Students will participate in an externship with the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center (“MJC”) 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 work full-time for the clinic over winter term while also taking the required winter clinical seminar, and then continue their clinical work in the spring term for 2 or 3 clinical credits.
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 & 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 Immigrations and Custom Enforcement and discrimination against Muslim travelers at the border.
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).
How to Register
How to Register
The Criminal Justice Appellate Clinic is offered in the Winter-Spring semester. Please visit the course catalog for more information about the application process. You can learn about the required clinical course component, clinical credits, additional requirements, and the clinical registration process, by reading the course catalog description and exploring the links in this section.
October 23, 2020
In the News
In the News
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A Win for Criminal Defendants at the U.S. Supreme CourtContinue Reading about A Win for Criminal Defendants at the U.S. Supreme Court
The win in Garza was an important challenge to a fundamentally unjust practice. In that respect, it was a win, certainly for Mr. Garza, and, more broadly, for criminal defendants who sign appeal waivers. It was also a rewarding moment for the attorneys and staff that had worked on Mr. Garza’s case. I was lucky enough to play a small role in Mr. Garza’s case as an appellate intern at the MacArthur Justice Center (MJC).
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Supreme Court’s execution decision animates critics on the left and rightContinue Reading about Supreme Court’s execution decision animates critics on the left and right
The Supreme Court’s late-night, two-paragraph order that sent a Muslim inmate in Alabama to his execution last week has become the court’s most controversial act of the term, drawing intense criticism from the political right and the left.
Amir H. Ali, Supreme Court and appellate counsel at the MacArthur Justice Center and a lecturer at Harvard Law School, said the court’s order was in contrast with recent decisions that have protected religious rights. “Consider the opposite circumstance — a Christian person who is told that, during the final moments of his life, he can have only the services of an imam,” Ali wrote in an email. “It is hard to imagine the court reaching the same result as it did here. And that’s a real problem because the very purpose of the Establishment Clause is to prevent this sort of religious preference.”
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