Criminal Defense Clinic Seminar & Fieldwork
The Criminal Defense Clinic (“CDC”) engages students in the actual practice of criminal law under the supervision of Professor Bress and Adjunct Professor Cominsky on cases at all stages of the criminal process, from arraignment through trial. Students appear in court regularly with their faculty supervisor, are assigned their own cases, and conduct or assist in all aspects of representation, including: client and witness interviews, investigations, discovery and document review, development of a case theory and litigation strategy, drafting motions and memoranda of law, and conducting or second chairing hearings and trials.
During the fall semester, twice weekly seminars focus on selected topics in criminal law and procedure, evidence, ethics, and lawyering skills, with a particular focus on question formulation and sequencing. Half the seminars are a mixture of lecture, discussion, demonstration, simulation, and critique. Simulations focus on critical lawyering skills, such as information acquisition through interviewing, direct examination and cross-examination; argumentation; persuasion and oral argument. The other half are “case rounds” in which the subject of the seminars is drawn from the cases students are working on; students are expected to raise and discuss issues they are confronting in their cases.
Students are expected during the fall semester to regularly devote 21-28 hours per week on average to the course, including both seminars and fieldwork, and to spend additional time as required by their cases. Students practice as “Legal Interns” under a Student Practice Order issued by the Appellate Division. To meet the requirements of the Student Practice Order, the first three weeks of class involve an intensive fifty-hour “boot camp”program on criminal law and procedure and practice in the New York City Criminal Courts. During the spring semester externship, case work continues, but there are no seminars. Both the fieldwork and seminar components in the fall semester are separately graded on a letter basis. The externship in the spring semester is graded on a pass-fail basis. Grades for both semesters are posted at the end of the spring semester. Pre-requisites may be waived with the permission of the professor.
The course is open to third-year students only. Enrollment is limited to eight. Registration is binding.
Permission of the professor is required.
Prerequisites: Criminal Law; Evidence; Criminal Procedure-Investigation
Recommended courses: Criminal Procedure-Adjudication; Criminal Procedure-Ethics in Criminal Practice; Trial Advocacy. [Note: It is recommended that Trial Advocacy be taken in the spring semester along with the CDC Externship. Trial Advocacy may not be taken in the fall semester along with CDC Seminar and Fieldwork.]