Pursuing justice for the wrongly convicted and underprivileged
Tia B. Paulette ’18 J.D.
Assistant Attorney General
As the Founding President of the Notre Dame Law School’s Exoneration Project, Tia B. Paulette ’18 J.D.’s influence will be a lasting one at the University and in the State of Indiana. By reviving the school’s dormant club — at the time affiliated with the separate Innocence Project — as a second-year student in 2016, Paulette laid the foundation for Notre Dame’s Exoneration Justice Clinic, which provides law students real-world experience representing wrongfully convicted clients.
Starting with just six students, the Exoneration Project slowly built a culture in the Law School of investment in criminal justice reform and equal access to justice. As support for the movement grew within the law school, alongside Professor Jimmy Gurulé and co-founder Erika Gustin, Paulette spearheaded the creation of the Wrongful Conviction Externship, a clinical program that provided students with real opportunities to represent northern Indiana clients believed to have been wrongfully convicted of serious crimes. In 2020, the externship evolved into the Exoneration Justice Clinic, which celebrated its first exoneration in July 2021 when Elkhart County prosecutors dismissed a murder charge against Andy Royer, who spent 16 years in prison despite being innocent.
Paulette currently serves as an Assistant Attorney General within the public service legal sector where she primarily focuses on litigating Title IV-D cases under the Social Security Act and aiding the underprivileged in navigating various legal proceedings. In her personal time, she continues to give back to her community through volunteerism and mentoring high school and college students seeking to attend law school. She is currently working to establish a scholarship fund to recognize Notre Dame law students committed to public service and criminal justice.