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Spring 2023 Seminar

Judicial Process in Trial Courts Clinical Seminar

Required Clinic Component: Judicial Process in Trial Courts Clinic (2-5 spring clinical credits). This clinic and course are bundled; your enrollment in the clinic will automatically enroll you in this course.

Additional Co-/Pre-Requisites: None.

By Permission: No.

Add/Drop Deadline: December 2, 2022.

LLM Students: International students on F-1 student visas are required to have Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization; LL.M. students are not eligible for CPT, but may enroll in this Seminar without participating in the Clinic. 

This weekly seminar examines through participant observation the functioning of the judicial process in our trial courts with special attention to different judicial roles in different trial courts. The focus of the class in on the various roles (adjudicatory, administrative, sentencing, educational and symbolic) that judges play in these courts. Students have the unique opportunity to observe and discuss the work of their assigned judges in a clerkship-type setting. Students are also expected to assist their judges with legal research and writing. The contributions of various scholars to understanding the work of judges in these courts is reviewed as well as distinct proposals for reform. Because of the variety of judicial placements, attention is also paid to common issues such as judicial accountability, judicial ethics, ADR, juries, access to justice, and sentencing innovations like treatment courts and restorative justice.

A fifteen to twenty page paper describing some aspect of the judiciary’s work in these courts is required and serves as a basis for each student’s grade. Three short reflective papers are also required during the semester.

Students undertake clinical fieldwork study of judicial performance through clerkship-like clinical placements with individual justices of the District Court, Boston Municipal Court, Juvenile Court, Housing Court, Land Court and Superior Court Departments of the Massachusetts Trial Court, as well as with federal judges and magistrate judges in the U.S. District Court and Immigration Court. Clinical students are expected to be available to do research and writing projects for their assigned judge, and are expected to observe and assist their judge for at least 2 clinical credits, or eight hours per week. Students may earn up to five credits for additional fieldwork hours spent with their judge.

Students must have at least one full day or two mornings available for their judicial placement.

For more information, please contact Judge John C. Cratsley (Retired); cratsley@socialaw.com or jcratsley@law.harvard.edu.or Barbara Berenson,bberenson@law.harvard.edu