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Winter 2025 - Spring 2025 Clinic

Criminal Justice Institute: Criminal Defense Clinic

To learn more about the Clinical Curriculum and Registration, please visit our Clinical Registration Center. 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.

Enrollment in this clinic will fulfill the HLS JD pro bono requirement.

Open to 3Ls only

Required Class Component: Criminal Justice Institute: Defense Theory and Practice (3 fall classroom credits + 1 winter classroom credit). This clinic and course are bundled; your enrollment in the clinic will automatically enroll you in the required course.

Additional Co-/Pre-Requisites: Trial Advocacy Workshop (TAW) and Evidence. Students must enroll in both classes separately from the clinic enrollment. Failure to meet the pre/co-requisites by the clinic’s add/drop deadline will result in the student being dropped from this clinic and class.

By Permission: No.

Add/Drop Deadline: August 23, 2024.

LLM Students: Due to the prerequisites, LLM students are not eligible to enroll.

Multi-Semester: This is a winter-spring clinic (1 winter clinical credit + 5 spring clinical credits).

Placement Site: HLS.

Mandatory Meetings: All students enrolled in the clinic (fall-winter and winter-spring) must attend a mandatory orientation week which takes place from Monday, September 23- Friday, September 27.

Students will examine the nature, functions, dynamics, and ethics of such tasks as interviewing, investigation, examination and cross-examination of witnesses, argument, and other aspects of criminal defense advocacy, both in and out of the courtroom. They will also examine the theory and practice of defense advocacy for minors accused of delinquency, focusing on the constitutional framework of the juvenile justice system. Students will study the Massachusetts juvenile courts, examining the history and philosophy of a separate juvenile system, juvenile court jurisdiction, and the impact of various state agencies on the administration of justice in juvenile court. The class component will attempt to develop a variety of operational and ethical frameworks within which students can understand and evaluate their practice experience.

Students can expect to represent clients on criminal and juvenile delinquency cases in the local courts. In the course of representing clients, students may be required to visit correctional institutions, which necessitate a background check. They may also provide representation to minors in school disciplinary hearings or represent adult clients in appellate or other post-conviction legal proceedings. Students will be responsible for providing complete legal representation to their clients during the course of the term and are expected to work a minimum of twenty hours per week at the Criminal Justice Institute under the supervision of a clinical instructor at the Institute. Students will receive one-to-one supervision, individual critique of their courtroom work, and participate in regular group sessions with their supervisor. Classroom reading and discussion will draw upon and complement the students’ experiences as defense counsel.

The teaching method will include exercises and discussions on the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility. Students will become familiar with the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights of both adults and juveniles accused of delinquency, as well as the law of evidence and sentencing. There will be a review of essential lawyering skills in criminal practice.

The clinic and class will start the week after Fall TAW, September 23 – September 27, 2024. During this first week of CJI, all students must attend the following mandatory orientation sessions. Monday (Sept. 23) students will do court observations as assigned between 9:00 am- 2:00pm. Tuesday (Sept. 24) 11:00 am-3:00 pm. On Wednesday (Sept.25) from 12:00 pm-3:00 pm, Thursday (Sep.26) from 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM, and Friday (Sep. 27) from 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM.  Starting this first week and throughout the Fall, class will meet on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3:45 PM – 5:45 PM.  During the winter, class will meet on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1:45 PM – 3:45 PM.  There will be a mandatory mini-orientation session on Wednesday, January 8, 2025, for students enrolled in the winter-spring clinic; winter-spring clinic students required to attend all orientation sessions scheduled in September and January.

Arraignments: For those enrolled in the fall-winter clinic arraignments will be held during the month of October. Those enrolled in the winter-spring clinic will be attending arraignments during the month of January. During arraignments all students must have at least one morning available for court, Monday through Thursday. Juvenile cases are heard only on Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. After arraignments students should have ample availability for court appearances (ex: trials, motion hearings, pre-trial hearings, and other dispositions).

Students enrolled in the fall-winter clinic will submit a reflection paper in mid-January. Those enrolled in the winter-spring clinic will be submitting their paper the first week of May.