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Winter 2024 - Spring 2024 Seminar

Criminal Justice Appellate Clinical Seminar

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You can also find more information on How to Register for Clinics and How Clinical Credits Work.

For more information about this clinic, please visit the Clinic Website, Clinic Q&A and OCP Blog Highlights.

Required Clinic Component: Criminal Justice Appellate Clinic (2 winter clinical credits + 2-3 spring clinical credits). This clinic and course are bundled; your enrollment in the clinic will automatically enroll you in this required course.

Additional Co-/Pre-Requisites: None.

By Permission: Yes. Applications are due October 20, 2023.

Add/Drop Deadline: November 17, 2023.

LLM Students: International students on F-1 student visas are required to have Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization; LL.M. students on F-1 visas are not eligible for CPT.

Placement Site: Washington D.C. office.

This winter-term course is taken concurrently with the Criminal Justice Appellate Clinic.

Students will participate in an externship with the Roderick Solange MacArthur Justice Center in Washington, D.C., working on appeals before federal circuit courts and/or the U.S. Supreme Court that raise important issues related to civil rights and the criminal justice system.

Students will learn the ins-and-outs of litigating appeals in the field criminal justice, including general appellate strategy and skills, and emerging issues in the criminal justice system. Under the supervision of the director of MJC’s D.C. Office, students will have the opportunity to make a substantial contribution to the office’s ongoing appellate cases, including performing research and draft legal analysis for briefs that will be filed in federal court. Depending on the particular matters students work on, this may also include participation in client interaction and strategic decision-making, analysis of factual records, and participation in moot oral arguments (depending upon the stage of their assigned appeals). Students may also have the option of continuing the clinic remotely in the spring semester, allowing more substantial involvement in their assigned appeals and increased exposure to appellate litigation.

MJC is one of the nation’s premier civil rights organizations and champions criminal justice reform through litigation, in areas that include police misconduct, rights of the accused, issues facing indigent prisoners, the death penalty, and the rights of detainees. The organization’s Washington, D.C. office focuses specifically on appellate litigation as a vehicle for achieving change in these areas.

Examples of issues raised in MJC appeals include:

  • Unsettled questions of criminal procedure under the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments (search and seizure, privilege against self-incrimination, right to a jury, right to counsel);
  • Issues facing indigent prisoners, including the constitutional rights of prisoners to be free from cruel and unusual treatment by prison officials and access to courts;
  • Constitutional challenges to the use of solitary confinement in the prison system;
  • Fundamental trial rights under the Due Process Clause, including issues unique to capital trials;
  • Challenges to certain discriminatory executive actions outside of the criminal justice system, including discriminatory practices of Immigration and Custom Enforcement and discrimination against Muslim travelers at the border.

Students admitted to the clinic will be supervised by Amir H. Ali, nationwide Executive Director of the MacArthur Justice Center, and Devi Rao, Director of the organization’s D.C. Office.

Application: Students interested in this clinic should submit a resume, an unedited writing sample, and a statement of interest (less than 300 words) that includes: (i) the student’s reason for applying to the clinic, including particular criminal justice issues the student is interested in, and (ii) any prior exposure to appellate and/or criminal justice issues. Applications should be submitted to by the deadline above.