In the Criminal Defense Clinic, you will have a challenging and rewarding experience working as a student-attorney defending clients in Hennepin County District Court. Through your classroom and courtroom work, you will develop client-centered trial skills that will serve you well as you embark on your career as a lawyer. You will also be challenged to think critically and creatively about the criminal justice system, the role of defense lawyers, legal ethics, and criminal law and procedure.
The course will involve a combination of classroom work and supervised student representation of clients charged with petty misdemeanor offenses in Hennepin County District Court. Student lawyers will represent clients at all stages of the criminal process, including arraignments, pretrial conferences, and trials. There will also be a weekly two-hour seminar component that will include presentations on substantive criminal law and procedure, criminal justice policy issues, evidence, and trial advocacy skills, as well as simulation and skills training exercises, and case strategy discussions. The focus of the course will be to develop the skills to provide client-centered representation in criminal cases.
- You should arrange your class schedule so you have at least one morning available each week to appear in court.
- Students enrolling in this Clinic must have successfully completed an Evidence course or they must be enrolled in Evidence during the fall semester.
What to expect when working on cases and with clients: Students will meet with out of custody clients who are making first appearances in court on petty misdemeanor offenses. Students will represent each client until his or her case is resolved. Cases may be resolved through negotiation or trial. Students will be expected to meet with the client and to thoroughly prepare the client’s case. This may involve visiting the scene of the offense, interviewing witnesses, researching statutes and relevant case law, and prepping for trial. Depending on the client’s wishes, students may negotiate with the prosecutor on behalf of the client. If the client does not wish to resolve the case, students will represent the client at trial. Students can expect to work on 3-5 cases. Students will learn the advocacy skills that will enable them to be client-centered defense lawyers.
NOTE: This course requires certification pursuant to the student practice rule and is open to JD students only.