In the Criminal Justice Clinic, third year law students are certified under Ohio’s Student Practice Order to practice Criminal Law in both misdemeanor and felony courts either as counsel for the accused or as a prosecuting attorney. Though in the past we exclusively represented people accused of misdemeanor crimes in the local Municipal Courts, we have expanded our representation to include serious felony cases. Additionally, to meet an increasing student demand we have joined with a suburban Prosecutors Office in a project where our students prosecute Domestic Violence, Menacing, and Stalking cases.
Students take responsibility from the initial interview to conduct investigations, represent clients at court appearances, negotiate with prosecutors and defense attorneys, write and argue motions, and prepare for hearings and trial.
In addition to providing students with basic training in representing a client in a criminal proceeding, the course teaches an analytic methodology focused on formulating a theory of the case. Students learn to assess information and make decisions in an indeterminate and evolving universe with reference to evidentiary rules, constitutional law and criminal procedure. Students develop the ability to assess probable consequences with multiple variables and incomplete information.
|“The Clinic helped me to think about all of the different scenarios that could benefit my client, instead of focusing on the most obvious.”
A weekly seminar covers substantive areas of law, as well as practical lawyering skills and theoretical aspects of the criminal justice system. Students entering the course should be fully familiar with the rules of evidence and criminal procedure, basic concepts of criminal and principles of constitutional law. The seminar also provides a forum for simulated skills training, and a “grand round” case presentations. Regularly guest speakers who have achieved top level positions in law enforcement, or who have prosecuted and defended the highest profile cases, come into the seminar to conduct academic exercises or offer other trial skill instruction to our students.
Students develop the skills necessary to successfully litigate a criminal case, but the real value transcends the field of criminal practice, and lies instead in understanding and developing a strategic approach to problem solving. The exposure to critical thinking, narrative theory and the practical application of classroom material provides students with the tools necessary to succeed in the courtroom or the boardroom.
|“There have been opportunities to break problems down into their component parts... I think experience and practice is the only way to improve these skills. The Clinic gave me an opportunity to work on these skills in a real life situation, with real people, and not actors. For me, I was much more into the interaction than in the simulations. I just think I appreciated the realness much more.”
Criminal Justice Clinic Faculty: