About USC Gould
USC Gould is a top-ranked law school with a 115-year history and reputation for academic excellence. We are located on the beautiful 228-acre USC University Park Campus, just south of downtown Los Angeles.
Learn about our rigorous and interdisciplinary curriculum, our invaluable experiential learning opportunities, and the breadth and depth of our specialized areas of concentration and certificate offerings.
- Student Life
Participate in an unparalleled learning experience with diversity of people and thought. Get involved in the law school community and participate in activities that enhance your studies.
We work closely with students, graduates and employers to support successful career goals and outcomes. Our overall placement rate is consistently strong, with 94 percent of our JD class employed within 10 months after graduation.
Our faculty is distinguished for its scholarship, as well as for its commitment to teaching. Our 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio creates an intimate and collegial learning environment.
- Alumni and Giving
Alumni and Giving
The global Trojan network of more than 10,000 law alumni and donors include recognized leaders in numerous fields who are deeply committed to supporting student and law school success.
- ABOUT USC GOULD
- A MESSAGE FROM THE DEAN
- + HISTORY OF USC GOULD
- + NEWS
- + EVENTS
- BOARD OF COUNCILORS
- ABA REQUIRED DISCLOSURES
- VISIT US
- SOCIAL MEDIA
- + CONTACT US
PCJP Victory: Juvenile Offender Serving Life Released from Prison
Tuesday, Mar 24, 2015
Free After 24 Years
-By Gilien Silsby
Edel Gonzalez at age 16
The first juvenile offender resentenced under the California Fair Sentencing for Youth Act was released from prison this week thanks to the work of law students with USC Gould’s Post-Conviction Justice Project (PCJP).
Edel Gonzalez, who was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for a crime he committed at age 16, was represented by the PCJP and Irell and Manella. Human Rights Watch consulted on the case.
Scott Mills, a second-year USC law student, represented Gonzalez under the direction of PCJP attorneys “It was extremely fulfilling to be part of this case. Edel truly deserves all of the credit because he put in the hard work to change his life,” Mills said. “I have learned so much working with my professors from both a legal and personal standpoint.”
Gonzalez, who turns 40 next month, served 24 years in prison for being present at a murder committed by adults. He was the youngest person in Orange County to receive a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
After taking into account Gonzalez’s pristine prison record and the passage of two new laws, California parole officials and Gov. Jerry Brown determined that Gonzalez was suitable for parole.
“A life without parole sentence means that that there is no opportunity to ever be released from prison,” said Prof. Heidi Rummel, co-director of USC Gould School of Law Post-Conviction Justice Project. “But a growing body of high-court decisions and scientific opinion weigh against the use of the sentence for people who are under 18 at the time of their crimes.”
The California Fair Sentencing for Youth Act, signed into law by Gov. Brown, allows juvenile offenders sentenced to life without the possibility of parole to petition the court for resentencing after serving 15 years.
In December 2013, a judge gave Gonzalez a new sentence with the possibility of parole. Once eligible for parole, Gonzalez benefited from Senate Bill 260, which went into effect in 2014, requiring parole commissioners to consider the diminished culpability of youth at the time of their crime. The legislation was co-sponsored by USC Gould's PCJP, with Gould professors and students helping to draft the bill. They also testified in Sacramento to urge its passage.
“The legislation has created hope among many who faced hopeless sentences – Edel’s release makes it tangible for the many youth offenders serving life,” Rummel said. “Edel Gonzalez was the first person whose case was heard under the Fair Sentencing for Youth Act, and the first person to be released."
For the past several years, courts have started differentiating between youths and adults. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory sentencing of juvenile offenders to life without parole was cruel and unusual. The California Supreme Court modified California’s sentencing law, holding in People v. Gutierrez that sentencing courts must take into consideration a host of factors relevant to the distinct status of juveniles. Among other factors, the courts recognized that adolsecent brains are still developing in ways relevant to culpability.
Gonzalez was released this week to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and will be deported to Mexico. Gonzalez and his family immigrated to the United States when he was a baby, and he did not have U.S. citizenship. He plans to work for a church and help mentor at-risk youth avoid the allure of gangs and negative influences.
“It is totally in keeping with Edel’s character that he has chosen to spend his life giving back to the community," Rummel said.
USC Law Launches Online Human Resources Certificate
June 7, 2018
New online certificate will help professionals advance in the field.
Washington Post Publisher Challenges and Inspires
May 17, 2018
Gould alum Fred Ryan urges new lawyers to keep pace with “disruptive change”
Standout Ceremony for LLM Commencement
May 17, 2018
Representing 46 countries, Class of 2018 is Gould's most diverse ever