The Child Advocacy and Juvenile Justice Clinic (the “CAC”) is a full academic year, seven credit program beginning in the fall semester in which students represent indigent clients in juvenile delinquency and child welfare matters before the Hennepin County Juvenile Court and custody cases before the Hennepin County Family Court. Over the last two years, students have been actively involved in two cutting edge areas of the law: they have represented adults seeking custody of unaccompanied immigrant minors under the Special Immigrant Justice Status federal statute, and they have represented two inmates serving life without parole (LWOP) in Minnesota prisons for offenses they committed as juveniles. In connection with their LWOP cases, students have represented clients in extensive sentencing proceedings before state and federal courts, including the District of Minnesota and the Eighth Circuit.
CAC students represent multiple clients during the course of the year and, under the supervision of CAC faculty, undertake every aspect of direct representation: from interviewing witnesses, to performing fact investigation, to drafting pleadings, to engaging in settlement negotiations, to appearing for court hearings, to conducting trials.
Many classroom sessions are held in conjunction with the Indian Child Welfare Clinic and cover not only applicable procedure, substantive law and relevant trial skills, but also address broader systemic issues. Students are consistently challenged to consider the historical context and purpose of the family and juvenile courts and to think critically about the effectiveness and equity of the present-day system.
- Weekly status meetings with Profs. Moriearty or Sanderson and the student director assigned to any particular client file are required throughout the entire academic year.
- Attend regular lunchtime Clinic Roundtables which focus on client case work.
What to expect when working on cases and with clients:
- Students will represent an average of 3-5 clients.
- To ensure a fulfilling experience in the CAC, students must be willing to make a substantial time commitment that goes beyond the classroom work. This may require students to arrange their class schedules in a way that allows students to appear in court, conduct investigations, and meet with clients. We also strongly recommend that students enroll in Evidence.
NOTE: This course requires certification pursuant to the student practice rule and is open to JD students only.