UCI Law Criminal Justice Clinic Secures Compassionate Release for Clients



IRVINE, Calif. (Aug. 23, 2022) — The University of California, Irvine School of Law (UCI Law) Criminal Justice Clinic (CJC) has secured the compassionate release of identical twin brothers, Derrell (pictured left) and Terrell (pictured right) Gaulden. The Gauldens had each served more than 23 years in federal prison for crack-cocaine offenses and had already served more prison time than they would have received if sentenced to the same offenses today. On July 19, 2022, a federal judge in the Southern District of Georgia granted the clinic’s motions and ordered the brothers’ release.

UCI Law rising third-year CJC clinical students Hanna Bayer, Elleasse Taylor, Kenneth Armstrong and alum Emily Yu ’22 interviewed the clients and their families, reviewed prison records, created a release plan and wrote the federal court motion requesting compassionate release. Beth Blackwood of National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and local counsel Allison White of King & Spalding LLP in Atlanta also assisted the clinic in these filings.

The CJC also worked closely with the Medical Justice Alliance, a nonprofit that connects lawyers with doctors and residents to review medical records and provide expert declarations about clients’ medical conditions and medical care. Doctors from Emory School of Medicine provided expert declarations describing Derrell and Terrell’s serious medical conditions and explaining how they were not receiving proper medical treatment from the federal prison system.

The cases were assigned to the same federal judge who had previously denied other requests from the brothers for a reduced sentence. “Even though this judge had denied their requests in the past, the clinic was not deterred,” stated Katie Tinto, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the UCI Law Criminal Justice Clinic. “These compassionate release motions were a new type of request and I believed that with the efforts of the clinic behind them, we could put together strong motions explaining that both brothers suffered from serious medical conditions that were not being adequately treated, that both had undergone remarkable rehabilitation, and that both had been sufficiently punished for their crimes.”

“The students were outstanding from the beginning,” said Terrel Gauldin. “Kenneth and Emily worked on my case handling the details and keeping me informed every step of the process. I wouldn’t be here today without their support. The two of them went the extra mile and were the best lawyers I have ever had.”

"Working on this case with Professor Tinto and Elleasse Taylor has been the highlight of my UCI Law experience,” stated Hanna Bayer, UCI Law rising 3L student. “We are so happy that Mr. [Derrell] Gaulden can finally reunite with his family and build a happy life at home where he belongs." 

“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to help the Criminal Justice Clinic with Mr. [Terrell] Gaulden’s case,” said Kenneth Armstrong, UCI Law rising 3L student. “It was an honor to help him tell his story, and I learned so much about the law — both its consequences and opportunities — in the process.”

CJC began the Compassionate Release Project in 2018 with the goal of securing the release of federal prisoners serving long and unjust federal sentences. Since the start of the program, CJC has successfully won the release of 14 clients, 5 of whom were serving life sentences.

About the University of California, Irvine School of Law

The University of California, Irvine School of Law is a top, visionary law school that provides an innovative and comprehensive curriculum, prioritizes public service, and demonstrates a commitment to diversity within the legal profession. UCI Law students have completed more than 135,000 hours of pro bono work since 2009. Forty-eight percent of UCI Law's J.D. graduates are people of color. At UCI Law, we are driven to improve our local, national, and global communities by grappling with important issues as scholars, as practitioners, and as teachers who are preparing the next generation of leaders. The collaborative and interdisciplinary community at UCI Law includes extraordinary students, world-renowned faculty, dedicated staff, engaged alumni and enthusiastic supporters. More information on UCI Law is available here. Please follow us on Twitter @UCILaw, Facebook @UCIrvineLaw and Instagram @ucilaw.