teaching assistant for Professor Jimmy Gurulé, professor of law and faculty director of the Exoneration Justice Clinic. During her second-year summer she was an intern for the Antitrust Division of the U. S. Department of Justice.

“It is a privilege to return to Notre Dame Law School and especially the EJC. I'm eager to embrace the challenge of reintroducing accountability and justice into our legal system through our cases, ensuring that these values become intrinsic once again. I look forward to working with Professor Gurulé and a team made up of impressive lawyers, staff, and students,” said Takeuchi.

“Katie is an incredibly bright, talented, and hardworking lawyer with a passion for justice. She will enable the EJC to more expeditiously and thoroughly evaluate claims of actual innocence and provide our clients the legal assistance needed to overturn their wrongful convictions. I am excited to welcome Katie back to Notre Dame Law School as the newest member of the EJC,” said Gurulé.

The Exoneration Justice Clinic, launched in fall 2020, is dedicated to correcting miscarriages of justice through rigorous investigation, litigation, and overturning of wrongful convictions. The clinic offers students invaluable real-world learning opportunities to represent clients who have suffered from wrongful convictions.

Since its inception, the EJC has experienced significant growth and impact. In July 2021, the clinic celebrated its first exoneration when the murder conviction against Andrew Royer, an EJC client wrongfully convicted of a 2002 murder in Elkhart, Indiana, was vacated and criminal charges were dismissed. Currently, the clinic is actively involved in several other cases and has filed petitions for post-conviction relief in five pending cases.

Over the past three years, the EJC has received two grants from the Department of Justice. These grants will facilitate the expansion of the EJC's staff, enhance its capacity to overturn wrongful convictions, make a substantial impact on criminal justice reform in Indiana, and provide students with enriched opportunities to work on clinic cases.

In 2023, the EJC was awarded $3 million from the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs to implement the Program for the Defense of Mexican Nationals in Criminal Matters in the United States, a three-year pilot project aimed at providing legal representation to Mexican nationals in wrongful conviction cases on a nationwide basis.

Read more about the Exoneration Justice Clinic here.