The Criminal Defense Clinic engages students in the actual practice of criminal law under the supervision of Professors Bress and Cominsky.
Each student works closely with a faculty supervisor on misdemeanor cases at all stages of the criminal process, from arraignment through trial.
- appear in arraignments at New York City Criminal Court
- appear on record in court
- conduct client and witness interviews
- conduct investigations
- review police reports and other discovery material
- draft motions and memoranda of law
- develop case theory and litigation strategy, and
- conduct or second chair hearings and trials
All student work is conducted under the supervision of the faculty supervisors. The faculty supervisors are intimately involved in the students’ cases and work closely with the students in the development of case theory and strategy and in the preparation of the cases.
Students practice as “legal interns” under a Student Practice Order. To meet the requirements of the Student Practice Order, the first three weeks of class involve an intensive 50-hour program on criminal law and procedure and practice in the New York City criminal courts.
During the fall semester, there are twice weekly seminars. The Monday seminars are joint with the Criminal Prosecution Clinic-Kings County (CPC-KC) and are a mixture of discussion, demonstration, simulation and critique. The Monday seminars focus on selected topics in criminal law and procedure, evidence, ethics, and lawyering skills.
Simulations in the Monday seminars focus on critical lawyering skills, such as:
- information acquisition through interviewing
- direct examination and cross-examination
- presentation of complex fact patterns and legal analysis in affidavits, memoranda of law, and oral argument
The Wednesday seminars (separate from CPC-KC) are “case rounds” where students raise and discuss issues they are confronting in their cases.
During the Fall semester, students are expected to regularly devote 21-28 hours per week to the course, including both seminars and fieldwork, and to spend additional time as required by their cases.
During the Spring semester students continue to work on their misdemeanor cases and attend weekly “case rounds” seminars, and are expected to regularly devote 12-16 hours per week to the course, including both seminars and fieldwork, and to spend additional time as required by their cases.
Both the fieldwork and seminar components in the Fall semester (CR 85221& 85220) and Spring Semester (CR 16217 & 16317) are separately graded on a letter basis. Grades for both semesters are posted at the end of the Spring semester.
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. Trial Advocacy may not be taken in the fall semester.]
Links and Logistics
Fall – 4 Credits Seminar/3 Credits Fieldwork; Spring – 2 Credits Seminar/2 Credits Fieldwork (Full Year Course)
Prerequisites: Criminal Law; Evidence; Criminal Procedure-Investigation
Pre-requisites may be waived.
Recommended pre- or co-requisites: Professional Responsibility-Criminal Practice; Criminal Procedure-Adjudication; Trial Advocacy. [Note: It is recommended that Trial Advocacy be taken in the spring semester. Trial Advocacy may not be taken in the fall semester.]
The course is open to third-year students only. Enrollment is limited to eight. Registration is binding. Permission of the Professor is required.
Approved for the Experiential Learning Requirement
Course Description: Criminal Defense Clinic
To Apply to this Clinic, please visit the OCEL Application Information Page